At a time when every other cruise line is trying to improve the service for their best customers – the passengers who have sailed with them most often, and those paying for the best suites – it looked like Royal Caribbean had shot themselves in the foot by announcing they were restricting access to their concierge lounges.
These are a popular perk, providing a meeting place for regulars, priority bookings for shore excursions, speciality restaurants and spa treatments, and – best of all for many passengers – free drinks, just like an airport business class lounge.
Trouble is, the lounges became just too popular, and were becoming overcrowded with members of the Crown and Anchor Society whose members have sailed 10 or more cruises. It was planned to restrict access to Diamond Plus members who have clocked up 25 or more cruises.
But the cruise line has been forced into a partial reversal of its decision. Royal Caribbean President Adam Goldstein, in a letter to members, now says: “While we knew the reaction would be negative, it has been more negative than we anticipated.”
Changes will now be delayed from July 1 to September 1, and after that a new system
will be introduced.
There will be a VIP private party every evening when free wine and champagne will be available between 5.00pm and 8.00pm in one of our bars or lounges. A separate area will be set aside for breakfast each morning, when concierge booking services will be available for two hours.
Passengers still looking for full concierge facilities should book cruises on one of the three Freedom class ships, or the soon-to-be- launched Oasis and Allure of the Seas, which each have both a concierge club and a separate Diamond Plus lounge.
More news from Royal Caribbean: they have, as I predicted, secured the $1.05 billion of finance needed to complete Oasis , which is nearing completion at a shipyard in Finland, and which will make its maiden voyage in December.