Wave season typically runs from about mid-January through early spring and is traditionally the busiest, most important booking period in the cruise industry. Despite the doom-and-gloom of a challenging economy, Carnival Cruise Lines is reporting strong booking volumes as prospective vacationers take advantage of some of the best vacation values in years. For the one-week period ended March 1, 2009, Carnival recorded the highest number of net weekly bookings in its history. Additionally, on a cumulative basis since mid-January, net bookings are up 10 percent compared to the same period in 2008, although pricing is at lower levels.
Last week’s record reservations activity encompassed all of the line’s 22-vessel fleet, which depart from a variety of convenient, drive-to homeports throughout the U.S. Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s president and CEO, attributed the increase in bookings to the line’s travel agent partners and consumers’ appreciation for the inherent value and affordability of a “Fun Ship” vacation, as well as aggressive marketing efforts.
“This record booking activity, while at lower pricing, is certainly encouraging. It tells us that despite the uncertain economic climate, consumers clearly need more fun in their lives and view their vacations as a valuable and necessary part of that,” Cahill said. “And Carnival’s unmatched combination of quality, affordability and fun along with multiple close-to-home departure points and the greatest choice of short cruise options in the industry, make a ‘Fun Ship’ cruise the ideal getaway for today’s consumers.”
At Princess Cruises, booking volume during the current wave season has surpassed the same period last year by nearly six percent. The line credits both lower prices and travel agents who have utilized the line's sales support tools to generate business in the current economic climate. Princess is congratulating agents who have been working diligently to sell the company's value proposition during this time period, and who have taken advantage of the line's key programs designed to support agents' business.
"Travel agents gave us a record-breaking reservations day in January, and this further result shows that they continued to sell Princess cruises at an extraordinary rate throughout the first two months of the year," said Jan Swartz, Princess' executive vice president of sales, marketing and customer service.
While those bookings are at lower prices than the cruise lines would like, they are filling cabins and making money. Just not so much as in the past.