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!

What do you think, which option do you prefer? Tell us! Facebook, Twitter, Email and Comment.

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Our Blog Post Reviewing : Selling the Sea By Bob Dickinson

MSC Cruise All Inclusive packages –

Norwegian Cruise Line –

Spirit of Adventure –

6 thoughts on “The Problem of Pricing

  1. Good article. Many complain about the ‘nickel & diming’ but they don’t have to pay when there are plenty of free things. P&O’s soft drinks package is a rip off. £30 for 20 refills of 330ml equalling £1.50 per can!

  2. I was on MSC Cruises earlier this year (MSC Poesia, I also wrote about it at Meritime Matters) and my experience was that MSC’s pricing policy was very similar to NCL’s. The purchase price of the cruise was cheap, but everything onboard was very expensive (3 € for a small soft drink; 16 € per person for a sauna visit). No all-inclusive packages were offered; you can buy a set of vouchers beforehand that can be used to pay for onboard purchases that will be slightly cheaper than without the vouchers. Unless MSC radically changed their product in the month between my visit and yours, I’d say this entry gives a somewhat wrong impression of MSC’s onboard philosophy (or their marketing in the UK is very different from the rest of Europe).

  3. Thats an Interesting point Kalle, The visit I went on was for Travel Agents and prosepective passengers. And MSC went out of the way to tell us about thier drinks packages, which are linked to at the bottom of the article.

    Perhaps I chose the wrong cruise line to show the two possible business models, however I was manily trying to highlight the point that cruise lines seem to be taking two different view points, I think a better comparison would have been Azamara and NCL. But maybe it is the case that MSC markets themselves differently in the UK than in the Rest of Europe.

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