Is a White-Knight in the offing?

It's interesting to view trends in cruising and how the bulk of the industry is evolving in distinct directions. Our CFO, in transportation, son-in-law strongly believes the impetus motivating the cruise majors is to slowly nudge cruisers to spend less and less time in their cabins and more time spending money utilizing various amenities, regalements, allurements and other venues provided throughout the ship. Sort of like the Vegas model. 

Can't say I disagree with him, as I seem to be witnessing the advent of huge ships, providing a basic low initial rate for meals and cabins while everything else is add-ons. A huge floating arcade with meals provided in an army chow hall like atmosphere, ala, a Golden Coral intermingled with exquisite extra charge eateries.

What I am curious about, is whether or not a or any specific line will depart from this stereotype and provide an unique cruise experience for those in the minority who prefer voyages more in common with yesteryears?

For instance, depending upon which demographic you look at, approximately 8% of cruisers smoke. So, out of the 23,000,000 (2013 numbers) who cruise one could expect slightly less than 2 million guests would prefer a cruise line with a lenient smoking policy. In recent years most of the majors have adopted strict no smoking policies including no smoking on balconies. However, HAL has stepped forward with comparatively more lenient rules and is filling the void.

In the case of those cruisers who prefer formal nights, going by the poll conducted on Celebrity, slightly less than 30% of guests prefer formal nights, the remainder either wants to get rid of formal or don't care. Assuming then that those, slightly less than, 7 million cruisers would prefer a line with formal attire evenings it would stand to reason that at least one of the majors would step forward by providing a cruise experience that satisfies this demand. Currently, that has not occurred. Most of the majors have either eliminated the formal dress code, diluted it considerably or are trending in that direction. Furthermore, every one of the luxury lines appears to be not far behind.

Since a number of these cruise lines are attempting to have it both ways by mealy mouthing the issue, in order to please the formal nighters as well as making those preferring casual dress all the time happy, it may take a while for all this to sort out.

Us and about 7 million others await the forthcoming of this white-knight cruise line. Who will it be? Then we jettison those who have forsaken us.                         

13 Answers

As far as the "required dress code", I believe that Cunard currently has that, as well as (possibly) some of the luxury lines.

The mainstream lines will probably continue to stay in the middle of the road in order to attract the largest number of guests.

As what I consider myself to be a veteran cruiser, Here's my opinion; I am a smoker yet I do respect the right for non-smokers to have their comfort zone as well. They paid for the cruise and should have spaces where they don not have to deal with my habit. I take that a step further such as by asking people in a seat at the slots in the casino that I question if they smoke or not if they minded if I smoke even though it is in a smoking designated area. That said, there are many that feel smoking should be abolished completely from ALL ships, Carnival tried that years ago and it failed on (I believe) the Paradise. But let's take that one step further. I have had issues with drunks on past cruises. Should I expect lines to ban drinking? I have also had issues with unsupervised kids playing havoc on the lifts and running up and down the halls yelling. Should I expect the lines to ban kids? Understand, you are cruising with over 2000 passengers on an enclosed vessel. There will be those that you feel impose on your vacation but if it is not illegal (smoking), you do have to deal with it! As for the formal nights, I feel they should be part of the cruise experience. Years ago, you were able to be casual on the ship but on formal nights, it was refreshing to see passengers dressed to the "T" (as opposed to IN a TEE) and their kids dressed in their Sunday best. Much of the formal nights seem to be for passengers to want dress down, all the time in the diningroom. Sure, that may be OK for Disney World but some things should remain enforced on cruises and formal night should be one. Cruising is loosing the magic it once had with things such as formal night dress code and the midnight buffet. Sure there are lines that offer the top shelf service but be prepared to pay the top shelf price! It seems that cruise lines are so busy pumping out the newer, bigger and better ships yet losing grasp of what cruising REALLY is supposed to be! Just my thoughts......

I am not looking for a formal atmosphere when I cruise. On the other hand, I prefer not to see sloppy attire in the MDR especially at dinner. I think that for the majority of passengers a vacation means not dressing up in suits and ties or gowns. Everyone is different and I respect those who do want to dress more formally. I am happy that dress codes are relaxing & I wish that HAL would restrict smoking on balconies. I booked a balcony on HAL for next year & I hope that I can use it without smelling smoke.

I sure wish that was true about the Luxuries and Cunard BDRebel but I'm afraid it is not. Over on C.C. when Princess sent out their questionnaires last week, to a chosen few, asking opinion regarding diluting formal night standards, quite a few eye opening discussions took place. Of course it was testy, but well mannered for a change and I learned quite a bit until the moderator, who had strong opinions himself, was unable to get others to acquiesce to his point of view so just up and locked the thread. Before that occurred I had mentioned that Cunard might be the last remaining of the majors to go the mass market route of eliminating formal attire. I have never been on Cunard, so was just hoping that to be the case, based upon my impressions. I soon was told that Cunard was dropping their dress code standard as well. Here is a news article on the subject:

As far as the luxury lines go, we are Regent voyagers, so we know what they are doing. I had suggested on the Princess thread that perhaps Crystal Cruises would retain strict formality. I soon got told otherwise, I checked it out and sure enough Crystal is really reducing their dress code standards. Been quite a bit of pertinent heated discussion on their threads as well. Crystal even discontinued providing tuxes for rent.

