|Key Words||Discounts, Real Terms, Prices, Costs, Efficient, Amortize, Unbundling, Tours|
Consumers can buy cruises at steep discounts if they research their options thoroughly and either buy early or late. Today, in real terms, it costs only half of what it cost 15 years ago to go on a cruise.
The reasons for the soft prices are primarily twofold. First, there are many new ships coming into service, with another 34-representing a 25 percent increase-planned over the next five years. Second, costs have fallen because the new ships have been re-engineered to be more efficient. Also, as cruise companies have merged, they have been able to amortize their costs over more berths.
While travelers are attracted by lower prices, they are also attracted by cruise loans, which operate like car loans. In addition, they like the unbundling of air travel from the cruise, which allows more flexibility and reduces the "sticker price." Meantime, specialized cruise dealerships market particular cruise products more intensively than perhaps travel agents would.
The downside of the lower cruise prices is that companies are now charging more for drinks, tours and other extras that are bought on board.
(Updated April 1, 1999)
|Source||Veronica Gould Stoddart, "Sea of Options", USA Today, January 22, 1999.|
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