The word “luxury” is somewhat hard to define. What is luxurious to some may not be luxurious to others, and not all industries attach the label “luxury” to their services and products in the same way. This should make outlining the difference between a luxury cruise line and a regular cruise line, our current focus, somewhat difficult. If it is hard to get a handle on what a luxury cruise line is, it’ll be difficult to contrast a luxury cruise line with a cruise line that does not advertise itself as such. So, how are we to go about outlining the differences between luxury cruise lines and regular cruise lines?
Fortunately, and as we explained in our article about the definition of a luxury cruise line, cruise lines have fairly compelling reasons to describe themselves as “luxurious” only if they are in fact luxurious. Everyone knows that a cruise on a luxury line will cost significantly more than a regular cruise, and for this reason “luxury” essentially is synonymous with “expensive.” A regular cruise line therefore wouldn’t want to attach this label to their vacation offerings, as it could potentially deter the exact customers they are trying to attract (i.e., the people who are looking to take a cruise, but don’t want to invest two months of their salary into their week-long vacation). It is also obviously deceptive to describe yourself as a luxury cruise line when you aren’t, and this could hurt sales in the long run as well. Luxury cruise lines are happy to advertise themselves as “luxurious,” however, because they are aiming to attract a small, wealthy clientele who expect to pay more for their cruise. They won’t be put off by the label luxury – that is exactly what they are looking for. Thus, one major difference between luxury cruise lines and regular cruise lines is their respective prices, with the former obviously costing much more than the latter.
And since cruises on luxury lines cost significantly more than cruises on regular lines, the vacation experience is much different. On a luxury cruise line, you can certainly expect more personalized services and more upscale dining, spa, and entertainment opportunities. Just as importantly, on most luxury cruise lines, you won’t have to pay extra for these services and amenities, which is something we touched in our article about all-inclusive cruises. Luxury lines like Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, and Cyrstal Cruises include a lot in the cost of their fares. The four lines just listed all offer free alcohol on their ships, in addition to many other things. Regent is particularly all-inclusive, as even your flight to and from the port of departure is included in the price of your fare, as are any shore excursions you might take during your vacation. On a regular cruise line, you’ll have to pay for far more things out of pocket.
Finally, the cruise ships of luxury lines are different from the cruise ships of regular lines. Over the last decade or so, there has been a push by the regular cruise lines to make the largest ships possible. They aim to create what amount to floating cities with incredibly elaborate attractions. (Just look at some of the water parks on board the newest cruise ships.) In making their ships so big, they also have another aim: to get as many people on board as possible, meaning many of the passengers will be staying in small cabins without any views. The luxury ships take essentially the opposite approach. They of course have plenty of attractions on board (several restaurants, spas, a casino, etc.), but their ships are in general nowhere near as large as the mega ships of the regular cruise lines, and they also have far fewer rooms. However, the majority (and in some cases all) of these rooms are quite nice, with plenty of space and verandas that overlook the ocean.
Basically, luxury cruise lines have adopted a different business philosophy than regular cruise lines, and this explains the difference between the two. A regular cruise line makes money by serving a large number of people, whereas a luxury cruise lines makes money by serving a relatively small number of people, but who pay much more for their vacation.