Half-price fares and free flights to join your cruise ship – deal or no deal?

/, Cruise News/Half-price fares and free flights to join your cruise ship – deal or no deal?

It seems like only a couple of days ago I was writing that cruise lines were welcoming strong bookings and a firming up of fares, and were looking forward to record profits. Hang on, it WAS only a couple of days ago that I was grimly forecasting passengers would be faced with higher prices next year.
How wrong could I be? My email inbox is rapidly filling up with cut-price deals, offers of free flights, and other incentives for us to reach for our credit cards and book a holiday at sea.
Royal Caribbean’s Richard Fain was decidedly upbeat and positive when presenting his company’s latest figures. “Our outlook is remarkably encouraging,” he said.
The outlook now includes free flights from the UK to the Mediterranean and the Canaries for 2011 cruises booked between now and December 20. There are 10,000 flights on offer, worth an estimated £2 million.
A seven-night break to Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote will now cost from £509 per person including flights, taxes and transfers instead of current pricing of £733 per person.
The free flight deals are available on selected dates for the following itineraries:
Seven-night cruises from Palma de Mallorca to Spain and Italy aboard Grandeur of the Seas, and a seven-night cruise from Palma to the Canaries on Adventure of the Seas. A seven-night Adriatic voyage from Venice on Voyager of the Seas; a seven-night Eastern Med cruise from Rome on Navigator of the Seas, and a 12-night cruise to Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean from Barcelona aboard Brilliance of the Seas.
There are also deals offering savings of up to £500, plus free parking, on Independence of the Seas cruises sailing from Southampton.
To match their more luxurious cruises, Silversea is offering a more up-market flight deal. Passengers can choose from free economy flights or upgrades to business class for £599 on a selection of Far East cruises. That’s a significant saving – and a big increase in comfort – on flights to Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo for a selection of cruises on board Silver Shadow and Silver Spirit next spring.
A £249 upgrade deal will be offered on all flights to the Mediterranean next year and some itineraries will qualify for $500 on-board credit to put towards the cost of shore excursions or spa treatments – drinks are already included in the fare !
MSC got in on the act with a deal to give 50 per cent off all 2011 Mediterranean cruises to members of the armed forces and military veterans. Combined with the always-available offer which gives free cruises to children sharing a cabin with their parents, I reckon that means a family of four could travel for the price of one.
And not to be left out, Fred Olsen have doubled to 10 per cent the discount on offer for bookings made through their website – to which Oceans Club members who have sailed before can add a further 5 per cent if they book six months in advance.
Meanwhile, P&O announced that from Monday, all shuttle bus transfers in ports of call where it is too far to walk from the ship into town will be free. That should be a popular move – there have been plenty of complaints from passengers who can remember when they used to be provided at no charge.
Managing director Carol Marlow says: “Where possible our ships will dock at the heart of the destination so passengers can explore on foot but when this is not possible we want to make it as easy as we can for our passengers to make the most of their time ashore. When it proves necessary for us to lay on a shuttle bus our passengers will not incur a charge.”
What next? Have you got any suggestions for deals which would encourage you to book a cruise?

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:18+00:00 28 October 2010|Cruise Deals, Cruise News|1 Comment

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

One Comment

  1. Edinburgh Flights 17 November 2010 at 9:22 am - Reply

    Great post! Thanks for outlining the various options for when things at the airport go wrong. I will definitely keep the alternative flight and hotel finder applications in mind if I’m ever (hopefully not!) in this situation.

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