This continues our series on Alternative Suppliers and why you should ask about them. This post describes what an alternative supplier is and what it means. In ocean cruises, there are several generic categories that are used to describe various suppliers. There’s mass market – think Carnival and Royal Caribbean. There’s premium lines like Celebrity, Princess, Holland America. And then there’s luxury brands. (Oceania and Azamara would add an additional category between premium and luxury for their brands). Regent is surely a luxury brand.
What makes Regent so luxurious?
- Virtually everything is included (excursions, all drinks, all specialty restaurants, even business class airfare)
- The staff to customer ratio is very low meaning you get great service
- The ships are relatively small – between 500 and 750 guests per ship. No lines, no waiting, no hassles.
- The quality of the food is truly outstanding
- The rooms are more spacious and offer more amenities
- The ships offer cooking classes, guest lecturers and other special items
- Unique itineraries around the world. Sail to ports that the larger ships can’t get to.
Sound great? Sure, but the starting prices will be much higher than either a mass market or premium line. And that could be a problem depending on your budget.
Compare and be prepared to be amazed
You’ve probably never heard of Regent Seven Seas since they rarely advertise. If you use a travel agent, they can help you decide if all this luxury is worth the price. You start adding up airfare, excursions, wine and drinks, specialty restaurants and the like and you’d be amazed at how close in cost the premium lines are to the luxury lines. The question is what to estimate for each of these categories. An excellent travel agent can provide guidance for each of these based on their experience. And this is where having a relationship helps because the agent will know what the client values. For example, some clients are very happy to not book any excursions and just want to wander around each port. Others book excursions in every port to try to learn and explore as much as possible. The cost used for the excursion category in each case will be very different when comparing to other cruise lines.
Been there, done that
So when does Regent make sense? Cost is one consideration. Another is itineraries. Because their ships are smaller, they are able to visit some very unique places. For an example, in the Caribbean, Regent stops in Tortola, Gustavia and Castries. If you’ve only sailed the larger vessels you probably have never been there. Want an extended cruise – say 1, 3 or 6 months? Regent does round the world cruises especially designed for continuous voyages. The ships don’t go back and forth to the same destinations making a longer trip much more interesting. There’s many more reasons that your travel agent can discuss with you. But mostly, it’s for the luxury experience – gourmet food, great service, spacious suites and never having to open up the credit card once on board.
Alternatives are good
So even if you’ve never heard of Regent Seven Seas before, you now know at least an alternative travel supplier. Regent may or may not be the cruise line for you. Sometimes your budget won’t accommodate a fully inclusive experience. That’s OK because there’s many other alternatives. You may not be aware of it by searching on the internet or talking with your friends. But that’s what a travel agent can provide – finding the right fit for you regardless of how popular the travel supplier is. Alternatives are good when they are the right alternatives for you. Make sure you ask about alternative travel suppliers.