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(Update: corrected wrong specification of cruise price comparisons.)

It may seem a little odd, but it was on the very day that the booking for our already-selected 2015 cruise was confirmed that we received our copy of the 2015/16 P&O brochure! But better late than never. It’s really going to be for reference rather than detailed cruise selection. It’s rather thicker than last year’s – there is of course a big section on Britannia, and another big section on the Mediterranean fly cruises.

One thing it does share with last year’s brochure that’s different from previous years’ is that there are no detailed prices – you have to consult the website for those. I can see the advantage of this for the cruise lines – they no longer have to publish multiple editions of the brochure during the year as prices vary, and there’s also the advantage that they (or their TAs) no longer have to deal with potential passengers who have got an early edition and who are shocked by the fact that prices may have risen by the time they book. It’s also the case that P&O’s pricing structure has become much complex, thanks to the arrival of Early Saver and Saver fares – of course, at this stage in the 2015 campaign there are no such fares for cruises in 2015, just the Select fares.

As I say, I can see the advantage of doing it this way from the cruise line’s point of view, but we have lost some transparency – we no longer have a fixed reference point as to what “the price” was for a cruise at some point in time. It’s likely that the only price you’ll be able to use for comparison purposes will the price of the cruise you’ve booked, when you booked it – we will lose the awareness of how prices might be varying over time. Of course, that’s how the airlines work, especially the budget airlines and no-one thinks anything of that, but it does mean that when next year’s brochure is published I won’t be able to compare, definitively, the prices in it with this year’s launch price. I’ve just done that, in fact, comparing the cruise we’ve just booked on Azura with the nearest equivalents in previous years for which I have prices, which means going back to 2013 at least. I’m quite surprised at how well the price we’re paying for this cruise – just about £1700 for a balcony cabin for 14 nights starting mid-September – compares with that being charged in 2013 and 2011 (the years with the nearest equivalent cruises) – just under £2000 in each case. So my perception that I posted about a month ago – that prices were lower for 2015 – seems to be born out; and since they’re starting low, it’s tempting to say that they’re more likely to go up than down. It looks like this may be the year to book early.

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