February Cruise Bookings Report – No Swoon This Year
In many years, Wave Season opened with promise, only to be derailed by an event in the second half of the season. Think norovirus, Concordia, the Arab Spring, and so forth.
There was no February swoon this year. On the contrary, retailers report the second half of Wave Season 2016/2017 is turning into the strongest since 2006.
In the latter half of 2016, agents reported a pick-up in volume. Now, accorded to cruise sellers polled by CruiseWeek, higher volume is beginning to translate into higher pricing.
The following are some representative comments from agents within the past week.
One top seller reports promotions are coming on top of higher starting prices:
"There are a lot of promotions now, but no sense of urgency or panic. The reality is it's the same promotions that have been running for seven months, but on starting prices that are 4-8% higher across categories."
Another reports strong group business:
"I have not had a cruise line take away group space in advance of planned recall dates in years, but now it's happening with Alaska," reports one agent. "We're getting group space recalls because the sailings are that hot and there is that much demand with the inventory."
Given all the inventory that has been eaten up in recent months, CruiseWeek changed its line of questioning and began to ask agents, "With so much capacity already sold during Wave Season, are bookings beginning to slow in the last week of February?"
Apparently not. Answers ranged from "Still strong" to "We can't keep up with demand."
Bottom line: there's optimism on the retail side, and the numbers are backing up the positive feedback.