(07:00 a.m. EDT) -- Cunard and P&O Cruises are introducing a ‘price promise' in the U.K. so that customers who book early don't miss out on last-minute deals.
Book a Vantage Fare and both lines guarantee that you will get your money back in the form of onboard credits or an upgrade should that fare subsequently be reduced.
The Vantage Fares, which go on sale on Monday (July 23) and are valid for cruises from April 2013, also allow passengers to select the cabin they want, and give them the flexibility to alter their cruise up to 90 days before departure. A low deposit offer of 10%, down from the usual rate of 15%, also applies to Vantage Fare bookings made by August 31.
However both lines confirm they may still sell ticket types with a number of restrictions nearer to departure called Getaway fares, which will not be subject to the Price Promise and will not offer the benefits of the Vantage Fares.
Commenting on our Facebook site, Cruise Critic member Sandra Beesley wrote: “Great news. I have read the terms and conditions and they seem O.K., however I do hope that P&O do adjust the 'Vantage' fares if the cruise is not selling well so that we receive the incentives and not just sell them under 'Getaway' prices.”
A P&O spokeswoman said: “All the benefits of the Vantage fares are not, and will not be, available under a Getaway fare -- and Getaway fares may or may not be available on any given cruise.”
The move follows that of Carnival, which is owned by the same parent company, and has recently introduced an Early Saver Promise into the U.K. market.
Carnival President and Chief Executive Gerry Cahill said: “Customers understand that we will discount, which is why we have introduced the Early Saver Promise into the U.K. market. Early saver means that if the pricing comes down you will get on board credit. It has cost us millions in the U.S!”
P&O Cruises Managing Director Carol Marlow said: “Travel companies have been discounting for decades, but holidaymakers understandably get frustrated when they find out they've paid significantly more than someone else for exactly the same package. In the current economic climate, everyone wants value for money and so we are introducing a new approach to pricing for our cruise holidays to create greater trust and reassurance.”
Cunard Managing Director and President Peter Shanks, who recently commented on discounted fares in the UK cruise market, said:
“We are making a significant change to our approach to selling cruises - doing so on the back of what our customers are telling us - and fit for purpose in an economy where customers want peace of mind and outstanding value for money. It's a bold move and one - according to our research - that will be warmly welcomed both by regular cruisers and the many people looking to cruise for the first time.”
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor