Finally, glimmers of hope are appearing on the cruise horizon. Consumer surveys show that at least some Americans believe the economic downturn may halt by year-end. Given the incredible cruise deals in the marketplace, agents say there may never be a better time to book a voyage.
Children enjoy colorful, fun activity centers onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise
Alaska cruises are being sold at the lowest prices ever. Savory deals also abound for voyages within Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. Reduced air, cruise fare discounts, onboard credits and other enticements are luring passengers onboard ocean, niche and river-cruise ships. Following is a sampling of current offers:
Family Fun: To draw more families onboard, Royal Caribbean International is offering savings of up to $50 per person or $200 per stateroom on 31 seven- and nine-night summer Caribbean sailings in 2009. Guests choosing an outside stateroom with balcony will also receive $100 onboard credit per stateroom or $150 per stateroom for junior suite or higher category accommodations. These offers apply to new bookings made by June 30.
Small-Ship Alaska: American Safari Cruises’ “Even More Beautiful at 50” celebration of Alaska’s 50th anniversary of statehood offers savings of $500 per person on select new bookings for its up-close Alaska yacht adventures if booked by June 19. Agents who book staterooms by this deadline will also receive a $50 per person “thank you” incentive.
Cruise West has rolled out two- to three-night Alaska cruise weekend packages that include reduced airfare from 14 West Coast cities. The “Alaska Weekend Explorers Package” offers reduced airfares for guests on either the three-night “Glacier Bay Highlights” or the “Glaciers of Prince William Sound” itineraries. Total price of $1,499 per person double includes a $999 cruise fare and $500 airfare.
Tee Time on the High Seas: Crystal Cruises is offering a $1,000 per person “All Inclusive —As You Wish” onboard credit for its 11-day “High Teas & Golf Tees” sailing August 23 to September 3 roundtrip from London. Guests will also be invited to a VIP Golfers welcome reception, given welcome kits with golf information and an invitation to a “Hole in One” challenge for a chance to win a free cruise.
Crystal Cruises is inviting guests to a VIP golfers' welcome reception
As an option, golf aficionados may schedule play at some of the top courses in the UK and Ireland, including Gleneagles’ Kings and Queens Courses in Scotland; Northern Ireland’s Royal Belfast Golf Club; the Carden Park Golf Club in Cheshire, England; Mount Juliet in Kilkenny, Ireland; and Druids Glen outside Dublin. Clients may use the onboard credit toward golf excursions, other shore trips or onboard services. Fares begin at $5,800 per person double (excluding the golf excursions). Plenty of activities await any nongolfing spouse.
Free Agent Cabin: Travel agents who book three cabins by June 30 for Hurtigruten’s Norwegian Coastal Voyage, Spitsbergen, Greenland or Antarctica itineraries, will receive a free six- or seven-day cruise between October 1, 2009, and March 31, 2010, along Norway’s fjord-filled west coast. Hurtigruten is offering multiple consumer specials, including a “Two Sail for the Price of One” offer in which companions sail free on certain six-, seven- and 12-day voyages between September and December. Normal cruise fares for these voyages range from $1,409 to $4,029, per person double, saving each passenger sharing a cabin from $705 to $2,014.
2010 European Groups: Costa Cruises has extended its discount program on 2010 European groups through July 31. Perks for the European program include guaranteed 17 percent commission, a tour conductor berth for every 15 guests (the 16th passenger sails free), a complimentary bottle of Spumante and no deposit for four months. The 2010 European group fares start at $499 per person.
In addition to deals at sea, clients who enjoy pre- or post-cruise stays in port destinations will discover many hotel and local attraction offers this year. For example, members of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau are fielding many two-for-one attraction offers between now and September 30. Check out www.sunny.org/summer; the deals cover everything from outdoor recreation to spa treatments and sunset cruises.