On the brink of big price rises for cruises?

Norwegian Cruise Line announces across-the-board fare increases of 10%

With demand creeping back, the time seems to be ripe for cruise price rises following several years of heavy discounting. Now that Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that its fares will increase by 10% across the board starting April 1 on top of hikes of 5% and 7% it implemented in 2010, agents and others in the industry are speculating whether other major players will follow and if this is good news for agents.
Seabourn Cruises are pushing up fares by up to $800 per couple on 19 cruises in 2011. Carnival Cruise Lines has raised prices on its summer sailings. Agents generally agree that price increases can only be good news. “The rates have been so low, it’s hard for agents to survive,” explains one. “If an increase ends up in commissionable fares, agents will support it,” says another. It is giving agents the additional argument with clients that, “now is the time to book, because the rate is going up soon.”
But other agents warn that this is still an era of frugality and clients will opt for cheaper products rather than go with a favoured brand. Agents are also sceptical that luxury lines will raise their prices, especially not by such a high percentage. Nevertheless, ships are filling up this year. The big unknown, however, is oil prices.
Travel Weekly
[pictured: Mandara Spa, Norwegian Epic]