Previously, the U.S.-based line priced its cruises only in dollars, and travel agents and consumers in Britain had to depend on a variable conversion rate, which made it difficult to budget for a cruise. The dollar has fluctuated from as weak as $1.80 to the pound to as strong as $1.20 over the last couple of years.
European sales and marketing director Bernard Carter explained: "To date we have sold to our partners in U.S. dollars, and they have had to convert into sterling before selling on. This created uncertainty for many agents and customers." (On the other hand, a beneficial exchange rate could work in the passenger's favour -- but you can't have it both ways.)
The new prices apply to cruises departing on or after 1 January 2011, on sale from 15 September. The move, Carter said, signifies "a new level of commitment from Oceania Cruises to its British guests." Brits, however, only account for around 5 percent of Oceania's business at the moment. Despite its boutique-sized ships, reputation for good food and its country house-style interiors, Oceania still carries mostly Americans.
Part of the reason for this could be the British habit of booking late. Oceania's cruises traditionally sell out many months in advance, as Americans book earlier than their counterparts across the pond. Carter said that by January 2010, some 95 percent of capacity for 2010 was gone -- leaving late-booking Brits disappointed this year.
2011, he continued, was headed the same way -- although with a new ship, the 1,258-passenger Marina, launching in January, there will be a lot more Oceania to go around.
Will Oceania's sterling pricing make a difference to you? Let us know!
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor