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When Regent Seven Seas Cruises opened the books on its 2017 World Cruise, the line’s first in six years, it expected a strong response. But selling 70 percent of the 490-guest Navigator on the full 128-night cruise the first day was a surprise, even to executives.
“We knew there would be pent-up demand, but we didn’t expect this degree,” said Jason Montague, president and chief operating officer for Prestige Cruise Holdings, which oversees the operations for Regent.
With Yahoo headlines about the speed at which the pricey accommodations are going, the company doesn’t know whether there will be any segments available when they go on sale in late October.
Entry level pricing (with airfare included) for the World Cruise is $54,999 per person, or about $110,000 per couple. And the 62 ports of call in 31 countries give guests access to dream destinations such as the Great Barrier Reef; Tahiti; Rome; Luxor, Egypt; Jerusalem; Myanmar; Rhodes, Greece; Mumba, India; and far more.
Despite the price tag, value is the most crucial selling point with all that is included, according to Montague — from unlimited shore excursions and first-class, roundtrip airfare to Internet access, laundry service, door-to-door luggage transfer, phone time, medical care and exclusive onshore events.
“It takes a lot of operations to make this work, but with all the bucket-list destinations we’re visiting, you’d be spending far more in time, money and effort to visit these places any other way,” he said. “Besides, with us, you go to so many exotic destinations, and you only fly roundtrip air to Miami. The value is amazing, and it’s a phenomenal way to travel. Agents should be very aware of this, and know that they can fit so many more people than they may imagine into the pool of potential world cruisers.”
Montague pointed out that about 10,000 people turn 65 years old every day, creating an exploding number of potential travelers who can take this much time out, many of whom have the means and desire to do so. In addition, despite the current increase in newbuild announcements among luxury cruise lines, Montague noted that the percentage of dedicated luxury capacity (ships dedicated entirely to luxury rather than those with a luxury ship within a ship) is far less than in the hotel sector.
“Even when you disregard the business traveler, there’s a substantial difference,” he said. “True luxury cruise capacity is about 3 percent of the total, where among hotels it’s more like 25 percent. And the experience is completely different from ships with luxury sections — the staff-to-guest ratio, service level and space allocation are completely different. So, there is really a lot of room for luxury cruising to grow.”