Despite my years of support for the cruise industry, even I have to admit that it has, for quite some time, been one of the most difficult holiday products to book. Customers must wade through endless possibilities in the path to purchase - the many cruise lines, ships, itineraries, pre-cruise stay possibilities, post cruise stay possibles and excursions - before completing the marathon and achieving the goal of finalising a cruise holiday. But this struggle is not just felt by the consumer. It has also impacted travel agents in their selling of cruise as well, meaning that many steer clear of stepping inside the cruise black hole.
That is, until recently. Lines have woken up to the fact that in order to compete with land-based holidays or pre-packaged holidays, they must make the product simpler. Simpler to understand the costs and simpler to arrange.
Norwegian Cruise Line led the way in April, introducing Premium All Inclusive - a new pricing structure that includes the usual cruise niggles such as service charge, water and other drinks. Not only did this move bring price simplicity to the cruise booking process, but it also paved the way for new approaches to making cruise easier to book. And Royal Caribbean's new agent booking platform - AirWaves - is the latest introduction. By enabling travel agents to book cruise packages on one platform, Royal Caribbean is making the life of any travel agent booking with an RCL brand much, much easier.
And I'm sure these two introductions are just the start. In order for cruise to continue it's year-on-year growth in the UK, it must adapt and evolve to incorporate new technology and react to new customer behaviours. If it can rise to the challenge, a whole world of possibilities will open.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd has launched a new booking platform encompassing flights, transfers and hotel stays. The fly-cruise booking technology called AirWaves was announced today (July 14) for Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, with all bookings Atol protected.