Jason Leppert | July 15, 2016 12:00 PM ET
The Overuse of 'Luxury' and 'Inclusive' in Cruise Travel
There’s a psychological phenomenon known as semantic satiation wherein the repetition of a word causes a listener to temporarily forget its very definition. There are certain words that marketers overuse and by extension cruise lines as well, particularly those of “luxury” and “inclusive.”
You see there are considered to be four main categories of cruise lifestyles on the market based on perceived qualities and bottom line costs: standard (like Carnival Cruise Line), premium (like Holland America Line), upscale (like Azamara Club Cruises) and luxury (like Silversea Cruises).
The problem is when lines begin describing their wares outside their category. Celebrity Cruises is considered a premium line with luxurious elements available at an affordable price but uses the slogan “Modern Luxury” nonetheless. The question is whether or not this waters down the meaning of the word “luxury” much as “literally” has been thanks to pop culture slang such as “I literally can’t even.”
In response, many actual luxury cruise lines have been forced to modify the word, adopting the modification “ultra-luxury,” for instance. Alternatively, Viking Ocean Cruises approaches luxury quality onboard its ships but is wise to avoid using the word altogether in order to not fall short of heightened expectations.
Making things even more confusing is that luxury cruise lines are often delineated from their peers by how “inclusive” they actually are. It’s a misconception to think that all cruises include every last item onboard down to alcoholic beverages. In reality, such benefits are only complimentary on luxury lines or at the very least by way of extra packages tacked on to standard lines with a surcharge. To distinguish further, luxury lines describe things as “all-inclusive,” but that too can be a misnomer.
Of the luxury lines, Regent Seven Seas Cruises has most consistently been genuinely all-inclusive as its inclusions extend even to complimentary shore excursions. So, one could argue that the ultra-luxury adjective does accurately apply here.
Meanwhile, in order to express the high level of exclusivity that the luxury line offers guests, Crystal Cruises has begun marketing itself as “all-exclusive,” which makes perfect sense within its own context but somewhat simultaneously contradicts its actual all-inclusive nature. Besides, standard lines like Norwegian Cruise Line have also been described as all-exclusive before because of how many offerings are, in fact, not included in their initial costs, and that’s surely not what Crystal intends to convey. As such, I suspect this particular marketing campaign will be short-lived.
Ideally, the words would be used only as originally defined without hyperbole, but language often falls short of the concepts that are trying to be shared. As it is Viking Ocean Cruises sits somewhere between upscale and luxury lines, so perhaps a new category and word should be coined accordingly, like “ultra-upscale” or “pre-luxury,” but then again that would be contrary to my very point.
More by Jason Leppert
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Latest Travel News
Airlines & Airports
Airlines & Airports
Hotel & Resort
Cruise Line & Cruise Ship