ONLY a year ago, you could find cruises to Alaska, the Caribbean or the Mexican Riviera for less than $400, but those days are a distant memory.
The low prices, along with 2-for-1 deals, free airfare, upgrades and onboard spending credits were the norm last year as cruise lines tried to fill newly launched ships in the middle of a recession.
Today, you might find one-way Alaska cruises from Vancouver to Seward for under $500, but there are very few other seven-day cruises priced that low.
In February, Carnival Cruise Lines president Gerry Cahill declared that his company would raise prices on March 22 for all summer sailings, in some cases, by as much as five per cent.
Right behind Carnival is Norwegian Cruise Lines, which will implement fleet-wide price increases of up to seven per cent on April 2.
I wonder: If things are going so well for the cruise lines, why are they announcing price increases for the future instead of implementing them now?
This week, I went out and did some comparison shopping to see how prices were trending.
I went back to an earlier column, where I outlined some of the values to be found on repositioning cruises for this spring.
What happened to those prices? Most of them went down, as you can see in the examples below. The question is: Will they hold at those levels until the actual departure dates? Prices change almost daily, so I will follow them in my newsletter, which you can sign up for at portsandbows.com.
Of the seven cruises listed in my previous column, five have gone down in price. Here are four examples:
-- April 11, 2010
Celebrity Constellation, Miami to Hamburg
Ocean-view rooms were $879, but are now sold out. Inside cabins are selling for $809.
-- April 11, 2010
Norwegian Gem, New York to Venice
Balcony rooms were $1,399, but are now $1,149.
-- April 19, 2010
Celebrity Equinox, Fort Lauderdale to Rome
Starting price was $1,039, but is now $939.
-- May 2, 2010
Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas, San Juan to Barcelona.
The starting price was $519. It is now $509. Balconies were $839 but are now $739.
-- -- --
Holland America's Volendam is now on a sold-out circumnavigation of Australia.
Cunard, smelling success, announced this week that the Queen Mary 2 would circumnavigate Australia in 2012
It's not quite the same as the Volendam as there are some repeat ports, and several cruise options.
Dubbed the Royal Circumnavigation of Australia the cruises will go sale this spring.
-- -- --
Royal Caribbean is now in a position to move some of their ships to new markets this summer, particularly Europe.
Next summer, no fewer than 10, or almost half of their 22-ship fleet, will be based in Europe. The increase in Europe is made possible because Royal's two mega-ships, Allure and Oasis, and their 12,000 beds, are spending the summer in the Caribbean.
-- -- --
Italian cruise line MSC loves to build ships and throw a great party when they christen and name them.
While Sophia Loren, the godmother of the fleet, was christening Magnifica in Hamburg last week, the line announced they would build Favolosa, a new Fantasia-class ship. The 3,200-passenger ship will be ready by 2012.
-- Canwest News Service
Visit portsandbows.com for daily updates on the latest cruise news, best deals and behind-the-scenes stories from the industry. You can also sign up for an e-mail newsletter on the site for even more cruise information.
Phil can be contacted directly at preimercanwest.com.