Three major changes to the cruise industry in 2024

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That Every Cruise Guest Should Be Aware Of.

2024 is going to be a bumper year for the cruise lines as the industry begins to return to full operation after the chaos and disruption caused by the Pandemic.  It will also be a year that will see some major changes to the way the cruise industry operates.  It is important that cruise guests are aware of these changes and how they may affect guests.

Financial Recovery Strategies of Cruise Lines

As you may have guessed during the pandemic many of the cruise lines were financially severely impacted by the pandemic and consequently the industry had to make some tough decisions in order to survive. This included retiring some of the older and less popular ships in their fleets and sailing their remaining ships at a severely reduced capacity. This consequently led to many cruise lines operating a loss.  2024 will therefore see the cruise lines seeking to claw back some of that lost revenue.

Full Capacity Sailing and its Implications for Guests

The first way that many cruise lines will do this is by returning to sailing their ships at full capacity, indeed some of the cruise lines have openly said that some some of the most popular sailings will be over sold beyond the capacity of the ship.  A practice often implemented by airlines. This may mean that some cruise guests on sailings sold beyond capacity may find their holiday cancelled.  There are some very simple ways to avoid this happening to you.  

Changes in Fare Structures and Booking Tips

In the past Guarantee Fares have been a popular option with many cruise guests, particularly if they are budget conscious or looking for a no frills fare for their cruise.  In the past these fares have been seen as great value as there was a chance that sailors could find themselves upgraded to a higher grade of stateroom.  However, as ships begin to sail at full or close to full capacity the likelihood of upgrade is now going to be remote.  

The other thing to remember is that if a sailing is sold beyond capacity, guests with Guarantee Fares will be the ones most likely to have their holiday cancelled. If Therefore, it is important that if you do book this type of fare that you book all the elements of your holiday as a package, rather than individual components. If you do choose a guarantee fare then it is important to complete your check in on line as soon as possible.  The later you leave checking in, the higher the risk of your holiday being cancelled, if the sailing has been oversubscribed.

My advice is, wherever possible, choose a fare where your stateroom is allocated at time of booking and is part of a package.  That way you know that your cabin has been allocated to you and as with Guarantee fares ensure you check in online at the earliest opportunity.

Dynamic Pricing Policies and Booking Strategies

Cruise lines have always operated a dynamic pricing policy. This is a policy where the more a sailing or a cabin grade sells the higher the price rises.  With the cruise lines intensifying their sales campaigns this will mean that there will be fewer last-minute bargains and it is possible that on popular sailings we could see prices rising rapidly.  Therefore, the best deals will be for those who book early.  Those who book early will not just likely get the best prices and offers but will also enjoy the best choices of stateroom. So, it could be beneficial to plan ahead.  Particularly if you have a specific requirement such as a wheelchair accessible cabin.

Increased Onboard Costs and How to Plan

Thirdly, cruise lines have indicated that they are looking to increase the onboard revenue.  This is likely to mean that cruise guests will see onboard prices increase.  This will mean that guests will see bar price increases and drinks packages could be more restrictive.  So, it will become more important to check out what exactly the package includes and excludes.  Some cruise lines are beginning to limit the daily number of drinks guests can have.  Guests may also find speciality dining prices increasing, spa treatment prices increasing and an increasing number of ships charging for facilities such as thermal suites. Guests may also notice an increase in the price for excursions.  

It is going to become increasingly more important to check out what your cruise price actually includes and watch out for those early bird deals.

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