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Cruise executives say the value of a cruise vacation will save the day

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On March - 17 - 2009

State of the Cruise Industry Panel Cruise Shipping MiamiAccording to top cruise executives on today’s State of the Industry panel at Cruise Shipping Miami the value of cruising will weather the tough economic storm. There’s no doubt the economy is in tough shape yet cruise executives remained optimistic that they will weather this storm as they have done in the past.

“The cruise industry is poised to get through these hard times and will come out stronger in the end,” said Rick Sasso, chair of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Marketing Committee and president and CEO of MSC Cruises USA. Sasso stressed the value of cruising as the reason. “‘The value component is a more powerful message today than ever before.”

“We need to stay strong on the value message,” said Kevin Sheehan, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line. Sheehan said initiatives like job loss insurance and reduced deposits are helping skittish consumers book a cruise vacation.

Carnival Cruise Lines’ CEO Gerry Cahill said having more cruise ports within driving distance is helping consumers, especially families, make the decision to book a cruise. Cahill said Carnival’s 17 North American homeports has helped the company during the economic crunch.

Celebrity Cruises CEO Dan Hanrahan noted that the average booking window at Celebrity has shortened quite a bit since last year, but he said it’s a temporary situation. “I think the consumer needs to see that the economy is starting to recover,” he said. “When the consumer gets that confidence I think you’ll see the booking window extended again.”

Holland America CEO Stein Kruse blamed the media for consumer fears with the nightly reports of economic gloom and doom. “We’re being told to be scared. We’re being told there’s a crisis. There are unprecedented levels of foreclosures. The fact is that more than 90 percent of Americans have jobs and pay their mortgages. Our best times are ahead of us and we should not forget about that.”

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One Response to “Cruise executives say the value of a cruise vacation will save the day”

  1. They’re right and they’re wrong. I’m a luxury focused travel agent and here’s my account:

    Sure a cruise is a great value even in ‘normal’ times. And right now cruise prices – at all ends of the luxury spectrum – are falling faster than the market, which thankfully has even risen a bit lately.

    But here’s the problem seen through a couple of examples:

    * I had a call yesterday from one of my best clients who likes to enjoy his luxury cruises, and likes to enjoy them in style from a nice suite. He and he wife booked an April Silversea sailing back in December. Since then Silversea has added a $500 per person on-board spending credit and a $500 per person ‘never sailed with Silversea’ special. I’m pretty hooked into luxury travel as my agency is one the top luxury agencies in California – but did I know? No. We got the first supplemental $500 discount after the client received a mailer, noticed it and called me. And the second one we got (yesterday) because he just happened to see if the cruise was cheaper by going through the travel department of a magazine he subscribes to.

    I have another customer who prefers Regent Seven Seas. She wouldn’t even book a cruise she really wanted because she didn’t trust the cruise line to lower the price automatically if and when it went down in price. Probably a logical scenario.

    The bottom line is consumer confidence in the cruise industry and their not very good pricing rationale. What am I do to? I could call the cruise lines every day to see if the price is cheaper. If I do might get the same answer I got yesterday from Silversea — and that’s you’re out of luck because your clients have already paid in full.


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