According to Debbie Natansohn, Vice President of Marketing for Pearl Cruises, the company has extended its six month advance purchase discount until 30 days prior to departure for its two June cruises to China.
Natansohn said that this extension came about after last month's lifting of the U.S. State Department's travel advisory which had discouraged non-essential travel to China and had been enacted last June after the political turmoil and institution of martial law in China. Natansohn said that the situation at present remains as it was prior to last June which generally restricts travel to certain troubled areas of China such as Tibet.
Pearl Cruises, which operates the 480-passenger Ocean Pearl in the Orient year round, is offering two sailings to China in June led by Lars Lindblad, who was one of the pioneers in travel to China. In addition, the company will have two trips in the fall to China.
The discounts for the June departures range from $300 to $1,200 per person, depending on the cabin. As for the effects of the lifting of the travel advisory - combined with Pearl's discount extension - Natansohn stated that there "has been an increase in bookings which are coming in steadily." "We believe that there was pent-up demand for China," she continued. She anticipates the June trips will go out "nearly full."
Meanwhile, other cruise lines have cancelled their 1990 China sailings, including Renaissance Cruises, which instead redeployed the Renaissance I to the Mediterranean. A spokesperson for Crystal Cruises said there was no demand for China cruises this year.
According to travel agents, China is a must on Far East cruises. But for the time being travelers are apprehensive about China and "if they won't go to China, they won't cruise in the orient," one agent said.
Other cruise lines making calls in China this year, include Costa Cruises on a world cruise by the Danae and Oceanic Cruise Line's Oceanic Grace.