Monday, April 7, 2008

Best Cruise Lines Hike Fuel Surcharge

I barely had time to update the comprehensive listing of best cruise lines' fuel surcharges on our website, when another change was announced. After taking a massive hit on its bottom line last week through an agreement with the Florida’s Attorney General’s office, Carnival Corporation & plc will be increasing the fuel surcharges it collects on The Yachts of Seabourn, Cunard, Princess, Holland America, Costa and Carnival Cruises.

Today, April 7, Bill Harbor, director of corporate marketing at Carnival Corporation, announced that effective April 21, the fuel surcharge will increase to $7 per day for each of the first two passengers in a cabin, and a new fee of $2 per day will be assessed on each additional passenger in the same cabin.

The new fuel surcharge rates will not exceed $98 per voyage for each of the first two passengers in a cabin and $28 per voyage for any additional passengers. Bookings made on or before April 20 will not be assessed the new rates.

I’m sure it will not be long before Royal Caribbean Corporation’s lines – Azamara, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean Cruises – follow Carnival’s lead. As most of the best cruise lines have opened reservations through the 2008-9 season, booking cruises now for next year will save some money and guaranty the cost of your cruise trips. Thanks to the Florida Attorney General’s office, the cruise lines learned they cannot add these new fees retroactively. Read more...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Airlines’ impact on cruise trips

This has been a trying week for everyone who booked flights for their cruise trips on a low-cost / alternative airline. Aloha Airlines ceased operations on Sunday after 61 years in operation; ATA Airlines, based in Indiana, followed on Wednesday; and this morning, Skybus Airlines shut its doors.

Aloha and ATA served the Hawaiian market, with flights typically priced much less than the larger commercial carriers.

Skybus, which began flying on May 22, 2007, served more out-of-the-way destinations but offered “no-frills, low-cost” flights, starting at $10 each way. With bases in Columbus, Ohio and Greensboro, NC, the company modeled its operations after the European carrier, Ryan Air.

Risk management is the primary advantage of booking flights for cruise trips through the cruise lines. If a flight is late or canceled, the cruise line’s responsibility for flights it books is to ensure its passengers board the ship at the next port. Typically, and excluding any special offers for “free” air, the cruise lines assume this risk with an accompanying hefty price tag.

To save on costs, many cruisers book their own flights. A word of caution considering this week’s events in the air line industry, the abysmal performance of U.S. airlines in recent months and announcements by airlines of cut-backs in schedules – if you purchase airfare independently of your cruise fare, first purchase travel protection insurance.

Don’t purchase this coverage through the cruise lines – their policies will offer little, if any, protection for any travel purchased independently of the cruise line – and most of the best cruise lines self-fund their policies, so there is no coverage if the cruise line should cease operation!

Many companies offer travel protection plans to cover all pre-paid and non-refundable costs for your cruise trips – read the policies and the exclusions carefully before purchasing the policy, then book your fights. If an airline or other supplier doesn’t perform, your vacation will be protected. Read more...

Monday, March 31, 2008

Best Cruise Lines Fuel Surcharge Update II

Another cheer for the Florida Attorney General's office!

Passengers on Carnival Corporation & plc’s best cruise lines who booked their cruises before November 7, 2007 and were charged a fuel surcharge, will see a refund. Today the company announced a voluntary agreement, similar to that announced earlier this month by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., with the Florida Attorney General’s Office.

The refund applies to guests who booked their cruises prior to the fuel surcharge’s implementation and departed on or after February 1, 2008. The best cruise lines involved include the Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, The Yachts of Seabourn, Carnival Cruise Lines, and Costa Cruises.

Refunds will be processed based on the cruise departure date according to the following schedule:

  • For cruises departing on or before April 4, 2008, passengers will receive a refund in the same form they used to purchase their cruise;
  • For cruises departing from April 5, 2008 through June 23, 2008, passengers will receive an on-board credit in lieu of a refund;
  • For cruises departing on or after June 24, 2008, the fuel surcharge will be deleted from their account balance.
For bookings made on or after November 7, 2007 – the date Carnival Corporation & plc announced the fuel surcharge – the fee remains in effect.

All the lines, with the exception of Disney, followed Carnival and Royal Caribbean’s lead in implementing a surcharge. Will these best cruise lines now take the initiative to refund the charges assessed on bookings under deposit before their surcharges were announced? Or will they try to hold on to their excess profits? Read more...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Best Cruise Lines Fuel Surcharge Update

All passengers who booked a cruise on the best cruise lines owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) prior to November 16 (the date the fuel surcharge was implemented) will see the increased charges for the fuel surcharge removed from their invoice.

On Monday, March 10, 2008, the company, after negotiations with the Florida Attorney General’s office, announced that it would eliminate the fuel surcharge (note: the Attorney General announced on Tuesday that the refunds could total $21 million dollars!) assessed on these passengers. This policy affects guests on Azamara Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International Cruises.

If you booked your cruise on one of these best cruise lines before November 16, paid the increased cost and have already cruised, you will receive a refund for the additional charge. If you have paid in full and will be cruising in the future, you will receive an onboard credit for the amount of the fuel surcharge.

Passengers, who booked before November 16 and were charged the additional amount but have not paid in full, will have the surcharge removed from their invoice.

Here’s hoping more of the best cruise lines will follow RCCL’s lead, treat their passengers fairly, and remove the fuel surcharge for guests who booked their cruise trips before the surcharge was implemented. Read more...