Thursday, 27 June 2013

False pricing in expedition cruising

as reported in





by Louise Goldsbury, editor

Briggs seeks end to false pricing

Coral Princess CEO Tony Briggs is hopeful of more credible pricing for expedition cruising in Australia.

Briggs seeks end to false pricing
The change of ownership of Orion Expedition Cruises has been welcomed by rival operator Coral Princess Cruises as an opportunity to be rid of “false prices” for products such as expedition cruises in the Kimberley region.

As head of the Australian company, Tony Briggs told CW that local ship owners had struggled to compete against international vessels offering large discounts to consumers.

“We pioneered the concept of expedition cruising in the Kimberley in 1995 and we never discounted – only for past guests, groups and charters,” he said.

“ The biggest change in the past six or seven years has been the level of discounting occurring in the market by foreign-owned, foreign-flagged, foreign-crewed ships with a much lower cost base, who don’t employ Australian workers or pay Australian taxes, so it was a challenge for all of us to compete.”

Coral Princess, North Star Cruises, Kimberley Quest and The Great Escape were forced to match the lower fares, Briggs said, which had a dramatic effect on business.

“We couldn’t grow to our full potential, and there was no chance for new local operators to enter the market,” he said.

“Hopefully we’re coming out of that now – we just want a level playing field.”

Briggs said he was “heartened” by recent comments earlier this month by Orion’s new owner Sven Lindblad that he would “restore credibility in pricing” for expeditions in the
region (CW 04 Jun).

“When there’s a false price being set to allow for discounting, it creates a lot of confusion in the market, which is not good for operators or consumers,” Briggs said.

He urged agents to keep in mind the differences between the experiences on itineraries offered by local ships compared to ships owned by foreign companies.

Oceanic Discoverer in PNG. Coral Princess pioneered the return to cruising in PNG in 2006.

“When they put clients on an Australian coastal cruise on an international ship, it’s not an Australian cruise – they have to go to an international port, such as Timor.

“We’re proud to have Australian-flagged and Australian-crewed ships in the Kimberley for six months of the year offering more departures than any other operator,” he said.

Coral Princess, Coral Princess II and Oceanic Discoverer also sail in the Great Barrier Reef, New Zealand, New Guinea, Melanesia, Cape York and Arnhem Land.