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JUST FOR FUN: EARLY PREDICTIONS ON WHAT RCI WILL DO FOR "NEW" SUITE GUEST PROGRAM


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Being that my next cruise isn't until June 16' and RCCL just announced that they will be "putting some meat on the bones" of the amenities that passengers who book suites receive:  WHAT DO YOU THINK IT WILL LOOK LIKE?

 

  • Will it be a copy of Celebraties program?
  • WIll there be different categories for different suite types?
  • WIll it impact free upgrades?

I realize this topic may be short lived, because they could release details any day, but for now....What are your thoughts?

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I think they are going to copy Celebrity's Plan.. I just booked my honeymoon for Harmony of the Seas 2/25/2017 in a Crown Loft Suite so I am hoping they give unlimited access to specialty restaurants and free internet. Along with everything you already get of course.. I don't care so much for a butler but I do like specialty restaurants so for me that would be great!

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I think they are going to copy Celebrity's Plan.. I just booked my honeymoon for Harmony of the Seas 2/25/2017 in a Crown Loft Suite so I am hoping they give unlimited access to specialty restaurants and free internet. Along with everything you already get of course.. I don't care so much for a butler but I do like specialty restaurants so for me that would be great!

I agree, likely a copy of Celebrity.  Keep in mind, Michael Bayley was Celebrity's CEO and so far he's pretty much hired ex-Celebrity people too. 

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So, based on that, where do you think the different catagories of suites will fall?  Every ship has a GS, OS, RS but what about the larger ships that have Crown Loft Suites, Royal Family Suites, Aqua Theater Suites etc?

I am actually pretty intrigued by the idea because the RCI large ships have many more suite options than Celebrity ships do.

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There are other classes of ships (besides the Oasis class) that have Royal Family Suites. I just got off the Freedom yesterday and we were in a Royal Family Suite, but I understand the purpose of your question.

 

I certainly hope that they do NOT "tier" the Suites' benefits. That is so divisive, IMO. I guess, in a way, there already are 2 suite tiers as the Junior Suites are suites in name only and do not qualify for most of the benefits of the "suite package" (the ones offered once onboard, at least) but to further tier suites and graduate the suite benefits is just unnecessarily patrician. Okay...so the suite guests want to feel that they are special. I get that. I am a suite guest most of the time and I LOVE the suite benefits...but to say that some suite guests are MORE special than others is ridiculous. It already infuriates many cruisers when they are turned away from a venue or events b/c they aren't suite guests. Why further class-divide your most loyal and lucrative customers ??

 

I will admit that RCI has a problem to solve - there are ever-increasing numbers of senior level loyalty customers (Diamond and Diamond Plus) every day and when you combine those with the Pinnacles and Suite-level guests you have something of an overcrowding problem.

 

I mentioned above that we just got off the Freedom. We were able to get seats in either the Diamond Lounge or the Concierge Lounge a grand total of 3 times during that 7 day cruise. All other times we tried we just looked in, turned around and left b/c there were no seats available. This is b/c there were so many Diamond, D+, Pinnacle and suites guests on that sailing. I suspect that this same problem is repeated on many, if not most, of the RCI ships sailing every day.

 

IMO the solution is NOT to subdivide the groups but to reward them ! Provide bigger/better facilities for their senior/exclusive customers. The Concierge Club on the Freedom was a joke. It was a small, dingy, interior space that was both unappealing and inadequate. If RCI really wanted to do something special for their special clients, make the Concierge Club a bigger, more cheerful venue with a da*n VIEW !

 

What they are doing by tiering everyone, IMO, is to DESUADE people from trying to achieve the senior levels/suites. How do you achieve the senior levels ? You cruise MORE ! Why would they want to penalize guests for doing that ? What kind of a marketing scheme is that ?? If every time you take a step forward they move the goal posts 2 steps further ahead, how long do you think they are going to keep up that trek ? Not long, I assure you. REWARD your senior levels don't make them feel devalued !

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There are other classes of ships (besides the Oasis class) that have Royal Family Suites. I just got off the Freedom yesterday and we were in a Royal Family Suite, but I understand the purpose of your question.

 

I certainly hope that they do NOT "tier" the Suites' benefits. That is so divisive, IMO. I guess, in a way, there already are 2 suite tiers as the Junior Suites are suites in name only and do not qualify for most of the benefits of the "suite package" (the ones offered once onboard, at least) but to further tier suites and graduate the suite benefits is just unnecessarily patrician. Okay...so the suite guests want to feel that they are special. I get that. I am a suite guest most of the time and I LOVE the suite benefits...but to say that some suite guests are MORE special than others is ridiculous. It already infuriates many cruisers when they are turned away from a venue or events b/c they aren't suite guests. Why further class-divide your most loyal and lucrative customers ??

