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These were announced about two weeks ago. Rather to my surprise these developments don’t seem to have been welcomed on the various forums; there seems to be quite a lot of cynicism about the whole exercise. I thought therefore that I’d go through it.

First, I think it’s important to define what the terms mean. As I understand it, ‘Vantage Fare’ is the name P&O (and Cunard – both lines have announced the same things) are now giving to the standard fare that passengers are being asked to pay for cruises from April 2013 onwards. The various web pages say that the Vantage Fares were introduced on 23 July, and in many cases  these Vantage Fares were lower than the fares previously shown in the brochure. One key thing to realise is that the Vantage Fares only apply to cruises from April 2013 onwards, so a fare shown on the website for a cruise this year won’t be a Vantage Fare.

The Vantage Fare is backed up by the Price Promise:

We promise that, should we reduce the Vantage Fare for a holiday you have already booked (for your cruise and cabin type with the same terms and conditions), we will pass on the value of the reduction to you automatically in the form of a complimentary benefit such as on board spending money or a cabin upgrade. If, however, fares for your holiday should rise after you have made your booking, and they may, you can rest assured that you have received excellent value by booking early – so both ways you win.

There are a couple of things that need to be understood in the Price Promise, the most important of which is this:should we reduce the Vantage Fare for a holiday you have already booked“. So it only applies to Vantage Fares, which means that cruises for 2012, and winter 2012-2013, are not included. The next point is that it has to be a reduction “for your cruise and cabin type with the same terms and conditions“; a reduction in the Vantage Fare for other cabin types on your cruise also won’t trigger any price promise activity. The final point goes back to the Vantage Fare point, because P&O are very carefully saying this:

In addition to this new pricing policy, we will also offer Getaway Fares.

These may, or may not be offered on any cruise, closer to the departure of a cruise. These are restricted fares, which are not covered by our Price Promise.

So if P&O offer a Getaway Fare for an applicable cruise that you’ve already booked, you’re not covered by the Price Promise even if the Getaway Fare is lower than the fare you’ve paid: a Getaway Fare is not a Vantage Fare, and the Price Promise is only triggered by a reduction in the Vantage Fare. We could therefore be in the interesting situation where there might be two prices in force for a cabin, the Vantage Fare and the Getaway fare. Why would anyone want to pay the Vantage Fare in that situation? Well, there are some restrictions that apply to Getaway Fares:

With our Getaway Fares you can choose a cabin grade, but not a particular cabin number – this will be allocated by P&O Cruises no later than 14 days before departure (for bookings made within the 14 day period, your cabin number could be allocated anytime up to departure). These fares also require 100% of the cost of the holiday to be paid at the time of booking and, if cancelled, 100% cancellation fee will be applied.

I’m not sure if it will be possible  to negotiate such things as dining arrangements with Getaway Fares – it might not be.

A further cause of some confusion is that although Vantage Fares are stated as commencing on 23 July, those people who had already booked for relevant 2013 cruises seem to have been grandfathered-in. We had booked N315 pretty much as soon as the 2013 bookings opened, at a price of £2089 each (that included a significant early booking discount anyway). When the Vantage Fares for that cruise were published our cabin grade (Balcony High Mid) was shown as £1999, £90 pp less than we paid. However, we received a letter from P&O announcing that we had qualified for £180 OBC as a result of the Price Promise. One thing that isn’t perfectly clear for these grandfathered instances is what about the benefits we’d been given when we originally booked? In our case we received £200 OBC (£100 each) plus free parking at Southampton. It will be interesting to see what happens with that.

There are some comments about Vantage Fares already on cruise critic.co.uk:

  • Some people are saying that they think that P&O and Cunard will use the marketing of the Price Promise to push the Vantage Fares very hard. However, the suggestion is that the Vantage Fare, once set, might never be reduced, and thus the Price Promise will never need to be invoked. Instead, if the lines need to fill a ship then they will announce Getaway fares for the relevant cruise(s), and of course the Price Promise doesn’t apply to those fares;
  • There’s also some question about which previously-booked cruises are already qualifying for Price Promise benefits. As I said above, I already have, for a cruise booked in May this year for June 2013, i.e. it was booked very shortly after booking opened. A person has commented that he booked a cruise in April this year for May 2013, and has received Price Promise benefits following the introduction of Vantage Fares. However, he also booked two more cruises for 2013 in early July – just before the Vantage Fares were announced – and has not so far received Price Promise benefits, despite the fact that the Vantage Fares for the cruises he booked are lower than his bookings. I’ll try to keep abreast of this one.

Here are some links:

4 Responses to “More on Vantage Fares and the P&O 'Price Promise'”

  1. […] posted a couple of weeks ago about P&O’s Price Promise, and how it works. I also pointed out that I (and others) had already received letters from P&O […]

  2. Linda Cox says:

    You must be joking about this so called Vantage fares at the moment we are contesting our booking on April 13th. We have not been offered anything . We booked an outside cabin and we notice balcony cabins are selling £395.00pp less than we paid for outside cabin now think that one over. We would like to hear of any one else are having problems with PO.

  3. Colin says:

    Hi Linda,

    Have you checked with your tour operator as our letter was in fact sitting in the Thomas cook branch. They were fair in the end with us they would not offer the free coach they gave to everyone 2 weeks after we had booked however they did give us an additional 500 on board spend for a family of 4 this taking into account our loyalty onboard spend means we have 650.00 I was very happy with this of course but am still annoyed they would not offer the coach as we will be travelling down from Durham. Hope you get it sorted have to say P&O were very understanding about my frustrations and did all they could to sort out my issues when i contacted them.

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