August 6, 2012
"All children now pay the same rate, which is typically the reduced [third or fourth] fare when traveling with two adults in the same stateroom," a Norwegian spokesperson told Cruise Critic in an e-mail. Previously, the line, which doesn't allow babies under six months of age on its ships, only charged a small portion of the fare plus government taxes and fees for kids under two. Norwegian would only say the under-two fare, before the new policy, varied by ship, destination and date.
The change was brought to the attention of Cruise Critic by member mcohen73, who posted about it on the Cruise Critic message boards.
The fare hike could mean hundreds of dollars more for families. A quick price check by Cruise Critic for an October Bermuda cruise from New York City found that the third and fourth passenger charge for a 10-year old and one-year old would cost $449 each. The taxes for the 10-year old came to $191.75 and for the one-year old came to $131.75. That means a family who books their one year old this week is paying $580.75 -- hundreds more than the family that booked their one year old two weeks ago paid.
This is exactly what happened to mcochen73, who originally priced a cruise at $499 plus port fees and taxes for a four-year old and just port fees and taxes for a one-year old. When she went back to book the cruise, both the four-year old and one-year old were priced at $499 plus port fees and taxes.
Norwegian's new policy brings it in line with most other cruise lines that cater to children. Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean maintain fare policies that require the first two passengers in all cabins to pay full price, with reduced fares for third and fourth passengers in the same cabin -- regardless of age. However, Disney Cruise Line offers a larger price break for kids under three. The fare for all children under three years of age is 50 percent less than the cruise fare for kids ages three to 12, for third and fourth berths. However, Disney's average price points on its cruises are typically significantly higher than those for Norwegian, Royal and Carnival.
--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor