Cruise Trend: Bet On Europe For 2017

by Ming Tappin

Cruising Europe offers the best value hands down  

...It sure beats an expensive and bland hotel room any day

High capacity in Europe next year will mean affordable pricing & additional free perks

Rich offers such as these are a great reason to book your clients on a river cruise in 2017 

The world is forever changing, we should continue to travel and enrich our lives

As we’re nearing the end of National Plan a Cruise Month, I hope your clients were able to take advantage of the many enticing offers out there.

Even before October, I had noticed a big change in cruise promotions. Not long ago, only one cruise line was advertising free perks such as beverages, shipboard credit, internet and gratuities. Now, virtually every brand is doing so, and although it starts off as "limited time only", the offer is invariable extended month after month. BOGO deals, best available cabin, kids cruise free, Canadian residents discount or even Canadian dollars at par are now available on a continuous basis. This is great news to travellers, and great for the travel agent as these incentives are helpful in closing more cruise sales.

While the Caribbean is still the #1 cruise destination, Europe is slowly climbing up the ladder. And by the looks of it, 2017 will be a great year to visit Europe. Capacity is still relatively high - only 2 ships were pulled from Europe and redeployed elsewhere, which means pricing is expected to stay affordable, and it is made even better with all the offers and free perks. 

Out of curiosity, I checked a 10 night ROM-BCN Med cruise in May and it came in at CAD 1799 per person for a balcony, plus $180 taxes. Based on double occupancy, that's less than $400 per couple per day, including accommodations, meals, entertainment and activities, plus the benefit of port hopping without getting on trains, planes and automobiles. This is impossible to replicate on a land-based tour, in fact $400 a night might not even net a decent hotel room in Rome, let alone meals or anything else. When the cruise fare is presented as a per diem and you explain the inclusions, it is easy for a client to grasp the undeniable value.

River cruise lines are getting aggressive with their promotions too. There is free or reduced air, dollars off, shipboard credit and even complimentary beverage packages. This kind of offer had been virtually unheard of. Just a few years ago, you couldn't book a river cruise for less than $5,000 per person, and it didn't come with any extras. Now you can do it for nearly 1/2 the price, plus the additional perks. And since river cruises are more inclusive than ocean cruises, these freebies and lower per diems are the perfect reasons to introduce river cruising to your clients, or entice past guests to rebook. 

No doubt, the soft pricing in Europe next year is the residual effect of the tragic incidents in PAR, BRU & IST, and the plethora of offers is the cruise industry's way of encouraging bookings. But since consumer confidence takes time to recover, it may be a challenge to sell Europe despite the great deals available. This is where we have to call up the advisor in us. 

We need to have candid conversations with our clients. Global volatility is a reality we have to live with. There will always be something happening in the world or at home, be it economic bumps, political uprising or virus outbreak. Of course clients should exercise caution while travelling, but they should not shun travel altogether because something has happened. Life must go on.

In addition, people naturally look to others for encouragement at times of uncertainty. While your clients are saying they are worried about travelling, they are really looking for validation of why they should travel. If you can help alleviate their fears and demonstrate that vacations can still be possible in seemingly undesirable times, you can still bring their wish list to life. And if that wish list includes Europe in 2017, they can definitely bet that cruising is a winning combination of great pricing and added value. 

Ming Tappin is a cruise veteran with over 20 years’ experience in the industry and has sailed on 38 cruises and counting. Based in Vancouver, Ming is Owner of  www.yourcruisecoach.com





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