The reason you’re seeing so many cruise ads even though some sailings are being canceled

Jan 11, 2022

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If you feel like you’re suddenly seeing lots of ads for cruises, you’re not imagining it.

Cruise ads have always been prominent in Florida, the unofficial cruise capital of the world, but TPG staffers have reported seeing TV spots in several markets — including Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Charlotte, North Carolina — for Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Virgin.

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I even passed a billboard for Carnival last week in suburban Pennsylvania on a road that I wouldn’t consider a major highway. (Carnival, in particular, has been touting its brand hard. The line was one of the sponsors of the ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, promoting its new ad campaign, “Funderstruck.”)

What might seem odd is that lines are touting their vacation experience and pushing bookings when sailings again are being canceled due to COVID-19.

So, why the big advertising play?

Cruise lines are forward looking, and want you to think ahead, as well. Despite what’s happening right now, they want you to plan voyages for 2023 or even 2024 — and many travelers are doing just that.

“Bookings continue to build for the remainder of 2022 and well into 2023,” said Arnold Donald, Carnival Corp. president and CEO, during a December earnings call, when predicting bookings for this year. “We are achieving those early bookings with strong demand.”

Cruise lines know that you’re unlikely to book a last-minute cruise for next month. They’re focused on the future, once the omicron surge is past and travelers are beyond ready to set sail.

A deposit on a future cruise gives you something to look forward to when the current travel landscape is less than ideal. Unsurprisingly, your booking also helps cruise companies with revenue management and cash flow.

That’s why you see cruise lines stepping up their marketing in places within driving distance of many ports on the East Coast. (If you’re hesitant to fly, driving to your embarkation port could be an option, depending on where you’re located.)

Plus, January to March is the period historically known as wave season, when cruise lines typically double down on deals and try to incentivize travelers to book. This time of year is often the best time to save on a cruise , and cruise lines want you to know about their exceptional, limited-time promotions.

Through the first quarter of 2022, you’ll find wave season discounts on fares, as well as valuable add-ons like free Wi-Fi, drink packages, shore excursions, cabin upgrades, onboard credit and more.

Feel free to book those future cruises with confidence. Although some lines recently canceled sailings, we don’t anticipate another industry-wide shutdown, which means cruises will still be sailing into the latter part of 2022 and beyond.

Plus, cruise lines have stringent health protocols — which include mandatory vaccination, pre-cruise testing and contact tracing — and flexible cancellation policies that can protect you should you change your mind later on.

The next time your TV screen is filled with flashy cruise ships, tropical islands and families having vacation fun, you won’t need to stop and scratch your head. Instead, pay attention to see if the cruise line is offering you a deal on next year’s getaway that might put a bright light at the end of a dark winter tunnel.

Featured photo by Carnival Cruise Line.

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