Johanna Jainchill
Johanna Jainchill

The luxury lines are taking promotions to a new level -- in both the depth of discounting and, in SeaDream Yacht Club's case, originality.

SeaDream wins the award for the most original, and really the wackiest, promotion I've ever heard of.

It has a promotion aimed at accountants who will be weary after tax season. The line suggests agents approach their "brainy, hard-working tax professionals" who are focused on the April 15 tax-filing deadline and offer them a nine-day, Caribbean cruise leaving San Juan on April 17 priced at $2,999 per person down from the brochure rate of $7,400 per person.

"How's that for a tax time depressurizing idea?" SeaDream asks. 

And Crystal has taken onboard credit to a whole new level: at $2,000 per couple on European sailings, this onboard credit amounts to a large percentage of the cruise cost of some of its discounted sailings.

The luxury line's $2,000 per couple shipboard credit is being offered on quite a few cruises that start at $3,240 per person. The $1,000 per person credit amounts to more than a quarter of the cost of the cruise.

And speaking of discounted European cruises, Seabourn came out with fares on its cruises on the Continent this year reduced by up to 65% off the published brochure fares. New fares start from $2,999 per person for a seven-day Mediterranean cruise, and even sailings on the line's brand-new ship, the Seabourn Odyssey, start at only $3,299 per person. And that includes liquor.

Silversea Cruises jumped on the discount wagon this week with 50% off its fares, and that's not just Europe. The half-price fares are available from the Arctic to the Antarctic (on its new expedition ship) and many destinations in between, including Alaska, Australia and Africa. And some of those sailings also offer free roundtrip air.

Travel agents don't necessary like to see prices drop, but they do like to hear phones ringing, which is what the lines hope these promos will accomplish.

There are some deals out there that help the agents, too. Wholesaler tour operator Travel Bound is offering agents 20% commission, double its usual rate, on all pre- and post-cruise hotels, transfers and sightseeing tours booked before the end of February.

Since cruise lines, with the exception of MSC Cruises, don't pay commission on their own shore excursions, and with cruise prices and commissions so low, Travel Bound is hoping to entice agents who could use the extra income.

With even the most expensive cruises priced like this, it appears agents can.

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