More “Gluttony” on the High Seas?
It appears that the European Cruise Skies are just not so sunny lately.
Many North American cruise lines opted to bail out of the saturated Caribbean Market in favor of heading much of their fleets to the European waters for summertime. Well it seems that the excitement has tapered sharply in interest by the Euro Market passengers, and now the cruise lines find themselves once again, returning back to their old standby support the North American Market passengers.
Sometimes the toughest part of any cruise, is just in getting to the cruise ship. While many of us have been trying to tell the cruise lines this very point, and they are now finding out first hand, just exactly what it’s like for those of us who live here in the Mid West, Western Plains and many places throughout the U.S., not within acceptable driving distances from embarkation ports. The cruise lines have grown accustomed to having the always thriving East Coast Market and especially the Florida Resident Market that are always ready to jump on special discounted deals and flock to their ships. But alas, now they find themselves where they are offering truly fantastic deals, but not getting many takers. Why So Different Now? Well for one, They’ve moved many of their ships away from where we live. Secondly Wow! Air Fares are much higher than normal, primarily due to rising fuel costs, and somewhat due to speculation about the unrests that exists throughout much of the oil-producing world. On top of all of that, people just aren’t interested in shelling out over a thousand dollars per passenger to be able to fly to a cruise vacation. Something we here in the Desert West have known for some time, and been trying to explain to the cruise lines with little attention being garnered.
Naturally the whole unrest situations going on throughout the Mediterranean region itself (Libya, Iraq, Iran, Israel, and even Egypt to name a few) that has would be cruisers on edge. Now add to that fears and concerns over natural disasters, and weather related issues, and throw in some Somali pirates worry stories (just for good measure), and you’ve got a recipe for “No way Jose, am I going over there”! The reality is at this point it doesn’t matter how deep they discount their cruise fares. There is just way too much “other” to be overcome.
So what do the cruise lines do?
Well many of the cruise lines are saying they will be pulling vessels out of the European and Mediterranean waters earlier than their original schedule was planning. Many cruise ships will be getting redeployed this fall, rather than their originally planned next spring (Mar-Apr 2012). Other cruise lines say that they intend to look at other sailings to bolster their sagging bottoms (earnings that is). Some going so far to say that they are not opposed to raising fares on Alaska, and Caribbean routes in an effort to make up for the European losses they are experiencing.
Beware of the pied piper mentality approach!
The cruise lines are notorious for practicing the, “If you do it, then so can I” mentality. Oftentimes it merely takes one or two to start something, and soon enough they will all follow. So if in fact one or two of the major cruise lines begin raising their prices, you can expect to see all of them follow suit in short order.
What’s a cruise passenger to do?
Well, first I would say if you have been even considering a summer or fall cruise to the Mediterranean, you will never find better cruise deals than are currently being offered by just about every cruise line sailing. Or if you have been thinking about one of the really great special cruise vacation offers to Alaska later in 2011, or for 2012 but haven’t purchased it yet. I highly recommend that you get off the fence and book it. Especially since there is a 1 in 2 chance that the cruise lines may do exactly what they are presently only giving consideration to, which is raising cruise fare prices on their non-European sailings. Don’t get caught blind-sided. Generally deposits in order to confirm your cruise vacation wishes are minimal investments, and should your desired intentions not turn out as you had planned, your deposits are refundable provided you cancel prior to the final deposit due date, which in many cases is around the 70 to 90 days prior to sailing period.
What could the cruise lines do?
I thought you’d never ask. You know first off I would remind the cruise lines that there are many people who have to make crucial decisions (financial wise) every day. While they may not wish to, sometimes it is a more “have to” process that is involved. There are many people who have to park the extra car (or even worse) because of the higher fuel cost, insurances, taxes, registration, and the fact that their income is less than in previous years. So while it may not be a thought they really want to consider, maybe they might have to dry dock some of their ships. Why don’t the cruise lines, use their buying power as individuals or set up an air consortium where they could offer their passengers actually big savings on air fares . Maybe it means the sales department will need to get creative in coming up with some all ship charters. It may require some reductions in staffing and certain services that are now being offered on their sailings.
I think it’s time that the cruise lines begin giving some consideration to some new ideas, and the way they approach their business. How about some new sailing destinations and shorter, closer, and even more cruises to nowhere. All of these considerations have produced winners in the past. Maybe you might give some consideration to not having your entire fleet committed to deployments so far out. It seems each year they’re getting further and further out. For heaven’s sake, we can’t even begin to plan air arrangements until 330 days out! How about having some quirky themed cruises and to decorating (not reconstruction just ornamentation and decorations) some of their ships say Hawaiian, or Tahitian, or Maybe someone might think it cool to sail on the Nina, Pinta, or Santa Maria! Heck, I’d sail any thing called the “Black Pearl Cruise” especially if it featured a costumed open grog party hour, so why not throw a few bucks at some decorations, brew and let’s make it fun. People love having (and associate cruising with) a fun time, and these are but of few suggestions at winning some new business, and fuller ships.
Certainly our times don’t seem to be rebounding as quickly as we would like it to be. So we need to take actions that get us by, and through tough times. Often that means doing some things at least a little differently than in the past to be able to squeak through. I don’t profess to have the answers, but I do know that everyday there are possibilities out there just waiting to be discovered, implemented, and success to be achieved. You don’t have to be the great forward thinker, or an extreme risk taker. More often than not, it’s the thing that’s right in front of us, that someone implements and makes a fortune at it. Let’s just try to think closer to home. Maybe a good first step might be to set up some truly great lines of communication between the cruise lines and the cruising public. Maybe it could be as simple as asking (and not just on a comment card when I’m trying to get my stuff packed and off the ship) what would you like to see or do on your next cruise! Maybe you might try asking me that question once I’m off the ship. For goodness sake, you have my email address, remember?
For more information on Low Cost European Cruise rates and other great deals on Sailings, you can contact Mike via email firstname.lastname@example.org . You can tweet (or follow) Mike at http://www.twitter.com/cruisewithmike . To “Join” our Travel Club go to http://meetup.com/Sun-Cities-Travelers-Group/ Mikes web site can be found at www.mberryhill.cruiseholidays.com . Follow this blog (or subscribe to it) at http://www.cruisewithmike.com (or merely click on the subscribe button above to have daily delivery to your email). View all of Mikes uploaded Flickr Photo Galleries at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cruisewithmike/ . Mike also is editor of his own twice daily e-newspaper called “The Compass Headings” you can see (or subscribe to) it free! at http://paper.li/CruisewithMike
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