Regent Seven Seas Cruises has sailed into its first berth in Recommend’s Readers’ Choice Awards in the Best Cruise Line—Small Ship category, thanks, no doubt, to its highly popular inclusive sailing program that’s been pleasing both passengers and agents since 2009.
An observation that’s been noted by Kari Tarnowski, Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ senior v.p. of marketing, who adds, “We’re certainly thrilled to be awarded such an honor by our travel agent partners who are certainly our biggest advocates. We feel this is really a reflection of how well received our most inclusive positioning has been over the past year-and-a-half. We’ve positioned ourselves as the most inclusive luxury cruise experience.”
And the company is not resting on its laurels either, having recently announced still another expansion to its inclusive program that’s already added considerably to its sales program. “We’ve raised the bar,” she says “so to speak, on inclusiveness. So now, not only are all of our sailings from April 1 on offering 2-for-1 fares, free air and free unlimited shore excursions, we’ve also added a free luxury hotel package.”
The luxury hotel offer is a free, pre-cruise program allowing passengers to spend more time in a port departure city before sailing on their cruise itinerary. And, it’s already a winner because in just one month after its launch on Oct. 20, Tarnowski reports, “…between 75 and 80 percent of all of our bookings have taken advantage of it, so we’re seeing quite a bit of success and it’s really reflecting on our bookings for 2011.” She adds that, “It’s been very well received by our travel agent partners and they’re really excited about it, too.”
The free inclusive shore excursion offerings are still another big hit, with passengers getting the opportunity to broaden their cruise experience even more without having to pay extra. In the past, Tarnowski says, some guests would just get off the ship and walk around the port city and then return to the ship. But with the free shore excursions, she says, a lot more are joining them and getting a better port experience, especially since more than 80 percent of the line’s tours are included in the free offer.
“We’re really taking the same tours that we offered before, it’s just that they’re free now. St. Petersburg is probably the best example, because we stay in St. Petersburg for two or three nights depending on the cruise. You actually can—depending on your time and energy—take a morning tour, then an afternoon tour and maybe go to the ballet in the evening.” Agents have embraced the inclusive programs, Tarnowski says. “It’s been fantastic. We launched it in early-2009 on just a few of our sailings—about 40 sailings—and it was such a success that we opened it up to all of our 2010 and 2011 sailings.
“I think that in this area we’re revolutionizing what inclusive means in luxury cruising these days,” Tarnowski says. “It’s a whole new level that’s differentiating us. And, in addition to augmenting that inclusive offer, over the past year we’ve also been focusing on our ships and we’ve poured over $100 million in refurbishing all three ships and really keeping them fresh and relevant.”