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Old June 6th, 2012, 01:48 PM
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Question Who is the competition?

There seems to be a perpetual number of threads relating to the cost of a cruise vs. the level of service/amenities. The question as to whether service must be cut to keep princes low of whether passengers are will to pay more for better service. Obviously we all have a price point or easyCruise would be the only line around. Analysts define cruise markets and we all have our own idea of who is in what market. So I bring it before this auspicious body, "who is the competition?"

Here are my ideas (perceptions) and a few comments, they are probably wrong so go ahead a tell me I am wrong and why.

"Mainstream"
Carnival, Norwegian & Royal Caribbean
Of these NCL may be the least expensive to board but it seems that Freestyle comes at a price. They seem to have the most frequent complaints that the "free" food is not a good as it used to be. Royal seems to be consistently more expensive than Carnival but where else can you go to surf and zipline while sailing? Perhaps they are knocking on the door of the next class? Costa is probably in this category but they focus more on an Italian market.

"Upper Mainstream"
Azamara(?), Celebrity, Holland America & Princess
Prices are still within the range of most mainstream cruisers. These ships seem to have a little higher standard and may have higher space and crew to passenger ratios.

"Luxury"
Crystal, Cunard, Oceania and Regent (maybe others I don't spend enough to know about)
Prices are higher than the lines above but often include airfare or an reduction if you do your own air. Most cabins are pretty generous suites. Few staterooms are interior or even "ocean view". Regent is truly all-inclusive with drinks, tips and shore excursions included. This makes TCC (total cost of cruising) more reasonable. I suppose they still let you gamble your money away and pay for spa services so if you want to spend more you are welcome to it.

"Exploration"
Linblad Explorers (associated with National Geographic) comes to mind. There are probably others in this class as well. Is this where Fred Olsen and Paul Gauguin would live?

"Sailing Ships"
Wind Star & Star Clippers
I have sailed neither but will correct that in the next few years. Wind Star seems to be a little more high end that Star Clipper may provide a more "authentic" sailing experience. To meet published itineraries both seem to operate under motor power more than they would like to advertise. If the wind and the schedule do not agree you have to start your engines.

Where do P&O and MSC fit - I think in one of the first two categories.

Who else have I left out?

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Old June 6th, 2012, 05:32 PM
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Left of Disney - they are sort of a class on their own, aren't they. Price-wise they fit in with the "upper mainstream" lines but certainly draw a different passenger than HAL.
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Old June 6th, 2012, 06:57 PM
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You need to have the "Ultra Premium" or "niche" category for Azamara and Oceania. They are more "inclusive" than Celebrity, Princess or HAL but are not at the luxury level of Regent, Seabourn, Silversea or the new Crystal.

Windstar fits more into the niche or ultra premium category. They may be sailing sailing ships but they still are the niche market.

The classifications can be blurry and many writers, industry experts and even our own Cruisemates staff, have differences of opinion on what category some cruise lines fit into.

I have had better cruises, food and better service on NCL than Oceania. However I have only cruised Oceania once and that was in its infancy.

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Old June 7th, 2012, 05:28 PM
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Dont forget that the food on the luxury lines are far superior, less or no annoucements over the loud speakers...This just makes me more excited about my Dec cruise on Crystal. First time on a Luxury cruise and I will love to compare this cruise with the past cruises I have taken on Celebrity, Ncl, Carnival.
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Old June 7th, 2012, 06:07 PM
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I would move Azamara out and put it with Oceania. They probably belong in a class by themselves...upper end but not Luxury...maybe with Cunard?

I think you're missing Silverseas.

Now the high end eg. Regent, Seabourn, Crystal are starting to change, Regent, Seabourn have dropped Formal Nights - does this keep them in the same class as Crystal?

As for where does P & O fit, I'd put it in with the Princess, Celebrity, Hal group.
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Old June 7th, 2012, 07:35 PM
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IMHO HAL is not a premium line - in my limited experience.

BTW - I would love to know what the criteria are to place each cruiseline in each category.

If you have mainstream - may I suggest you have a bargain basement category?

Annie
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Old June 7th, 2012, 10:55 PM
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I readily admit that my criteria were far from analytical.

Cunard is an interesting case as they have different dining rooms based on the class of the cabin you book.

Bargain Basement = easyCruise - do they have company


One would expect food, service and other amenities to be better as one climbs the cruise ladder.
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Last edited by green_rd; June 7th, 2012 at 11:00 PM.
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Old June 7th, 2012, 11:00 PM
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For a bargain basement cruise, you can rent a row boat.

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Old June 7th, 2012, 11:03 PM
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The terminoogy the "cruise industry" and cruise journalists use to categorize the cruise lines changes. Used to be budget, mass market, premium, and luxury for main brackets, then the niche markets.

Now they refer to "contemporary", premium, premium plus (luxury lite) and luxury, and then the other "niche" markets.

Personally I have a bit of trouble feeling right about trying to make the various cruise lines fit the terminology.

To me there's still mass market ships, like Carnival, RCI, and NCL, but plenty of variances between them to make them stand apart from each other.

Celebrity, HAL and Princess like to be thought of as "premium", but I pretty much think of them as "mass market" as well, but as a more "traditional" cruise than the previous three. They concentrate more on "enrichment" activities (like lectures, classes, etc) than the other three that are built more about activity and entertainment.

Cunard definitely fits into the more "traditional", and though Princess Grill is available, I don't think anyone would lump them in with the luxury lines. They're not all-inclusive, or near to it, and have enough other differences to set them apart from the luxury lines.

Azamara Club Cruises and Oceania are definitely attempting to be regarded as the "luxury lite" brands. And, at least Oceania, seems to be drawing rave reviews for it's two newest ships, which many people seem to think are just shy of the luxury brands, with some savings in price.

The luxury brands are luxurious , but that doesn't necessarily translate to large suite accomodations for everyone. They are all really nicely finished and furnished, but standard cabins are not necessarily much larger than those on some of the mass market ships. More similar in size to other ship's Jr. and mini-suites.

This is a big topic... books are written about it often, so not easy to summarize it all in a message board post
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Old June 7th, 2012, 11:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buttons16 View Post
Dont forget that the food on the luxury lines are far superior, less or no annoucements over the loud speakers...This just makes me more excited about my Dec cruise on Crystal. First time on a Luxury cruise and I will love to compare this cruise with the past cruises I have taken on Celebrity, Ncl, Carnival.
I'm sure it's easy to be excited about your first luxury cruise, but I'd warn you about thinking in terms of "far superior food", and those types of references. Over building expectations only leads to disappointments. There is no such thing as perfection.

In some ways you're not going to find the luxury experience that much difference from your other cruises. On the other hand, if you waste your experience comparing it to other cruises, that's a mistake too.

Go, enjoy the experience, and at the end decide if you got excellent value for the $$ you spent. If it meets that criteria, you'll know you've found your niche.
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