Cruise lines “slash” prices for February

Cruise lines “slash” prices for February

Cruise lines are slashing prices in a bid to boost sales after what is understood to have been a disappointing January.

A series of agents and third parties including cruise.co.uk, Cruise 1st and Travelzoo have gone out today with e-alerts claiming prices have been “slashed”.

Operators had hoped to increase prices this year during the key early year wave booking period but Travel Weekly understands business has been slower than hoped.

While Travelzoo is advertising savings on a range of cruises worldwide, the more aggressive discounts and added-value deals are available on ex-UK Southampton sailings.

Cruise.co.uk sent an alert to its database today entitled “Southampton prices slashed”, indicating the lines had given up trying to drive higher prices.

Cruise 1st’s press release claims to have “slashed” Royal Caribbean prices sailing from the UK, with prices from £599 for seven nights in a balcony cabin, plus onboard spend.

The Travelzoo ‘newsflash’ is headlined: “Cruise Prices Slashed for Wave Season, Save up to 54%”.

Seamus Conlon, cruise.co.uk managing director, said: "The cruise lines have introduced new cheaper prices with restrictive conditions in order to boost sales."

Carnival UK sales director Giles Hawke denied the move was a reaction to poor sales in January. "As we often do, we have a small amount of residual stock left on some early season cruises.

“For 2013 so far, we're happy with our rate of sale and our yield. The prices we're now putting into the market are not significantly different to what we had in the market last year.

“The new cheaper prices carry different terms and conditions so consumers can chose to have flexibility at the higher fare or pay in full with lower flexibility for the lower fare."

Carnival’s P&O Cruises and Cunard brands introduced a new pricing structure this year in which early booking Vantage Fares were meant to offer the best value and late Getaway Fares, while possibly cheaper, offered less flexibility.

Most of the major lines have cut commission to travel agents in the last year, Carnival UK the most aggressively to just 5%, from up to 15%.

Today Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, which are paying 10%, unveiled “double incentives for agents and enticing new offers for customers”.

Royal Caribbean’s ‘Going, Going, Gone’ campaign is offering 3,000 14-night cruises at £999 per person, and 1,000 six to eight night cruises at £599 per person, from Southampton.

A Royal Caribbean announcement said agents will receive a £20 Lifestyle voucher for every 2013 booking made in February on cruises sailing from Southampton.

In addition, for any cruise booking made before February 28, agents will be entered into a daily prize draw to win one of five £100 Love to Shop vouchers.

Celebrity Cruises’ ‘123 Go!’ campaign allows customers to choose from one of three offers - free drinks worth up to $1400 per stateroom, free coach transfer or car parking in Southampton or $300 to spend onboard.

The offer is valid on all 2013 Celebrity Eclipse sailings departing from Southampton, in all stateroom categories, and also ends on February 28.

Agents will also receive a £20 Lifestyle voucher for every 2013 booking they make on Celebrity Eclipse sailings departing from the UK and sold in February.

In addition the Great Apple Giveaway has been extended until the end of February. Agents can win weekly giveaways of iPhone 5s and iPad minis, plus a grand prize of a stylish MacBook Air.

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