The rise of suite class – and why it’s good news for agents
On cruise ships, luxury doesn’t just mean fine-dining, elegant décor and a high staff-to-guest ratio, but the abundance of space. Harmony of the Seas may be the largest ship in the world by gross tonnage, but it also carries the most passengers, meaning – in certain areas and at certain times – it can feel very busy.
For this reason, cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean International have increasingly expanded suite class, for those who want peace, quiet and space, without giving up West End-style productions, Bionic Barmen or surfing simulators.
These top-level guests get access to areas other don’t (such as the Coastal Kitchen), and it’s the same on Norwegian Cruise Line (with The Haven, which contains 60 suites) and MSC Cruises (the Yacht Club). This ship within a ship concept creates more luxurious, quieter – and more spacious – areas, for those guests who can afford it. Increasingly, it feels as though these ships are becoming less egalitarian, offering a two-tiered experience, as you find on Cunard.
It’s a difficult balancing act, as no guest wants to be turned away from a venue because they don’t have the correct type of room card. On Princess Cruises, where guests get Club Class Dining (a separate area in the main dining room), there are exclusive areas – such as The Sanctuary – that anyone can access, so long as they pay. But, for agents, suite class a good thing – a great way to earn more commission. There are luxury guests, particularly those with kids, who want the care-free fun of the big, theme-park ships – and these opulent areas make perfect sense for them.