Alan Fairfax, a veteran cruise lover, reveals what advertising works for him… and what doesn’t.

Being widowed, I’ve found cruising a great comfort, mixing with the ‘Solo’ groups on ships, people in the same position as myself. I have made new friends from many countries of the world, but how do you find these cruises?

Magazines, newspapers, television and other outlets are full of offers advertising discounts, upgrades, free amounts of on-board spend etc. but how do I decide?  Like everyone the advert has to appeal to me, sadly so many actually have the opposite effect.

When an advertisement states ‘Savings of up to £1,000’ and some even more, that puts me off immediately. It says to me that if the company are giving away that much money, it must be a very expensive cruise and in all probability beyond my budget, so I move on without looking at it any further. I am also put off by travel agents who advertise a cruise but instead of giving the price put “Call for details” or similar wording. I don’t want to talk to an agent who is going to try and sell me a cruise, I just want to be able to see the price and compare it with other agents to get the best deal.

As a solo traveller, and there are thousands of us, I am of course hit by the dreaded ‘Single Supplement’. Most agents do not advertise the solo fare, the advertised price is nearly always based on two people sharing a cabin. You have to look at the per person price and then adjust from 2 to 1 passengers…. and wait for the shock in many cases of the solo fare.

All is not lost however. I was recommended last year by other solo passengers of a website called “Passion for Cruises” They list the top 100 solo deals, every one showing the solo price along with sailing date, cruise line, ship and itinerary. I am now able to see at a glance what is available in my price range, time frame and where I want to go without having to speak with anyone or adjust prices.

I have been travelling on cruises for over 30 years, and whilst you normally receive a questionnaire regarding service, ship, ports etc. it is rare to be asked how you heard about the cruise. Perhaps one day advertising agencies/cruise lines will actually ask passengers about the form of advertising that encourages them to pick up the phone and book. They may learn a few lessons.



Contributor: Alan Fairfax