- Higher fuel costs mean higher fares for cruises and airfare too. Airfare will get hit first, cruise lines will be more cautious. An additional fuel surcharge for airlines is no big deal. Add on a charge for pat-downs, magazines in flight or something new, that would be a big deal. Cruise lines don’t want a fuel surcharge but if the price of oil hits and holds above $100 a barrel, they will and this time they won’t have to give it back later.
- Spring Break sailings will fill up fast and there will be few last-minute deals on them. If you want to go on a Spring Break cruise, pretty much any time in March or April, book it yesterday. Cruise lines have been warning of a price increase but they do that every year at this time when “wave” season hits and demand is high for cruises. They’ll hold that higher pricing longer this year.
- 2011: the Year of Ala Carte Pricing with cruise lines and travel agencies offering more optional choices as they move toward customizing each individuals vacation experience. This is way a good thing. Last year we blew the lid off the notion of a cruise being totally “all-inclusive” and bought into the reality of cruises having an “all-inclusive nature”. More than a subtle difference, look for more dining options, pre and post cruise hotel stays and options that before now, were a good idea but not really pushed all that much.
- Social Media blossoms in the cruise business with more lines “getting it” and moving forward with plans to engage us in a conversation about cruise vacations before, during and after sailing. In 2011 Facebook and Google ARE the Internet and those stuck elsewhere will fail. Losers: Faceless Internet Cruise Brokers, cruise lines not engaged in social media. Winners:Travel Agents who “get it”
- Multi-generational cruises take huge leap in popularity. An aging population will wake up more this year than in the past and want to travel with the kids and grand-kids. We saw a lot of this in Alaska and the Caribbean last year, look for more this year.
- European sailings skyrocket as cruise lines have repositioned ships to the Mediterranean, so goes the booking interest as supply of ships sailing from U.S. ports declines and prices go up. Last year saw some unbelievably good values in the Caribbean, that won’t happen as much this year.
- Cruise Lines ramp up security checks. It’s just inevitable that this will happen. Look for TSA-like security procedures and plan on taking a longer time to get on the ship, either upon embarkation or when in port.
Flickr photo by RambergMediaImages