Cruise Pricing Flat or Down, But Costa Fares Up

Based on the latest monthly UBS Cruise Data Tracker, Robin Farley, a UBS Investment Research financial analyst, told her firm’s investors on Wednesday that “we believe average cruise pricing was down” this week as well as for the past four weeks.

The development followed weeks of flat or better pricing that immediately followed Costa’s late March and early April price cuts.

Looking ahead, Farley said “prices for sailings in 2013 have been flattish sequentially for the last four weeks, and also for most weeks of 2012."

One positive note? Farley said, “Costa was up slightly this week and has seen 10 straight weeks of sequential pricing increases since the early April cut in pricing, which seems an encouraging indication that incoming booking volumes have been satisfactory.”

As for other lines, Royal Caribbean’s pricing remained “flattish,” Farley said. Other lines were down with Cunard showing the most price weakness among the major brands tracked by UBS.

As for Costa, it’s now experienced 10 straight weeks of sequential price increases since its spring price cuts. The brand has since recovered a cumulative three percent of that eight percent pricing cut, Farley said.

“We believe this is an indication that Carnival Corporation’s pricing actions for the Costa brand have succeeded in driving booking volume and that pricing for the brand has not seen further significant cuts,” Farley told investors.

Farley noted that the UBS Cruise Data Tracker only reflects ticket price adjustments, not other "value-add" incentives that cruise lines have offered to stimulate demand, such as onboard credits, free airfare and higher commissions.

Geographically speaking, the data tracker showed that pricing for eastern and western Mediterranean sailings was flat to slightly down this week, although it’s up slightly when looking at the past four weeks in total.

Although pricing for Northern Europe was slightly down this week, prices are up a tad – one percent cumulatively for the last four weeks. Other European cruises are down this week and cumulatively for the last month.

Alaskan pricing was up this week but down for the past four weeks, while Caribbean prices are also down slightly this week.

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