Update: More Cruise Lines Levy Fuel Surcharges

November 17, 2005
Even as gas prices fall a little bit just about every day, more cruise lines are levying fuel surcharges on passengers.

Alaska specialist American West Steamboat has apparently started to levy fuel surcharges on upcoming voyages aboard its paddlewheeling fleet. The $5 per-person, per-day fee, which comes on top of the actual fare, is about in line with those of other cruise companies already passing along their extra fuel costs. American West said in a statement that "while the increase in fuel costs to [its] organization figures to roughly $15 - $20 per day, [it is] absorbing the majority [of the expense]."

Others that have also quietly implemented this charge include Asia-based Star Cruises. Star's policy, about $2 - $4 per person per day, depending on the cruise and ship, is pretty much in line with the rest of the industry.

Silversea is taking an entirely different approach.

According to a letter to travel agents, the line is "implementing an across-the-board operational price increase of 2 percent on our published fares for all cruises departing in 2006." Spokesman Brad Ball notes that while the price increase was brought on by higher fuel prices, "there is a bigger picture that affects the cruise industry, as we source goods from all over the world and you wind up paying for suppliers -- from fruits and vegetable purveyors to mattress companies -- fuel costs in addition to your own."

Somewhat confusing, however, is a bona fide fuel charge -- we found it on a travel agency Web site selling a nine-night Silversea cruise from Egypt to Athens on Silver Wind next February. A line in the fine print very clearly noted that "air taxes [and] fuel surcharge of $365.00 per person are additional." By our calculations, that works out to a not-unsubstantial $40.55 per-person, per-day surcharge.

Radisson Seven Seas and Crystal Cruises were the first to create a surcharge in response to the wildly escalating oil prices of this summer and fall. RSSC's is a flat $5 per person per day. Crystal is adding $4 per person per day.

One interesting addendum on the American West announcement: The company promises that "should gas prices fall to spring 2005 levels, [the line] will reimburse all passengers, from that date forward, for the fuel surcharge imposed prior to travel."