As far as Regent goes here is their most recent dress code. Notice they did away with "formal" instead call it "optional formal". They also cut back on the number of so called formal nights as well. "Longer cruises might have optional formal or semiformal nights; on these evenings, passengers can either wear elegant casual attire or opt for a more formal look (gowns, cocktail dresses, dark suits or tuxedos)." I have even had cordial discussions with my Regent representative regarding this subject, it is clear from his comments that management is strongly leaning to more casual dress.

Now having pointed all that out about Regent, truth is that they are a little different breed of cat when it comes to being able to dress up on their ships, here is a response I gave to someone who suggested that Regent was going the way HAL did with a minimum dress code for "Festive Dress", their most elegant dress nights, as a polo shirt, which is no more than a T-shirt with a collar. Sure HAL tells you that a tux is still okay, but a white tux jacket in a myriad of polo shirts in the MDR, come on.

"I suppose that some will argue Regent is cutting back on elegant dress as well, however, we don't really see it that way. Regent may not have an abundance of "formal" nights advertised however we are hard core Regent cruisers and we experience a lot of occasions to dress formally on their ships, just as some seem to be able to do on Oceania which is billed as a casual line. Not only on formal dress nights but also at other times.

I attribute this to the ample number of tables for two in all venues, particularly in the MDR; and that they do not go the traditional seating route, so you aren't stuck with two or more other couples, some of which don't care to dress up. In short, the average dining setting on their ships is much more intimate which lends itself to enjoying gourmet cuisine in a cultured environment no matter what the dress code is for the evening.

Even if a formal night is called for on some mass market lines for dinner, the chaos and din often make it akin to my days eating in my college cafeteria."

Some assessments that might hearten you a little regarding the smoking issue that I have formed from reading thousands of posts and strong opinion on the HAL C.C. thread, into ad-nauseam I might add. Is this:

1. It appears to me that the great majority of non-smokers do not want to get rid of smoking in its entirety on cruise ships.

2. The way I read the preponderance of most non-smoker comment is that they believe---If and when a cruise line eliminates balcony smoking, as a minimum, they should provide on each ship enclosed ventilated deluxe smoking lounges such as "Churchill's" on Princess or the "Connoisseur Club" on Regent.

3. A poll taken on Celebrity regarding smoking rules indicated that about 12% of non-smokers favored allowing smoking in the casinos and a much larger percentage didn't care. I don't gamble but even my wife who does and who detests smoke agrees that smokers should not be cut off completely from the casinos. She also says that recent practices on Princess makes the casino smoking situation tolerable for her. You are mighty gracious, I must say, in asking permission to smoke from non-smokers in a smoking area. If I were a smoker I can't say I would do that, but then maybe I would.

Personally I have never smoked, except being Joe College, in my youth with a pipe, Haw. But my wife did and quit 25 years ago, she is much less forgiving than I am in this regard. Personally, second hand smoke doesn't bother me much except for chain smoking cigar smokers. I actually like the whiff of a pipe and welcome one being on a adjacent balcony. Don't tell my wife that.

All good info Ken, and a great post to start! You obviously did some research on the issues and I can truly appreciate that. When we sailed on the Caribbean Princess this past April, we frequented Churchills and you would be surprised how many people were there just for cigars (myself included). There was an occasional cig smoker that came in but once done, they moved on. My friends & I on the other hand, sat and enjoyed our cigars along with a Brandy (kinda Titanic-ish huh) while watching the numerous T.V.'s they had. Thanks again for the post. VERY interesting.......

Not sure that I agree about basic low rate for meals and cabins. I personally consider that around $1300 pp for a week in a balcony is certainly not basic. However, whilst you mention add-ons, we do not spend any add-ons to the cruise line whilst on the cruise. We do not utilise the speciality restaurants as we find the food in the MDR's and the buffet more than adequate. We take the drink package provided by NCL and consequently do not spend any dollars at all. Our only additional spend is a beer or two in a port.

People who don't like formal nights accuse the cruise lines of trying to take away their right to not dress up. With the lines moving toward less formal nights, they're letting the informal people deny me my right to dress up.

I reckon you would enjoy P & O.

Sounds as if you just confirmed my point. Except, a balcony is not anywhere close to "basic", we cruised 17 years before booking our first balcony. To me "basic" is an inside or even an ocean view. So, once again, a cabin and three squares plus all the snacking one can put away. That is basic. Now, price wise one can find Caribbean cruises all over the place in mid-winter for a "basic" price of $55.00 to $60.00 per day p.p. not the $170.00 pp per day you quote.

Show me a land resort where you get by for $55.00 pp per day next to the ocean, room and board. Man, you can't even hardly get breakfast for that.

Like I say, they get folk on board for a "song and dance" then sock-it-to-em afterward. Now, the more miserly of cruisers aren't going to pay much more than the minimum. They aren't going to----take shore excursions, drink booze, eat in specialty restaurants, buy soda, buy bottled water, have room service on some lines, have a balcony, have Internet, do laundry, and the list goes on infinitum,----either.


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