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View Poll Results: Why are Caribbean prices so low right now?
Most cruisers regard the ports as "been there and done that" 28 60.87%
The pending passport requirements were putting a damper on interest in leaving the country 3 6.52%
Sunworshipping as an activity is too passe, it ruins your skin 2 4.35%
I don't know why, but personally I am taking advantage of the lower prices and booking cruises 13 28.26%
Voters: 46. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old October 2nd, 2006, 03:29 PM
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Default Why are Caribbean Prices so LOW??? - POLL

We have seen Caribbean prices as low as $199 for a 4-day cruise that goes to Key West and Cozumel on a fairly new (launched 2005) cruise ship. We see one-week cruises going as low as $329 per person!

Price is guided by demand. Low prices mean demand for Caribbean Cruises is down. But WHY IS DEMAND DOWN?

The popular theory is that most experienced cruisers are saying "been-there, done that" -

Another theory is the new passport requirement -- which we have just gotten a reprieve on (will prices go up?)

But here are some other theories - health consciousness and the sun. For one thing, the age of the average cruiser is just a little younger than it was 10 years ago - 47, but the average 47 year old is different than she was 10 years ago. She is far more health conscious, though she may weigh a little more. One thing she definitely does NOT want is WRINKLES. And she may be a little self-conscious about being in a bathing suit.

So, my question for my poll is "Why are Caribbean Prices so LOW right now?"
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 05:50 PM
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I had to go with number one: "Been there done that" because of my personal preference but the question is much more complicated than the choices listed.

There are many combinations that have lead to this years "Low Low Prices".

Last year's heavy hurricane season caused a downturn in summer and fall bookings.

The Caribbean Princess fire, the suspicious circumstances surrounding the Smith death on board the Brilliance of the Seas. Publicity that makes it Oprah and other "news" channels does hurt bookings.

The overbuilding has caught up with the cruise industry and there is an overcapacity in the industry. Something has to be done to draw more people onto these ships and first time cruisers are now becoming the target. Low fares are what draw them.

In the second quarter of this year both CCL and RCL's stock plummeted. CCL resorted back to the post 9/11 pricing paradigm to lure people back on board and to fill the ships and to get their stock prices back up. So far it has worked fairly well. RCL tried two times to do a stock buy back to increase the price of their stock shares. It worked but not really well, now they have lowered prices and it's helping. Stock prices have recovered but not to where they were in March of this year.

Perhaps the idea of having to get a passport is an issue for many people and can have an impact on travelers not wanting to cruise, it does add a significant amount of money to first time cruisers. I know that the Caribbean Tourism Authority had a major impact in having the original deadline pushed back and it may still have an impact on their tourism numbers once it's enacted. I personally feel that the cost of a passport should be lowered now that it has become mandatory.

I personally feel that the fear of sun may have something to do with a downturn in bookings but I really don't think it's driving the thousands away that are causing the $199 bookings we're seeing today.

Take care,
Mike
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 08:10 PM
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Hi
Another thought from this household is in the same category as "been there, done that". The ports are all the same--nothing new. I don't know how an itinerary can be changed, but having been on a Western Caribbean itinerary 4 times, we have yet to go to Montego Bay, for instance, where others have been diverted there because of hurricanes or other reasons. Personally,though, I don't care where the ship goes, as long as it goes somewhere.
Hubby seems to think that once you've seen one island, you've seen them all. I'm of the persuasion that it's the journey, not the destination.

The other school of thought is that the hurricanes HAVE had an impact on the Fall cruises. People have waited later to book. Now that we're seeing that there are no imminent storms, the bookings may pick up. We tend to book in the Fall because of the lower fares. Trevor checked into Spring cruises a couple of times and they were astronomical--certainly more than he was willing to pay for 7 days. So far, we haven't had trouble with hurricanes-cruised back towards Jeanne in 2004, and left ahead of Wilma last year-the last ship out of port.

We chose a different cruise line this year for the good price, and because it is going to two ports we haven't been before. But--then we saw the CB Princess for $399/each and if the other one hadn't of been paid in full as well as the excursions, we would have tried to switch. (Same ownership).

I'm not a sun worshipper myself but I have just a great a time doing other things on a cruise that make me look forward to it every year.

Lynne
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 09:30 PM
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We need to have more ports available. Every Island is different, culture, people, cuising, etc. We cruise every year to see or visit a new port, and of course to make thing more exciting we always like to book a different cruise line and or ship.
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 10:21 PM
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Default Poll: Why are Caribbean cruises so cheap?

