December 2, 2008

Cruise ships push discounts to fill berths

Cruise lines are lining up discounts to entice passengers on board as the U.S. economy weakens, industry representatives said.

''We always say cruise lines are resilient to the economy, but we have seen a slowdown in the number of bookings compared to the same time last year,'' Harrison Liu, a spokesman for Miami's Royal Caribbean International told The Miami Herald.

We're working closely with travel agents and all our partners to entice consumers, Liu said.

Lois and Alan Rosenthal told the newspaper they recently paid $150 per person for a four-day cruise from Jacksonville, Fla., to the Bahamas. Although fees and taxes will double that price, "my husband said it costs more to go to the mall,'' Rosenthal said.

Discounts are running throughout the industry from free upgrades on berths to on board credits, the newspaper said.

Everyone, even the luxury lines, are doing things to try to fill ships, said Michelle Fee, chief executive officer of Cruise Planners in Coral Springs, Fla.

It's no holds barred, she told the Herald.