 

I will admit that RCI has a problem to solve - there are ever-increasing numbers of senior level loyalty customers (Diamond and Diamond Plus) every day and when you combine those with the Pinnacles and Suite-level guests you have something of an overcrowding problem.

 

I mentioned above that we just got off the Freedom. We were able to get seats in either the Diamond Lounge or the Concierge Lounge a grand total of 3 times during that 7 day cruise. All other times we tried we just looked in, turned around and left b/c there were no seats available. This is b/c there were so many Diamond, D+, Pinnacle and suites guests on that sailing. I suspect that this same problem is repeated on many, if not most, of the RCI ships sailing every day.

 

IMO the solution is NOT to subdivide the groups but to reward them ! Provide bigger/better facilities for their senior/exclusive customers. The Concierge Club on the Freedom was a joke. It was a small, dingy, interior space that was both unappealing and inadequate. If RCI really wanted to do something special for their special clients, make the Concierge Club a bigger, more cheerful venue with a da*n VIEW !

 

What they are doing by tiering everyone, IMO, is to DESUADE people from trying to achieve the senior levels/suites. How do you achieve the senior levels ? You cruise MORE ! Why would they want to penalize guests for doing that ? What kind of a marketing scheme is that ?? If every time you take a step forward they move the goal posts 2 steps further ahead, how long do you think they are going to keep up that trek ? Not long, I assure you. REWARD your senior levels don't make them feel devalued !

WAAAYTOOO,

 

I hear ya, unlike Celebrity, RCCL has a much greater difference in their suite offuring and now with double digits worth of ships 160K tons or larger they have a "opportunity" on their hands.  The question is:  How do they keep the cost of the suites where they are and assure that they stay in high demand?  My guess will be there will be some sort of "leveling" much like there is in Crown&Anchor.  I bet it will be a combination of "All-Inclusisvness" and special spaces on board.  

 

They will have to find the balance between the high volume cruisers that don't invest in suites so they can tavel more often and those who spent 12K plus for one week every two years.  I totally agree that if they start tiering the suite benefits, they will need to make sure the C&A program is viewed as a different set of benefits completely.

 

Disney has been dealing with this delima (annual pass holders vs high dollar one offs) for half a century and sometimes they have gotten it right and others they bombed.  The balance between loyalty and the mighty dollar is a slippery slope.  I suspect RCI will test the waters and I believe they will adjust as needed.  They have been pretty responsive to guest feedback as of late after testing some new concepts, so lets see.  

 

If they were to offer unique opportunities to high end suite guests, what are your thoughts on whats fair?  Should it be on dollars spent or class of room?

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I think it should be class of room like it is on celebrity. Basically on Celebrity all the good perks start at their celebrity suite which is comparable to a grand suite on Royal. One thing that I did find interesting that Celebrity did is they are letting their Sky Suite guests (which is comparable to a junior suite) eat in the suite only restaurant. I think Junior suites on Royal should be able to eat in coastal kitchen. Then once you are in a grand suite and up I think the real perks should begin.

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In a way I guess I'm being very myopic and self-serving. I guess what I really want is to make sure that I do not lose any of the benefits that I currently enjoy as a suite guest. I have been burned so many times lately by changes that RCI has made....privileges and perks that I once had that have been withdrawn.

 

Would I be opposed to seeing invitations to specialty restaurants added as a perk to the higher level suite guests ? No. That is not a perk that they currently offer me so if they decide to offer that as a special perk, perk to the high end suite guests then I think that would be fine.

 

Stephanie is right....the REAL suite benefits start at GS and that's fine....but if they start cutting any of those benefits, currently offered to GS guests, I will have a problem with that. I'm just a little gun shy, I think. With so many perks disappearing in the past couple of years I am concerned that they will choose to cut benefits to the lower suite levels to make the higher level suites feel "sweeter" than include NEW benefits to make them feel sweeter !

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 I guess we will have to wait and truly see, but my guess is you guys are correct.  They won't strip any of the existing perks of guest, staying in a GS, but add additional perks for differnet teirs of suites.  From a business stand point, if they do this it will help them maximize what they can charge for the larger suites, by offering more than just the amazing accommodations.  Think about it, what's a free beverage package cost RCCL for a suite guest, when they already have access to the Concierge Lounge?  Now that they are having more al acarte resteraunts, whats throwing in free dining in those spaces? For that matter, not charging the additional fee on all or a designated number per cruise, for the signature dining?

