Beginning in 2007, all Regent Seven Seas cruises will be liquor-inclusive, according to the Fort Lauderdale-based line.

The question of whether to include liquor in the ticket price has dogged Regent (formerly known as Radisson) and Crystal Cruises the two largest luxury cruise companies, in terms of berths and ship sizes over the years. Smaller competitors Silversea Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line and SeaDream Yacht Club are liquor-inclusive.

According to Regent President Mark Conroy, the decision is part of a rebranding of the entire Regent cruise experience, which started with the name change in March. Conroy said that after hearing good reviews from guests on its world cruises, which are already liquor-inclusive, he determined the policy should go fleetwide.

Weve noticed how the policy has contributed to the air of conviviality aboard, with more people getting out of their suites socializing, Conroy said. Its this open, intimate spirit of camaraderie we wish to foster on all Regent voyages.

Christian Sauleau, executive vice president of operations for Regent, said that the policy would cost the company somewhere between $12 and $16 per person, per day, but that the increased cost per day to guests would be less than that. He estimated that the surcharge would be somewhere between $9 and $10 per day, but noted it has not been determined yet. Sauleau said he has pushed Regent to adopt an alcohol-inclusive policy for a long time, not least because he was senior vice president of operations for Silversea from 1994 to 1997.

He is convinced that the atmosphere onboard Regents ships will be improved by such a policy, and he added that passenger surveys and comment cards indicate overwhelming approval among customers for a liquor-inclusive policy.

Customers always say, Include the beverage, because we can meet in the bar and there is a better atmosphere, Sauleau said. They dont have to think about whos paying and whos not paying and worry about offering someone a drink.

Spirited away

Sauleau also described the policy shift as a logical evolution of Regents product line.

Our guests are telling us that luxury products should be all-inclusive, he said. It makes it easier for them.

Despite the term all-inclusive, Regents new liquor policy is not all-encompassing. The line specifically states there will be select complimentary wine and spirits at all bars and restaurants fleetwide on every sailing.

This is the same as the other luxury lines liquor policies, which, while including most liquors, also break out a separate menu of super-premium brands that come with a surcharge. Vintage or premium wines are also extra, while a complimentary selection is served with lunch and dinner.

At Crystal, Director of Business Development Michael von Wittenau said that no lines liquor policy is really all-inclusive because its built into the price of the cruise.

All-inclusive can be misleading, he said. We choose to keep the per diem lower, and in the area of alcohol give the guests the choice to purchase alcohol based on their individual consumption.

Von Wittenau said Crystal had discussed implementing an inclusive liquor policy but found that its guests do not request one.

He added that drinks are priced reasonably for those who wish to partake, but that many customers dont drink enough to justify a surcharge.

Others opt out

People are leading healthier lifestyles, von Wittenau said. People realize its built into per diems, and those who dont drink that much are quite happy we dont include the alcohol but very excited that we decided to include bottled water and soda and cappuccinos, which are important to the luxury traveler.

Sauleau said that while some cruise passengers do not drink alcohol, the vast majority do.

At Seabourn, director of public relations Bruce Good said his cruise lines liquor policy is part of larger menu of Signature Delights, including complimentary caviar and on-deck massages, which is available to all guests.

In addition, Seabourn does not offer different classes of service with more or fewer inclusions, Good added.

Fares are not based on how much or how little the guest expects to drink, eat or sleep during the cruise, he said.

To contact reporter Johanna Jainchill, send e-mail to [email protected].

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