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Today we didn’t go to the Cruise Show at the NEC. The show (which ran over the whole weekend) featured pretty much every major cruise line active in the UK cruise market, plus many others who have some presence. Luxury lines were especially well-represented, with Regent Seven Seas, Oceania and Azamara attending as well as others. We had tickets and had planned to go today (Sunday). So why didn’t we?

Well, for a start we are already booked for next year – our 17-night cruise on Ventura in May/June – so we wouldn’t be there to plan next year’s cruise, and I got a feeling that a lot of the marketing would be aimed at that. What we were interested in doing at the show was hearing from the deluxe and luxury lines what they felt it is that justifies the much higher cost of their cruises compared with mass-market lines. For example, I was going to ask a representative from Azamara what it was that justifies per diem costs on their ships that are about twice the costs of a cruise on Celebrity Solstice. You certainly can’t claim that Azamara ships are better than the Solstice class – in fact the opposite might well be true.

In the event I’ve decided that I don’t need to ask the questions directly because I think I’ve already got the answers. I did quite a bit of research about these lines before the show, and I’m just not persuaded. For example, I now understand that Regent Seven Seas ships are all-suite. I’m sure they’re excellent suites, but the truth is I just don’t want to spend all that money on a suite. We’ve reached the view that a normal balcony cabin is what we want – it’s big enough, and it has all the features we require – and we just don’t want to pay more money for anything else. Similarly with spas and gyms – we don’t do any of that on our cruises, so a line that markets itself as having extraordinary spa facilities isn’t pushing our buttons at all.

I’m increasingly of the opinion that what I want to do is get the best deal I reasonably can for the cruise I want, which means a cabin that’s good enough and itinerary that’s just what we want. Then I’ll happily spend lavishly on-board, knowing that I got the cruise itself for a good price.


What do others think?

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