The ‘wave’ peak booking period will extend into March as a result of disruption to peak season sales caused by the Costa Concordia disaster.
The prediction from Princess Cruises UK director Paul Ludlow means that lines are likely to be concentrating on promoting summer 2012 cruises at the time 2013 programmes start being released next month.
Ludlow declined to be drawn on the company’s 2013 plans for the UK ahead of the formal launch but said sales for this year were returning after the impact of the Concordia accident.
“Business is certainly coming back and we are very pleased with the last four weeks of trading,” he said. “There was an impact in January and the ‘wave’ period will now run through February and March.”
Describing recent trading as “very positive,” Ludlow said: “The market is resistant and customers understand the value that cruising represents.”
The company is still keeping plans for next year’s naming of new big ship Royal Princess under wraps, with indications that it should not be taken as a forgone conclusion that the ceremony will take place in the UK despite the vessel making its commercial debut in Southampton next summer.
Plans are being made for agents to experience the 3,600-passenger ship but details have yet to be confirmed.
The vessel’s seven-night maiden Southampton to Barcelona voyage on June 16, 2013 will be preceded by two three-night preview cruises from Southampton on June 10 and June 13 to St Peter Port in Guernsey.
The two short cruises will go on sale after the naming ceremony details have been finalised, while the main Royal Princess programme of Mediterranean fly-cruises will be available to book from March 15.
“We will be doing something for UK agents to get them on board,” was all Ludlow was prepared to divulge.
Further details of the on board offering on Royal Princess will be staggered over the coming months.
“More information will be released on a monthly basis to build the excitement to the physical launch of the ship,” said Ludlow. “There will be many features that will be an evolution for the brand, not a great redesign. We are nor reinventing the wheel.”
Princess is gearing up to release its dedicated groups booking details for 2013 ahead of the main programme launch following a successful debut a year ago to allow agents to promote specific ships and itineraries in advance, according to head of brand marketing Pieter van der Schee.
Meanwhile, the line’s online Flight Select option on the Complete Cruise Solution booking engine has been enhanced with the introduction of Flybe domestic services from regional airports to Southampton to feed this year’s departures by Grand Princess.
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