Contrary to what you may think, not all luxury cruise lines are discounting. Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa, for example, has been able to maintain brochure rates of around 500 Euros per person, per night. For those not near a calculator, that’s more than $1,400 per cabin, per night, double occupancy.
Those kinds of rates are certainly not being seen in North America, where crisis and capacity have conspired to make deep discounts the new norm. "At least 50% off has become a given," says one agent. "If you’re not giving that much away, you’re probably not even in the game."
Unfortunately, the luxury lines are "in the game" much more than they would like. Some have been compelled to offer discounts as much as 75% off brochure rates – usually extended only to loyalty club clients who book while onboard. And while top cruise sellers say the discounts are necessary to nudge consumers into action, they add that discounts alone are often not enough. Lines are seeking differentiation in their offerings through incentives including free air, onboard credits or free shore excursions.
While costly, the tactics seem to be working: cruise sellers are reporting an uptick in the luxury end of their business. Regent Seven Seas is earning particular praise for its offer of free shore excursions."Regent’s shore excursion inclusion has helped us close sales," says a California cruise seller. "Some have even switched from other luxury cruise lines."
Indeed, the consensus of a dozen cruise sellers interviewed for this story reveal that Regent’s perks and pricing initiatives have been the most aggressive among the luxury players. But there are some hiccups. "Clients are not pleased when they can’t get the tour they want,'