Aussies are keen to flock back to Europe for the summer season, but the obstacle of heightened flight and hotel prices is standing in the way for many.
Flights are at a record all-time high, with the cost of airfares between Sydney and European cities like London, Rome and Paris, ballooning to around $3,500 for return flights.
A recent poll of Cruise Passenger readers found many struggling, with 24% saying they had been forced to spend hours planning, 22% upgrading to premium or business and 16% saying they had abandoned overseas plans to cruise locally because of air fares.
However, the experts are pointing people towards one way to hurdle this obstacle, cruise and fly packages.
Buying booking a packaged holiday including your cruise, flights and hotel stays, not only can you enjoy the advantages of a ‘one and done’ holiday, but you can also see your savings climbing well into the thousands.
Luvena Lee, Team Leader at Flight Centre Zetland explains why these cruise and fly packages can offer such great value.
“Yes, many of the companies that offer cruise and fly packages can tend to contract cheaper group fares when 10 or more passengers are booked.
“Often they will block out a number of seats with an airline and which means this wholesale fare can be passed onto customers. The key to snagging the biggest saving is to book in advance, however, there is still availability for some of these cruise plus fly packages.”
If you’ve been crunching the numbers and losing hope of making it out to Europe over the upcoming European summer or shoulder months, you might find your hope revived by some of the savings available on fly and cruise packages.
How much can you save?
Ms Lee supplied Cruise Passenger with all the figures on just how much you save. Using the example of this Luxury Italy, Greek Islands and Beyond deal, Ms Lee told Cruise Passenger just how much you can expect to save.
To book a Verandah stateroom for 11-nights on the magnificent Celebrity Beyond with all premium, gratuities and Wi-Fi included is around $14,500 for two people, Ms Lee estimates flights at around $5,400 return for two people, and a three-night Rome hotel stay at $900, totally $20,800 in total.
Whereas if you book via the advertised package, it’ll come out to about $17,000 for two travellers, saving you $3,800 per couple.
For another example of how much you save, have a look at this Italy, Malta & Greek Islands deal with TripADeal from $3999. The deal includes return flights, a seven-night cruise with MSC and three nights of accommodation in Rome.
If you were to book this unpackaged, the particular cruise would set you back at least $3,484, three nights at the Trevi Collection Hotel in Rome would set you back $1,277 and return flights with British Airways would cost $2,347 per person. This comes out to $12,939 for two people. This means if you book the package for two, for $7,998, you can save $4,941 per couple.
What are the benefits of booking a packaged holiday?
Michelle Julius Baty, My Cruises Product Manager says while savings are often aplenty in fly and cruise deals, another monetary advantage is all the bonus value you very often get.
“Whilst we always set out to offer a ‘saving’ to the customer, we work hard to ensure that the overall value of the package represents both savings and additional inclusions. We find that today’s cruiser looks more to the overall value offering so bonus inclusions or onboard benefits, included in the package for not much more than the price of a cruise only represent the best offering for the cruising customer.
“By planning ahead and booking well in advance (sometimes up to 24 months in advance), we can use our group buying power to ensure that our package offerings represent incredible value for money.
“We always aim for the best overall value for money for the customer rather than a specific savings message. Some of our packages can include up to $4,000 bonus value – so this is made up of the savings along with the bonus inclusions of the package.”
Ms Lee says the benefits of booking a packaged holiday stretch well beyond just price improvements.
“Many of the major components of the holiday are booked with one supplier so it means there is one point of contact. In the event that anything cancels or doesn’t go ahead as planned, it’s much easier to fix and rebook as your agent is able to have one conversation and align all moving parts rather than potentially missing one element because the bookings aren’t aligned.
“There can also be bonus inclusions such as drinks packages, wi-fi connections and airport transfers that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.”
For example, the cruise fly deal with Celebrity Beyond mentioned above comes with drinks and Wi-Fi included.
Ms Lee also says it can be beneficial for many not to have to pay large sums upfront.
“Depending on travel dates you can often lock in your holiday with a small deposit and then subsequent payments to secure flights and the balance rather than a bigger sum upfront.”
Some of Flight Centre/My Cruises best deals include this 26-night Fly, Stay and Cruise, Taste of Turkey and Spanish Delight package from $19,990pp, this 14-night Fly, Stay & Cruise, Isles of the Gods Rome to Istanbul package from $11,990pp or something a bit cheaper but extremely bucket list worthy, this 15-night Fly, Stay & Cruise Northern Lights and Norway Coastal Express package from $5990.
For another deal to the Mediterranean, you can check out this 22-night package from $7990.
TripADeal has a range of great value cruise and fly deals going as well, such as this exploration of Paris, Venice, Milan & Zurich + a Greek Islands cruise from $5799, or this Spain, Portugal and Mediterranean deal with a cruise to the Balearic Islands from $6799, and this Germany, Iceland & the UK, including a Northern Europe cruise from $4999 deal.
Where are people sailing and who with
Ms Baty says cruise lines that offer extra value are coming out on top.
“It’s the cruise lines offering the customer that little extra either for free or not much extra who we see attracting a lot of interest.
“Norwegian Cruise Line’s Free at Sea offer provides the customer with significant value for money as it covers shore excursions, dining and beverages.
“Likewise, MSC Cruises & Princess Cruises offer onboard benefits like beverage packages or a beverage package & wifi package for a small additional addon package cost.”
As far as regions, Ms Lee sees most people flocking towards the Mediterranean, with Japan and Round-the-world sailings also selling strongly.