Despite an ever-increasing number of ships sailing from every port imaginable, it can be tough for cruisers to find a bargain. Unless, that is, they’re willing to travel at the last minute. For those with flexible schedules, Norwegian Cruise Line has been offering rates that are tough to pass up.
Why They’re Offering Discounts
During a conference call discussing Norwegian’s first quarter results, CEO Frank Del Rio explained that for months, the line has had great success with what he called “value-added packages.” These are, in essence, cruises sold under various promotions (currently “Free At Sea”) which include perks such as free beverage or dining packages. Del Rio said that these bundled deals comprise the majority of their sales, adding that guests “recognize the outstanding value” of the package.
However, one area in which Del Rio said they were losing ground was “close-in inventory,” meaning folks who look for last-minute bargains. “When guests search for cruise options online,” he explained, “the Norwegian brands were at times at a competitive disadvantage, as our value-packed pricing would appear higher versus competitors for similar itineraries, even though our overall value was much greater.”
The solution? The introduction of what he called “sail-away rates on the lowest level category of each stateroom type, excluding suites.”
So What’s The Catch?
These rates are for the cruise only, and include none of the perks available to guests who book earlier. They do, however, offer discounts. Not only does this allow them to fill unsold rooms, but Del Rio pointed out that it allowed them “to capture business that we temporarily were not capturing.” There isn’t necessarily a major attempt to push these last-minute deals, because Del Rio’s vision puts a higher emphasis on the amount of money spent on a cruise over the capacity of any given ship. But it still means that for folks who can sail on short notice – and for whom a free drink or meal package isn’t a big selling point — deals can be had!
Have you ever done a last-minute cruise? How close to the sail date did you actually purchase… and did you get a great deal?
featured photo: Christoffer Andersen