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The new year hasn't been kind to the cruise industry. In the past two months we've seen one ship capsize, three separate norovirus outbreaks, a horrible engine room fire, and a ship excursion robbed at gunpoint in Mexico. Images of the helpless ships and passengers captivated viewers on TV and spread across the Internet like a brush fire, creating a public relations nightmare for the cruise industry.
But tough times for the public image of cruise companies mean good times for a customer's wallet — assuming you still want to step aboard a cruise ship at all. After all these ugly mishaps, the industry is not only combating a bad reputation, but also hesitation from travelers. Thus, to coax them from their indecision, numerous cruise lines have offered decreasing prices on their vacations.
For example, in January we saw 5-night Caribbean cruises drop 9% in price, compared to prices we listed this time last year. The deals got even more aggressive in February when we saw prices on 7-night Caribbean cruises (one of the most popular cruises we list) drop by as much as 11%. So far March appears to be continuing the trend as we just listed the least-expensive 3-night Bahamas cruise for two (from $398, a low by $30; expires March 21) ever with Royal Caribbean. These price drops come amidst rising gas prices and are bucking the overall trend of rising travel costs, which indicates that the cruise industry is scrambling to recuperate its image and to find incentives for customers to buy.
And why wouldn't they? According to the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, a not-for-profit trade organization, an estimated 16 million people traveled aboard cruise ships last year — a 6.6% increase from 2010. And with 11.1 million of those passengers originating in North America, it's no surprise the industry is trying to win its customers back. That's good news for sea-loving vacationers as it means you'll likely see perhaps even better deals in the coming weeks.
If you're an advantageous shopper, looking for one of the aforementioned cruise discounts, then be sure to check out our travel deals section for the latest bargain getaways. Or consider setting up an email alert to be immediately notified when we post a new cruise offer to the site.
Top page photo credit: Travel Channel