Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

UK Passengers Are Still Paying The Price To Cruise!

Oriana in Mexico, 2012
I decided it was time to think about what we might do again over our cold winter months, after our Australian friends contacted us with the message 'What do you fancy'? - P+O Cruises Brisbane to Singapore, 28 nights for AUS $2800, (£1686) or Southampton to Brisbane, 44 nights for AUS $4225, (£2544).

Regular readers will know that we have completed two P+O world cruises in the past with our Australian friends, in 2010, and 2012, and although we enjoyed both, we were a little disappointed about what happened to us on the 2012 one, where we discovered that not only had the cruise been sold on the Australian market for approximately 1/3 of the price we paid, which resulted in the ship being half full of Australians at that price level, but the quality of the cruise was also perceived by us to have been reduced to accommodate this, even though we had paid a more 'normal' price. To cap it all, while all those Australians were aboard, P+O directed an exclusive offer to them of much cheaper future cruises for 2013, which our friends took up, and when I tried, was not allowed to, because, being from their British market, our price was much more expensive.

I wrote all this up in our cruise review here: 2012 world cruise review of P+O Oriana.

I started to research prices here for 2014, using the prices our friends had sent from their Australian agents. The first thing I discovered is that P+O here still appear to be restricting their commission to UK agents to a flat rate, that doesn't allow them to make further cuts in their price offerings. All prices here appear to be very similar across the board, with Iglu Cruises being one of the cheapest, as theirs also includes a return flight from Brisbane.

P+O's website for Australian access shows the Southampton - Brisbane cruise currently at $4359, (£2613).

Fares from

CabinCruise only
InsideA$4,359
OutsideA$5,519
BalconyA$7,609
SuiteSOLD OUT
Per person based on two people sharing a cabin
I tried to include a link to this, but it simply re-directs to their website intended for UK access from here, so here is a screen dump of the Australian website prices. Their website intended for us here in the UK is priced at £3829, click here to look. That, if my maths is correct, is around 32% more expensive to book here in the UK than in Australia for exactly the same cruise off the same company website. Try to book off the Australian version, and they won't let you if you don't have an Australian postal address. It is also a devious use of technology to have the same cruise on the same website, that is priced differently depending on which country it is viewed in. The URL's are identical, the only apparent difference being that the Australian version doesn't have a 'Price Protected Promise', with no *'Vantage Fare' available. The UK version for the Brisbane to Singapore cruise shows a price of £2719 for the 28 nights HERE. An increase of 38% for the UK market over the Australian agent's price.

I did a little more research here by logging on to Google Australia, and found this Click here for Australian travel agent, offering the Southampton - Brisbane cruise for $4333.62, (£2609.53), approximately £1220 per person cheaper than I can book the same cruise for here!

More research found this Cruise Critic Article describing the reasons given by cruise operators as to why cruises are offered at different prices in different countries. Their answers didn't cut it with me though, as my examples show exactly the same product - just very much more expensive here.

*See BBC Your Money Their Tricks a survivors guide to cruising, for a description of the so called 'Vantage Fares'.

You may want to buy a cruise sector to escape the winter here, but being ripped off isn't where I like to find myself. So, until I am allowed to buy off the Australian agent, and at their price, we won't be going anywhere soon.

All currency conversions and website prices were correct as of 10am on Wednesday 24th July 2013.

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