NEW YORK -- In the midst of cruising's Wave season, agents are
reporting some good news: Clients want to get out of town.
Mary Jean Tully, chairman and chief executive officer of
Mississauga, Ontario-based Cruise Professionals, said the agency
had its most successful January -- and their most unique booking
experience -- this year.
"We had, on Jan. 3, somebody call and book a 100-day world
cruise on Crystal. It left Jan. 17," Tully said. "Never do you have
something like that book so last-minute. [Clients] just need to get
Scott Knoepf, executive vice president of the Cruise and
Vacation Specialists consortium, said he's noticed a dramatic
upswing from previous months.
Knoepf added that he has heard "varying reports" about Wave
season business from member agencies.
"It's back, it's not as good, others say it just exploded," he
"The bigger agencies were being a little more aggressive with
their marketing and advertising ... in the tough times, and now
they're reaping the rewards."
Some agencies said they still are seeing a negative trend:
Pricing has risen from its post-Sept. 11 lows, but it's still below
last year's levels.
"On balance, it looks like booking passengers ... is up 9% or
10%," said Charlie Funk, co-owner of Just Cruisin' in
But, he added, "Cruises that are too inexpensive -- we see that
"Volume-wise, we're up, but the prices have not returned to
pre-Sept. 11 levels," said Spencer Kivet, senior vice president of
marketing at Cruise Value Center in East Brunswick, N.J.
"Obviously for a travel agent, the thing is, yeah, we're
producing plenty of passengers for these lines to sell drinks to.
[But] we're doing more work for a little less money."
Kivet said one of the agency's biggest sellers was Celebrity
Cruises' Galaxy, which sails from Baltimore.
"The Baltimore cruise is good because it hits anyone in the
midatlantic," he said, and is convenient for clients who don't want
But some clients are willing to travel surprisingly far for
their cruise experience, Tully said.
"South Pacific, we've had a lot of bookings," she said. "We did
very well with Crystal for Southeast Asia, and [Radisson Seven
Seas] Mariner for South America.
"People are starting to book Europe, and they [must] book soon
because there are not that many ships left," Tully added.