Travel agents are unanimous in their approval of Carnival’s announcement it will raise prices on its summer sailings.
“It’s about time,” exclaimed Nancy F. Yoffe, a South Carolina Cruise Planners agent. “Travel agents have been begging the cruise lines to come up with reasonable fares and stick with them.”
"I don't sell a lot of Carnival personally, but I see this as a very strong indication for the entire market," Amber Blecker, of a Colorado CruiseOne, said. "When such a large line who promotes strong value to its passengers can make such a move, it's a positive sign for the entire industry, and reflects much of what I've seen elsewhere for spring and summer on domestic departures."
“I am happy to see we will make a little more in commissions,” said Susan Bernstein of Round the World Cruises. “Carnival has been good to us by paying commission on passenger count instead of revenue so any increase to their low fares is a plus.”
"I think it's good that they're increasing prices," Else Daniels, owner/manager of Vacations at Sea told Travel Market Report. "The dreadfully low prices lead to a deterioration of the cruise product because there's corner cutting and that's really not a good thing for the clients."
Fare Hike Adds Sense of Urgency
John Gawne, a Virginia Cruises Inc. agent told Travel Market Report that cruise sellers can benefit from the fare increase, not just because of higher commissions and the increased income, but because agents can use the hikes to impart a sense of urgency to the customer.
Blecker agreed. "It is positive that it will encourage early booking between now and the March 21 deadline," she said.
Even with the hike, Gawne said Carnival cruises are still among the best value he sells.
“Given the economy the past 18 months, my leads and my own personal sales have been higher for Carnival than other lines. I think it is because of their lower price point. Even with an up to 5% increase, they will still be among the lowest priced offerings, and are still an excellent value for money.”
Successful Wave Season
Citing a very successful Wave season, Carnival Cruise Lines announced it will raise prices on March 22 for all summer sailings in June, July and August.
According to the cruise line, for the period of Jan. 1 through Feb. 21, bookings were at unprecedented levels for the line’s 22 ships.
“We’re seeing significantly increased volume as consumers are taking advantage of the incredible value that a Carnival cruise provides,” said Carnival president and CEO Gerry Cahill. “And while pricing hasn’t fully recovered to 2008 levels, we are increasing prices and will implement an across-the-board increase effective March 22.”
Price increases will vary by departure date but will be up to 5%.
Cahill attributes the record booking activity to several factors including strong travel agent support. He also cited targeted marketing initiatives, itinerary enhancements and the large selection of close-to-home departure points.
Carnival Cruise Lines is not the only cruise line to experience a successful Wave Season and Yoffe told TMR she hopes Carnival’s move is a sign all the lines will finally listen to travel agents’ pleas for higher pricing.