Summer Cruises – Havin’ a Heatwave
Written by: Paul Motter
CruiseMates started recommending that you book your summer cruises last March. People are booking now, especially trading up to luxury. The primary reason we gave was lower airfare, generally running about 20% to 33% lower for almost all destinations, but especially for flights overseas. The secondary reason was unprecedented bargains in cruise fares, but everyone already knew about those.
We also mentioned that the dollar was about as strong as it has been in several years, this especially helps when visiting Europe or Britain. A strong dollar also helps to keep cruise fares down for overseas cruises as most of the fixed costs for the cruise lines you are familiar with are paid in dollars. The final reason for booking early is a matter of selection of cruises and staterooms. The earlier you book the better your chances of getting exactly the cruise and stateroom category you want.
There has been a very strong tendency among cruisers to book “close in” this year, which means they wait until the last minute. That trend exhibited itself strongly this week as we suddenly got reports that three major cruise lines all had significantly strong booking during the end of May week. Another significant trend appears to be that people are “booking up,” which means they are opting to try the more expensive luxury cruise lines.
This year has shown us incredible bargains across the cruise industry as every cruise line has offered record-breaking low cruise fares and booking incentives this year. Logically, it generally makes sense that the luxury cruise lines have the ability to offer more in the way of discounts because they charge more in the beginning, and that is the case.
Just last month we had a chance to sail upon Crystal Cruises’ Serenity and we found it to be truly sublime in both food and service. I had not been on Crystal in about 10 years and in truth I had personally not been overly impressed back then. This last trip turned my perception around completely. The service was the most impeccable I have ever encountered. The food was also uniformly excellent and never left us disappointed.
Crystal has been offering at least one incredible incentive to book this year, up to $1000 per person in shipboard credit per person. Yes, per PERSON. That means essentially $2000 per stateroom. One of the things we had had pointed out about Crystal, as compared to other luxury cruise lines, is that on Crystal gratuities and alcohol served in the bars and dining room are not included in the cruise fare. However, all the beer, wine and champagne you can drink are included in the upper class staterooms.
On the other luxury cruise lines; Silversea, Regent and Seabourn, the cruise fare is all-inclusive, in the sense that gratuities and all beverages shipwide are included. But as far as booking incentives go, these three cruise lines are generally giving guests up to $1000 per stateroom in shipboard credit this year, roughly half of what Crystal is offering. But the credit goes farther, mostly towards shore excursions.
This week we are on the small expeditionary vessel Silversea’s Prince Albert 2. Everything is literally included on this cruise, even shore excursions, as well as gratuities and beverages. One hardly needs to spend a dime on this cruise unless it is for shopping onshore or in the gift ship. The ship generally sails in Arctic waters however, so in truth there isn’t much to buy onshore. They even give every passenger a free parka to keep you warm in almost any weather.
All of these luxury cruise lines have just reported a record-breaking period for the number of cruise sold or calls taken in the last few weeks.
Crystal says that just last week “the number of guests booking and revenue was more than 100% higher than the average weekly totals since the beginning of 2009.”
Silversea said, “Silversea Cruises today announced it achieved the highest call volume day in its 15-year history on May 26, 2009.”
Regent Seven Seas Cruises, UK, announced, “UK call volumes have increased by 41% between January – May 2009 compared to the same period in 2008, and bookings are up by 48%. – May being the highest booking month ever.”
In other words – these cruises may be selling later than usual, but they selling like hotcakes. The incentives are working and people are buying up to luxury cruising this year. CruiseMates told you to book your summer cruises early, and we also recommended that you use this economic downturn to try a better style of cruising; less crowded ships, more exclusive cuisine and levels of personalized service not generally found on the mainstream cruise lines.
We can’t take the credit for the fact that people are generally doing now what we recommended several months ago, but we can look at it as a confirmation of our advice that many people are trying exactly what we recommended. They saw the same benefits as we did.
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Posted: June 4th, 2009 under Paul Motter.