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Old September 16th, 2002, 03:11 PM
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Default RCI new price strategy??? Early bookers beware....

Just wanted to alert fellow cruisers of the pricing strategy employed by RCI for my upcoming Nordic Empress cruise in October.

My sailing still has lots of availability (and did just before and after final payment due date as I'd been checking periodically) but all cabin categories remain at the full price that was in effect around 120 days before sailing when I booked. However, this past weekend, RCI has added a NEW category ... a Z category inside guarantee at a steeply discounted price. Now as all you savvy travelers know, RCI would refund a decrease in cruise price if your cabin category gets a reduction....but this is an entirely new category that nobody could have previously booked...and they've not reduced any other category at all.

This is the first time I've seen this on any of my cruises. Obviously, the practical effect is that only new reservations get the low price. So if you've booked early, you're SOL and the folks who wait until the last minute to book reap the rewards. Obviously next time, I'll wait until last minute too on a sailing that isn't selling out but I'd like to hear if this is something anybody else has encountered?
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Old September 16th, 2002, 10:12 PM
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Default Re: RCI new price strategy??? Early bookers beware....

Nothing at all new about a Category "Z". There are X's and Y's too. HAL uses similar category designations too, as do many other lines. It shouldn't affect anyone outside of the cancellation period... but if you are within the cancellation penalty period, any price reduction would have to be greater than the penalty amount to make it worthwhile. Nothing unusual about this either. Those prices are geared to new bookings only, close in... and generally you lose the advantages of early booking, such as cabin choice and better air fares.

Post Edited (09-17-02 07:39)
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Old September 17th, 2002, 02:07 AM
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Default Re: RCI new price strategy??? Early bookers beware....

Here's a twist on the subject.

We had a Cat E3 (2003 brochure shows it as E1) on the Radiance for Sept. 27 (3 day mini cruise). I booked it about 6 weeks in advance and it was a very good price (targetting the local market). Prices were great for inside, outside, balcony . Lurking at RCI web site Aug 30, I saw our catagory had jumped in price, as had others. However, a Cat C was $180CDN cheaper than we paid for 3 of us. It was also cheaper than an inside at that time. Told my TA, and got the upgrade AND refund, which really surprised me.

I can't figure it out and won't try. I'll just enjoy it, as the next one is booked for an inside cabin- with no real deal but we'll enjoy it anyways!

richard
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Old September 17th, 2002, 07:39 AM
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Default Re: Re: RCI new price strategy??? Early bookers beware....

Like a good miracle, some things shouldn't be questioned! Enjoy!
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Old September 17th, 2002, 08:38 AM
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Default Re: RCI new price strategy??? Early bookers beware....

Ernie, the point of my post is that many cruisers believe that certain cruise lines, like RCI, offer price protection for those who book early by promising to refund price reductions. It's expected that if a sailing isn't selling well, prices will be discounted and early bookers who watch prices and notify TAs or the cruise line can have their prices adjusted. The catch here is that category Z was not available until well into the cancellation penalty period so noone who booked early is able to take advantage of the lower prices.

Based on this, when possible, it's clearly advantageous to book later. I knew my sailing wasn't selling well prior to the cancellation date as I'd been checking online booking sites and found 7 cabins available in almost every category on the ship. It seemed likely that RCI would end up discounting. Had I known that RCI would discount by adding a brand new category at a steeply discounted price, I would logically have cancelled my inital booking prior to the 60 day window and waited for the lower prices to rebook.

I know that certain lines, like Princess and Carnival, refuse to discount existing bookings or specifically state new bookings only. RCI essentially has done the same but in a less forthright manner. I didn't know they utilized such a pricing strategy, and I've done many cruises. My post was to inform others who may have been similarly unaware.
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Old September 17th, 2002, 05:53 PM
David Starkey
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Default Re: Re: RCI new price strategy??? Early bookers beware....

Princess has discounted the fare for sailings for my family several times when we booked early. Got some really good fares and they did it without prompting from us. What a nice gesture.....what a good deal...
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Old September 17th, 2002, 08:14 PM
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Default Re: RCI new price strategy??? Early bookers beware....

Cruise line pricing is a complicated issue that, at best, defies generalizations. Late booking forfeits a number of amenities that many consider important (many more than one would guess just from reading the boards)... such as cabin location and low air rates with good connections. Thousands book by participating in affinity groups, most of which are locked up at very attractive pricing way out... with lots of other percs as well. Still others book with t/a's who have promotional group space way out, too, with similar savings. All of this represents "value" which for many carries considerations other than price alone.

As a general rule, reductions on a troubled sailing date tend to show themselves well before the cancellation period has begun. If the t/a or the client or both spot them, then getting the reduction for an existing booking is generally a piece of cake. Remember, too, that reductions on a particular sailing may only apply to certain categories, such as Inside, OceanView or whatever. Like to like, the client should be able to get the reduction... and "like to like" itself is complex which is a discussion for another day.

I guess, if last minute booking works for you... and you are not concerned with cabin location, or not getting on the ship at all... and you can plan your time close in, then you may want to chance it. It doesn't work for many and is not an attractive alternative for many.
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Old September 18th, 2002, 06:40 AM
Philly Rock
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Default Re: RCI new price strategy??? Early bookers beware....

I am booked on the Nordic Empress in November. I am booked in the cat. Z guarantee which I paid 499.00/PP. It has dropped to 399.00/pp. I guess getting this reduction should not be problem since it is the same category. Am I correct? Thanks.
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Old September 18th, 2002, 07:44 AM
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Default Re: Re: RCI new price strategy??? Early bookers beware....

Depends when in November... you may or may not be inside the cancellation penalty period now. I'd call me t/a post haste.
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