P&O Cruises and Cunard have introduced a new pricing structure which includes a “price promise” guarantee on all cruises.

Complete Cruise Solution, the sales arm of Carnival UK, believes the move will encourage early booking and allow agents to guarantee that like-for-like prices will not be undercut at a later date.

Under the new structure, all departures from April 2013 will be repriced from today, with a range of reductions creating new “vantage fares” which CCS plans to retain rather than adjusting them during a rolling series of three-month campaigns as is currently the case.

If prices are reduced at a later date, which CCS says it hopes to avoid, existing customers will be offered onboard credit or upgrades to the value of the reduction. This will also be applied retrospectively on today’s repricing for customers who have already booked.

The only exclusion from the price promise will be CCS’s tactical “getaway fares”, which may be used to stimulate bookings but will come with strict terms including 100% deposits and cancellation fees, and none of the flexibility offered with the vantage fares.

Giles Hawke, sales and customers services director at Carnival UK, said: “This is how we are going to do our pricing in the future.

“We have listened to feedback from our customers and agents who say that the desire to book early is being offset by a lack of faith in pricing and a belief that they could lose out to cheaper late deals.”

While he confirmed there had been a small shift towards later booking patterns, he said it had been only “a matter of days” and insisted the changes were designed to offer greater clarity and assurance for customers.

“Our objective is to avoid constantly adjusting our fares, and giving our customers and agent partners a consistent price which they can rely on with a guarantee that they won’t be left out of pocket,” he said.

“We want to offer 100% peace of mind that early bookers will not be penalised, and while we will be clear that we may need to offer tactical getaway fares, they won’t have the flexibility of the vantage fares or the price promise.”

Hawke admitted that some customers would still hold off in the hope of getting cheaper fares, rather than the offer of credit or upgrades, but said he was confident that the new structure would give most the confidence to book early and build anticipation of their trip.

In addition to the new pricing structure, Complete Cruise Solution is also introducing a short-term tactical reduction in deposits, from 15% to 10%, until September.