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Retailers Say Low Fares Will Be Key To Cruise Recovery

A veteran Toronto travel agent says cruise companies should consider cutting their rates after international travel again gets the green light from authorities, saying offering financial incentives could win back passengers to a segment of the travel industry that has seen its image battered by the coronavirus pandemic, reports Press Today’s Ian Stalker.

Rudolph Nareen of Astor Travels says lowering cruise fares would be one of several measures that could help attract clients.

The industry has had to cope with weeks of grim news accounts of passengers quarantined in their cabins after coronavirus was detected on their ships, and cruise ships being turned away from ports by fearful locals. A number of people in the industry, including former ACTA president Ron Pradinuk, have identified the cruise industry as one that may have a longer recovery time once people again are ready to travel.

“Prior to Covid-19, the cruise industry did excellent promotions on river cruising, and new itineraries that enhance consumers’ imaginations in seeing the world in luxury cruising,” Nareen told Canadian Travel Press. “They should continue the same promotions and add webinars and direct marketing to travel agents, offer reduced rates and waive single supplements that will bring consumers back to share their experiences wiith the public.”

Nareen does believe cruise companies can capitalize on interest from “first-time cruisers who will want to experience the world of cruising after being in lockdown for weeks.”

But Paul Nielsen of Paragon Travel in the Toronto suburb of East York isn’t convinced cruise companies should cut fares, arguing that after doing so “it’s really tough to go back up” price-wise once things stablize.

Nielsen suggested there are other ways cruise companies could attract clients.

“They’ll need to develop new experiences and maybe bring unique experiences to the larger market,” he stated, adding they must do so in a manner that doesn’t alienate their traditional port destinations.

Roger Boyajian of Toronto’s Sevan Travel would like to see cruise companies target several markets when things settle down. Among other things, he’d like them to “aggressively” court corporate clients, inviting them to hold shipboard seminars. As well, incentives to encourage Caribbean and Mediterranean sailings would be helpful, he suggested.

Boyajian also believes that ads aimed at attracting wedding parties, who should be offered incentives and promotions, to sail in the Caribbean and Alaskan waters would also be useful.

Other ads aimed at prompting those celebrating anniversaries and wedding parties to cruise European waterways would be beneficial, he continued.

“Hopefully these will help the industry recover from the bad publicity,” he continued.

Boyajian said talking with industry colleagues and potential clients leads him to believe “the cruise industry will suffer the most” of any tourism sector.

“People are afraid to book a cruise in the near future because the picture of (coronavirus) contaminated ships is still in their thoughts,” he warned.

But Boyajian added coronavirus has been a terrible ordeal for the entire travel industry, including travel agencies that have seen their business plummet as people stay home.

“I pray scientists will discover a solution,” Boyajian continued.

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