Cruise Discounts Everywhere!|
Economically speaking, these are tough times. Travel agents are feeling the pinch right now, and so are the cruise lines. How bad is it? The problem is that nobody really knows. It all depends on where our economy goes in the next year; up or down. In economic terms, that is referred to as "visibility." Where do you think it is going? I know, you don't know either. That's OK, everyone has an opinion, but nobody really knows.
Historically, the cruise industry has weathered economic downturns better than other vacation options. The ability of the industry to easily adapt to changing conditions is one of its greatest strengths. For example, when people were afraid to fly after the attack on the twin towers, the industry just moved their ships back to the shores of the United States. It worked.
That event taught the cruise lines a great lesson, the results of which we are witnessing today. Then Carnival Cruise Lines president Bob Dickinson made some comments about how they resolved the industry crisis back then that have always stuck in my mind. In order to get passengers back on ships he said the following (to the best of my memory)...
"First we appealed to their patriotism, by offering to donate a portion of every cruise sale to the NY Fire Department, it was a noble effort, but it barely stimulated sales. Next we decided to address their fears by offering vacation guarantees such as money-back offers if they needed to cancel their cruise, once again, barely a blip in sales. Finally, we decided to just drop the prices on cruises and see where people started to come back. That was the answer."
Today's fear is more economic that about personal safety, but the cruise lines are using what what worked before - they are offering price discounts and other incentives.
There is not a single cruise line that is not running some kind of a cruise sale. What is the result? Well frankly, great bargains. Are people booking cruises now? Yes they are, and saving a ton of money.
I asked Oceania Cruises Public Relations VP Tim Rubacky how cruise demographics may have shifted as a result of the current circumstances. More specifically, are we seeing a different demographic than before the economic meltdown?
"We are seeing shifts in buying patterns," he replied. "Some people are scaling back, for example if they previously cruised on only the very top luxury lines, now they are moving to a less expensive product. They still want their vacation, but they are spending less than in the past. On the other hand, there are also people who are "trading up" by taking advantage of the tremendous bargains that are out there and they are trying cruise lines they have never tried before."
Here at CruiseMates, we get it. We just ran a news item from Oceania where they are offering free airfare and 2 for 1 cruise fares on selected Mediterranean cruises this summer. That is a great deal! For example a 12-day Athens to Rome cruise is selling for $2699, and that includes roundtrip airfare. We expect air to Europe to be about $1500 per person this summer, more or less. That cuts the price of the cruise nearly in half.
Royal Caribbean is mostly just offering great prices as an incentive, with discounts in the range of 25%. NCL is offering free upgrades and anywhere from $100 to $500 in shipboard credit with every booking.
Holland America, Carnival and Princess are offering lower deposits and free upgrades to a higher category of cabin. Silversea just today announced that people who book early and pay in full will recieved up to 50% off of their cruise fare. Regent Seven Seas just announced they have 35 different cruises in 2009 where the passenger gets unlimited free shore excursions. We especially like this offer as shore excursions are the meat of every cruise experience, especially on a destination-oriented cruise line like Regent.
Bottom line; the bargains are out there right now. Overall, we see cruise fares have dropped at least 20% overall. It is now up to you to take advantage of these discount offers.
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