Once Royal Caribbean customers book their cruise they face a number of choices. That’s because the cruise line uses an a la carte model.
Your cruise fare gets you on the ship and gives you access to most entertainment venues, the ship’s pools, the main dining room (MDR), and other select dining options. Buying a cabin on a ship, however, does not come with internet or a beverage package.
Passengers have to decide if they want to spend extra on either of those things. For most passengers, buying an internet package comes down to whether they need to stay in touch with the real world (or how much they like spending time on social media).
There are people who simply put their phones away when on a ship while others need internet access for work or to keep in touch with people on shore. Some folks simply wait for ports to use the internet while others spend the $20-30 per day Royal Caribbean (RCL) – Get Free Report charges for access.
The decision on a drink package, especially the Deluxe Beverage Package, can be harder. People who don’t get a beverage package are entitled to tap water, basic coffee and tea, and some non-fresh juices in the Windjammer Buffet.
Royal Caribbean sells a Soda Package, which includes soda, but not bottled water, and a Refreshment Package that includes all non-alcoholic beverages. The toughest choice, however, is the Deluxe Beverage Package (DBP) which costs somewhere between $62 and $110 a day (all package buyers also pay an 18% gratuity).
To make the DBP worth it, you have to drink enough to justify the price. That’s not all that hard when you consider mixed drinks can cost $15 each, bottles of water cost $3, and fancy coffees are $6-7 each. Still, it’s expensive and some passengers have called upon the cruise line to make a key change.
Royal Caribbean sells some very interesting cocktails.
Image source: Daniel Kline/TheStreet
Royal Caribbean won’t go all-inclusive
Royal Caribbean’s sister brand, Celebrity Cruises, offers some all-inclusive fares which include basic internet and a basic drink package. Celebrity offers two-tiers to its all-inclusive drinks package with the Classic package only offering a limited selection while the “Premium” drink package includes most drinks served on board.
Some passengers have pushed for Royal Caribbean to offer an all-inclusive paclage, Royal Caribbean CEO Michael bayley shot down the idea of that happening during an event on a preview sailing of Icon of the Seas, the cruise line’s newest ship, and the largest cruise ship in the world.
“Our strategy has always been the unbundling of pricing to give people as much choice as they possibly can,” he said, in news first reported by Matt Hochberg of the Royal Caribbean Blog. “”Our research says that around about 50% of the guests don’t want a beverage package.”
Bayley shared that keeping its products a la carte, or “unbundled” as he called it, gives passengers more choice so they can make the purchases that are important to them.
“When you unbundle everything, it gives people choice and it pushes the pricing closer to their budget, which is a really important thing for families,” he added.
Royal Caribbean knows its customers
Celebrity and Royal Caribbean serve different customers. In many ways, passengers sort of graduate to Celebrity when they get a little older and they aren’t sailing with their kids. That’s not true in all cases, of couese, as the company’s namesake brand, although its built around families, certainly serves all audiences.
Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty shared some info on the company’s audience during its third-quarter earnings call.
“The positioning of our brands attract guests across broad demographics, psychographics, and at-a-median household income of at least $125,000. Our customers’ sentiment is bolstered by strong labor markets, high wages, surplus savings, and elevated wealth levels,” he shared.
Liberty also believes that Royal Caribbean will benefit from one key spending trend.
“Even better for us is the fact that overall spend on experiences continue to grow and is currently up 25% compared to 2019, with twice the amount spent on goods,” he added.