 

From a marketing standpoint it is a slippery slope, but could really end up being a rewarding move if they handle it right.  They would have to make sure the Perks for C&A stay beneficial and sperate from the suite amenities.  They would need to make sure they don't strip any of the existing perks for suite guests but make sure they promote what extras you get by booking more expensive accommodations.  If passengers are booking their top tier suites way out, it gives them much more budgetary predictability.  

 

Not all the time but sometimes, I am willing to spend whatever it takes to have an all-inclusive experience and as it stand right now RCCL doesn't really offer this in one clean package.  I personally can't wait to see what they do.  If handled correctly it could really encourage some people to spend a bit more up front to have a grander experience on their vacation.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have only stayed in a grand suite once & as much as I enjoyed (shamefully) the feeling of being treated differently, I did not utilize many of the benifits. We are not drinkers nor did we utilize the consierge (I enjoy doing the planning), so the lounge had no appeal to us. Thus the JS has become the cabin of choice for us. For the most part I think that the extra benifits are commensurate with the extra cost especially if you are sailing on Freedom class or smaller. We love the double points and the robes. But on Oasis and now quantum the % of cost from balcony to JS is significant and it would be nice to see a few extras considered for JS guests. Obviously, I wouldn't expect access to consierge lounge, but it might be nice to be included in reserved pool deck seating or theater seating. As was stated above, I too amm just being selfish.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Based on a thread from Cruise Critic it appears that there is some pretty good information saying the new Suite Perks Announcement will come in August and be in place for 2016 sailings.  Common sense says if you are thinking about booking a suite on a cruise for next year do it now and see what happens.  My guess, suite cost will go up.

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  • 3 weeks later...

WOW, what just happened?

 

The tier system? This is a way to get more money and provide less service and benefits.

 

Generally, we stay in a superior stateroom with balcony or a jr suite. We feel there is a huge difference between a regular suite or a jr suite, and the larger suites when it comes to service and benefits. plus you get double the points awarded in a jr suite.

 

Are you now saying that the tiered, 2 bedroom suites, are not entitled to all of the suite benefits?

 

We booked a one week, 2 bedroom suite, leaving in a couple of months for over $12K. If we don't get the suite benefits, that was a total waste of monies.

 

For spending the money we expect to get exceptional, over-the-top, fun service and benefits. If we aren't, that was just, money we threw away. NOT FUN. And, very, very expensive, NOT FUN.

 

For that kind of monies we could have booked an all enclusive experience (including flight expenses) and wouldn't have to worry about being nickled and dimed everytime we turned around (ie: manditory, "can not take off your bill", gratuities; drinks; pictures; excursions; ect.). To me, this is deceptive billing. Just tell us how much the bill will be and stop continually adding charges. Or, we could have just gone on vacation and individually paid for things and it would have been a much less expensive, and a more enjoyable, experience.

 

But I keep forgetting, this is not an American company, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is incorporated in the Republic of Liberia. And, their ships are not registered in the US.

 

As a customer, there comes a time, when the services provided are not worth the monies and effort expended. When you feel that a company is trying to get every penny from you, you find another place to spend your money.

 

When your experience is over, and you realize all the added charges equal or exceed the actual cruise, you do not feel good. That was not a fun experience. You remember the feeling.

 

Currently we feel that we have walked away with a good experience with Royal Caribbean. Inconsistantly good, but good, none the less. And, we will continue to book with Royal Caribbean.

 

But given, not so good service or a bad experience more than once, this could change. We then would choose to spend our monies elsewhere.

 

If the service and benefits decline significantly, a Family will not say "WOW that was a great cruise line and service",the Family will be saying, "WOW they just took all our monies and that was NOT FUN"

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CelebrationFICruiser, all suites, above JR suites are still getting all of the suites perks - including the 2 BR suites. I was in a 2BR Royal Family Suite in May on the Freedom and we got the full treatment.

 

I would not expect that to change - even with the new suites program (although I STILL have no idea what that new program is going to look like). If ANY of the suites qualify for the suites perks it is likely to be the 2BR variety.

 

I am hoping, as most are, I think, that rather than reducing the level of perks that currently are provided to suites guests, RCI will decide to simply ADD some perks to some of the higher levels. E.g., I am thinking maybe they will offer unlimited specialty restaurant packages to those in some of the higher end suites or unlimited drinks packages, spa access/services, etc.

