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For upscale passengers, luxury is time and sense of being

For upscale passengers, luxury is time and sense of being
True luxury has reached a paradigm shift. Today, luxury is no longer about having; rather, it’s all about the sense of being, panelists said, during Seatrade Cruise Global's “The State of the Cruise Industry: Upscale Cruising” session on Tuesday.

In the world of global upscale cruising, “everyone has money. But without health and memories, what is life about?” said Edie Rodriguez, president and ceo, Crystal Cruises.

“Today, it’s about offering experiences. It’s what you offer,” Rodriguez said, citing exclusivity, customization and options (ECO) as Crystal’s key offerings.

“Luxury is in the eyes of the beholder,” she said. “At the end of the day, luxury is in the details.”

Karl Pojer, ceo, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, described luxury as “individuality. Whole luxury has changed from having to being.”

Later this year, Pojer announced, his line will offer a “surprise cruise, where passengers decide the route. They can go to A, B or C.”

Hapag-Lloyd’s passengers—half who’ve never before cruised and 85% of whom are German, Austrian and Swiss—will vote where to go, Pojer said.

Executives of the panel, moderated by Richard Bradley, editor-in-chief of Worth Magazine, also discussed other meanings of luxury, how upscale consumer tastes and demands are changing and the future of China as a luxury market.

“Our consumers are extremely competitive, very demanding,” with a minimum $5 million in liquid assets, Bradley said.

For Ponant cruisers, passengers will “never forget the luxury of landing in Antarctica,” said Navin Sawhney, ceo Americas, Ponant Cultural Cruises and Expeditions.

“What this type of luxury allows is a total opportunity to be yourself,” Sawhney said. “It’s buying that experience and getting it delivered.”

At Carnival Corp. & plc’s Seabourn and Cunard, luxury is top-notch service, with deeply enriching learning and entertaining experiences.

“For us, it’s all about the service. It gives a chance to get time back,” said Rick Meadows, president, Seabourn and Cunard North America. “The luxury market loves to learn and be entertained.”

Silversea Cruises’ fleet of eight ships travels to 800 ports annually, said Enzo Visone, ceo, Silversea Cruises.

“Today it’s all about offering experiences.  We try to use turn-around ports like Tower Bridge in London,” Visone said. “What guests don’t want any more are standardized products.”

Silversea’s new flagship, the 596-passenger Silver Muse, to be delivered in Spring 2017, will offer nine dining venues.

 “I’m in the business of selling dreams,” Visone said. “The main resource missing in modern day life is time.”

China’s wealthy passengers are a new market source, although not each line specifically seeks out Chinese cruises, panelists said.

“The world is evolving. The wealthy are getting wealthier,” Rodriguez said, adding that Crystal organically attracts Chinese travelers comfortable with English as a universal language.

Wealthy Chinese have a “ferocious appetite to cruise the polar regions,” Sawhney said.

“China is a market too big to ignore. It’s a question of how many actually choose not to speak English. Generally, they’re more comfortable in their own language.”

Added Meadows: “Our high net worth global travelers are in China. We’re a true international product.”

Across the globe, luxury cruisers demand Wi-Fi access with easy connectivity.

“Human beings want to communicate. But high-tech does not replace high touch,” Pojer said. “We’re not selling cabins or suites. We are selling emotions.”