Cruise One and Cruises Inc, two long-established sister agencies, will be anteing up cruise deposits for their customers. The customers will eventually pay the full price (including the deposit), but not until they make the final cruise payment, some 90 days before sailing. So, in effect, the cruise agency is extending a short, no-interest loan to cruisers.
Its an unprecdented move and one that speaks to just how hard it currently is, in the wake of the Costa Concordia disaster, to get vacationers to commit to cruise bookings. However, there's no real risk involved for the two companies (though they will have to pay out millions in deposits): if customers cancel, they can cancel the booking far enough ahead to get their money back.
The deposits are being capped at $500 per cabin with this promotion, which is an average cost for deposits. Travel Weekly quotes Amber Blecker, a Cruise One franchisee, as saying that the promotion should help those who wish to travel, but are still facing mountains of holiday credit card debts.
It'll be interesting to see how many customers bite.