Cruise Lines Doing Away with Last Minute Discounts

Cruise lines have been giving last-minute booking discounts for years, to avoid sailing partially empty. But recently they have started to test moves away from that model. Royal Caribbean Cruises is the latest attempt by cruise lines to break the cycle of last-minute discounting to fill ships. Royal Caribbean Chairman Richard Fain said that as of March, the company had stopped cutting prices on last minute sailings for all of its brands, including Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. RCCL’s new policy applies only to North American itineraries and does not apply to two- to four-day cruises, where last-minute sales are very typical.

Other cruise lines, while stopping short of a pledge to discontinue last-minute discounting, have said they are doing everything possible to persuade customers to book cruises earlier. Fain went on to say that “last-minute discounts have a disproportionately large impact on sales efforts by the companies. They upset many of our most loyal customers by creating an uncertainty about the prices they pay.”