Retiree cruisers have been the first to be affected by the falling Australian dollar, according to one travel agent who specializes in the category.
Bob Derrick owner of Centre One Cruising has had to scrap a Baltic cruise in July because of clients pulling out. And he says the outlook for September and October is uncertain.
Mr Derrick, who has been in the business 22 years, said many of his clients, who manage their own superannuation funds, are now becoming more strict with holiday purchases in destinations like Europe and the United States.
They don’t have the expendable income. And considering the Mediterranean and Europe are his most popular destinations, retirees are reluctant to spend money, worried that the dollar will go down further.
“Many of my clients who are 55 and over and also manage their own superannuation funds, obviously have a limited income. When the dollar started falling to around US97c, there was still consumer confidence,” he said.
“And when it hovered, many of my clients held their bookings for cruises.
“But as it started to fall to US82c, that’s when cruisers start to panic. Holidays, especially in Europe and the America become incredibly expensive.
“I recently put together a Gallipoli cruise which also visited other historic sites but also tours around Rome and other destinations. And throughout the time I advertised the tour, I had one person call in three weeks.”
He says that unlike many big cruise companies, he offers his customers all-inclusive packages where they fly on the best airlines and stay at the best hotels.
Mr Derrick says that the combination of the weak Australian dollar and cheap deals on offer online means his clients have begun the shift towards booking through the big cruise companies directly.
“Lots of people are now jumping online to book their cruises but what people forget is that we offer great packages where we try and negotiate for the best rooms available on the ships, arrange pre and post cruise accommodation and itineraries and we use the best airlines,” he said.