virtuoso global March 2018 Why is it worth paying more for this cruise?

Why is it worth paying more for this cruise?

The adage, “You get what you pay for” applies to most purchases, but especially to vacations when time is most precious. Whether Regent Seven Seas Cruises or a five-star hotel, quality costs more.

But not all luxury vacations are apple-to-apple comparable. On paper, for example, a Regent cruise looks like it might cost about double the fare of premium ships. How could it possibly be worth it?

“Regent is a leader in the luxury category and they sell value,” says Joyce Krichman, a San Diego-based Virtuoso advisor and luxury cruise specialist. She ticks off all the extras included in the higher price: round-trip business-class airfare, transfers between boat and airport, open bar, and shore excursions – extras that can add thousands to the tally slipped under your stateroom door before disembarkation. The little things, from bottled water to gratuities, are also included. “All those things cost money and when you compare it to others and you look at the bottom line there’s very little difference.”

The value proposition is amplified, too, by ship size. Regent takes 750 guests at capacity, versus nearly 2,200 on those with similar pricing with the extras folded in. And size is everything when it comes to embarking and disembarking daily for excursions.

“You’re not getting on with thousands,” says Michelle Andersen, a Sarasota, Florida-based advisor. “No one is talking to you over a bullhorn. That makes a difference in places like Juneau where the port can be jammed with ships. There are no lines. You can come and go as you please.”

Juneau is just one of the calls that the Regent Seven Seas Mariner will make when the all-suite ship sets sail in May for a summer in Alaska after a three-week renovation to remodel all public areas and suites and rebuild the pool to include shallow areas for lounging.

“It’s really like a new ship,” says Krichman.

Price is one yardstick. Among other distinguishing characteristics: service, amenities, and design. Here are more.

Suites & Service

On Regent’s all-suite ships, cabins give guests a  spacious living and sleeping space. One major cruising perk? Every single suite has a walk-in closet. All five of the line’s new and updated ships feature comforts like fine linens and conveniences like multiple outlets for electrical devices.
“The staterooms are really generous and well-thought out so they don’t feel crowded, even in entry-level rooms,” says Leah Bergner, an advisor based in Garden Grove, California. “They’re not shoeboxes.”
On Regent, where the guest-to-staff ratio is 1:1.5, a butler manages each suite, delivering daily canapes each evening and stocking complimentary mini-bars with a guest’s preferred drinks and snacks.  “They’re spoiling you, and we all want to be spoiled, especially when we’re on vacation,” adds Bergner.

Dining & Drinking

A cruise line for foodies, Regent offers several specialty restaurants at no extra charge, an uncommon practice on major cruise lines. The elegant French Chartreuse debuted on Regent’s new ship Explorer, will be installed on the reinvented Mariner.

“Forget gargantuan buffets,” says Andersen. “It’s like dining in a fine resort.”
Cruise fares include fine wine and top-shelf liquor not just at meals but throughout the voyage. For those indifferent to the open bar, Bergner points out that the value lies not just in alcoholic beverages; most cruise lines charge $2.50 for each can of soda and more than that for each bottled water and cappuccino.

Wellness & Wellbeing

Regent’s shipboard Canyon Ranch Spa Clubs offer a range of services including massages, facials, wraps, and scrubs as well as the mind-body rituals for which the brand is known: Japanese revitalization techniques, sleep-promoting treatments, and wellness talks. Fitness classes span yoga and indoor cycling and personal training sessions range from assisted stretching to body composition analysis. And Canyon Ranch staffers lead daily demos with guests.

Notably, treatments and sessions can be arranged well in advance of your sailing. “You’re getting the exact treatment you want, when you want it,” says Bergner. “That’s personal luxury.”

Environment & Entertainment

By evening, Regent entertains guests with musical shows and casino games. By day, there are cooking classes, lectures by special guests, well-stocked libraries, and DIY art tours of its impressive collections. On-board sommeliers lead wine education classes, such as the meaning of old-world versus new-world wines.
“An art aficionado purchases the artwork on their ships so it’s not unusual to see a real Picasso onboard,” says Andersen. “It all adds up to a very sensory experience.”

Fellow Shipmates

Regent tends to attract loyal repeat guests and sophisticated travelers interested in shipboard enrichment and the smaller ports a small ship is able to navigate. Regent guests tend to be well-traveled, at all ages.

Though they are allowed on the ship, “You won’t see children running around the tables with forks in hand or Cheerios flung across the dining room,” says Bergner.

Shore Excursions

Also included on a Regent cruise: free, unlimited shore excursions, which adds up to big value over other cruise lines. In Alaska, guests enjoy options such as a fjords cruise, a visit to an animal rehab center, and a scenic drive through the Kenai Mountains.

Do the Math  

Based on rates published for a week-long cruise to Alaska in June, the back-of-the-envelope calculation below factors into competitors’ rates those things that are included on Regent.

The difference of roughly $500? Put that down to vessel size and call it the price of privacy.

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