The Problem of Pricing
In Selling the Sea By Bob Dickinson, he describes how cruises are seen as premium products due to the high price. But he also points that this is an artificially high price, as your entertainment, food, and basic beverages are included.
That book is now 14 years old, and despite the rapid growth of cruising during that time there is still a commonly held misconception that cruising is expensive, to try to combat this two cruise line have taken differing viewpoints; NCL has reduced prices, but increased the amount of services charged for once onboard, MSC and a few others have gone the other way and created ‘All-inclusive’ packages including alcoholic beverages, which increases the overall cost.
It is my understanding from speaking to people that they find cruise products confusing, as there is no land based equivalents. However a few cruise lines are now offering alternatives which might make more sense:
Norwegian Cruise Line Concept
NCL operates on a freestyle cruise product which is all about doing what you want when you want. The evolution of this has meant you know pay for what you want, if you want alternative dining you can pay for it, the market economy on a ship, this is great as it means you pay for your holiday, you are not subsidising other people onboard the ship.
It also means that the price you see in the travel agents window is low, and if the price is low people will be interested. As Selling the Sea points out, it was the high start price that puts people off cruising but you get a lot for your money, as it was pointed out to me on MSC Opera, how often do you get towels changes twice daily in a hotel. The General Public however has not learnt this is the case yet, and its something which cruise lines need to educate people on, so they can realise the great value.
MSC Cruises Concept
MSC operates as a traditional cruise product, however to encourage those with worries about onboard prices, an array of ‘All-inclusive’ packages have been crafted which cater for various needs. A link can be found at the bottom of this post if you are interested.
As a direct opposite of NCL this takes the concept of cruising in line with ‘All-Inclusive’ land based resorts, as everything is already paid for, so the customer can feel more relaxed about ordering a few extra drinks. Even if I didn’t use up the amount I would still go for this option as there is no shock bill at the end of the cruise, you know what to expect.
MSC isn’t the only cruise line doing this several others are including Thomson and Celebrity, However having just been on MSC Opera and learning about the products I chose MSC.
The is also Spirit of Adventure Cruises, SAGA’s sister company, who I believe also include shore excursions. Pullmantur, the spanish arm of Royal Caribbean have been doing All-Inclusive cruises since they started.
I think both of these options are a step in the right direction, as with NCL you pay for what you want, its to your style, where with MSC you don’t have to worry as it is already paid for, the great reason for All-inclusive holidays. However travel agents and cruise lines need to suit the cruise product to the passenger, but thats always the case!
Our Blog Post Reviewing : Selling the Sea By Bob Dickinson
MSC Cruise All Inclusive packages – http://www.msccruises.co.uk/uk_en/MSC/all-inclusive-cruise.aspx
Norwegian Cruise Line – www.ncl.co.uk
Spirit of Adventure – http://www.spiritofadventure.co.uk/