Our recent column, "When Celebrity Drops Gratuities from All Included, What's an Advisor to Do?", hit a nerve with our readers. Most of you are not happy with Celebrity's decision to drop gratuities from its All Included fares, though not everyone plans to move clients to other cruise lines.
Some of you indicated you do, indeed, make decisions based on how supportive you perceive a supplier to be – whether it's Celebrity making selling more difficult by dropping gratuities or Norwegian Cruise Line taking the step to pay on NCFs.
Finally, one of our readers reminded us we missed another upper premium cruise line – Windstar – that also provides an all-inclusive fare option that bundles Wi-Fi, drinks, and gratuities for $99 extra per person, per day.
Here we present some of the emails we received:
I agree with the mainstream. Celebrity's package pricing made it so much easier to sell. Now, they've almost slipped totally off my radar. I just made two bookings yesterday that were originally going to be Celebrity but they're not now.
Compass Luxury Travel
When Celebrity introduced Always Included, they stressed the fact that "advisors would be getting paid commission even on gratuities and onboard credits which guests use for shore excursions and activities onboard – which was a win-win for the cruise line and travel agent."
It's as though they cut our commissions by cutting those components from Always Included. I was on the webinar a week or two ago when the Celebrity spokesperson was justifying the change by saying something along the lines of "we've listened to our guests – our mutual clients – and this is what they are telling us." They weren't listening to anyone I've referred to Celebrity because my client all like the prepaid gratuities and onboard credits. That has been a fantastic selling point for me selling Celebrity with Always Included – until now.
As usual, we will move forward and work with what we have. Time will tell if advisors find other options for those clients they would normally have pointed to Celebrity. Will I still sail Celebrity? Absolutely!
At $90pp per day, this is $1260 for a couple on a 7-night cruise... for basic Wi-Fi and a drink package. My feeling is that unless you are a big drinker, this is a poor value. I suspect more guests will not take the "All-included" fare and save themselves a lot of money.
World Cruises and Travel
I like the all-inclusive idea and love Celebrity.
They aren't "gratuities" if people are forced to pay them. They should be more appropriately declared, as some do, as "hotel service charge" (or as one company says, "crew appreciation").
Most of my clients are not big drinkers so they usually decline that option. Celebrity and Royal have been my favorite to book but since NCL is finally eliminating the unfair, immoral, unethical NCFs, I always give them first chance. I hate how NCFs vary. I was used to it at $220. A booked client called to tell me Royal dropped its fare on her cruise. I called them and got the new lower price, but he NCF increased from $220 to $330, cutting my commission by more than half. Recently, I booked an Alaskan cruise with Cunard. The fare was $1200 but the NCF was $557 (almost 50%)! How does that figure as fair or decent? They can easily increase their selling price by 2% to cover the commission they're withholding from us with their NCFs and still maintain the same profit margin.