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Excess capacity means great deals on Caribbean cruises

Here is the place to ask questions about cruising the Caribbean

Excess capacity means great deals on Caribbean cruises

Postby Anthony » Thu Jan 25, 2007 5:44 am

From the <a href="http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/living/travel/16523752.htm">Mercurynews.com</a>:

Cruise lines are having trouble filling cabins in the Caribbean this season.

That's good news for you. In fact, this may be the best time to nab a bargain.

In a recent conference call to the financial community, Carnival Corporation's Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Howard Frank admitted bookings and fares for the giant cruise conglomerate are soft.

"It's been a challenging environment in the Caribbean," Frank told analysts.

The hardest hit, he said, were the shorter three-, four- and five-day cruises.

To prop up corporate coffers, Carnival Corp. is aggressively cutting prices for its fleet of ships in the Caribbean, Frank noted.

And you can bet that, by the time Carnival Corp., the cruise industry's 800-pound gorilla, sneezes, other lines already have a cold.

Carnival Corp. operates a dozen leading cruise brands, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line and Windstar Cruises in North America; P&O Cruises, Cunard Line, Ocean Village and Swan Hellenic in the United Kingdom; AIDA in Germany; Costa Cruises in southern Europe; and P&O Cruises in Australia.

Cruise specialist Rick White of Hartford-based White Travel agrees. He summarizes the seascape this way: "As to the current state of Caribbean cruises for this season, it is definitely a buyer's market."

From the response to a poll of travel agents by industry newsletter Cruise Week, it appears bookings are not improving, either, and the pressure on prices should continue for a while. The publication notes that more than half of those asked reported that bookings during the industry's critical Wave Season were only fair, about a quarter considered business good, and only nine percent said excellent.

While Frank blames a slowing economy for slow bookings, White thinks it's over-capacity. "There are just too many beds sailing to the Caribbean at the same time," he explains. "There was probably a need for one more ship in the Caribbean; unfortunately, ten lines built the ship. And they built them bigger....and bigger....and bigger. A ship of 50,000 tons used to be considered large - now it's simply a large lifeboat. NCL (Norwegian Cruse Line) is building three more ships of approximately 4,000 passengers; Royal Caribbean is building ships for 5,000 passengers each. That's more than the population of some ports they visit."

Indeed, Carnival Corp. alone added, in total, five percent more berths to its North American fleet last year as a consequence of its own building boom.

Frank told analysts that the conglomerate plans to sop up some of excess capacity by moving the Carnival Elation this spring from Florida to San Diego, where business for Mexican Riviera cruises is brisker. The FunShip will continue running four- and five-day shuttles from that port year-round. In 2008, Holland America follows suit by increasing its San Diego-to-Mexico departures to 46.

Since growing onboard revenues has become a larger source for the corporate purse, says White, lines can't afford to sail with empty beds. Even if they have cut prices substantially, he says, it's better for them to bloat the boats.

"They have to fill the empty beds," he explains. "As time goes on, they tinker with the pricing to make sure no bed sails empty. And the result is a very, very low price on Caribbean cruises, at least if you book your cruise through a `savvy' cruise broker ..."

Carnival's Frank, though, sees the weakness in the Caribbean as temporary. "We're convinced that we're going through a period with the Caribbean trades that will eventually turn to the better for us," said Frank. There are no short-term solutions to the problem that he can see, he concedes, but he's hopeful the company will weather this cycle.

Before bargains dry up, White suggests considering these Caribbean deals that were available at press time. They include:

_Celebrity's Constellation, 11 nights from Cape Liberty to Fort Lauderdale, Nov. 5, 2007, from $689.

_Holland America's Maasdam, 10-night roundtrips from Fort Lauderdale, in April, November and December, from $649.

_Holland America's Oosterdam, 7-night Mexican Riviera roundtrips from San Diego, in January, September, November and December, from $649.

_Holland America's Zuiderdam, 7-night Caribbean cruises roundtrip Ft. Lauderdale, in October, November and December, from $479.

_MSC's Lirica, 17 nights from Ft. Lauderdale to Amsterdam, April 29, from $799.

_Princess' Crown Princess, 7 nights from New York to San Juan, Oct. 20, from $329.

_Princess' Caribbean Princess, 7 night roundtrip Ft. Lauderdale, Dec. 2, from $449, NCL's Norwegian Pearl, 9 nights roundtrip Miami, February and April departures, from $559.

