Cruise Cents: Survey Reveals Where Savings Are

MSC SHIP

MSC Cruises is introducing two brand new ships this year:  MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside (pictured above).

After an extensive study focused on cruise price monitoring across the cruise lines an industry watchdog site has found where the spikes and dips on cabin rates can be found.

Cruisewatch.com monitored stable average prices for interior cabins and price reductions between 6% for balcony cabins and up to 10% for oceanview staterooms. However, the study also saw an uptick on suites on most cruise lines.

Suites are getting more expensive with an average increase of 2%. And the price changes are highly variable per line.

The website compared price changes for 4.383 cruises in 2016, departing in the summer period of May to September, with 4.884 sailings leaving in the same period this year. To get comparable data, the study then compared the price per day at a locked in fixed point on May 1st for both years.

Cruise Suites Getting More Expensive with Time

While suite prices remained mostly stable with a slight uptick, the average price increased to $629 per day versus $615 last year. Viking, Azamara and Crystal Cruises are the top price increasers. Regent Seven Seas, MSC Cruises and Holland America are reducing. Due to highly variable cabins and limited inventory, this category is the most difficult to for extracting stable and valid trends.

MSC Cruises Heats Up the Choices

MSC Cruises, one of the cruise companies cited by Cruisewatch for actually lowering rates on cabin suites, is targeting the non-traditional cruiser with tailored tips and travel experiences this summer with hopes of turning them into avid cruisers.

The company sees the demand for cruising as having increased 62 percent from 2005 to 2015. Much of the demand could be coming from non-cruisers as and nearly half (48%) of non-cruisers expressed interest in taking an ocean cruise, according to the Cruise Line International Association’s (CLIA) 2017 State of the Industry Report

MSC Cruises USA — the North American arm of MSC Cruises, the Swiss-based privately-owned cruise line — has curated some helpful tips and experiences to help every type of traveler make the best cruise choices for their summer vacation this year.

THE FAMILY CRUISER

Tip: People often have very different ideas of what makes a great vacation. Cruising makes it easier to choose a family vacation by offering activities and amenities that appeal to everyone in your group —from the little kids to the grandparents — so everyone gets to enjoy their own, personalized experience. Travelers should research family friendly activities the cruise line offers ahead of time to know what to expect. Once on board, they should check the daily program highlights.

Experience on MSC Cruises: Kids sail free on MSC Cruises making traveling as a family extremely affordable. In addition, fleet wide, the cruise line offers dedicated activities for kids of all ages – from infants to teens.  Highlights include: cooking classes, where kids are taught basic cooking skills; language courses, where children learn basic sentences in 6 different languages; themed costume parades and shows; sports tournaments; scavenger hunts; arts and crafts; and teen disco and karaoke parties. In addition, MSC Cruises offers a unique LEGO Experience Day in which kids and their parents can compete in LEGO themed competitions and games where kids earn their LEGO Junior Master Builder Diploma. While the kids are off having fun with their new friends, adults can enjoy a relaxing treatment in the MSC Aurea Spa, catch one of the cruise lines award-winning Broadway style production shows, try their luck in the on-board casino, or dine in one of the many restaurants and bars.

THE ADVENTURE CRUISER

Tip: If exploring or mingling with the locals is a goal, travelers should make sure to research and plan excursions ahead of time to maximize new cultural opportunities.

Experience on MSC Cruises: Excursions vary from port to port, but each tour is provided by certified partners with carefully selected, multilingual guides. From culinary tours of Italy, to experiencing the magnificent Tulum Mayan Ruins in Cozumel, walking tours of Split, Croatia, jeep adventures in Iceland, and exploring the interiors of the mosques in Abu Dhabi – MSC Cruises offers up to 2,000 shore excursions to focus on moments ashore.

THE FIRST-TIME CRUISER                             

Tip: Cruise ships are essentially floating cities. Guests should take the time to utilize and explore the various amenities and numerous choices of activities available to them on-board.

Experience on MSC Cruises: On MSC Divina, guests can try out the Virtual Winery at Sea, a BlendCraft wine experience with professional winemakers where participants learn how wines are mixed and then are able to create, bottle and label their own blend of wine to enjoy on board, or take home.

MSC Cruises also features 4D motion theaters, AquaCycling, Formula One race car simulators, state-of-the-art fitness facilities featuring Technogym equipment, bowling alleys, and most exclusively, Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows are debuting this summer on MSC Meraviglia.

