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DQSC new prices - I can't believe it!

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    #16
    I will add my "ex officio" two cents worth. My wife and I became acquainted with DQSC when it was purchased from bankruptcy and DN was offering some great specials. We were traveling twice a year, spending all of our vacation time on the boats. It is indeed a very unique experience. My concern is not only the price, but the cavalier attitude that appears to be exhibited by the new owners. Changing the name, or dropping the DQSC name is not just a simple organizational or marketing change, but a total disregard of the history and character of the boats that has attracted such a loyal passenger base. In my experience, the DQSC passengers are those who appreciate getting away from the boom-boom, high pressure fast-paced, cell phohe in the ear world and going back in time. Traveling at 8mph and stopping in small towns which came into existence because of the river transportation is a past way of life that the current DQSC passengers appreciate. The DQSC cannot be equated to other glitz and glamour mega cruise ships. I am glad that I had my seven trips on the boats thus far, and the eighth next month, which was one of the remaining special deals. My fear is that the new owners will attempt to run DQSC as any other cruise line aimed at the "affluent" niche and find it not profitable. Then it will simply be dumped, except for the AQ which will be changed to meet the current cruise ship mentality. Unfortunately, as the passenger demographics have shown, the passengers are usually the retired older persons who still have memories of hearing of the paddlewheelers and have an apprecfiation for the history of the river travel. The new generations of tv, electronics, cell phones, and constant fast pace action cannot, and have no concept of traveling at 8mph without tv in every room, and constant cell phone communications. Maybe the steamboats are finally dying out once and for all because of the "bottom line", e.g., they are not as profitable as high paid CEOs and current dollar controlled operations want. I personally will mourn the loss.

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      #17
      Carman and Franz,
      If the repeater's discounts are no longer offered that's news to us, very sad news at that. The last cruises we booked were reserved late spring 2006 for 2007 trips and we received the 10% early and repeater discounts on both. I personally have set an upper limit that I think we would pay for a cruise per night. If we can book a bunk room for that, we cruise in 2008, and I don't care about the size and luxury of the room, I now just will have to look down instead of over to see my wife's sleeping face. If we cannot book a stateroom for this upper limit price then I guess I have no more need to hold onto old brochures like a groupie. As you can tell, especially when you remember my infamous posts to Bruce N., Deb and I are very crazy about the boat. And pricing you and us out of being DQSC cruisers would be an ironic shame because everyone says that you two and we two are part of the age group that the company is trying so desparately to attract and hold as "new and repeating" customers. And the sad thing about it is that they just hung up a brand new USA map on the DQ purser's wall after we all complained about it's absence for years. I had hoped this meant the new company was on a good roll, silly me. And Franz, I agree, I'm very pessimistic, too about if I will be cruising in 2008. After 16 it will be very sad...

      My mention of my non-desire to do a carribean cruise is my personal idea on what I think my enjoyment would be while on that style of boat doing that route. That does not mean that the thought of doing an European canal, Austalian river, Amazon river or similar cruise wouldn't be absolutely marvelous in my mind. It's the brown water, the towboats, the little towns, the narrow rivers with the tight turns, the swing bridges, the locks, the small boat that attacts me. At the present blue water holds little attraction for us. Is there anywhere else where you can hear a calliope play Bach at the bottom of a lock?

      I point out the last minute specials simply because they are still there. And I point out that specials are still being offered for the Empress and the Queen of the West. Isn't that the same company that owns DQSC? I just got the new American West brochure this past week...and they're still offering 10% early booking discount on their two boats. Is it not unreasonable to believe that Ambassador's will offer early bird discounts in the future on all of their six (or is it now seven) boats?

      You two (actually three) are not unlike me and Debbie (we have two kids and our youngest just left the nest this past weds.), as Debbie and I are both working stiffs and cruises have to be booked well in advance to take advantage of best flight prices and the best use of vacation time. And, I agree, last minute specials do us no good either.

      I have one question for the group. Is everyone sure that The Majestic American Line is the new name for the DQSC?...OR...is the Majestic America Line the new name for ALL the boats, i.e MAL owns three sub-companies, one called American West Steamboat Company another DQSC (and the third I don't remember the name)? The reason I ask is both companies just sent out brand new and quite changed brochures and the original company names that we know and love are still present. Wouldn't this be the same as DN, ACV, ONA, Coke and all the rest have done in the past?

      Franz, I have a question for you. How did you enjoy the Empress? Feel free to PM me if you want. I'm very curious about the financials, if you catch my drift.

      I also wrote my earlier post (and this one I guess) on the hope that the big guys and their bean counters in Seattle read this forum on occasion. I hope...

      Comment


        #18
        Bruno,

        I agree again- if the company wants to attract the "affluent" traveller- then they need to be user friendly to the age group that includes you and Debbie and Franz and family.

        It doesn't take much to make the boats an addictive vacation.

        Also, FYI- I researched doing some river travel in other parts of the world and would also do that in a heartbeat if I could afford it. There were even some passengers on the DQ ( 2 women from California come to mind) who had travelled the Nile and the Amazon and I couldn't get enough of their stories.

        I, too, hope that Ambassador is reading this board. I don't know the company structure but ever since my older daughter moved out to the Seattle area, she constantly tells me- "Mom, you could sell your condo and move out here and work on the boats- there are lots of them here."

        Also, my other passenger friends who are not computer users but whom I stay in touch with have told me that they enjoyed the Empress of the North as much as they enjoyed the MQ and AQ. They couldn't ride the DQ because of knee surgery problems. Anyway, they kindly told me that they missed me and our conversations but they really thoroughly enjoyed their Pacific Northwest cruising and will do it again.

        I do know that the stuff I brought up in another posting about crew transportation is still an issue. DN followed what American Classic Voyages did with a few more restrictions on ground transporation. AI had entirely different policies but their per diem rate was higher. It is really only one small piece of the financial puzzle.

        As for the company doing marketing under various names, I agree that is common practise and also allows companies to re-shuffle finances too as well as profit and loss. Something that was hotly discussed among crew was whether each boat paid its own way or whether one boat or the other was subsidized in a sense. I am not an expert on this but I will again be curious if the same discussions get under way about the midwest business versus the west coast.

        Elaine

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          #19
          Bruno, interesting points in both postings, and sad to see that you are in Franz's age group and might have to give up DQ cruising due to the rate increases. I am NOT in your age group, but rather in the one whose income has gone up 0% while the rates have increased 46%, and I still don't get a raise in my pension for almost two more years. So I am obviously not the affluent traveler they want. Furthermore, I am a single traveler, so the rates you quoted for the two of you would be what I'd be paying for myself with the 200% single penalty. I liked your comparison of the DQ to the 4 star b/b, but unfortunately I and many I know, including Leonie, are Super 8/Days Inn people off the boat. We've saved our money for the boat, and couldn't/wouldn't be spending that kind of money elsewhere. Its sad to see a whole group of people who have been the lifeblood of the company - whether some office people like to admit it or not - getting left on shore. But as you pointed out, DN prices went up and that's when my trips ended, not now. So I continue my association with the Queens by making the midnight runs from the ER to the locks and other assorted errands. At least I can help the crew out in some ways, if not by financially supporting them. And nobody has brought this up, but this is the way the country is going: the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class is disappearing. So why wouldn't we expect that to happen to a business, putting some of us out? I'm extremely grateful for my 42 DQ cruises, most of which were taken in simpler, less conglomerate bottom line is everything times.

          Comment


            #20
            Bruno,

            what I've heard now from several sources is that there won't be any discount offers for 2007 cruises, except an "very early" booking discount. So no 2 for 1 offers and such. That makes a big difference as even if you accept that 46% increase, this lack of discounts raises the de-facto prices dramatically for many passengers.

            About the new/old name of the company: To me it looks like they will probably stick with the "DQSC" for the DQ, MQ and AQ. But that's just a guess, based on information I've heard; again, just a guess.

            Obviously DQSC was bought by Ambassadors in a hurry and Ambassador so far is not able to operate the DQSC so they have contracted DN to operate DQSC until end of this year. I think this explains a lot of the confusion and may also be the reason why things are still different to the AW boats - I assume DN is not much interested in future investments now, but hope that Ambassador will watch them closely to not just squeez money out of DQSC before they leave in November.

            Empress of the North: We just loved it! Entertainment is not on the high level of the MQ (but still good), but all the rest is superb. Prices are much higher compared to the DQSC boats, though. And that's partly because they operate in areas where not simply a Sysco truck is ordered to bring in the food at every port. In Alaska they have to order food about 2 weeks in advance and it is barged in. So that makes operation much more expensive. Carmen wrote a comprehensive review of our Empress of the North cruise at rivers-rails.com: http://www.rivers-rails.com/boats-eon-review-1.shtml

            Franz

            Comment


              #21
              Hi Bruno,

              According to the informations we have, there won´t be any repeat passenger discounts anymore. You´ve booked your 2007 cruises with the old conditions and prices. This has changed completely by June/July. According to the website AWSC has a 10% early booking bonus (as DQSC with the new price system) and there´s still the Captain´s Club which says that repeat passengers will get a 5% discount. Nothing similar mentioned on the DQSC website. AWSC does not have many special last minute offers. They are really quite scarce. DQSC still has special offers but only for 2006 cruises. As far as we are told those special offers won´t be anymore in 2007.

              Carmen

              Comment


                #22
                Thanks everybody for your information. I'm hoping as I'm sure you are that the future will not be so grim as we suspect.
                Potentially no more repeater discounts? I think they have lost their minds. There is NOBODY more proud to wear his ten-timer pin.
                Single supplement at 200%? Sure, eliminate a good portion of one of the most dedicated passenger group on every cruise. Has anyone at Ambassador's seen the passenger statistics on a Red Hatter's cruise?
                Elaine, so you think the Krause's are affluent? I think you spelled that wrong...It should be "effluent" and it just applies to me, not Debbie.
                And Judy, as always, you are so correct. Our income hasn't even come close to keeping pace with cost of living increases for the past 10 years, so we're rapidly approaching the day when the DQ becomes just a memory, too. True story, after the kids were safely away at college Deb and I moved to a smaller house, out to the boonies/farm country to save on property taxes. The number one thing we had in mind toward using that saved tax money was take more cruises...yes, I know,it's a sickness...are you listening Ambassador's?
                Thanks again everybody. Hopefully, Debbie and I will see you on the river, at least for a little bit more.
                Bruno

                Comment


                  #23
                  Hi Bruno,

                  What I meant was that DN always talked about attracting the "working class" and I used to laugh as I listened.

                  I, too, sold my house in Massachusetts to buy my condo in New Hampshire so I could afford to work on the boats since I had cut my income by 60-70 percent. The problem for me was that once I cut my income like that, I could not get it back after leaving the boats. I did not start my boat adventures until my youngest graduated from college. So, my credibility goes down the tubes when I interview with places. They figure that I am a steamboat gypsy or a floozie and they are quite right.

                  Also, when working class people book trips, they are most affected by any changes. It may have been difficult enough to coordinate that much vacation time off from work without the additional stress of changes in travel because of unexpected problems. As exhausting as I found them (as a crew member) 3 day cruises in and out of a port city (and not just NOLA) were almost always filled with people ready to party and spend money. Whether it was St Paul, St Louis, Cincinnatti, or New Orleans- those short cruises attracted the "working class" and that was needed to grow the customer base. Once I settled into being a crew member, I much preferred the longer trips and the many repeat passengers who were now my friends.

                  But I looked over the brochures when I worked on the boats and today. I am a junky like you who saves that stuff and I still feel- I could not afford the boats then and that is even more true today. I did persuade many contacts to ride the boats- once they tried it, they were hooked and I did tell many people about the boats- especially when I still lived in Massachusetts. But, in New Hampshire, one is lucky to get jobs that pay a mere $10 an hour regardless of their qualifications, education, or experience. One saves on income tax and sales tax but everything else is just as expensive as everyplace else. And property taxes here are actually higher than most other places.

                  As for the single at 200%, I agree that makes it very hard indeed and is unfair if there is no second person to eat all the food that has been purchased for them. However, I also understand the lack of discounts for children because it is like the airlines as far as thinking. The child takes up the same amount of space as the adult. I think that is shooting oneself in the foot as far as marketing and attracting that desirable traveller- but I do understand the logic used.

                  Cheers
                  Elaine

                  Comment


                    #24
                    Elaine,

                    A child takes up the same amount of space as the adult might be true for an airline but not for a triple on a steamboat. Most of the triples are only occupied by two adults with the bunk bed folded up. If there´s a real triple occupancy the third person is usually a child. Sure the kid is eating something but not a 5 course menue. And regarding the extra work of the cabin attendant or others: the kid is "paying" the full tips like an adult.

                    Carmen

                    Comment


                      #25
                      "Attracting the working class" ah yes--I can relate to that! I've been following the Delta Queen since 1970 when I discovered her being threatened by the Ships at Sea law. This kid in a Northern California mountain town (Dunsmuir--a railroad town, well it was then) started a local campaign to get everyone to write their congressperson. This coming spring I finally get to board her! Never could before, except once in 1981 when we'd finally saved up enough for a short (3 or 4 night) cruise, but then we had an opportunity to buy a house, so the cruise money went for the down payment. I don't regret that decision, but gee wiz. . . So now I am finally no longer self-employed and have a decent wage, and vacation times (a strange concept to one who has almost always been self employed--you don't work, you don't get paid!) but the real story is that Linda (my better half--one girl who wasn't chased off by my steam & steamboat fetish) had an inheritance AND we are both quite worried about the DQ's future decided that no matter what, we're going! Looking at the new policies, it may be our only time on board, but we will be there. As I mentioned to Bruno (we'll both be on the same cruise in March, looking forward to meeting them in person), like the credit card ads say, "Steamboat cruise memories? -- PRICELESS"
                      Hard to tell I'm excited about our upcoming cruise, isn't it? :)
                      Steamcerely,
                      David Dewey
                      PS, we haven't been totaly steamboat-less all these years, for 10 years we owned a little steam launch, "Mikahala." Had to sell it to make ends meet many years ago.

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