 

Now, believe me, I am NOT so naïve as to think that they WOULDN'T reduce current suites perks....goodness knows RCI has reduced so many basic amenities here recently that it would not be unprecedented....but I think the suites market is pretty lucrative for RCI and to hack us off would be at their own peril. I have NO problem whatsoever if they ADD perks to some of the higher suites categories....I don't eat at the specialty restaurants anyway and I drink for free in the casino already where I spend most of my time....so those perks aren't really going to affect me. But if they REDUCE any of the perks that are currently offered to the suites I WILL have something to say about that. Will just wait and see.

 

Bottom line...if you have booked a 2BR suite for a future cruise I feel confident that you will get all of the suites perks that you are entitled to at the time that you booked.

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CelebrationFLCruiser,

 

Royal Caribbean International is a US company with their corporate offices located in Florida.  Their ships are registered under other national flags, as are every other cruise lines', for tax and other legal reasons.  NCL America is the only exception and that was required for them to circumnavigate the Hawaiian Islands without visiting a foreign port.  A noncruise example might be Apple.  They're currently the richest company in the world.  However, most of their money is in Ireland because of tax considerations and most of their products, except for one line of computers, are manufactured in China.  Does this make them any less of a U.S. company?

 

I do agree with the frustration of seeing perks removed and/or what amounts to a tier system being implemented.  However, I believe this is in response to market demand.  Several other cruise lines have done this with great success in terms of additional revenue.  MSC, for instance, has a ship within a ship concept where suite guests get a very different cruise experience than those not sailing in suites.  NCL has the Haven and many other perks for suite guests, and Celebrity has a restaurant that is essentially tier-based on cabin type booked.  Thus, I believe Royal is either trying to attract these customers and/or concerned that they are losing some.

 

Many who are loyal Carnival cruises balked at Carnival when they started offering loyalty perks to those who were not frequent cruisers for a price.  For example, for about $50, you get priority boarding, priority luggage delivery, immediate access to your cabin, priority tendering, and priority disembarkation.  For me with a small child, this was worth every penny, but those who were in the top tier of the loyalty program that it was eroding their perks even though they were getting it for no additional costs.  In addition, it's limited based on the number of loyalty members are booked onboard so as to not overtax the system or erode from the experience of those who have earned the perk.

 

While as a public company Royal is in the business of maximizing revenues for its stock holders, they are also in the customer satisfaction business to keep those revenues.  Thus, if these changes are not liked by the guests, they will change.  If nothing else, Royal has proven to be responsive to its guests.  Look at the delay of Dynamic Dining after guest complaints, for example.  Of course, it's also possible that the majority of guests do not care and thus Royal is not hearing from them, so I would strongly recommend that you write a letter to Royal expressing your feelings; otherwise, nothing is likely going to change.

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CelebrationFLCruiser,

 

I think or lets say hoping it all boils down to Value.  I commented on a thread on another Forum that is on this topic and just like on here there are several points of view and all are valid in their on way.  Here is mine:

 

VALUE is everything.  Value does not equal cost per say, it equals perception of money vs product.  To the cruiser Value is "what we get for our money" and that comes with several levels of expectations.  I believe RCCL is wanting to find a way to maximize the demand for their most expensive and premium spots on their ships.  If I was the CFO of RCCL I would cringe every time I read the report that shows the complimentary upgrades, why?....because its lost revenue and that isn't a good proposition for a business.  So how do they minimize the scenario where they have to up-fill suites in order to meet demand for regular category cabins?  Increase the value of the suites.

 

Let face it, yes most of the time the finish out is nicer and on everage there is about 20 to 30% more space vs a normal cabin, but how do you really create value?  I think by adding extra layers of perks and more than what they have in place now.  They must keep the C&A program exciting and healthy, but like any maturing loyalty program the amount of people that are elite status eventually creates an interesting "opportunity".  Lets face it, if you are D or above, doesn't all the perks make it a challenge to justify investing in a suite?  I say yes.  Bottom line C&A Perks need to be kept seperate and unique to what they are trying to do with the "Suite Life" program.

 

In the end RCCL and the Cruiser win if the can maximize people wanting to spend more to get a better vacation (aka Value) and keep the ability to encourage people to cruise often by having the wondereful perks that come with elite status of C&A.

