Cruise companies offer free flights in bid to get customers booking
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Two cruise lines are offering their customers free flights in a bid to boost bookings and restart their marketing campaigns following the Costa Concordia disaster last month.
Royal Caribbean Cruises is offering 10,000 flights if holidays are booked by the end of February. Meanwhile, Celebrity Cruises is giving away a smaller number of free flights available for European cruises, as well as many heavily discounted flights.
Many cruise companies had suspended their advertising campaigns after the cruise ship ran aground off the coast of Tuscany.
Jo Rzymowska, the general manager of Royal Caribbean Cruises in the UK, told Travel Weekly: "We needed to be sensitive about what happened and the immediate decision to stop all activity was not a difficult one. It was crystal clear to us in the light of the tragedy that was the right thing to do.
"From then on we have monitored things day by day by getting sentiment from the market, and a lot of that we did by talking to our trade partners. [This] is the right time to go out with our own activity."
The owner of Costa Concordia, Carnival Cruises, the world's largest cruise ship company, estimated that the disaster would lower net income by $155 million to $175 million in 2012.
Passenger bookings have dropped for the company since the Costa Concordia ran aground off the Tuscan island of Giglio on January 13, but industry insiders remain positive.
Speaking to the http://www.ibtimes.com/http://www.ibtimes.com/, a Carnival spokesperson said that the company expected bookings to be down significantly, but added: "Despite these recent trends, we believe the incident will not have a significant long-term impact on our business."
Cruise.co.uk, Britain's largest online cruise agent, reported 150,000 searches in the week following the disaster - just 7,000 fewer than the previous week.
Carnival has announced a review of safety and emergency response procedures across its entire fleet. It owns nine cruise ship brands including the Cunard Line, Holland America, and Princess.
What do you think of this story? Has the sinking of the Costa Concordia put you off cruise holidays?