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sammy sun

Are P&O Cruises holding back on drinks packages due to concerns over the British drinking culture?

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So many cruise lines now seem to be offering some form of all-inclusive packages. Fred Olsen, Thomson Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, they all offer a drinks package. I know there are differing levels and you can pay extra for premium choices but many of their sales messages now include these incentives to book, so how come P&O have resisted the temptation to follow suit?

I’m not sure whether it’s because they don’t feel the need to or whether it is actually because they are concerned that the reputation Brits have for drinking may provoke bad behavior from some people on board should they be given unlimited access to free booze. 

I’m leaning towards the latter because, they surely are in need of a boost to their sales. Cruise prices almost always fall closer to the time of sailing now (as is the case with most companies) but P&O’s saver fares are now crazy good sometimes when you consider what prices used to be in the past. Is that because they need to fill cabins? If so then surely a further incentive on select fares would work wonders. Instead of on board credit (used to be the in-thing, now no way near as much appreciated),  perhaps try something new. It could be a huge marketing/PR campaign for their brand so it must have crossed their minds considering the success Royal Caribbean and Celebrity appear to be having with it, so what exactly is holding them back? I think it’s the worry that what might be great in the short-term for a major PR boost, the fallout of the move could be catastrophic for them. Think of the Christmas cruise incident a fe years ago and times it by ten!

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The lack of any AI packages meant we have booked 2 cruises with other lines this year, when normally we would have stayed with P&O.

I have always been surprised when staying at various AI hotels how few people actually drink to excess, there will always be the odd few, but I do think P&O are missing a trick here, how many cruisers not frequenting various forums think like me and do like the option of purchasing an AI upgrade, since it caps the holiday spend and means that you can often enjoy a better glass of wine, or spirit plus other various soft drink and cabin mini bar enhancements for not a huge amount extra.

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13 hours ago, thecartoonman said:

The lack of any AI packages meant we have booked 2 cruises with other lines this year, when normally we would have stayed with P&O.

I have always been surprised when staying at various AI hotels how few people actually drink to excess, there will always be the odd few, but I do think P&O are missing a trick here, how many cruisers not frequenting various forums think like me and do like the option of purchasing an AI upgrade, since it caps the holiday spend and means that you can often enjoy a better glass of wine, or spirit plus other various soft drink and cabin mini bar enhancements for not a huge amount extra.

Having priced up Celebrity and Royal Caribbean's AI drinks packages, both costs would far far outweigh any on board drinks spend that I have had in 15 years of cruising, couple that with the current (mainly due to Sterling weakness) significantly higher cruise prices that both lines charge compared to P&O, I wonder if perhaps you  are fooling yourself into thinking you are saving money by opting for a cruise line that offers AI drinks.  Unless of course you have a free drinks package and the cost has not been added on to the cruise fare.

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Not being heavy drinkers, meaning I don’t drink wine and my husband has one glass with his dinner it would not be wise for us to take any drinks package.  On previous cruise we have had other guests at our table who have taken out one of P&Os wine packages and not used all the allowance. After much discussion with the waiter they were given the remaining wine to take home, but having packed up their belonging that night it meant extra to carry of the ship. I would much rather spend as I use that way I make my own budget.

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29 minutes ago, towny44 said:

Having priced up Celebrity and Royal Caribbean's AI drinks packages, both costs would far far outweigh any on board drinks spend that I have had in 15 years of cruising, couple that with the current (mainly due to Sterling weakness) significantly higher cruise prices that both lines charge compared to P&O, I wonder if perhaps you  are fooling yourself into thinking you are saving money by opting for a cruise line that offers AI drinks.  Unless of course you have a free drinks package and the cost has not been added on to the cruise fare.

You need to factor in what else you get for your money?

Celebrity is way ahead of P&O in most departments being rated premium ,against standard.

But prices reflect that ,Someone worked out that you would need to drink at least 5 times the cost of the package before the cruise line got worried.

We look at the price first then the package, if we are happy with the cruise price we book it and if we get a drink package ,then very good no bar bill at the end of the cruise......Davybe

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We took advantage of the drinks package on board our Fred Olsen Sailing which was mainly Brits on board and there were no issues relating to alcohol, but Fred dose attract an older clientele.   The fact P&O now restrict the amount of alcohol you can take on board highlights that they may be concerned about the leaves certain passengers are drinking, no one wants to be stuck on a cruise with drunk troublesome guests.  If it is something they’ll look at it I don’t believe it would be offered on the “Short Break Sailings” aka Party Cruises.  Maybe they could trial it on the Adult Only ships first?

