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Old February 9th, 2007, 05:12 PM
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Default Are bulk lines and ships a lottery today?

Having experienced and been part of the changing face of cruising for the at least the last 25 years. I really believe that what is presented to the "public" today is now a lottery on which ship or line to pick.

And, forget being here on CM and its opinions for advice, as that's a wee "specialist" club that everyone does not take part in that cruises.

So how does today's newbie pick that first cruise that may have taken them years to save up for?

Its now so GREY out there ... and new people must be so confused.

Thats the problem when one company under diffferent names takes over "cruising" for the masses. You know who they are.....

No real choice today, and for those of us that have been about for a while, what we see in a lot of cases is a degraded service from what was once a brilliant ship or line.

Monopoly of anything is sad, and that is what some in this business are doing for the sake of cruising. But actually not for the sake of cruising.

They are actually killing cruising and options
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Old February 10th, 2007, 12:34 AM
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David,

I think you're right about the monopoly thing.

I'm very surprised the Carnival/Princess merger got past anti-trust laws! I thought that a RCCL/Princess merger made more sense, as the two seemed a better match, and no anti-trust issues.

But it seems Carnival's management team out-manuevered RCCL's, came from behind, and won the merger.

If you're interested in reading more about this, read the book "Devils on the Deep Blue Sea."

Dean
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Old February 10th, 2007, 01:37 AM
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There are a lot of choices out there today. These are just the Cruise Lines that belong to CLIA:

Quote:
American Cruise Lines
Carnival Cruise Lines
Celebrity Cruises
Costa Cruises
Crystal Cruises
Cunard Line
Disney Cruise Line
Holland America Line
MSC Cruises
Norwegian Coastal Voyage Inc.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Oceania Cruises
Orient Lines
Pearl Seas Cruises
Princess Cruises
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Royal Caribbean International
Seabourn Cruise Line
SeaDream Yacht Club
Silversea Cruises
Windstar Cruises
I think there are over 150 ships accounted for with just these 21 cruise lines. If you include all the other cruise lines sailing passengers around the world, there are at least another 100 ships.

These ships vary in size from around 50 passengers to 4,000+. Some friends just got off a SeaDream Cruise and enjoyed it while others just disembarked from Hanseatic of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, which they also enjoyed. If you can't find different choices in cruising, you just are not looking very hard.
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Old February 10th, 2007, 03:08 PM
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Eh, and how many of the above are owned now by one company trading under the old line name? But have changed what was acceptable then regarding standards, when now in their ownership?

And that is policies regarding, food standard, room standard and service etc, and they cannot be what they used to be when they above as you quote were once independent cruise lines. I can pick at least 10 from that list that are now OWNED by one company.

So that is where it goes grey....different line names, but same policy, a corporate driven budget and corporate driven standards. You no longer know what ship is going to be full of 18-25 kids, or no kids, or older person orientated, or for the middle aged couple on their own orientated.

Not so long ago I could have looked at all those lines and given that opinion. But not now

As for not looking very hard I do... experience and thousands of dollars have taught me what I like and what I dont like 8) and thats why I hate with a vengence when you have a monopoly, nearly.

And in my opinion some are moving that attitude, into lines and ships they now own that once were special. But that they own the the ship/line, they are taking away what was once "special" about that individual line.

And again in my opinion, without that individual experience, I feel really feel sorry for those new cruisers today, its a lottery now, unless you can spend big bucks. You have no clear direction of what you can expect on boarding, as its now a lets try and please everyone scenario. Which never works
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Old February 10th, 2007, 04:11 PM
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Carnival has twelve "brands" including seven that were on the original list I provided. The additional Carnival "brands" are:

P&O Cruises
Ocean Village Holidays
Swan Hellenic
AIDA
P&O Australia

That leaves 14 "brands" from my original "CLIA" list.

Even within Carnival brands, do you have recent experience with Seabourn? How about P&O Australian? Swan Hellenic?

Be careful when you speak about what you do not know. I admit to having only sailed four differnt cruise lines; however, I am not the one trying to claim that all the cruise lines are moving towards "sameness."
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Old February 10th, 2007, 05:10 PM
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Dig me if you like for my post, whatever. But in my opinion the market has changed, and will continue to blur on "bulk cruising"

"Be careful when you speak about what you do not know"..... how arrogant is that statement, as this is only an opinion from me, but you know better, based on what? What I am talking about is those now deemed as bulk lines, not specialist.

