I know that we are all different & that we all have different tastes & preferences. The cruise industry seems to recognize this to some extent. Now, there are some lines I wouldn't sail & have been vocal about that on this board. I think they are gawdy & below my taste. (However, I'm VERY aware that my tastes have a tendency to exceed my means!)
I always wondered why someone would shell out big bucks to sail a week in the penthouse suite on Carnival or Royal Carribean when they could get so much more on a higher quality line. Some people think the luxury lines are too snooty & might feel uncomfortable. My best friend noted that its easier to be a big fish in a little pond rather than a little fish in a big pond. I'm starting to agree.
Ok, so if one can get past that, let's consider costs. A week to 12 day long cruise on Silverseas can run from $8,000 upwards depending on the location. But, some (there are some great specials out there) are around $4,500- $5,000. So lets stick with this low figure. For that price, one gets round trip air fare to the port, a pre night hotel with all taxes, tips, & fees, transfers to the ship, some shore excursions & a special BBQ or brunch, cruise fare, all meals, all beverages including alcohol, tips ARE included, and the abosolute finest quality available on the seas. Service will be impecable, at no time will your wishes be ignored or dismissed. You can sail without anyone telling you no or having to sign for a thing. The ships are small so there is never a line for anything. In fact, you couldn't wait in line anywhere if you wanted to. The pool is NEVER crowded, ample deck chairs with thick padding, plush towels. Someone even walks around with an Evian sprits bottle to mist you! Hello. All sunscreen & tanning lotion is complimentary & someone's only job is to walk around (behind the sprits guy) and offer free products to you. Half way open your eyes & a waiter is standing there to take you drink order. Glass half full, the bartender is mixing another without you asking. In between sprits guy's rounds, here comes a lady with cooling towels for your face & hands.
No, you won't get an owner's suite for that rate, but most ships have veranda cabins in that range & there aren't any inside cabins or upper/lower. All of their cabins are spacious beyond anything in the standard mega ship market. Robes, personalized stationary, in cabin tea serives, party set up-- gratis, whirlpool bath etc. The only thing one pays for is the casino & spa services. That's it. They even pre pack complimentary bags for shore days whether you take their tours or not. And there's a table set up with water to take ashore. Want Belgium waffles & a western omlette at 3 am, pick up the phone. When the food arrives & your cabinmate wakes up from the smell & decides they want a shrimp cocktail & a chef salad, no problem. Tell them to send up a different selection of videos so you can watch a movie while you eat.
So, why would someone shell out $7,000-$10,000 per person for a penthouse on a mass market line where you still have to pay for soda, juice, ice cream, water, pizza, or any alcoholic beverage? Yes, the folks sailing Silversea, for the most part, are of means & have a certain ettiquette education found in charm schools of the past. But, not always. Personally, I'm not a wine expert & can't tell you good, bad, or horrible vintage. Guess what, I don't have to because the wine steward will make the suggestion for me. Too much silverware on the table? Well, my momma taught me well, but I get confused sometimes & just rely on the outside in rule.
Forget Silversea for a minute. Raddison isn't all inclusive like that, but they aren't slouching either. Their Tahiti cruise is the most laid back on the sea. Not a jacket or tie in sight. Sequinn gown-not! And, for $2,300 & $900 single supplement, I can sail the Paul G. for 7 days with a lot of those same services. Air included. Tips still included, service still impecable, personally selected complimentary bar set up & replenishment, cabins wonderfully decorated, wine & beer with lunch or dinner. And lobster means lobster, not flash frozen lobster tails. Even the Mariner, the only all suite all veranda ship afloat, is reasonably priced considering the amenities. Geez, I found 2 cruises that fit my schedule for more than 7 days where the single supplement was waived, I didn't wipe out my frequent flier account, & the service was out of this world. All that cost me less than traveling in the lowest balcony cabin on a standard cruise line, paying the single supplement.
No, luxury lines aren't for those seeking the $599 or better 7 night deals, they just don't compare. I'm just wondering about those who book the highest, most expensive Princess, Carnival, HAL, or RCCL suites. I know there are suite perks, but do they match the ones on say Silversea? One major draw back or significant difference is the entertainment. There isn't a feather boa to be found on the Silver Cloud if your life depended on it. No rip roaring, non stop night life. And, it can be difficult for those that need to be constantly intertained. Love Carnival decor? Well there won't be the black & white deco of the Sensation's piano bar or that big plastic hand chair to sit in for photo ops. But, it is elegantly understated & I think its beautiful. Each of the lines I mentioned have ships that are 1000 times smaller. Some sailing with between 80-200 people.
The PG once sailed from Tahiti with 72 people on board though the ship holds much more. RSSC didn't run any last minute fire sales to fill up the ship & they didn't cut back on any of the services or try to increase on board revenue. I don't think they even care about that. It was unbelievable. Talk about passenger/crew ratio! Most crew had nothing to do but follow you around (at a descrete & unobtrusive distance) waiting for a request. I thought one guy was going to whip out palm leaves & start fanning us by the pool while someone else peeled grapes. Even the captain called me by my name when I past him on the first morning of the cruise & stopped to ask me specifics my home town. Somehow he knew I was from Palm Beach.
Dining is open seating & there isn't too much for small children to do so that may be a reason for those traveling with a large family. But, the lectures & workshops are truly interesting & enlightening.
So, I've said all this to preface the basis for my question. I'd like to hear from people who have booked those suites on the budget/mid prices/mass market lines. Or those who just have an opinion. Its particulary relevent in light of all the discussions about the hidden cost of cruising & the nickle & diming that adds up on board. This has sort of turned into an unsolvable rubic cube mystery for me & I've wanted an answer for a long time. I'd just read posts hoping to hear something, but no one has posed or broached the subject that I've seen. I'm posting this question in more than one forum for best results.
I've had suites/mini-suites on several lines, Celebrity, Princess and Carnival. Without a doubt, the ones on Celebrity and Princess beat out Carnival. I don't get them for the 'perks', but for extra room is I think I may want to just vege out in the room or if we are going with a big group and wish to entertain.
My husband and I are sailing the Sensation on nov 11 for our 10th Anniversary. We booked a cat 12. There are 2 reasons why we chose this cabin on this ship. The first is location. The port of Tampa is only 30 min from our house. That takes away the stress of flying and worrying about connections and lost luggage. The second is price. We looked at a standard balcony cabin on the Mariner of the Seas. However, we managed to get our Cat 12 for 1/5 of the prices you quoted for suites on the mass market lines. The price was a steal and this gives us tons of play money and I can have any spa services I want with the money we are saving. This is our first cruise and we do not want to feel like we are on a budget because we spent all of our money before the cruise starts. We can hardly wait, even if it is not the fanciest of ships. Hope this answers your question.
Linda: I think that your above question could not apply MORE to us.
We have sailed more than 25 times on HAL always in the full suite and have four more booked. Why we continue to pay the "bucks" for the Suite on HAL and not go to Silverseas (I was invited aboard for lunch so have toured the Silvershadow) or to Radisson is hard to answer.
We are at the point in our experience w/ HAL that we know so many crew and it is always a pleasure to meet "old friends" aboard. We love the comfort and familiarity zone. ...and we are perfectly satisfied with what we receive for our money there. While we (like most people) enjoy comforts and luxury, I am not the type that wants, for example, someone packing or unpacking my bags. At the Hotel Hassler in Rome (one of Europe's best) and the same thing in Marbella, Spain (it doesn't get too much mor ekegant than there), they shock their head at me that I didn't want "the personal maid" underfoot. I told her I'd ring if I needed something...never did ring! I don't want someone "in my face"...or watching for my empty glass needing refilling.
I know....what's wrong with me?!!!
I want our comfort and we want a little "walking around room" in our cabin. We "Neeeeeeeed" the verandah and I don't want to have to remind my steward about basics that should be provided and accomplished without my reminders. Like most people today, my husband works excuriating hours and values his vacation time immensely. He would resent "wasting it" on an inferior product. I want my husband's shoes shined if we leave them out and my laundry returned perfectly pressed etc. promptly. I want rapid attention to room service requests and I want the minimum extras provided that would accrue to a suite guest in a fine hotel (on a concierge floor). We feel we get all of what we want in those areas on HAL.
We were on Celebrity four times and on Princess either three of four. The first several times we went to each, they were adequate, but IMO, not up to the standard to which we are accustomed on HAL....apples to apples. Royal suite on Zenith each time and AA Caribe deck suite on Princess. The last time we went to each, was the last time. We were very dissatisfied and from what I read, they have continued to diminish the product they sell every further. We won't be returning there without some special set of circumstances. you know...never say never!
Also, I don't wish to fly 20+ hours to exotic locations to meet the ship. I fly to Europe (if I can get there with no more than one connection) and many of Rad's and Silverseas itineraries require long air travel. Not worth it to me!!! I wasn't always like this...I just cannot and will not bear the attitude and discomfort that the airlines now represent to me. I am finding air travel intolerable these days...(and we fly first class). I recently had a Delta res agent says to me "you have no choice...this is the routing you HAVE to take". My answer: "Yes, I do have a choice. I'm paying and for my money I can choose to JUST STAY HOME. ...and I did.
There is also the issue of fellow passengers...I absolutely mean no offense to anyone, but sometimes by very bad luck, one could find themselves immersed in a ship full of pax who feel the need to impress everyone around them with how much money they have or how great they think they are. In short, one can reasonably expect a great mix of pax on the "mainstream" lines, but also can expect on at least SOME occassions to be thrown into a bunch of snobs on the "premier lines". Not our idea of who we wish to hang out with at the pool....or dinner, or lounges, or at all... anywhere.
Someday when the itinerary is so tempting (and easy to meet the ship), or friends with whom we wish to travel are going or whatever set of circumstances arise, we probably will try Radisson and Silverseas.
But for now, we receive all the comfort and service and quality we can be satisfied w/ at HAL. We feel we get exactly what we paid for in our Suite and out of 25+ cruises in that Suite, only one time were our expectations not met or exceeded. Not too bad a track record for them, I'd say.
I very much apologize for the length of this mini-book but I think Linda raised an interesting question (at least it must have been intresting to me). Thanks to all of you who lasted to the end of this!
Linda, that's why there are different options out there. Your logic is very good, but there are very valid reasons why someone would prefer an upper-end suite on a mass-market ship. Many people won those cruises as prizes, or as perks from meeting sales quotas, etc. Many people book and pay for them, but simply don't want a small ship, or a mid-sized ship, or a ship with limited "entertainment." Some people feel that they're not "snooty" enough to sail the premium lines. It's largely a matter of perception. I know some people who sail RCI and Princess ships who could probably buy the Silver Cloud if they wanted to....they just like the overall RCI or Princess package. Different cruise lines for different preferences. That doesn't make you wrong, or even invalidate your opinion. I've wondered the same thing...and I still wonder what the percentage is of people who actually pay for the owners suites themselves.
Thanks you all so far for responding. Especially sail7seas because I too am a HAL lover & was glad to get your perspective. I posted in more detail over there in case you drop in to read it.
Please continue to post, I am actually entralled (is spelling a requirement for the luxury lines) by your answers. I spent way too much time writing the post (more thinking about it before hand) and now its apparent I'm not going to get any work done today for checking on the response. It feels like my 4th grade science fair project when I was waiting to see if my seeds would sprout. .
Maybe its like the difference between the Clampets & the Kennedys. Each has money but very different tastes.
In the past year or so I was fortunate to have sailed Carnival, RCI, Celebrity, Princess, HAL and Seabourn. Granted I wasn't in penthouse suites, but I think I managed to get a pretty good feel for what each offers.
Interestingly I didn't feel out of place on any of them. Each had it's strengths and weaknesses, and I enjoyed each and every one.
While, even for the wealthy, I'm sure price is a factor in choosing their cruises, I think people look for the cruise lines whose areas of strength are important to them.
Of course, the ones I mentioned that I've sailed have one common weakness. They let me onboard <G>
<getting back on topic now> for I think people do look for what's important to them.. I'm sure to some entertainment, and a lively casino are more important than white golve service. To other a strong onboard lecture program are more important than who's headlining in the showroom.
Thankfully there are lots of options for all of to keep cruising!!
We always cruise in suites. We need the extra room because we always bring our two sons with us on cruises and my husband is a bit claustrophobic. So, for us, it's a matter of space. Also, my husband has a very demanding job and likes to enjoy what little time off he gets. If you can afford to go with the suites, why not?
I don't like the guilt trip many people try to put onto those that cruise in suites. There is a reverse discrimination that a lot of people don't realize. We never mention to anyone what category of cabin we have while onboard a ship. We have seen the 'automatic judgement' on people's faces when they find out. People like 'sail7seas' knows what I am talking about.
Perhaps people simply feel more comfortable on Carnival than Silversea. I believe it's all a matter of personal choice and no one should be looked down upon just because they prefer one line over the next. Our kids would never be happy on Crystal, Silversea, or Seabourn. For that reason, we choose more middle of the line cruise companies and prefer the large ships. Once the boys are gone off to college, I'm sure we'll be cruising on HAL or something similar with a smaller ship feel.
For the first time, we will be getting 2 regular balcony cabins next year on the Adventure of the Seas. It will be very interesting to try adjoining cabins for us and I am really looking forward to being midship and having two bathrooms so we don't fight over one beautiful, marbled bathroom. Getting the 2 balcony cabins is costing us more than a suite would, but again, it's a matter of personal preference.
I have found (time and time again) that RCI's suites are more expensive than Princess' suites. Most people would consider Princess a step ahead of RCI, but yet the prices do not reflect this. Similarly, Carnival's suites can be more costly than Princess's too.
I dont know who the heck is paying $8000-$10000 for a suite on Carnival. I KNOW its not me tho.. and I am a suite kinda gal. I dont do the snooty ships. Wouldnt want to.. Cant make me.Dont need someone spraying me with water or suntan lotion...and in my face all the time... which BTW I have seen on Carnival too..I just want a roomy suite with a balcony.. good food and relaxation. I use Carnival because they give me the best value for my money. Just call me Ellie May Clampet. **
I'm definitely not a "Clampet" or for that matter a Kennedy either...and my mother also taught me which utensil with which to eat my food. My husband knows how to tie his formal tie just fine and we know how to dress appropriately!
I'm not sure if I should be offened or not!! I guess I'll choose to "really not care"! Like, if I dont want to go on Silversea or Seaborne, I must be of "some lower class or species"?
I have seen more people "putting on side" on ships of the mainstream fleet than on the upscale ships. Big jewelry (often fake -- I can spot a CZ from 50 yards away), etc.
One of the things I have noticed on the upscale ships is the LACK of jewelry on the women. Plain gold wedding rings -- or no rings at all -- are the thing. Why? Because you leave the good stuff at home in the safe or in the bank. I've only ever seen one heart-stopper ring on an upscale cruise -- the lady's husband gave it to her ON the cruise. Plenty of good-sized "everyday" diamond earrings, though.
Another thing I've noticed is there's no discussion, early on, of "And what do you do?" People on the upscale lines are NOT out to impress other people unless they are tediously nouveau riche. Those people are studiously ignored by the rest of the passenger complement. (Perhaps Queeg will be along to discuss one couple in particular?)
Me, I love the exotic destinations and will tolerate the flight to get there. Tolerate is a nice word for it.
Note for Linda: In the Rad fleet, Song of Flower is all-inclusive or, maybe better, WAS at the time when we sailed her in the Pac Rim.
Bottom line, with a very few egregious exceptions, we've never met anyone who wasn't "just folks" on the upscale lines. Some people are, in fact, of relatively modest means making the trip of a lifetime.
OK so after seeing Pamda's post.. here is yet ANOTHER perk to using a not so upscale line.. REAL diamonds.. you can afford to buy them in the Caribbean if you dont waste your extra bucks on the Hoytee Toyee lines..
I wouldnt be caught dead in a CZ!! But thats just me.Teehee!
On the cruise is the only time I get to wear my *goodstuff*..
For some reason all my critters don't appreciate them.
What I was trying to say, and guess I didn't do it very well, is that the more upscale ships -- at least the ones we have been on -- aren't snooty at all. Far the opposite. Just really nice, down-to-earth people who don't feel the need to show off by word or deed.
When a show-off does come around, everyone else just looks the other way.
We've seen lots of snootier people -- with lots less reason to be so -- in the mainstream fleet.
I'd be interested in hearing from other people who have sailed the upscale lines to see if their experiences are similar. You can't know what it's like unless you've done it.
You said it just fine. I was just making an observation and being a smart aleck..teehee! I may have to try one of the upscale lines one day.. Just to see what its like and if I do fit in. Im interested to hear what people have to say on that subject too.
My impression of people being "snooty" on the up-scale lines comes from their behavior when they come to the more mainstream lines...if they are bringing their families etc. they sometimes opt for a larger, more family oriented ship.
I've had the unhappy experience, more than once, of them feeling the need to chew my ear ad nauseum about how "silly" we are to constantly cruise in suites on HAL. "What is wrong with you? When we are on -------(fill in the blank) cruiseline, it's so much more (------again, fill in the blank)! Okay, ....so go back there!!
When we finally shake free of them, my husband and I look at each other and say "I don't think so!! ...not if that is who our shipmates will be."
We are relatively sophisticated, well-educated, well-traveled people who can handle ourselves in most any situation. I suppose that is why these "snooty types" feel the need to try to convert us.
Very interesting topic, I've enjoyed reading everybody's comments. Good timing because just a few days ago I had asked my boyfriend why he thinks if people had the money to spend on the mack daddy suite on Princess, HAL, RC, etc, why wouldn't they try one of the luxury lines for the same cost (people's answers were very informative, I guess it all comes down to personal preference). If money was no object, I would be interested in trying a luxury line, but at first I thought I wouldn't want to because I would feel like I didn't fit in with the other passengers. But after some of the comments I read above, it seems like maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all. Besides, thinking back, my experience is that people who have the goods, don't flaunt it or throw it in your face because they are secure with themselves. And seems that those that brag about their expensive material items, aren't as well as off as they make themselves out to be....they are just trying hard to impress people to cover up some insecurity or to make up for what they don't have (or what they think they don't have, too bad they don't realize that it's not worth it to be around somebody who judges you based on material things ). Bottom line, after reading people's comments I'm not so afraid of luxury line passengers after all, and would definitely try a luxury line. Now all I need is to hit the lottery so I have the funds. :-)