THE FOODIE CRUISER

Tip: Cruises offer a multitude of both casual and fine dining options while on board, so it’s important for food lovers to take advantage of as many as possible. They can pre-purchase dining packages that allow trying new cuisines at smart prices.

Experience on MSC Cruises: Specialty restaurants are a standout feature on MSC Cruises’ ships, offering guests the opportunity to experience cuisines from around the world while at sea or on shore. On MSC Meraviglia, debuting this month in the Mediterranean, dining experiences range from fresh sushi, sashimi and tempura created by expert sushi chefs at Kaito Sushi Bar, an open chocolate atelier and sweet treats from award-winning French chocolatier and pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury, and Italian dishes at Eataly’s Ristorante Italiano.

THE SMART SPENDER

Tip: When booking, travelers should cruise for “deals” that can easily be found far in advance. Also, some packaged offerings will provide good value.

Experience on MSC Cruises: With MSC Cruises’ Inclusive Experiences pricing, guests can select from five different vacation packages that range from best price to nearly all inclusive, based on their own personal vacation desires. By bundling various services and activities into a package, consumers get an excellent value for price and are able to pay for all the amenities they want upfront – a highly recommended option for travelers looking to save money and stick to a budget.

A strong summer deal can be considered with the line’s Two for One cruise package allowing guests to save 50% off rack rates.

Sample summer cruise itineraries and prices on MSC Divina, departing from Miami and sailing the Caribbean include:

August 19 Eastern Caribbean Cruise
Length: 8-days/7-nights
Itinerary: Departing from Miami and sailing to Philipsburg, St. Maarten; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Nassau, Bahamas
Cost: Prices start at $449 per person

July 8 Mini Cruise
Length: 4-days/3-nights
Itinerary: Departing from Miami and sailing to Freeport, Grand Bahama and Nassau, Bahamas
Cost: Prices start at $299 per person

THE WELLNESS CRUISER

Tip: A cruise need not trip up a healthy lifestyle regimen. It’s possible to keep it going by using the available health and wellness amenities onboard. Guests can elect healthy dining options, such as the salad bar in the buffet; and active shore excursions, such as hiking or horseback riding. And there is always the chance to choose the stairs over the elevator in getting from one deck to the other. Experience on MSC Cruises: Fleet wide, MSC Cruises offers a one of a kind Wellness Experience by Technogym – a completely personalized 360° wellness experience at sea that incorporates wellness into every aspect of the cruise experience including: on-board fitness classes and activities, dedicated healthy food and beverage offerings, exclusive shore excursions, and stateroom amenities.

The experience starts before the cruise even begins with a pre-cruise questionnaire designed to understand each guest’s specific goals. Once on board, the guest then meets with a MSC Master Trainer, trained by Technogym, who reviews the results of the questionnaire and helps them create a personalized wellness plan for the duration of the cruise shaped around the individual needs of the guest. As part of the experience, the self-service buffet on board includes a dedicated wellness corner and menus in the main restaurants include special icons to help guide guests’ food selection.

MSC Cruises is also the first cruise line in the world to offer AquaCycling classes to its passengers on board MSC Divina. Designed for all ages, AquaCycling is a full body workout allowing participants to burn up to 800 calories per hour. MSC Cruises guests can even cycle under water to upbeat music, while enjoying the views at sea and having fun.

THE LUXURY CRUISR

Experience on MSC Cruises: Guests looking for a more upscale, luxurious experience can opt stay in the MSC Yacht Club, which includes 24-hour butler service, concierge reception, dedicated MSC Yacht Club fine dining venues, a private pool, and a private elevator to take guests directly to the MSC Aurea Spa.

The “ship within a ship” design is an entirely self-contained private club area (accessed by key card only) that provides guests the best of both worlds — the privacy and exclusivity of a smaller ship with the bountiful choices and amenities only found on a larger ship, such as world-class entertainment like Cirque du Soleil, onboard casino, and specialty dining experiences like Eataly’s Chef’s Table.

Guests booking on MSC Cruises’ new builds – including MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside – will enjoy an enhanced MSC Yacht Club with additional suite options and enlarged public areas within with MSC Yacht Club.

Related Stories:

Cruise Crunching: Who’s Cruising and Why

Cruise Lines 2017: What’s New, What’s Popular

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