From experience we’ve always found P&O to be excellent value, so you can argue is it even needed?  

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I definitely take your point on that RiverSong, they are good value, especially when compared to what we used to pay so maybe they don't need to do it value wise. I just wonder if they'd see early booking numbers rise again if they added this as an early incentive, that's only applicable on select fares. Then maybe they wouldn't need to lower prices to the extent they sometimes do for saver fares. Just my opinion but surely they must be considering it.

I'd agree with you again that their change in policy for bringing alcohol on board does signal that there are concerns there. Perhaps you're right, maybe trialling it on the adult only ships might be a starting point.

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Having had a drinks package ,and enjoyed them as they included soft drinks along with teas and coffees ,it was nice to see no drunken behaviour ,though some had early nights due to drinking to much, and only hear that one couple had ,had a domestic due to drinking to much.

On Britannia we saw them collecting their drink on the last night, some not very happy about it at all, but the bars did seem busy, but again we saw no drunken behaviour. Some would be happy with an all inclusive drinks package and perhaps they should offer it for sale at first ,and see how it goes....Davbe

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We are not big drinkers however the packages often include special coffees, water and wine by the glass at dinner. It is worth buying the package or better still getting a free package with the cruise booking as you can then relax on the cruise without any concern as to your spending onboard. We already factor in gratuities to the cost, prebook shore trips, plan how much we allow for spending in each port unless something worth while to buy comes up then it's just flash the credit card. Then we only have to decide on the spa if we fancy a massage or other treatment. P&O are loosing a lot of trade to Celebrity and now MSC are becoming much more aware of what the British market are looking for as far as food is concerned.  

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Of the cruise companies that we currently cruise with only Princess offer a drinks package and at over £50pppd it is far too expensive would never drink enough to justify cost. With those that offer"free" drinks packages they are not free and are included in  the cost of the cruise so you have paid a higher price to start with.

 

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A drinks package at £30/30$  is £60/60$ per day sorry no way would we even break even we would pay a very high price for soft drinks and coffees I would not take advantage of this, 

I was on a Celebrity cruise were one couple had brandy with breakfast, drank all morning, slept all afternoon, then back to drinking all evening, I did not see them drunk, but words were very difficult to understand at dinner, He told me they needed to drink to the the best value from the drinks package, takes all sorts.

 

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4 hours ago, Jenjen said:

A drinks package at £30/30$  is £60/60$ per day sorry no way would we even break even we would pay a very high price for soft drinks and coffees I would not take advantage of this, 

I was on a Celebrity cruise were one couple had brandy with breakfast, drank all morning, slept all afternoon, then back to drinking all evening, I did not see them drunk, but words were very difficult to understand at dinner, He told me they needed to drink to the the best value from the drinks package, takes all sorts.

 

Princess drinks package is $69.95 per person per day so on a 14 nt cruise would cost nearly $2000 for a couple.

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Who would spend that much on a 14 night cruise? You would have to go some.

you would need to home and give your liver a holiday. Just my opinion of cause, as I always say each to his or her own

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Maybe after recent experiences on the well documented Australian cruise its not just the Brits that have this problem, but it probably boils down to cost and they are trying to keep these as low as possible.

How much would the operator have to charge to still make money if they went down that route - now that is definitely a big question?

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21 hours ago, cruise chef said:

Maybe after recent experiences on the well documented Australian cruise its not just the Brits that have this problem, but it probably boils down to cost and they are trying to keep these as low as possible.

How much would the operator have to charge to still make money if they went down that route - now that is definitely a big question?

This is certainly a big question CC and I would imagine the answer to be a significant amount more than what they're charging now, however, their rivals are seeing success with it in the British market, so surely there must be some merit to it. I think another question would be: How many potential passengers have they lost to all-inclusive land stays by not going down that route?

I suppose it would tie in quite well with the other thread going on here on all-inclusive sailings. On this forum, it would seem that not too many of us are big drinkers, hence the little appeal but of course we're just a small sample size of a much larger UK market. I would imagine that there are a lot of people out there that would be in favour of it and it certainly seems a popular factor amongst the new-to-cruise market.

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