Hurricanes! Neither we nor anyone we know is willing to venture into the Caribbean this fall.
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 12:01 AM
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Hurricanes!! have been almost not a factor at all this year. At most a few people have been diverted from their regular itineraries, and that's about it.

I have always told people hurricane season is the best time to book, and in 2005 I would have been wrong, but even this year with the NHC saying it would be a bad year I went on record and said "don't be surprised it it isn't as bad as they are predicting" and sure enough, they backed off their original prediction.

I said this last June 11:

Code:
Posted: 11 Jun 2006 12:09       
 
Paul Motter 
 1. Most experts say that 2006 will be worse than usual, but not as bad as 2005. The National Hurricane Center has predicted worse than usual hurricane seasons for most of the last 6 or so years (as I recall) - so by itself, that prediction tends to mean relatively little. We do know, however, that the Atlantic has warmed up and that tends to increase the chances of hurricanes.
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 01:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter
Hurricanes!! have been almost not a factor at all this year. At most a few people have been diverted from their regular itineraries, and that's about it.
That may have been what happened but the fear of hurricanes had an impact on the bookings for the summer and fall of 2006. It isn't the only reason but it is a significant one. For most people cruises are not last minute vacations. They are planned months or a year in advance. If they are worried about a hurricane in 2005 they won't book for 2006.

The cruise lines are now recovering from those lack of bookings and attempting to put revenue into their books in order to make up for it. It doesn't take a significant drop to make a cruise unprofitable. A cruise that sails at 9X% capacity, at regular price, probably doesn't make money unless the onboard revenue is very good. Cruise lines shoot for 100% + capacity on their sailings. (Based on double occupancy with some triple and quad cabins full)

My own personal belief is that over saturation has finally caught up with the cruise industry. The cruise industry has a glut of berths to fill and the only place they can economically and legally fill them is the Caribbean and there is a limited market of repeat cruisers to draw from and new cruisers are becoming harder to find.

Take care,
Mike
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 11:38 AM
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It would be interesting to see if the downturn extends beyond cruising to Caribbean vacations in general. If so, then you can discount the cruise-specific theories such as "been there, done that".

I have been trying to cruise "on points" this January, and they seem oblivious to any pricing downturn.
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 12:56 PM
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I tend to agree with you Mike, it is over-capacity with these mega-ships having so many cabins available. However, on the financial picture I don't think we are seeing the same low prices for the premium cabins, such as balconies, which the new ships are full of. It is the lowest level cabins that are not selling out.

The cruise lines definitely do count on filling the ships, and for the most part I think that they still are, albeit at lower prices for the lowest cabins.

It's great for people who don't need a balcony. A 7-day cruise for $399 is a bargain. 4 days for $199 even cheaper at $50/day.
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 01:50 PM
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Isn't it hurricane season? I think the fear of getting caught in some kind of bad storm might influence people this time of year. You can't guess what is going to happen with the weather. People don't know what hi-tech weather systems the ship has to warn the captain ahead of time so he can avoid a storm. Still, you read about people getting caught in storms and how terrifying it is. I would be willing to risk it but, I cannot convince my husband to go this time of year and take advantage of the bargain prices.
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 02:24 PM
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Mike did hit the nail on the head with a general indefinable "fear" among cruise novices of what a cruise is like after the hurricane warnings, the disappearance of George, etc..

I met a professional chef and asked him if he knew anything about cruise cuisine and he answered, "no, cruise ships scare me." but he had never been on one.

It was just a combination of all the negative recent events (that we all know are SO rare) that when added up gave him a red flag.

It like the perception that NY City is dangerous - yes, to a few in 10,000,000 people every day. The chance that anything bad will happen to YOU are very slim, though.

Every once in awhile, I think the cruise lines should just team up and give CLIA more money to market the industry instead of competing with each other so much. Cruising is great, and if that message got out more everyone would win.
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 09:22 PM
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some people have the perception that cruising is more dangerous than land based vacations, with the infamous murders publicized on news shows, with norwalk virus scares etc.
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Old October 4th, 2006, 07:24 AM
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Do you know what city has the highest suicide rate in the country? Las Vegas. It is because outsiders go there, lose all their money and kill themselves.

It is one reason why the hotels there do not have balconies anymore. The crime rate there is far higher per capita than the cruise industry, too.

But do you hear about that? no.
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Old October 4th, 2006, 09:10 AM
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Paul, I agree! I guess in LV it is so common-place that it is no longer newsworthy. Since cruising has grown so in popularity, the media "feels compelled" to report anything that comes across the wires.
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Old October 4th, 2006, 10:20 AM
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I agree that cruising receives far too much negative publicity and the media jackals take a story and sensationalize it for their own ratings. It's the curse of cable news. If it isn't juicy enough they'll make it that way and if we don't get all the information we want we'll speculate the information we want. If you calculate the number of cruising each week and the number of incidents of theft and violent crime that occur, it is by far, the safest vacation option out there.

