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The Carnival Triumph hangover has lasted longer than the cruise industry initially envisioned. Carnival’s confident that lower fares will fill the ships, if not the cruise line’s coffers.
The Carnival Triumph returned to service yesterday, four months after its infamous Western Caribbean sailing that left more than 4,200 passengers without toilets and other basic services.
The ship, slated for a four-day sailing to Cozumel, comes as Carnival Corp.’s cruise pricing has taken a big hit.
Consider that you can now reserve an inside stateroom on the Carnival Triumph for a 5-day Galveston-Cozumel sailing, beginning September 23, with rates starting at $236 per person, based on double occupancy, and that includes room, board and entertainment.
That comes to $47.20 per night, excluding taxes and various fees.
In contrast, a stay at the Radisson Hotel Cleveland Gateway, the lowest-price hotel as listed on Hotels.com for September 23, goes for $119 per night, and that, of course, excludes meals and entertainment.
The Carnival Triumph, which now has redundant emergency generator capabilities and fire-safety enhancements as part of a fleet-wide retrofitting for safety, is obviously a real bargain.
In contrast, although it is admittedly an apples-to-oranges comparison, Carnival Triumph Fun Select rates, which provided for flexibility in taking advantage of rate adjustments, on a five-day Bahamas sailing departing May 24, 2010, started at $549 per person for an interior cabin.
Rates have clearly plummeted in part because of the Carnival Triumph fiasco, which occurred about 13 months after Carnival’s Costa Concordia ran aground off the coast of Italy and killed 32 people.
At least one large cruise agency, Cruise Planners, declined to characterize Carnival’s pricing tactics for the Carnival Triumph as a fire sale.
“We are glad to see the ship back on service and am certain that Carnival is taking the right measures to ensure that passenger safety is its number one priority,” says Cruise Planners COO Vicky Garcia. “There are some pretty good rates right now for quick four-or-five day cruises, $255 and $236 per person, respectively, through October. They are priced to sell and I suspect these will go soon, and we’ll see those rates go up quick. It’s a great time to book to take advantage of these low rates.”
Consistent with the inconsistency of cruise pricing, the five-night sailing departing Sept. 23 had a lower cruise fare than the four-night sailing departing September 5.