(November 8) -- On a day in which crude oil futures once again hit a new high -- this time just above $98 a barrel -- it's no big surprise to hear that cruise lines are beginning to implement a fuel surcharge.
The latest move, led by Carnival Corporation and announced today, affects several of its lines. Travelers who have booked cruises on Carnival, Costa, Cunard, Holland America, Princess and Seabourn will be assessed a $5 per person, per day fee. The surcharge applies to all new and existing bookings for cruises departing on or after February 1, 2008.
The charge, which Carnival's calling a supplement, applies to the first two passengers in a cabin (and not to third and fourth passengers traveling in that cabin) and will not exceed $70 on a single voyage.
Interestingly, this effort only applies to the company's North American-based cruise lines. According to TravelMole, David Dingle, head of Carnival Corporation's U.K.-based operations -- which include P&O, Ocean Village and the German Aida -- will not levy the charge for U.K. passengers.
On this go-round, Regent Seven Seas Cruises was the first North American line to announce the addition of a charge for fuel -- it will levy passengers with a $7.50 per person, per day fee for all 2008 cruises. Fiji-based Blue Lagoon Cruises, which operates small, expedition-oriented cruises in the region, announced this week that it was upping its existing fuel surcharge from 10 FSD (about $6.60 U.S.) to 12.50 (about $8.25 U.S.). That's a per person, per day supplement.
Fuel surcharges are nothing new in the cruise industry. In 2005 and 2006 -- even as oil prices were actually dropping -- a number of lines were adding or increasing supplements. Among them were Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea and Crystal. The Italy-based Costa also established a 10 Euro charge for seven night cruises (it went up to 15 Euros for longer sailings) -- but only required European passengers to pay it.
In recent historic perspective, there's one notable omission. While Royal Caribbean spokesman Michael Sheehan tells Cruise Critic that "it's one of many issues that we discuss and consider on a regular basis," the line has not, at least in the past eight years, assessed an extra charge in light of rising fuel prices. Yet.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor