Cruise Week has found that following generally upbeat booking reports for August and September, retailers are less enthusiastic this month, as pricing for November and December sailings has dropped to alarmingly low levels.
One agent reports a slight uptick in bookings, but says 'yields continue to be a major issue across all levels of product, and consumers are expecting unbelievable pricing for their cruise vacation." He continues: "It’s going to take a long time to correct this consumer mindset that has been created by the pricing made available by the cruise lines over the last year."
Retailers are feeling that it's a step backwards when consumers see such low rates appear in October for November and December departures. It doesn't offer much incentive for booking early. Agents cite ongoing problems with Mexican Riviera cruising. One rate that stood out was Norwegian Star seven-day sailings for $199 –plus $200 onboard credits. Another was an eight-night Enchantment of the Seas Southern Caribbean cruise departing November 28th for $199 interior including NCFs.
One agent believes a reason for the big drop for some close-in Royal Caribbean departures is that the line was banking on Oasis lifting the industry, 'so they didn’t take the aggressive actions that some of the other cruise lines have taken."
On the topic of Oasis, it seems that even this mega high-profile ship can't escape the late-booking trend. Some agents expressed surprise the line is still promoting the ship at this late date to Crown & Anchor members for its December 5th departure. As for holiday dates on the big ship, the highest categories have filled up nicely, but there's still plenty of space available below the Junior Suites category.