Back at the end of April, we published a piece titled “You’ll probably never get a better cruise deal” explaining why cash strapped cruise lines would be offering heavy discounts after months without sailing. Now, Royal Caribbean is saying the window of opportunity to order cruises at lower than usual pricing could be coming to an end.
Michael Goldner, Royal Caribbean Vice President of Revenue Management, speaking in a webinar to travel agents Wednesday, just a day after the cruise line announced it was extending its suspension of sailing through to mid-September.
“I don’t expect we’re going to be at these prices very long. Our intention was to get our prices to a place where I would say our rock bottom, and then as we see business improve, which we’re seeing each and every week, our intention is to raise prices,” Goldner said.
“Our pricing is very attractive right now, especially if you compare to where we were in prior years. And I don’t think we’ll be here long. I think as business comes in; pricing will go up.”
“The majority of the business that we’re getting for 2021 is new bookings, new business. And I think this bodes really well for all of us because I believe there is a lot of pent-up demand for next year.”
Consumers are waiting on the sidelines
Like the rest of the cruise industry, Royal Caribbean has been unable to sail since mid-March when the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a no-sail order due to the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic, which claimed fatalities aboard several cruise ships.
“Starting that second week of March, we went through our first phase of suspended sailings,” Goldner said. “But then you can see really about mid April, we started to see some life in our bookings. There was a pause, and then we started to see the booking activity start to pick up and really have seen an improvement each and every week.”
But as Goldner admits, consumers are waiting on the sidelines at least as far as this year goes.
“They want to know what’s what the world is going to be like before they travel. They certainly want to know what the industry, the cruise industry, is going to look like in the onboard product. So, it’s clear that consumers are hesitant about booking this year.
“People are making their bookings for next summer, and we’re seeing probably the best booking activity into summer products like Europe, like Alaska, like Caribbean.”
It’s hard to imagine that prices really will go up until either a COVID-19 vaccine, a lifting of the CDC no-sail order, or both, inject some certainty into the market, but either way there are great deals available at the moment on Royal Caribbean and elsewhere.
Right now, Royal Caribbean is offering three-night Caribbean cruises leaving from Miami in September for just $189. Five nights in December in the Western Caribbean are available from $269 and seven nights in the Bahamas in December from $412. Royal Caribbean is offering kids sail free on over 500 departures.
2021 sailings are available with 60% off for a second guest and up to $150 in instant savings.