This was given to me by Dr. Norman Caisse.
Gotta love it.
This was given to me by Dr. Norman Caisse.
Gotta love it.
Mark Conroy, President of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, opened up the floor to guests of the Seven Seas Mariner for what was billed as a Town Hall Meeting. The Constellation Theater was packed as new and repeat guests listened for clues to what the future has in store for the cruise line.
He started the discussion with an opening statement about how 2010 was a good year for the company, a profitable year. He went on to give a little history of the company’s management from the private holding of Carlson Companies to Apollo Management and Prestige Cruise Holdings, the umbrella organization that contains Oceania and Regent. He pointed to the success of Oceania and the launch of its newest ship, Marina; and also announced that another ship was in the works, the Riviera. As for a new ship on the horizon for Regent, he said that discussions are underway for another 800 passenger, 50,000 ton ship. The new ship would combine the best of all the existing ships plus a few extras; partial dome over the pool; two specialty restaurants in addition to Compass Rose and La Veranda; an expanded spa with water features including lap pool and hydro-therapy rooms; a non-azipod propulsion system; possible single cabins, and an old-fashioned promenade deck that would wrap all the way around the main deck (to which the audience responded in applause). He said that with the agreement with Cordon Bleu coming to an end they were looking into a new concept for the specialty restaurants and though the idea of a big-name chef sounded appealing, he would rather see the money invested in food rather than salary.
Regarding the Mariner’s upcoming dry-dock he said that in addition to new carpeting and cosmetic changes there will be iPads in the butler suites; readers like iPads and/or Kindle will also provide newspaper service in lieu of the current hard-copies; more full-shower suites would be installed; and there will be an implementation of a new Concierge Class with added amenities like plush pashminas for chilly balconies and binoculars for in-suite use.
The first questions from the audience voiced the recent discontent about the upcoming RSSC cruise schedules which do not include a traditional World Cruise which many feel disregards the customers who book the World Cruise every year. His answer was statistical; of the 160,000 households in the company data base, 100,000 are regular customers booking every 18 - 36 months. To keep the ships full and the company profitable, you have to work for the common good. Since the first World Cruise in 2001on the Navigator, 125 people have been on every world cruise offered by the company. They represent 5% of the company’s business. He conceded that though he knows the World Cruise is popular, especially with the audience, decisions today, “tend to be more finance driven.” He said one of his ideas as a possible solution was a “build your own World Cruise,” where any 100 day combination would constitute a World Cruise with all the associated benefits. He also stated that were a World Cruise offered in the future he did not see it ending in the United States.
Next big issue discussed was the rising cost of single supplements and the elimination of gentleman hosts, to which Mark said, “we do not plan on eliminating hosts on longer cruises. Regarding single supplements, you can get credit for non-use of air and other things; we try and be fair…. it makes sense that if the ship is full we can make more money selling a double cabin; but if its empty I want to be reasonable. In 2011, there are between 24 - 30 cruises priced at 150%; and in the future we are looking at a new concept for the new ship that will better accommodate singles. I think we are being short-sighted in this area as the singles market is getting larger.” So hang-on all you singles, there may be hope in sight!
The Town Hall meeting remarks ranged from bandwidth to band-aids and the high cost of on-board medical care. In conclusion Mark pointed out how, in the end, you never can please all the people all the time. He said recent industry research shows a very high percentage of people say they choose a cruise because they like the itinerary - the ports of call. When asked how the cruise could be improved, the same people respond, “more port days.”
Thanks for coming out Mark!
Panos Karan, the 28 year-old, classical pianist who has graced the stages of concert halls around the world (around as cruise ships on the Seven Seas) has taken his talent to a new audience - the children of the Amazon. Forming his own non-profit organization, Keys of Change, Panos is introducing another dimension of music - classical music - to the children along the Amazon from Coca, Ecuador to Belem, Brazil. He has planned 88 recitals in communities ranging from modern cities to rural villages where his portable keyboard will require the portable generator he is also carrying.
Keys of Change was established in 2010 to improve the lives of children around the world through education and music - primarily the classical music that Panos knows so well. His first concerts were in Quito before flying over the Andes to begin his adventure on the Amazon. The headline of the Quito newspaper El Universo reads, “A Greek wants to bring classical music to the jungle.” If you’d like to read the entire article from El Universo: http://www.eluniverso.com/2011/03/02/1/1380/un-griego-quiere-llevar-musica-clasica-selva.html?p=1354
Oh ya, every once in a while it feels good to say, “I told you so!” The city of Montevideo, capital of Uruguay, is finally coming into its own. It has been with great anticipation that I have waited for the day the “modest” city would emerge out from under the long shadow cast across the Rio de la Plata by Buenos Aires. I don’t know, maybe its my penchant to root for the under-dog, but I always felt the two cities were like twins separated at birth; both with equal beauty and potential, but due to fickled finger of fate Buenos Aires flourished, while Montevideo floundered. But the makings of a beautiful and vibrant city have always been there lurking under years of neglect. Now the city has found its own identity and is attracting the attention is has long deserved.
Located on the east coast of South America, the country of Uruguay is the size of the state of Colorado and has a total population of 3 million, half of which live in Montevideo. With a Mediterranean climate and coastal breezes from both the Atlantic and the Rio de Plata, Montevideo does not suffer from the high humidity and up-river in Buenos Aires. Additionally having coast on the blue Atlantic creates wonderful white sand beaches right in the middle of the city; but if that isn’t good enough a few hours away is the world-famous resort of Punta del Este. Uruguay enjoys one of the highest standards of living and is ranked among the best countries for quality of life, health and safety. Montevideo extols the same wonderful architecture, seductive tango and delicious gaucho traditions (including the parilla) as Buenos Aires but at a fraction of the population, cost, traffic and hassle. With beautiful suburban residential areas and a newly restored historic Old Town, Montevideo is attracting investors and ex-patriots from all around the world.
Next year the Seven Seas Mariner will be calling on Montevideo twice when it travels from Rio de Janiero on November 26, 2012 to Buenos Aires and then again on December 6, 2012 from Buenos Aires back to Rio. For those of you thinking of something new and different why not board the ship in Monte Carlo on November 9 and stay on through to Buenos Aires visiting such fascinating cities like Barcelona, Cartagena, Malaga, Casablanca, Agadir, Las Palmas, Porto Grande, Recife, Salvador and Rio de Janeiro before continuing down the sunny Brazilian coast to Buenos Aires and Montevideo!
For more on Montevideo check out the following link that will take you to a great article posted in the Wall Street Journal.