 

Parting thought: I love me some Disney World and over the years have watched WDW do several creative things to fill the on site rooms (free dining, extra days on passes, Extra Magic Hours)...Why, do they offer slightly better incentative for the Deluxe Hotels?  They do it because they are encouraging people to spend more on their premium products and the incentive is the Value they build into it.  Another scenario Lexus ES450 vs Toyota Camery, why do people spend the extra money on the Lexus?  Basically the same car, but the value you get with the ES is understood (Free loan car, better build out, better service in general) Value.  I think we as the cuiser will ultimatly win big time in this deal, but at first it may be scary because it will be a change.

 

B-

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"Lets face it, if you are D or above, doesn't all the perks make it a challenge to justify investing in a suite?"

 

B -

 

Not really...not until you get to Pinnacle. The D+ bennies get me NOTHING that I enjoy with a suite (GS and above). It's the elusive Gold Card that is the discriminator. Once you get to Pinnacle (doubtful that I ever will !) then you're in perpetual Gold Card Heaven and presumably you will no longer need to pay for any of the suite goodies.

 

...and as with all things, value is relative. When I first started cruising, just getting "priority boarding" was such a wonderful thing and the fact that I had attained Emerald status (or whatever level it was...can't even remember now !) that permitted me to Priority Board (not even an actual perk...that line was longer than in any of the other lines...but it was a perceived perk !) made all of the money that I had spent on cruises to get there, worth it ! Now, of course, I think that things like having a complete dinner on my balcony from the full MDR menu and being able to cut in front of everyone to board a tender and being able to book a cabana before everyone else are extremely valuable to me.

 

But you are absolutely correct that VALUE is the key. What you are willing to pay for the benefits that you "buy" is what it is all about. It's the American free market way ! Hooray for capitalism !

 

I think the thing that most people really resent is when they feel they have paid (one way or another...either with direct cruise fare or with investment in cruise fares over the years) is being stripped away. That makes NO ONE feel valued.

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  • 1 month later...

Well it's official! The Royal Suite Class has been announced.  Three Categories:  Star, Sky, Sea.  They have included the JS into the Sea Class, which is a win for that category.  The Star class is a huge leap forward in what they have ever come close to trying.  It is for the Oasis Class and Quantum Class only and will start May 2016.  I don't know how to attach the brochure, so I emailed it to Matt. Matt post it if you can.

 

B-

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  • 2 weeks later...

Doesn't seem like much of an incentive to spend the extra $$ for a suite.

I think it depends on what you are used to.  If you have spent the extra money before for the extra space and double cruise points you get with the JR Suite (SEA CLASS), now they are giving you plus'd amenities and another free dining option that on all counts compares to Signature resteraunts. The SKY CLASS still maintains the perks you recieved before and have added plus'd amenities and free internet service.

 

All perspective, but if you are on a cruise that has several days at sea the Suite Only sun deck alone could be the difference in a relaxing cruise and one where have to self medicate due to the "fight for chairs".  The accommodations are always a plus and now they are extending unlimited WI-Fi service to alll guest in the SKY CLASS suites.  If you have kids between the ages of 8 and 100 that is a huge plus, not to mention being able to reach each other easily while on these huge ships if you find yourselves being in different places for whatever reason.  I personally like to hang at the pool while my wife gets ready, now there is no more "hurry back and wait for the shower."

 

I realize all these things may not add up to much for some, but to others these extra perks offer the opportunity to have a few extras that add the their vacation.  WIth the exception of the Suite Only Restaurant, Suite Only Sun Deck, More Space and new upgraded amenities any passenger can pay to have most the other things added to their cruise.

 

I guess bottom line RCI is now offering a turn key option for those that just want some of the extras without having to worry about adding it later.  I realize I haven't touched on the STAR CLASS because that is a whole different scenario and it is really yet to be seen just how much the overall cost will be impacted on those suites long term.  They were always expensive and pretty much garunteed to remain that way now that they come with butlers etc.

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The value is definitely in the eyes of the beholder. I've sailed once in a penthouse on NCL and love the suite perks they provided, but mainly did it because of price drops. I don't think I could justify the extra money as I'd rather cruise more. However, for those that don't have the time to cruise that often or see these perks as making or breaking an experience, I can see the appeal.

 

It really is similar to the debate regarding balcony cabins or not. I love them, but would opt for an inside or ocean view if the prices were significantly different. By downgrading from a balcony to an ocean view on the Brilliance after a price drop, we saved enough to pay for our entire next cruise. For our 13 day Baltic cruise next year, which only has one sea day, we opted for an inside as the ocean view cabins were $1500 per person higher and there are three of us; that's our airfare.

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