You wanna kick me, then you get your facts right. On my last count I have sailed 8 different lines since 1974, and before they got "took over", so its experience that gives my comment or opinion.

And actually, I spent $15k sailing on a brilliant Seabourn cruise a couple of years back, it was not bulk. So your point is what regarding my ability to talk about the diversity in cruising or the lack off!
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Old February 10th, 2007, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidBgood
And actually, I spent $15k sailing on a brilliant Seabourn cruise a couple of years back, it was not bulk. So your point is what regarding my ability to talk about the diversity in cruising or the lack off!
So, as you sailed Seabourn AFTER it was purchased by Carnival, why are you saying that Carnival has ruined the industry for new cruisers. I think new cruisers today still have plenty of choice.
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Old February 10th, 2007, 06:04 PM
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I actually think the last 5 years the cruise lines have done much more to differentiate themselves from each other.
I do agree at a time, before that, there was a certain sameness that all the lines were falling into, and it was getting somewhat difficult to chose between them.

Now, even on lines owned by the big 2 (Carnival and Royal Caribbean), there's pretty significant differences to be found on lines within their parent companies. They want to compete with other lines in the various "Categories" as opposed to competing against their own companies for passengers.

Even with some of their new ships being built on the same hulls, it's a very different experience on Holland America, Princess, or Carnival.
For example... Princess offers Any Time Dining, and a 24 hr Horizon Court buffet area, and numerous shows going on almost simultaneously around the ships in the evening, Holland America offers a quieter, more upscale atmosphere with guest lecturers etc , and Carnival sets a lively tone throughout the ship, with busy activities and pool side games.

Princess has ships offering some much more exotic itineraries, and Holland America has some ships doing world cruises.

Royal Caribbean is at a stage where they seem to be paying more attention to adding more active amenities to their new ships... ie. rock climbing walls, ice skating rinks, and surf pools.

Norweigan Cruise Line is focused on expaning their "FreeStyle" philosophy with their new ships boasting 10 different restaurants onboard, where you dine when you want, and with whom you want, and now they've added bowling alleys to their newest ship.

Ships used to be Ocean Liners for luxurious transportation mostly for the wealthy. The industry changed and "cruising" became the trip and vacation, not just transport.

It's definitely gone through a number of twists and turns during the tremendous growth the industry has experienced, but I most definitely wouldn't agree that today's ships, and cruise lines are all the same.
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Old February 11th, 2007, 03:31 PM
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Thanks Kuki, and in reflection you have a good point. Maybe its just the fact that cruising has become so big and commercial that gets me.
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Old February 12th, 2007, 07:33 PM
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Default DavidBgood

Ok, you are talking about the mass market. Some of the examples others cited are not mass market.

The most popular locale on a ship today? The Hog Trough, sometimes called the Buffet.

Why?
A) they can pile on the food
B) they can stiff the wait staff in the dining room
C) they can avoid having to dress "appropriately"

The next most popular locale on a ship today? The cabin. Why?
That is where are the booze is that was smuggled onboard

The third most popular spot on the ship? The Purser's Desk on the last night of the cruise. So they can line up and pull the auto tips off their bill.

Yes, cruising has changed, not for the better.
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Old February 12th, 2007, 08:09 PM
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Somehow, I really don't feel my fellow man is all that bad.
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Old February 13th, 2007, 03:29 PM
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Default Marc

"So, as you sailed Seabourn AFTER it was purchased by Carnival, why are you saying that Carnival has ruined the industry for new cruisers. I think new cruisers today still have plenty of choice".

I never actually said Carnival had ruined cruising, that's you placing your scentiment or words into what you think is my opinion.

But my memory said a couple of years ago, in reflection as you made me think, it was actually nearly 5 years ago, but not getting into that.

As no-one in their right mind would deny that crusing has changed at the area of the market I was talking about. So not going to argue with you for the sake of it, snipe at me if you like and as bender would say Kiss my .....
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Old February 14th, 2007, 12:07 PM
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David:

I understand your point. I have asked a number of people who have cruised, "What cruise line were you on?" Response "I can't remember." "What ship?" Response: "Freedom, or something like that."

They loved the cruise but don't have the passion that many of the "choir" of us on the boards have. I think that a lot of us have to take a step back and look at the rest of the world from a non-cruisers perspective.

Now back to the question.

While Carnival has taken over many of the cruise lines they have done a fairly good job allowing these cruise lines to keep their own identities. The only major difference I can see in almost all mass market cruise lines is the lowering of standards in the dining room food and moving to alternative dining. While the food in the main dining room is still very good it doesn't seem to be to the level it was just four or five years ago.

Every major cruise line has implemented alternative dining and the cruising public have loved it. I know I do. NCL's Freestyle and Princess' Anytime dining have changed how people dine on cruise ships and are one of the biggest hits with new cruisers. This open seating has always been the case with luxury lines and is now available to premium and the mass market lines. However with NCL there are many additional charge restaurants.

I feel Kuki summed up the differences in the types of ships but there are differences in cruising but there are also differences in how we have to look at cruising verses how new cruisers or people who never read a message board look at them.

Take care,
Mike
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Old February 17th, 2007, 03:31 PM
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Mike, thats a big one to give

"The only major difference I can see in almost all mass market cruise lines is the lowering of standards in the dining room food and moving to alternative dining. While the food in the main dining room is still very good it doesn't seem to be to the level it was just four or five years ago"

And thank you for accepting that some lines have changed through a take over, and now dealing with what the new boss determines as the new and NOW expectation or THEIR standard or NEW level of acceptability for the line.

Marc, get over it. I am not getting into a point scoring competition with you, we dont appear to like each other, fine I will leave you alone until you post an opinion of your own and not just a reaction

Until then as Bender says "Kiss my shinny metal......"
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Old March 28th, 2007, 05:51 PM
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Oh, yes, there have been changes over the past 15 years or so with the bulk (mass market) lines. As mentioned, dining room food has deteriorated to "motivate passengers" to extra cost venues. The last seven years or so have seen a big "crack down" on carry on alcohol. HAL and RCI used to allow it openly, and would even sell one a "room bottle" from the ships store for a very good price. No more, and this trend seems accompanied by a trend toward drink price increases that exceed the cost of living index. Port talks on these lines have disintegrated into commercials for sotres in the port that undoubtedly have a financial deal with the ship. Excursions have not only become pricier, but also shorter and with less content. Remember the rum punch on snorkeling excursions? Gone. Mass market ships have become unbearably crowded, as they have been sailing at or above double-occupancy capacity. And nickel and diming has increased. So much so that about five years ago, it was competitive to take an all-inclusive lux line instead of a mass market line. Well, that trick is over, as the lux lines have increased their fares geometrically. Frankly, I'm not cruising much these days. Hope things will become more "passenger friendly" in the future.
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Old March 30th, 2007, 03:16 PM
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Hi Babe, so good to hear from one of my old "sparring partners". Sorry to hear you aint cruising so much, but hope you are well.

So like me and with no "personal" agenda we agree, that statement makes me smile. ..

It's changed, would you like to be a "newbie" today and picking your first cruise on the so called "people lines"?
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Old March 30th, 2007, 05:21 PM
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David:

If I were taking my first ever cruise on a mass market line today, I predict that I would return and never cruise again. I certainly have no intent of returning to the mass market lines now. And, as I said, there was a time for a few years after the travel demand fall-out after 9/11 where one could cruise a highly inclusive and highly uncrowded lux line for a TOTAL cost of little more than a mass market line. Now, these lux lines have more than doubled their prices since then, and "priced me out of the market. Yes, I'm well, but I ain't rich -- and never was!

As far as what a mass market cruise experience SHOULD be, I used to like Royal Caribbean back in the 90s when they were using ships like the Grandeur with a max of 1800 guests, serving GREAT food in the dining room, allowing carry-on bottles openly (but why do it, as you could buy a room bottle on board cheaper). They had good, long excursions that were a good value. They had enjoyable entertainment. If one had an early next day and early dinner seating, one could eat and attend the show and still get a good night's sleep. I cruised (and enjoyed) that line a lot, before they changed back around 2000. If they would "turn back the clock" on all of these things, I might just give them another go.
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Old March 30th, 2007, 06:50 PM
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Just my 2 cents worth - I don't think the change in cruising is caused so much by one company buying up multiple lines, but by the changes in society itself.

