Big discounts needed to persuade US passengers to cruise in Europe

//Big discounts needed to persuade US passengers to cruise in Europe

The dozens of US media representatives invited to Venice for the naming of Carnival Magic have been surprisingly quiet since their arrival in Europe. Twenty-four hours after the event, few of them have so far reported on the event – and they don’t have a bank holiday as an excuse.
USA Today’s indefatigable Gene Sloan was among the first to file and Paul Motter has written a lengthy piece for his CruiseMates website.
Of the remainder there has been nothing yet to follow up their previews written before the event, although people like Anita Dunham-Potter and Chris Owen were busy on Twitter during the naming ceremony.
I get the impression that many of those attending found the whole Transatlantic journey quite exhausting – despite being flown in business class. One even wrote of her surprise that it was possible to lie in comfort on a bed aboard her Iberia flight from Boston, and that Madrid was “a very unusual airport.”
All of which may help in some way to explain why a major cruise line is already planning to scale down its European sailings after building up to record levels this year.
Royal Caribbean has 11 ships – half its fleet – in Europe this summer. Carnival put 25 per cent of its ships on this side of the Atlantic, compared with 17 per cent in 2010.
But as the Miami Herald reports, the high cost of air travel and the fear among Americans that unrest in north Africa and the Middle East will affect European countries has forced the cruise lines into offering substantial discounts to fill the ships. The death of Osama bin Laden is unlikely to ease any of those worries any time soon.
Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief of Cruise Critic, said: “It’s always follow the leader. Somebody decides the market is going to be hot so they all go into it, it gets congested, the prices go down. It was no surprise whatsoever it happened in Europe.”
Royal Caribbean is citing the slump in European business, together with rising fuel costs and the Japanese tsunami, as reasons for a reduced profit forecast for the remainder of the year.
They also announced that Navigator of the Seas is to be switched from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean this autumn, instead of the planned Mediterranean cruises through to next year.
President and CEO Adam Goldstein said: “We will perform substantially better by bringing this ship to the Caribbean than we could have by remaining in Europe for the winter.” He added that the cruise operator is confident that Europe will perform well next year, when 12 ships will be positioned here. Sister company Celebrity Cruises will have its largest European deployment with six ships in 2012.
Respected travel commentator Arthur Frommer claims: “It is obvious that the cruise lines simply have assigned too many ships to the Mediterranean for late spring, summer and fall, and that public preferences, perhaps affected by political turmoil in the Mediterranean countries of North Africa, have sharply reduced the demand.”
He points out that a 12-night cruise on Royal’s Brilliance of the Seas from Barcelona to Sicily, Rhodes, Athens, Istanbul and Malta is on sale for as little as $799 (£480) or $67 (£40) a day. The company’s UK website is marketing the same September 28 departure from £759 (£63 a day) for two sharing an inside cabin.
Neither the US or the UK fares include the cost of flying to Barcelona. From the US that could be as much as $1,500 (£900) per person. From the UK the cost could be as little as £62 using a low-cost airline. One specialist UK travel agent lists the cruise at £770 including flights.
I shall be watching with interest as the American visitors sail on Carnival Magic from Venice to Dubrovnik, Messina, Naples, Rome (from Civitavecchia), Florence (from Livorno), Monaco and Barcelona over the next few days. And I hope they recover from their jet-lag.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:08+00:00 2 May 2011|Cruise Destinations|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. cruisemates 2 May 2011 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    Hi John…
    Thank for noticing and citing the CruiseMates report on Carnival Magic, however I am not on the ship! I wrote it based on knowledge from the company. We have one of our CruiseMates staff members on board to do the reporting – Linda Pearl
    Like you, I expected to hear more from her today (she posted her first report last night) but I assume they are in Dubrovnik. She said “Carnival is keeping the press very busy!”
    And we are especially looking forward to her reports as it is her first time in Europe. We want to know what it is like for a cruise enthusiast to take her first European cruise – and so far she seems overwhelmed with the wonder of it all. We hope to hear far more from here soon as evening settles in.

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