More people are taking to the seas for their holidays and making the most of discounts on luxury cruise holidays, new figures show.
White Star Cruises has reported a 30 per cent increase in luxury cruise bookings as people book their 2010 holidays at heavily discounted prices.
Cruising is becoming increasingly popular, with the industry expecting 12 per cent growth next year, and recession-busting special offers have fuelled demand.
Scott Anderson, general manager at White Star Cruises, said: ‘Customers are still booking luxury cruises for 2009, however the bulk of our business is for 2010 – we are up 30 percent year on year.
‘This is driven by the offers launched by the lines, and people are realising that to get the best price and the best suite they need to book well in advance.’
But not all cruise lines are sharing in the good news. Many mid market retailers, which have focused on late season discounting rather than early bookings, have failed to attract people looking for a bargain for next year.
The rush to discount trips has also led to come agents failing. Only last week cruise holiday firm Gillett Travel collapsed claiming it was unable to meet its future liabilities.
The negative affect of discounting on cruise agencies has led to a travel industry expert to call for price cuts to be discouraged among cruise lines.
Julia Lo Blue-Said, leisure director for Advantage Cruises and Tours, claimed that discounting is the ‘biggest concern’ for agencies who see their profit margins significantly slashed.
But not all cruise companies are offering discounts. Many have opted to lay on extra tailor-made services such as chauffeurs, VIP airport lounges, and spas, as add-ons to the ‘basic’ cruise to attract customers.
Spirit of Adventure cruising holidays, have promised no single supplements on their December cruise ‘Africa’s Red Sea’ and the next six cruises will all have wine included with lunches and dinners.
Carl Catterall, travel communications manager for Spirit of Adventure, told TravelMail: ‘We already have a lot of services included in the price of our trips such as offering at least one excursion included at each port of call. But with these latest deals people will be able to go away on the cruise without spending a penny.’