Feed on

Both P&O and Cunard published their Summer 2018 schedules early this month, and have been taking bookings for the last week or so. (I did a post about the schedules just after they were announced.) At first I was pleased that we had this advance notice – we could finally book a cruise more than two years in advance! – but I’ve now begun to feel that it isn’t such a good idea. Val put it this way when we were talking about it earlier today: “I feel like I’m being pressured into booking a cruise earlier than I really want to”, and I share her feeling. So what’s brought this on?

We looked through the brochure when it arrived and selected a cruise that interested us. Val’s diary and itineraries are very uncertain that far ahead – we’re not even certain that she’ll still be working then – and in any case we perhaps want to have several shorter holidays that year rather than one longer one. So we were principally looking at 7-night cruises and A813 caught our attention. It starts in late May 2018, and includes calls at Hamburg (a new port for us), Amsterdam (with an overnight stay in port) and Le Havre. Then we looked at the offers. As previous customers we’d get an early booking discount of 10% and the deposit would only be 5% (of the undiscounted price) instead of the normal 15%. Those offers will be available until the end of November.

But – do we want to commit ourselves to that cruise so far in advance? And crucially, do we want to do so before we can have a look at other lines’ competing offers? At the moment the only lines that we know about for summer 2018 are P&O and Cunard, but before we make a definite choice we’d really like to see what itineraries Celebrity and Fred. Olsen will be offering, and perhaps other lines as well. Yet we feel pressurised into making that early booking – if we leave it until after November we’ll lose the early booking discount. It is perfectly possible that there will be other offers in place of that discount – increased OBC, perhaps – but we don’t know that for certain. We definitely expect that the reduced deposit requirement will certainly vanish, to be replaced by the normal 15%. Having paid a deposit three times greater than it would have been would make a cruise that we booked that much harder to walk away from if plans or circumstances change.

I can certainly see why P&O are doing this – not only will they be getting the early deposit payments and the commitment, but they’ll also be freezing the other lines out – but as I said we feel pressured into making a booking far earlier than we really want to.

How do other people feel about this?

8 Responses to “The pressure, the pressure….”

  1. Malcolm Oliver says:

    Cruise lines always want you to believe that you must book early or you will miss out.

    However today’s mega-ships (including P&O’s) often have at least 1,500 cabins to shift. Most big ships will not even be completely sold out when they depart – there is really no need to book a year or two in advance.

    Early prices are a starting point before the deep discounts are added. Personally the best deal that I tend to see an not early booking ones, they are the late ones.

    • Tom Burke says:

      True; but with P&O’s policy regarding Saver fares (no cabin allocation until 3 weeks before sailing, and uncertain dining arrangements) we always book the full (Select) fare. IN general we’ve found that this is cheaper the earlier you book – very late Select fares can be quite expensive.

      • Malcolm Oliver says:

        Yes Tom, I appreciate that cruise lines are keen to make early booking more attractive.

        However, from a purely monetary point of view the biggest discounts come late, although cabin choices etc. may be limited.

  2. Bob Thompson says:

    As a newbie to cruising (5) the first cruise we booked was quite a way in advance for us, as working in retail we can not guarantee getting holiday availability when we want it. But we went and 4 more followed over the next couple of years, generally booking early so we could choose cabins and dining preferences etc that we wanted.
    However on the last cruise it went so badly wrong and was so poorly dealt with by P&O that I probably would not sail with them again let alone give them my money to play with 2 yrs in advance

    • Tom Burke says:

      Thanks for the comment, Bob. I won’t ask what went wrong….

      We always book early for the reasons you did – to get the exact cabins and dining arrangements we wanted. We still would, I think, but probably not 21 months in advance and not without knowing the alternatives. But who knows….

      • Elaine says:

        Hi Tom

        Cruise and Maritime are doing some really good deals, for 2017/18.

        love reading your Blog.

        Kind Regards

  3. Ian says:

    We have booked a 2018 cruise with P & O because:
    1. We really like the aft cabins ( and the small number we would go for sell out quickly)
    2. One of our party is a single cruiser and the the mark up for a single person in a normal balcony cabin is relatively good when the cruises are announced ( and gets progressively worse as they use some double cabins for single people).
    2. We are restricted to a couple of specific weeks for our holiday and we saw a med cruise with several news ports to us.
    If we could be more flexible then we would leave it much later ( a few months before sailing ) and then see what is available across all the cruise lines.

  4. We’re similar to Ian in that we usually book well in advance as we’re restricted to school holidays, prefer aft cabins and like to choose our dining arrangements. We’re open to using any cruise line but usually stick to P&O as we like what they offer and usually they are the best value for money for our preferences. However we’ve hesitated and not booked this time as it just “feels” too far in advance, even for us. I think Val’s hit the nail on the head suggesting a feeling of “pressure” to book early. Sorry P&O, we are loyal supporters (20+ cruises) but this is too much for us.

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