Storm in an afternoon teacup?

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A generous pot Earl Grey, cucumber sandwiches, warm scones with jam and cream, served by crisply-dressed waiters wearing pristine white gloves. They are all part of the tradition of afternoon tea which many British cruise ship passengers set their clocks by.
It’s one of the favourite social occasions of the day, often accompanied by a string quartet, a pianist, or even a harpist.
I have seen passengers queuing for the best tables in the Queens Room on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria. The Discovery Lounge on Saga Pearl II was packed every afternoon during my recent cruise to Norway.
And the great thing about it is that it is all provided at no extra cost; it’s included in the fare.
But one cruise line is about to change the tradition.
Fred Olsen has been trialling an “enhanced afternoon tea” on Boudicca, charging £5.95 a head, and now plans to introduce the service to the other three ships in the fleet.
The trial run has excited a great deal of comment from Fred Olsen cruisers who subscribe to the LinersList internet forum.
Some see the move as the end of the world as we know it, because of the additional charge, and also because guests are required to book their afternoon teas in advance.
” Fred Olsen you know just what you can do with your cruise line! Charging for afternoon tea indeed – bloody impertinence,” wrote one. ” It is afternoon tea and one should not have to pay extra for it. I would far rather pay a higher price for my cruise than feel once I was on board that I was being charged for anything I encounter once I step beyond my cabin door.”
Some suggested that the change sees Fred Olsen following the RyanAir example of charging extra for everything they can. Others saw this as a positive move, even going as far as to suggest that the basic fare should be pared down to the absolute minimum so that only those requiring facilities for their children should have to pay for them, and even cutting the cost for those who don’t want to watch a show in the theatre.
While there are those with long memories who can recall a time when cruises really were all-inclusive, and those who can afford the fares for the ultra-luxury lines where they still are, the practice of extra charges is now commonplace.
P&O’s premium restaurants, with menus by Marco Pierre White or Gary Rhodes, and a cover charge of £25 a head or more represent good value for me. The cupcakes on Oasis of the Seas might not be to everyone’s taste, but thousands are happy to pay a few dollars more.
It just goes to show that you can’t please – or even displease – everybody.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:28+00:00 24 May 2010|Cruise Entertainment, Cruise Gossip, Cruise News|1 Comment

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

One Comment

  1. J.A. 24 May 2010 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    Does Fred olsen have a death wish, or is the company in dire straights? They have recently announced a fuel surcharge, their ships are among the worst for outbreaks of norovirus and now they want to chgarge extra for afternoon tea. This idea deserves to be killed off quickly

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