New brand advertising from premium brand Celebrity Cruises has been focused to accentuate destinations as the line seeks to move the conversation with customers away from price.
Weekend newspapers featured the latest advertising push featuring Celebrity’s new Modern Luxury identity and highlighting destinations like Russia and Scandinavia.
Rival P&O Cruises was also prominent with its own destination-focused adverts and both urged customers to contact their travel agent, while also including direct booking information.
Michael English, Celebrity Cruises’ head of sales, said yields were holding up for the line’s “benchmark” ship for the UK market, Eclipse, which is based in Southampton.
He said this was partly due to the popularity of three new itineraries it has introduced including Iceland and the Azores which are appealing to cruisers looking for something new.
“Year on year we are bang on target with the same time last year for Eclipse,” English said. “The difficulty is the run rate [volume] we have got to get to.
“At this moment in time we are yielding more than last year – not much, but more. The tricky thing is when there are competitors who are not as far ahead on occupancy as we are.
“The only way they are going to be able to fill their ships is by reducing prices so we know it’s going to be difficult when we get into the lates.
“That’s why we are promoting more around destinations rather than cruise ship and price, promoting Scandinavia or Iceland as a holiday.”
English said Celebrity is gaining momentum in the UK having won a clutch of awards including a Travel Weekly Globe Travel Award in January.
A turn-of-year free flights promotion has proved popular and the operator has had to charter an additional aircraft from Thomson Airlines out of Manchester to meet demand from the north.
The flight to Rome will operate from July to November offering 188 seats every 10 days and marks a departure for Celebrity which traditionally does not charter air in the UK, relying usually on scheduled flying.
English said chartering means Celebrity has greater say over the scheduling of flights to fit with ship turnaround days and embarkation and disembarkation times.
Celebrity will be releasing its 2014 deployment “in the next six to eight weeks”.
In February Celebrity announced a second ship will be dedicated to the UK market by being based in Harwich.
The 2,100-passenger Celebrity Infinity will sail between April and November operating 10, 11 and 12-night northern European, Baltic and Iceland cruises.
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