Conventional “wisdom” among some travel bloggers suggests that booked passengers are cancelling their cruises en masse due to the recent Costa Concordia incident and now is the time to act quickly to get a rock bottom fare for your next cruise. I even had a friend ask me yesterday if I thought his family could get a great deal on a cruise in March. He was under the impression that cruise lines would be giving away cabins at bargain basement rates due to cancellations. First off, people who are booked to sail in March are probably in the cancellation penalty phase after making their final payment and they aren’t likely to be changing their vacation plans in droves. However, while this is the cruise industry’s Wave Season when low cruise fares and upgrades are typically offered on future sailings, March is Spring Break time and pricier than usual. I advised him to call a travel agent, but not to be surprised if most ships sailing from Miami and Fort Lauderdale in March are already fully booked.
Let’s step back and evaluate the advice of those bloggers who claim there are a lot of last minute deals right now because of recent cancellations. While I don’t know what sources of information they are using—or whether they are simply speculating about mass cancellations as my friend did—the real experts offer an entirely a different perspective.
A Travel Weekly survey of travel agents found that the Costa accident has had minimal effect on agent bookings. While the agents they surveyed reported an increase in calls from their clients with questions, they “overwhelmingly said they hadn't received any cancellations following the deadly capsize of the Costa Concordia off the Italian coast…less than 7% of agents said they had cancellations as a direct result.”
Even more interesting is an article in the authoritative Seatrade Insider entitled Post-Concordia UBS survey finds cruise pricing is up—even for Costa. The article states, “UBS Investment Research has found that the impact on cruise bookings may not be as negative as feared, and pricing in general is up—even for Costa Crociere.”
On a side note, I must admit that I felt queasy when I awoke early on Saturday, Jan 14th and saw the horrifying televised images of Costa Concordia. Would that prevent me from taking a cruise? No, and in fact I boarded a cruise ship only hours later. As a whole, I sincerely believe the cruise industry has always considered safety their top priority. Truthfully, I feel safer on a cruise ship than in an airplane or driving on I-95.