P&O Cruises and Cunard Line today claimed a 31% rise in sales during the December and January peak ‘wave’ season booking period.

While business was up by almost a third, year-on-year bookings were 24% ahead of the equivalent period in 2010/11 which was unaffected by last January’s Costa Concordia disaster.

Although not providing details of the numbers involved, the two lines attributed the increase in bookings to the introduction last summer of Vantage Fares backed by a price promise.

Vantage Fares include a choice of benefits such as onboard spending money, car parking at Southampton, return coach transfers, and airport parking.

If the Vantage Fare is later reduced, passengers receive on board spending money or an upgrade, to the value of any reduction in price.

Complete Cruise Solution sales and customer services director Giles Hawke said: “We have had a strong Wave and it is still continuing apace.

“We have put much less price-led activity into the market than at this time last year and we are working strategically to hold pricing integrity.

“We are managing our pricing and holding commissions at a level which discourages travel agent rebating, resulting in price transparency for the customer.”

Hawke also attributed the strong sales to high profile media campaigns for both brands including P&O Cruises sponsorship of TV’s Downton Abbey and winter television advertising.

The good reported start to 2013 trading was backed by a succession of P&O Cruises’ travel agent partners.

Bolsover Cruise Club managing director Michael Wilson said: “Wave has been a huge success for us throughout January and into February with extremely positive sales across all CCS brands.

“What has been particularly encouraging is that there is clear evidence that our clients are recognising that Vantage Fares are here to stay and understanding the numerous benefits.”

Cruise.co.uk managing director Seamus Conlon said the company had seen a “substantial increase” in P&O Cruises and Cunard sales the wave period.

He put this down to the reduced effect of the Costa Concordia incident, the new price promise and benefits associated with the new Vantage Fares.

Iglu’s Simone Clark has also witnessed the trend and said: “Despite challenging trading conditions and people continuing to book later, we were pleased with our wave sales for CCS brands.

“Caribbean prices stayed strong and the introduction of new offers on short break cruises injected further volume into the market and attracted a high percentage of new to cruise customers.”

Thomas Cook head of cruise Jenny Ellis said: “We’ve been pleased with the way the consistent pricing and additional customer benefits provided through the CCS Vantage fares has helped us with our wave performance.”

Sovereign Cruise Club managing director Stefan Shillito said: “We are enjoying one of our best ever wave periods for all three CCS brands. All three brands are loved by our clients and are in great demand.”