I have a number of non-cruising friends and associates who will tell me about every negative story about cruising, often before I hear about it, but never a positive story. "Did you hear about those people who got sick on that ship." "Did you hear about that ship that hit the whale?". "That guy who fell overboard, murdered." etc. Rarely do I hear about the launch of a new ship, a different itinerary or an interesting feature unless I tell them about it.

There does need to be a publicity campaign that does show the truth about cruising and the industry itself needs to open up in terms of security. Not telling "trade secrets" but being more open regarding investigations and sharing information and stop stonewalling when major incidents do occur.

They do have an image problem and it needs to be corrected.

Take care,
Mike
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Old October 4th, 2006, 12:43 PM
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As I write the news for CruiseMates I have to monitor a lot of feeds, and I see all kinds of sensationalistic stories. In England (known for trash journalism) just yesterday they mourn a grandmother who died of norovirus (it really happened, and not on any cruise line we cover), but she was 80 years old, and the way they write it up: "Granny Dies from Attack of Cruise Ship Bugs"

Actually, she caught norovirus and her esophogus was torn from the violent vomitting. Not funny, I know, but the headline... puleeeze.
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Old October 4th, 2006, 02:21 PM
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It could be all the items mentioned here plus the fact that airline prices have gone way up thanks to the recent oil hikes. Also increasing in price has been car rentals, hotels, etc. When you combine all those expenses the cost of the vacation goes way up.

The cruise industry is offsetting those costs with lower pricing to lure customers into thinking they're getting a bargain but in most cases they'll probably break even or end up paying a little more.

I'm willing to bet that most lines are now trying to do more upselling of goods and services on board the ship. I'll find out in two months!
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Old October 4th, 2006, 05:05 PM
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Just a memory that hit me about the rogue wave that hit the NCL Dawn a year ago. The Dawn, NCL and its' Captain have been completely cleared of any negligence by the U.S. Coast Guard but the publicity associated with it was pathetic. The coverage by Fox and CNN, particularly Fox was appalling.

I was particularly taken aback by Bill O'Reiley's teasers about the story.

"Cruise ship tsunami disaster." 1. It wasn't a tsunami. 2. It wasn't a disaster.

No spin zone my eye.

Take care,
Mike
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Old October 5th, 2006, 12:35 PM
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Performer...

Good comments I hadn't really thought of. Thanks for the input.

Mike, I recall on the Princess listing, the CNN reports had a huge standing headline "Cruise Ship Horror!" in a big red side-to-side bar throughout the stories they showed repeatedly.

Hey, if you go on flight and hit turbulence these days, does that make the news? Planes go down & people die all the time. How few passengers have died on cruise ships due to technical malfunctions or acts of nature in the last 10 years? Less than a handful.
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Old October 10th, 2006, 12:08 PM
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That is certainly great news! I thought that was the case but, confirmation is always a good thing! That is all the more reason to take advantage of the great prices available right now. Oh dear, I sound like a commercial. Really, I'm not hired by the cruise lines to write these comments, they are my own.
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Old October 16th, 2006, 06:13 PM
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Default Why Caribbean cruise prices are so low

I actually do not find prices this year to be considerably lower than before. I have been on a few cruises myself (18 or 20), and used to work as a travel agent for many years. 12-15 years ago, before we had all sorts of ships, the prices were much higher. But for last 5 years, they are about the same. Most of the time when you get a special that is 4 night for $199 the availability is 2 cabin, and the price is for inside, and they are going to be on the deck below water line . Many cruisers will not even consider a cabin without a window. I personally will not cruise in a cabin without a balcony, and these are almost never on sale. NCL and Costa will have a special for 3rd and 4th passenger free, but the availability would be 1 cabin if any.
Also, how many people are able to go on the cruise Monday-Thursday with late notice on Thursday of previous week? I do not think too many. Suites, balconies and 50% of outside and inside cabins are sold out at a rack rate without any sales, and only 5 to 10 % of cabins will end up being sold for sale prices. Most recent example from last week: I received an email from RCCL that Freedom of The Seas has an unbelievable sale for Western Caribbean itinerary in November for 7 nights from $799 per person. Considering that it is the newest and the biggest ship, it would be a great deal. Except when I did the price quote it turned out that for 2 adults and 2 kids in cabin with balcony it will cost $5780, which is ridiculously high.
So when looking for bargains, read the fine print!
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