Regent Seven Seas Seeing Demand From Luxury Hotel FIT Guests

It’s a new horizon in luxury cruising as Regent Seven Seas Cruises is now seeing an influx of new-to-cruise guests coming from the luxury hotel FIT side of the travel industry. As a result, the ultra-luxury line is crafting six new “test” cruise itineraries for 2024 and 2025. They're designed to heavily attract that clientele.

Post-pandemic, “we’ve seen a real increase in demand from luxury hotel FIT travelers,” Shawn Tubman, Regent Seven Seas’ senior vice president, sales, told travel advisors and travel media sailing aboard the new Seven Seas Grandeur on Monday. During a trade session in the ship's theater, he stressed: “We’ve never seen it before. They never wanted to consider a cruise."

Tubman emphasized that “they love going to hotels. They love going to Europe for 10 days, three cities and really getting immersive in these cities.” But he noted that the pandemic changed things: “The [hotel] prices are so high at this point, so a lot of these hotel travelers are saying, ‘Hey, what else is out there? You, as my travel advisor, have been telling me about cruising. I’ve never listened. I’m open to it right now.’”

Six New Test Itineraries

In fall 2024 and spring/summer 2025, Regent Seven Seas will offer six test itineraries. “Instead of 10 days, eight ports, we’re going to do 10 days, four ports,” Tubman said. “But every port will have an overnight—at least two days, and some even three days in the destination.” That can mimic the way a luxury hotel FIT client would combine stays in three or four destinations with plenty of time for deep-dive immersion. 

While itineraries won’t be released for several weeks yet, “these are the most popular destinations in the world that we’ll be going to,” he added. Guests will be able to get off, immerse themselves in the destinations for multiple days and use the ship as a floating hotel. “We think it could be something that could be game-changing in the industry,” believes Tubman.

Travel advisors and industry executives listen to an executive briefing by Harry Sommer and Shawn Tubman aboard Seven Seas Grandeur.
Travel advisors and travel industry executives learn about the new trend of luxury hotel FIT guests shifting to try out their first ultra-luxury cruise. (Photo by Susan J. Young)

In addition, “we think there’s a huge opportunity to offer a more immersive experience for [all] our guests,” he said. "They’ve been everywhere. They’ve ‘been there, done that,’ and they go back to these cities, and we’re trying to give them a way to experience these destinations. And we think we have something new and cutting-edge.” 

Capacity: A Different Perspective

Also speaking to the advisors at the executive briefing was Harry Sommer, president and CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which is Regent Seven Seas’ parent company.  When he’s asked if there’s enough demand for luxury cruising, given the new ships and whether there’s too much capacity, “I look at this through a slightly different lens,” said Sommer. He credits his perspective to Adam Goldstein, a former Royal Caribbean executive.

According to Sommer, back in 2016/2017, Goldstein said that that people often think about the cruise industry and the potential of overcapacity in the wrong way. While the presence of more ships in the industry can be a variation, Goldstein suggested at that time that people consider the vacation industry as a whole—2 billion people a year taking a vacation. Sommer told the trade audience, “I imagine the number is even higher today."

Since about 31 million people are expected to cruise in 2023, “that makes us (the cruise industry) about 1.5 percent of the market,” Sommer said. “So, when someone says, ‘Am I concerned about capacity with products like The Ritz-Carlton or Explora” or others, the answer is, “Absolutely not. My competition is not those brands. I’m not fighting within the 1.5 percent. We have to fight together and win the 98.5 percent.”

Tubman summed things up by telling the trade audience that converting luxury hotel FIT clients to cruisers can be advantageous for both the cruise guests and their advisors. Guests don’t need to continually pack and unpack nor deal with intercontinental travel. Instead, their ship just floats from one destination to the next. And "for the travel advisor, you don’t have to get the dinner, the entertainment and the excursions," he said. Those are elements that often take a lot of time to set up for the client. On an ultra-luxury cruise, though, those elements are included and commissionable.

In trumpeting the attributes of the new Seven Seas Grandeur, just christened on Sunday night, Sommer, who said he's stayed at a lot of luxury properties, added: "I’ve never stayed at a hotel that looks like this ship.”

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