Bargains to be had as cruising companies compete for customers

Cruising bargains

If you have been sitting on the fence about cruising this season, the prices may tip you over the edge.

Industry experts are reporting that cruise deals are regularly being offered at up to 50 per cent off, and in some cases up to 70 per cent off for the second ‘sailor’ and onboard spending money in the hundreds as the sector aggressively tries to cut into market share.

Many of these deals mean you will be paying less than $100 a day. And taking into consideration the facilities available on a cruise, it’s a figure that no Australian hotel or resort can match.

Of course, there are added extras such as shore excursions, upgrades, gratuities and drink packages, but even taking those into account, the current deals represent a bargain in anyone’s estimation.

Cruising bouncing back

Cruising has earned a somewhat chequered history in the past few years, with scandals such as the Ruby Princess debacle where an estimated 28 deaths were linked to the ship docking in Sydney with 900 COVID cases.

The industry was shut down entirely in Australia during the pandemic and ships only returned in April 2022.

The latest flurry of deals is being attributed to a few factors.

“There was a lot of pent-up demand for cruising in Australia after the industry was shut down for two years,” Carnival Australia’s chief commercial officer, Kathryn Robertson, told The Guardian.

“Plus, with so many interest rate rises, Australians are looking for holidays that are affordable.”

And the steady trickle of ships and cruise lines returning to Australia has turned into a torrent, so there is plenty of supply and those cabins need to be filled somehow.

In terms of public awareness, the Disney ship Magic at Sea is probably leading the pack.

Frankly it sounds like hell for me, with themed restaurants and parties, live shows, Disney characters everywhere, but I can understand the appeal for families. 

Select bargains

Magic at Sea has itineraries through to 2025 with savings up to 30 per cent on select sailings.

The Guardian  reports that Carnival Australia, the country’s largest cruise ship operator, will make 846 domestic port calls in 2024, compared with 575 last year. The Guardian claims the boom is ‘underpinned’ by the Queensland market. 

Carnival Australia owns the P&O, Princess, Seabourn, Cunard and Holland American lines. It is one of the world’s largest tourism companies.

This summer is shaping up to be Australia’s biggest cruise season yet, with more than a million Australians setting sail on a cruise holiday.

“The data shows that every guest spends hundreds of dollars every day they’re in port, boosting local economies right around the country.” said Carnival Australia’s chief strategy and external affairs officer, Teresa Lloyd.

And it appears cruising is making new fans worldwide as well as making an effort to cater to a wider market. 

Market share

The Cruise Lines International Association 2023 State of the Cruise Industry Report claims cruising continues to be one of the fastest-growing sectors of tourism. There are expected to be more than 36 million ocean-going cruise passenger trips this year, up from 29.7 million pre-pandemic. 

It also appears the passenger profile is getting younger. According to the report, 88 per cent of millennials and 86 per cent of gen Z travellers who have cruised before say they plan to cruise again.

The report also claims solo cruising is on the rise. Cruise lines are building and retrofitting more single cabins designed for those travelling alone as well people with mobility issues.

Even overseas cruising is offering some spectacular deals. We found a seven-night Mediterranean cruise for from $689 per person. That price probably gets you a dim, inside room, but for less than $100 a day, who’s complaining?

Let’s hope the weather is better for tourists this year. From my place of employment, I can see the ships docking in Melbourne. They probably thought they were in for some of our famous summer sunshine only to be met with constant drizzle and temperatures that rarely cracked 25-plus.

Have you ever considered a cruise? Would the price change your mind? Why not share your opinion in the comments section below?

Also read: Nine cruises you need to book in advance

Written by Jan Fisher

Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.

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