U.S. airlines may have difficulties making fare increases stick, but Carnival Cruise Lines, citing "record wave season bookings," revealed it will raise prices "across-the board," effective March 22.
CCL says the price increase will vary by sailing date, and will top out at 5%.
Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill says even with the increases, the cruise line's pricing won't get back to 2008 levels.
Cahill attributes the record reservations during the wave season to travel agent support, targeted marketing initiatives, itinerary tweaks and departures from ports close to cruisers' homes.
The report of record wave-seasons bookings for Carnival coincides with -- and gives additional credence to -- a comScore report showing Carnival Cruise Lines' unique visitors in January increased 79% to 2.2 million.
Carnival's surge took place as it implemented on Jan. 1 a new trademarks' policy, which prohibited CCL's travel agency partners from keyword bidding on the cruise line's many trademarks. It is difficult to assess how significant a role the new policy played in Carnival's record wave-season bookings or in the website-traffic uptick, but it is doubtful that it was an overriding factor because the policy took at least a couple of weeks to kick into gear.
comScore found that the ground-transportation category, including the Amtrak rail line and cruise sites CCL, VacationsToGo and Royal Caribbean, was among the fastest-growing sectors in January. Actually, tax-oriented websites was the fastest-growing category in anticipation of the April 15 tax-filing deadline.
The travel ground-cruise category saw a 30% traffic increase from December to January, according to comScore. VacationsToGo websites led the ground-cruise category with with 2.5 million January unique visitors, a jump of 62 percent.
Amtrak was #2 in the category, increasing unique visitors 13% to 2.3 million in January.
Carnival, with its 2.2 million visitors was third, following by Royal Caribbean Cruises with 1.5 million visitors, up 54%.
Two other travel categories -- hotels/resorts and online travel agents -- were among the top-growing sub-categories in travel, comScore says.
The hotels/resorts category grew 23% in January to 34.1 million unique visitors and online travel agents climbed 19% to 42.5 million unique visitors.
The ground-cruise category, with its 14 million unique visitors, is a relatively small travel category when measured against the much larger OTA and hotel categories, reflecting the high percentage of phone bookings that take place in ground-cruise.
And, there was one travel website -- Travelocity -- among comScore's Top 10 Gaining Properties by Percentage Change in Unique Visitors in January.
comScore says Travelocity's unique visitors in January grew 38% to 10.1 million.
That put Travelocity as the fifth fastest-growing Web property in January, according to comScore.