Sam Ballard looks at ways of minimising cruise costs and convincing those customers who would normally be put off by the price to get on board
Have you ever had a customer come in to your store and baulk at the price of a cruise? It doesn’t matter how you break it down for them – and go through how much value they’re actually getting per night when you take into account the accommodation, meals, entertainment and sometimes a whole lot more. Champagne tastes and beer budgets, anyone?
Well, while there is just no pleasing some people, there are some things that you can do to help your cause and bring the price of a cruise down…
Has your budget-conscious customer considered taking a lower grade of cabin? While there’s no doubt that a balcony can be an intrinsic part of the overall cruise experience, few people would argue that they are likely to use a balcony more on some itineraries than others. If you are sailing through areas such as Alaska or the Norwegian fjords, where you can sit and watch the landscape for hours on end – then watching from out on deck is just as enjoyable.
Inside cabins are also becoming more and more technologically advanced. Lines such as Disney and Royal Caribbean offer digital screens in some inside cabins that display views of the outside – with the odd Disney character flying past.
There are also, perhaps rather confusingly, grades within grades – ie not all balcony cabins cost the same. Some might have a restricted view, while others might be closer to the bow or stern where you will feel the roll of the ship more than you would if you were in the middle. All of this
is taken into account and so there are chances to bag a bargain if you know where to look.
Time of year
Peak season cruises cost more than shoulder seasons, that much is obvious. But, the difference could surprise you. A Cunard transatlantic crossing from Southampton to New York costs about £1,759 per person for a balcony stateroom in June – in November this year you can get an inside stateroom crossing for just £859, including flights.
“When it comes to river cruises, low season rates – late March to end of April and mid-October to the end of November – are usually cheaper than peak rates in brochures and online,” explains James Hill, of GoCruise. “Additionally, most operators in Europe look to fill their ships by offering discounted rates across the board – so look out for two-for-ones, category upgrades, single supplement offers and business class flights packaged in.
“For the Mekong, I often see deals such as free flights, second passenger flying for free and upgrades. The key is keeping your eye on offers when they come up.”
Another great way of saving your client money is by booking them on a ‘repositional’ cruise. These are sailings that most ships undertake during the year as a ship goes from its winter and summer season – between the Caribbean and Mediterranean, for instance. This means customers can often be booked on quirky itineraries such as MSC’s Venice to South Africa (via Mauritius and the Seychelles) – 26-nights at £1,399 for an inside cabin – or a Singapore to Brisbane cruise with Holland America Line for 26 nights from £2,499 per person.
“These Itineraries are fantastic value for anyone who wants to do something different or as part of a longer holiday enabling them to enjoy a combination of land and sea across different continents,” explains Samantha Wilkinson, a travel consultant at Delmar Travel. “It is also a way to enjoy those one-off bucket-list experiences like crossing the Atlantic, sailing from Europe to Asia via the Suez Canal or cruising Australia to Canada to name a few.”