Buying a cruise? Look at value, not price

by Chris Owen

cruise value priceCruise vacations can be a good travel value because the fare paid includes much of what travelers might pay separately for with other vacation options. In recent years though, mainstream cruise lines have come under criticism for offering desirable options guests can buy on top of the cruise fare paid. The basic experience has not changed but upgrade options like special dining venues, might make it seem so. Some lines have gone a different direction, including more in the price.

Regent Seven Seas cruises
, used to charge for shore excursions, as most cruise lines do. Not long ago, they did away with that, making most shore excursions part of the deal for the premium line.

“We realized that the largest spend anyone had on board was shore excursions. So, we decided to give them away.” Regent’s President Mark Conroy told

Results have been good for the line that costs an average of $600 per person, per day. Guest feedback is that they like the more all-inclusive nature of Regent sailings as opposed to other lines.

“Our ticket price is probably more expensive than others, but the vacation in the end doesn’t cost much more … because so much is included.” Conroy added, noting that 2010 will be the company’s best year on record.

Another premium line, Seabourn, shares the more all-inclusive philosophy with complementary fine wines poured at lunch and dinner and open bars throughout their small yacht-sized fleet of six ships. Seabourn also promotes that tipping is neither required or expected, another area that can add up on other lines.

More than ever, finding the cruise line that is a good fit for you involves considering the entire experience. While the discount fares being offered by major lines may sound attractive, the end cost may actually be greater than a premium line that includes much more in the price.

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