Fare deal guarantee is launched in bid to attract early cruise bookers

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Cunard and P&O Cruises have moved to try to break the habits of customers who are accustomed to picking up bargain fares with late deals. Under its new Price Promise, passengers are guaranteed they won’t lose out if fares are reduced.
The new Vantage Fares, launching next Monday, July 23, will include the choice of a range of benefits such as free car parking at the port or airport, or return coach transfers to Southampton.
Vantage Fare passengers can choose a specific cabin and will have the flexibility to make changes to their booking up to 90 days before departure, all after payment of a 15 per cent deposit (or 10 per cent on cruises booked before August 31).
If the equivalent fare for their cruise is ever reduced, they will be recompensed by a cabin upgrade or on-board credit which can be spent on drinks, excursions, spa treatments and other extras.
The cruise lines have not gone so far as to abolish discounts and late deals altogether. Also announced today is a new fare type which will come into play on certain voyages, depending on demand.
This Getaway Fare requires a 100 per cent deposit and will be subject to a 100 per cent cancellation charge. It comes without any of the Vantage add-ons, and although passengers will be able to nominate the grade of accommodation they want, cabin numbers will not be allocated until boarding.
Cunard managing director and president Peter Shanks, who recently admitted he had been wrestling with the problem of late discounts said today: “We are making a significant change to our approach to selling cruises – doing so on the back of what our customers are telling us – and fit for purpose in an economy where customers want peace of mind and outstanding value for money. It’s a bold move and one – according to our research – that will be warmly welcomed both by regular cruisers and the many people looking to cruise for the first time.”
He added: “We are working with travel agent partners and our own customers on driving offers into the market. So for example we had a Jubilee Sale, and we are getting noticed by the customer, in any difficult market it’s good to promote.
“We would prefer to sell everything at full price, but we are in a very difficult economic environment and we have to do what is necessary to fill ships.”
P&O managing director Carol Marlow said: “Travel companies have been discounting for decades, but holidaymakers understandably get frustrated when they find out they’ve paid significantly more than someone else for exactly the same package. In the current economic climate, everyone wants value for money and so we are introducing a new approach to pricing for our cruise holidays to create greater trust and reassurance.
“Our Vantage Fares will be protected by our Price Promise which means that passengers can secure their booking, knowing that if the Vantage Fare for their booked holiday were to be reduced they would automatically receive a complimentary benefit such as on board spending money or an upgrade, to the value of any reduction in price.
“On the other hand, if fares rise after the booking has been made, which they may well do, then our passengers can rest assured that they have received the best value by booking early.”
Savings are also being passed on to passengers who have already booked. One regular passenger told readers of his Tom’s Cruise Blog today that he had received a letter telling him that “because the price for the appropriate cabin on the cruise we’ve already booked on Ventura for next June is being reduced, we will receive an extra £180 on-board credit.”
Travel agents – who last year saw their commission for selling P&O and Cunard cruises cut in an effort to reduce discounting – appear to be welcoming the move.
Simone Clarke, managing director of Iglu Cruise, told me: “It’s a brave move, but something had to be done. People can book in the knowledge they will not lose out if the fare goes up or down.
“The benefits are considerable – the parking at Southampton could be worth as much as £150 for example – and people will be encouraged to make advance bookings to guarantee a specific date on a certain ship.
“Wuth the fluid pricing system which has been in place recently, people feel ripped off if they book one day and then see the same cruise on offer a day later.
“We have also had customers who have booked in advance and then found that they could save money by cancelling that reservation and then book from scratch again, even though they lose their initial deposit.”
Sister company Carnival recently introduced Early Saver fares with a similar price guarantee which, according to managing director Gerry Cahill “has cost the company millions in the U.S.”
And UK travel company Saga has its own “Fares Fair” price promise, stating: “You can book as early as you like without missing out on any special offers that may be introduced later on, because if the price of your holiday comes down after you’ve booked, we’ll automatically pass on the value of the saving on. Also, once we have confirmed your cruise we will never request a further supplement, regardless of what may happen to fuel prices or exchange rates.”
Saga also say its saving is passed on “in the form of a higher-grade cabin or other added-value benefit.”

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:46+00:00 16 July 2012|Cruise Deals, Cruise News|4 Comments

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.


  1. Marion 16 July 2012 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    Had booked cruise last week on ‪QM2‬ for next June. Received letter this morning explaining & how much OBC we will receive.

  2. Dave 18 July 2012 at 10:13 am - Reply

    I got home yesterday and opened a letter from Cunard telling me I was to receive an additional $420 on board credit, along with an additional $758 dollars coming off my remaining balance!
    Nearly an additional $1,100 from Cunard that I never expected……and I only booked 2 weeks ago!
    I am all for a clearer and fairer pricing policy, well done Cunard and P&O.

  3. Peter 4 August 2012 at 11:10 am - Reply

    P&O are not offering OBC or final bill reductions only cabin upgrades, presumably those cabins which stick a bit.
    These seem to be hollow offers.

  4. Peter 4 August 2012 at 11:13 am - Reply

    This is a hollow offer.
    P&O are only offering cabin upgrades, no OBC or final bill reductions.
    I would not book early unless you really have to.

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