|Regent Seven Seas’ Voyager in Monte Carlo.|
Regent Seven Seas Cruises is doing all it can to stay out in front—on land and sea. The luxury cruise line is steaming ahead with phase three of its Seven Seas Signature program, which, it says, will wrap toward the end of this year and include ship renovations along with the addition of a host of robust services and amenities.
The first and second phases, both of which were completed late last year, included a $100 million enhancement of all three ships—Voyager, Mariner and Navigator—with a focus on public spaces. A highlight of the second phase was the announcement that, beginning with its 2011 Europe season, guests would receive complimentary pre-cruise overnight accommodations at a luxury hotel, including airport transfers and breakfast prior to checkout. (If guests don’t use the hotel package, they receive a $300 credit.)
The third phase will not only have more ship renovations (think new carpeting, curtains and menu tweaks), but bring iPads to all Penthouse and higher-category suites. In addition, Regent has finalized its new concierge-level amenities for categories E and above on Mariner and Voyager, and categories D and above on Navigator. Services, which will begin to be extended next April, will include such amenities as 10 percent off Regent Choice shore excursions (Regent offers free unlimited shore excursions in addition to its Choice excursions, which carry a charge); priority online reservations in specialty restaurants Prime 7 and Signatures; 25 percent off premium wine and liquor purchases; and one hour of free Internet access per suite.
Like all luxury cruise lines, the recession rendered a tough couple of years for Regent, but, as President Mark Conroy said at a briefing in New York in May, the line was able to overcome the decline by implementing such maverick ideas as free shore excursions and airfare.
Conroy said that pricing is now up over 2010 and that the line is 82 percent sold out for 2011. In fact, 2010 was Regent’s best year in history and it is currently ahead in both price and occupancy versus the same time last year. Conroy stresses that discounting was never a tack the line took during the economic downturn. “We didn’t discount our way out of the recession,” he says “If you sell a $600 cruise for $300, it can take two years to get back up.”
According to Conroy, the line is seeing occupancy rates of 90 percent and a booking window that is expanding. He says that the person who books the cruise first should get the best price.
Free shore excursions have been a huge hit, with 90 percent of Regent’s guests now taking tours. It used to be only 20 percent, Conroy notes.