_NCL's Norwegian Spirit, 8 nights roundtrip New York, February through August, from $489.

_NCL's Norwegian Star, 8 nights roundtrip Los Angeles, January through May, from $479 For more information, go to whitetravel.com or call 800-547-4790.

Here's a list of limited-time special promotions, including regions outside the Caribbean, compiled by Cruise Lines International Association, the industry organization that represents 21 member lines:

_Carnival Cruise Lines offers stateroom upgrades of up to two categories on virtually all 2007 sailings. The offers, which vary by ship, are available on Carnival's three-, four-, five-, seven- and eight-day itineraries. To qualify, you must reserve space by Feb 15.

_Costa Cruises' passengers who book inside accommodations from now through Feb. 23 get upgraded to ocean view cabins, while passengers who pay for ocean view will be upgraded to veranda cabins. The offer is available on select 2007 and 2008 Caribbean sailings and select 2007 Europe sailings.

_Crystal Cruises features reduced business-class air upgrades for all 2007 European and transAtlantic cruises booked by March 31. The offer applies to select North American gateways on more than two dozen cruises and represents a fare reduction of about 50 percent off unrestricted business-class fares.

_Cunard Line: Following Queen Mary 2's maiden world cruise in April, Cunard is offering savings on two eight-day Caribbean itineraries, one from Ft. Lauderdale to New York and one roundtrip from New York. Attractive fares also are available on QM2's first transAtlantic later that month.

_Holland Amercia Line: Through Feb. 28, you can nab staterooms with verandas for the price of an outside or inside cabin by taking advantage of the line's "View & Verandah" promotion. The savings, of up to $450 per person, are available on most cruises and cruise-tours.

_MSC Cruises features a "better than 2-for-1" promo on 11-night deep Caribbean and Panama Canal itineraries from now through April. In the Med and Northern Europe, early bookers get the best rates and cabins available; kids sail free when sharing a stateroom with two paying adults.

_Norwegian Coastal Voyages: Booking NCV's 2007 air-inclusive land-and-cruise packages for Greenland by Jan. 31 can save $300 per person. The line's new Fram, the first ship built exclusively for Greenland cruising, begins its season May 24 with a 15-day expedition from Iceland's Reykjavik.

_Norwegian Cruise Line's "Freestyle Resolution Sales Event" combines a two-category upgrade with an onboard credit of up to $150 per stateroom for any 2007 or 2008 cruise booked through Feb. 28. In addition, visitors to ncl.com will find bonus offers and daily and weekly prizes.

_Regent Seven Seas offers $250 per person shipboard credits for first-time passengers on select Mediterranean and Baltic sailings for bookings made through Feb. 28. From May to August, six sailings between Vancouver and Seward let kids sail free when sharing third and fourth berths with adults.

_Seabourn Cruise Line offers 50 percent savings on a trio of spring Med sailings on its all-suite ships. Departures in April and May feature seven- to 14-day cruises exploring the Greek Isles, Italy, French Riviera and more during the region's most colorful, flower-filled season.

_SeaDream Yacht Club offers special prices on select South America itineraries. The sailings on SeaDream I, the line's 55-stateroom mega yacht, depart from Buenos Aires and Rio, and all include complimentary excursions.

_Silversea Cruises has expanded its popular Silver Sailings savings program to include over 50 itineraries in 2007. Save up to 50 percent on select itineraries to the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Caribbean, South America, Africa and Indian Ocean.

_Windstar Cruises has special promotional rates on select seven-day Mediterranean sailings on Wind Surf in May and July. Itineraries include Nice to Barcelona, Rome to Barcelona, Barcelona to Monte Carlo and Monte Carlo to Rome. Savings also are available on 14-day combination itineraries.

<a href="http://travel.wwte1.com/pubspec/scripts/eap.asp?goto=jump&jurl=/pub/agent.dll?qscr=kruz&eapid=11441-30001&lang=1033&ovrd=3"><b>Check out our Cruise specials here</b></a>
Anthony for Caribbean-On-Line
Anthony
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Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2005 8:01 pm

All rates for this spring are very low,

Postby caribbean65 » Fri Mar 16, 2007 9:12 pm

The rates are going up higher for the late May/Summer cruises, though. Spring rates are pretty flat. The Mediterranean is hot and so is Alaska.
caribbean65
 


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