If your clients are dying to take a cruise, but think “I can’t afford it,” or “I can’t take time right now,” they might reconsider. We’ve polled a sampling of travel agents across the U.S. and here are their top seven reasons why booking a cruise now makes great sense.
Low pricing and upgraded perks are wayst o draw more cruisers (Carnival Freedom shown)
1. Unprecedented Low Pricing
Major cruise lines have slashed prices, making a good value a great one. Many lines are offering discounts from 20 to 50 percent off for 2009 or early 2010 cruises. If your clients want a trip closer to home, Alaska and the Caribbean are great buys this year. Some lines offer “Kids Sail Free” or other family travel promotions. A few lines have removed or lessened the single supplement.
2. Cruise Vacation Inclusivity
A cruise is highly inclusive. Cruise fares bundle accommodations, dining, entertainment and special experiences, such as a Captain’s Cocktail Reception, into one inclusive, affordable fare. Many luxury lines also include such perks as complimentary alcoholic beverages, prepaid gratuities or a complimentary shore outing.
3. Airfare Assistance
If your clients have to fly to catch a cruise, they are most likely thinking about airfare costs. Some cruise lines may offer two-for-one or even free air with a cruise booking. These air offers often apply to specific itineraries or booking dates.
4. Special Programs and Perks
Cruise lines are becoming increasingly creative. So if your clients have a hobby or interest, you can likely find a cruise to match. Many lines field celebrity speakers; themed programs such as nature or culinary cruises; and one-of-a-kind experiences. Plus, this year some lines are offering a cruise credit as an extra incentive to book. It’s essentially a bit of extra cash credited to your onboard account. It comes in handy to pay for such items as gift-shop purchases or a shore excursion.
5. Affordable Europe?
Booking a vacation in Europe or some other popular spots in the world can be pricey, given exchange rates. If you’re dying to go to Europe but don’t think you can afford the pound sterling or euro rates for a land vacation, consider a European cruise that’s offered by a major line serving primarily North Americans. You’ll pay in U.S. dollars.
6. Advance Discounts
Most cruise lines routinely offer savings for customers booking in advance. Many typically have a six-month window, others as little as 90 days. Many guarantee that if you discover a cheaper fare in the same category cabin closer to sailing, the line will honor that lower fare and refund the difference you paid. Better yet, most advance purchase savings programs are applied on top of other promotional discounts. So the further out you book, the better deal you’re likely to get.
7. High Customer Satisfaction
Approximately 95 percent of customers returning from a cruise vacation are satisfied, according to surveys conducted for CLIA. In addition, this year, a few lines rolled out reduced or more flexible deposit policies as well as new options such as a “job-loss guarantee” within travel insurance options.