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New Years Resolution:

Don’t make an early booking for a cruise when the brochures are published in the spring!

Over the break I received an email from P&O – “Book now for complimentary on board spending” – which promised lots of additional on-board credit. The phrase used was “Book your next holiday by 28 February 2014 and enjoy complimentary on board spending money in addition to our Select Price benefits”.  Just for the hell of it, I logged in to the P&O website and ran through a booking for the cruise we’ve already booked, 14 nights on Azura to the Baltic on 29 June (A418); and there it was, an additional £150 each OBC, in addition to the usual Select benefit choice (free travel, free parking, or some OBC). Hold on! I said to myself – one way of financing this generous giveaway would be for the base price to have risen (unlikely, but that’s how the maths could work). But not so – the price for our cabin might have risen a bit but no more than £50 per person, so at worst there’s still an extra £100 each that we’re not getting. I know, I know; we must have been happy at the time we booked, and we have got the cabin of our choice – but still….

Over the last couple of years I’ve become more and more annoyed about all this pricing malarkey. There doesn’t seem to be much benefit in being an early booker anymore. I’ve already posted about the very generous offer that Celebrity have been making since August for cruises in Europe for this year (nearly wrote ‘next year’ then) – the free drinks package. As I said in that earlier post, had I booked before that was available I would have been seriously upset.

So why are the cruise lines doing it? I suppose it must in be down to the continued growth in capacity in Europe at a time when customers are wondering if they want to continue spending all this money on cruises. The lines have got to fill the ships somehow, and making ever-more generous offers is one way of doing that. Unfortunately they run the risk of upsetting those faithful customers who have paid their deposits at an early stage. What’s certain is that this passenger (and his wife) have learned that we will get more for our money by hanging on for a number of months before making our decision and handing over our cash, and we don’t believe we’re alone in this. Is that the lesson that the cruise lines really wanted customers to learn?

Here’s a link to the P&O page outlining the current offers.

3 Responses to “New Years Resolution:”

  1. Malcolm Oliver says:

    Hi Tom, the forthcoming mega ships (P&O, RCI, NCL, Princess) will all a passenger capacity of around 4,000+. Whatever the lines say, these ships WILL NOT sell out fast. In fact I bet some will never sail completely full.

    Britannia and Anthem (at Southampton spring/summer 2015) will have over 8,000 berths to sell!

    Those passengers with a cool head will get the best fares. Early booking discounts are an illusion in my opinion.


  2. Dai. says:

    Good resolution Tom, lasted until …..errrr Spring of 2014.

    Joing the club we have 2 Britannia and 1 long Ventura.

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