In a move that has come as a surprise to many, Carnival has slashed single supplements for UK travellers in what amounts to an obvious bid to woo solo passengers.
The move has also partly been a response to the success of the studio cabins introduced by Norwegian in recent years and, to a much lesser extent, the handful of single cabins offered in a few of the Royal Caribbean ships. Nonetheless, the halving of the single supplement by Carnival is pretty substantial indeed.
Under the new rates- which cover an as yet unspecified range of cruises- new lead in fares are now as low as £159 on a four days Bahamas cruise, and that’s based on an ocean view cabin. A six day Mexican Riviera cruise under the same rules comes in at a cost of £369.
The value here is self explanatory, especially when viewed with the recent on board, fleet wide enhancements made to the Carnival fleet in the Funship 2.0 programme. New features such as Guy’s Burger Joint and the Blue Iguana Cantina have been generally well received by both regular passengers and industry experts alike.
The line has been going through a period of retrenchment right across the board following a string of damaging incidents. Recently, veteran Carnival head honcho Bob Dickinson returned to the line in an advisory capacity, with a mandate to restore the line’s reputation and financial viability. This single supplement reduction may well be a by product of this new thinking, and it’s a very welcome one.
It will be interesting to see whether this reduction applies simply to Carnival, or whether it will also be rolled out in due course across subsidiary brands such as Cunard, Princess and Holland America. P&O already offers a handful of single cabins aboard Azura, Ventura, and now also Oriana.
Single supplements aboard Cunard remain fixed at an eye watering seventy five per cent. Holland America does offer a singles share programme that allows passengers of the same sex to share certain stateroom grades- both inner and outer- at no extra supplement.
More to the point, Carnival has really thrown down the gauntlet to Royal Caribbean, which has made at best baby steps in accommodating single passengers on most of their sailings. And, while Norwegian has single cabins in just under half its fleet, most of the others have none. Their typical single supplement comes in at around fifty per cent for basic inside and outside rooms at the moment.
As developments go, this one has the ability to gather speed and sweep the mainstream market from top to bottom. In firing this first shot, Carnival has once again stolen a march on the competition. An indication of welcome forward momentum once again in an organisation that has seemed to be on the back foot for far too long.