Plunging airfares are giving the cruise industry a boost, with many travellers taking advantage of the price war to book flights connecting with their favoured cruises.
At CruiseAbout – part of the Flight Centre group – national marketing manager Monique van Gelder says cruise bookings from Asian and US destinations have received an uptick over the last 18 months, and she attributes much of it to the airfare war.
“We are seeing people choose last minute cruises based on the airfare deals which are coming to the market,” she says.
“In many cases travellers are seeing where the airfare deals are, and then making quick decisions about their cruises based on these destinations.”
Aviation industry analysts also say there could be more to come. This week Scoot set a new benchmark with a $369 one way airfare for Perth to Athens.
Virgin Australia’s $852 million capital raising, completed at the end of June, has given the company a new warchest with which to fight arch rival Qantas.
While the low airfares have had a positive impact on Asian and US cruising for more than 18 months, CruiseAbout’s Monique van Gelder says the low prices are also now having an effect in Europe.
“European airfares have started to come down significantly in 2016, so we are observing the same thing with European cruising over the last three to six months,” she says.
Falling yields for airlines are good news for both air and cruise passengers, and are also proving to be positive for cruise operators who are factoring the lower airfares into their offers.
This week Royal Caribbean came out offering significantly reduced flights for Explorer of the Seas’ upcoming 24 night cruise from Seattle to Sydney.
Royal Caribbean is offering add on flights from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to any city in the US from $499 per person.
At Cruise Guru, the manager of product and business development Leighton Schembri says the impact of the low airfares has been more muted.
“We have seen an increase in cruise bookings in the last year, with the majority of interest focussed on domestic and close to home sailings,” he said.
“Low airfares, on their own, have not shown a notable impact to our business.
“However, we are certainly seeing an increase in interest in the growing international market and lower airfares have helped assist this affordability for customers.”