Airlines used to give you a full meal if you had a flight at dinner time - now they charge for snacks. I expect them to drop drink service soon.

People no longer get dressed to go to a nice restaurant. We were in a fairly expensive place not too long ago and there were a lot of people in shorts. A few years ago, people would have been in semi-formal attire in that restaurant.

Most people have the attitude these days that it's all about them and they've taken that attitude to cruising as well. When my son was little, we expected him to behave like a little gentleman when we went out. If we were dressed in formal attire, so was he. Now people let their children run wild in restaurants and on cruise ships and look at me like I must be a child-hater if I don't think it's 'cute'.

Like I said, these are just my thoughts on the matter.
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Old March 30th, 2007, 07:09 PM
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Sharon:

I certainly agree with part of what you say. I think that the reason that the mass market lines have deteriorated so badly that I won't book them now (whereas I used to enjoy them) is more related to an over-all loss of service and customer-orientation on the part of all types of businesses than it is to mergers. I could fill several pages on this board making reference to how numerous types of businesses have let their service go to hades while charging more for everything. But I won't, because I think everybody knows what I mean.
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Old March 31st, 2007, 01:00 PM
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I also think that corporate exec's who believe everything the marketing types tell them is part of the problem. I certainly experienced this when I worked in big corp's and I know for certain it happened in one of the mass market lines.
I knew the executive chef for one of the lines. Then, the cruise line powers that be decided that they wanted to advertise that their chefs were all trained in European cooking schools. (Yes, they really think that we are that stupid.) ANyway, they hired a group of newbie graduates from those cooking schools. They also demoted everyone in the kitchen staff on every ship and cut their salaries in half to pay for these elitist chefs.
So, they went from a group of well paid chefs and cooks who were experienced in feeding huge groups of people to a bunch of really unhappy cooks led by guys who could cook up a storm for 4 people, but were clueless about the demands of cruise line cuisine. And, the food quality declined. But, management still thought that the advertising was more important than the product. Get enough new people to buy into the whole thing and repeat customers don't matter.
Okay, now I'm crabby.
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Old March 31st, 2007, 02:15 PM
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First time in a long time I could read the last few posts in a row and just

Nice one guys
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Old March 31st, 2007, 10:32 PM
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David:

Perhaps you liked the posts above because they all spoke the truth. Corporate CEO's are wondering as I write how much lack of included service the American customer is willing to tolerate before he/she just refuses to do business with that corporation, or group of corporations, any longer. Heck, here in the US I can't even get a call through to a government agency office without getting a "busy signal" all day. Perhaps I don't have the option of refusing to deal with a government that does business that way, but I sure as heck can refuse to do business with a cruise line that does business that way! And if more people did this, we'd see big changes in a hurry.
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Old April 1st, 2007, 01:27 PM
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I started cruising in 1993 and have been on 22 cruises, all on mass market lines.

Cruise ships have grown larger while cruise prices have grown cheaper.
Even with the increased nickle and diming, cruising is a greater bargain than ever. I can now book a balcony for considerably less than I used to book an outside cabin.

Since wearing a coat and tie is like torture to me, I have enjoyed the relaxed standards of apparel. I do reluctantly dress on the formal evenings, but wearing a sports coat and tie on the semi=formal or "smart casual" evenings is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, which I applaud. I have hever seen anyone wear anything but neat and clean clothing on formal nights.

I am quite happy with the food I have had on all my cruises and have not really experienced a deteration in quality, but, rather, have experienced a greater variety of choice. I am also satisfied with the entertainment.

Tours have gotten much more expensive, but so has gasoline. I still find them to be reasonable.

I have never cruised on an up-scale line and probably will not, since the price is much higher. I would probably have to dress up more often, and I don't wish to pay for others included beverages, since I do not drink on cruises.

In this world, there is something for everyone. Mass market cruises are for people like myself who just wish to enjoy themselves and don't care about about the included extras and, perhaps, fancier menu items. The more excluusive lines are for those who can or wish to pay a higher price.

Live and let live!
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