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Travel agent freebies flow from poop cruise and sinking

September 16, 2013 Cruise, Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

egtmedia59The cruise ship Costa Concordia sank off the Italian coast on Friday the 13th last year with the loss of 32 lives and the salvage operation was also tipped to begin on a Friday the 13th – last Friday.

In the event, the process is running a little late and will begin today, Monday.

Strangely, though understandably, the sinking has contributed to a rash of super-cheap cruise fares and free trips for travel agents. Costa Concordia

The Costa Concordia (which is lying on its side in the sea) has been stabilised to stop it sinking further. An underwater support system has been installed. Now, the process of standing the ship upright will begin. Maritime salvage experts call this delicate operation parbuckling. All going well, the ship will then be floated away. It will be the biggest such operation ever attempted: Costa Concordia is longer than the Titanic and weighs over twice as much.

In the meantime, that disaster and various other mishaps such as the Carnival Triumph “poo cruise” or “poop cruise” have tarnished the image of Carnival Cruises (the ultimate owner of Costa Concordia) and has led to the line releasing some very cheap deals.

The so-called poop cruise occurred last year when fire broke out in Carnival Triumph’s engine room. Power failed and so did the sewerage system. Vivid passenger descriptions followed, of “sewage running down the walls” and people acting like “savages” as the reeking ship wallowed on the waves. Passengers and crew were forced to put up with cold food, no hot water, sweltering indoor temperatures and few working toilets. A tent city was erected on the tanning deck, creating shocking publicity.

In the wake of all that, Carnival has launched a PR blitz spearheaded by some super-cheap deals.

The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch section reports that the cruise line is offering money-back guarantees that give guests a 110% refund, free flights home and a USD 100 shipboard credit for a future cruise “should they be dissatisfied with their cruise for any reason,” according to a company statement.

The company is advertising rates from just USD 35 per person per night for a four-day cruise of the Caribbean from Miami.

The paper cites industry sources saying fares for some Carnival cruises dropped 10% to 20% after the bad publicity.

Also, Carnival is installing new fire safety technology and improved emergency power capabilities at a cost of over USD 300 million.

In the US, the company has launched a drive to lure travel agents aboard, offering them a free Carnival cruise for themselves and up to three friends (in the same cabin) provided they book before 26 September 2013 and sail between before January 2014.

The move makes sense because nearly two in every three cruises in the US are booked through a travel agent, the paper points out.

The cruise line is betting that a good experience aboard a Carnival ship may make agents happier about recommending a Carnival cruise to their clients.

Written by : Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. AgentGerko says:

    Not to Aussie travel agents I’m afraid.

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