Despite the recent Costa Concordia disaster in Italy, indicators point to increased cruise sales during the industry’s Wave Season. January is traditionally the start of the cruising Wave Season, since it is the most active cruise booking period of the year. Many cruise lines offer special deals to entice potential passengers caught in winter weather.
Though individually, the Carnival Corp., which owns the Costa Concordia, has reported a significant decrease in booking from the time after the ship wrecked through Jan. 25, overall the cruise industry has not seen lower numbers. The Cruise Lines International Association has stated that the travel agent community has not seen a significant reduction in bookings.
CruiseOne and sister company Cruises Inc., which specialize in cruise bookings, both reported their sales for Jan. 14-16 were up 6 percent from sales during the same dates in 2011. Though long-term sales effects from Costa Concordia cannot yet be determined, it is a hopeful sign that there were no reports of mass cancellations on existing cruises.
New cruise ships about to debut have already booked many passengers on their maiden voyages with no reports of cancellations, including Disney Cruise Line, Great American Steamboat Company, Viking River Cruises and American Cruise Lines. Some specials have even continued into February, such as Norwegian Cruise Lines’ bargains, free stateroom upgrades on European cruises and free $400 coupon books for passengers.
In response to the wreck, cruise lines worldwide implemented new mandatory muster drills prior to departure from port on Feb. 9. Before, many cruise lines had 24 hours before they had to undergo an emergency safety drill.
The Cruise Lines International Association, European Cruise Council and Passenger Shipping Association released the new policy with the support of member cruise lines. Those passengers that arrive after the muster has been completed will be provided with individual or group safety briefings that cover the information from the emergency safety drill at the earliest opportunity.