Update: Cruisers Sue Over Fuel Surcharges

February 20, 2008

Update: Since the lawsuit was filed, the Florida Attorney General's office has added collusion in price fixing to the possible offenses it's looking at; it was originally only looking at issues of proper disclosure. Collusion is defined as a secret agreement, especially for fraudulent or treacherous purposes -- in a word, conspiracy.

(February 15) -- Look out cruise lines -- angry cruisers are taking to the courts!

Just a week after Florida's Attorney General decided to investigate the fuel surcharges recently imposed by most major lines, a Florida attorney has filed a class action suit against the major cruise lines for price fixing.

According to the South Florida Business Journal, attorney Harley Tropin filed a class-action suit on February 12 against Carnival Corporation, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ambassadors International, the Florida Cruise Association, and others. The suit is on behalf of Jason Ablelove, a New York resident affected by the fuel surcharges.

Unlike the Attorney General's investigation, which is focused on whether the cruise lines properly disclosed the fare hikes to already-booked passengers, the lawsuit challenges the cruise lines on the subject of price fixing. The suit claims the cruise lines coordinated with each other to set unreasonably high fees, and thereby are guilty of fixing prices.

Attorney Tropin, by the way, is no stranger to litigating the cruise lines. In 2006, he settled a class action suit against Carnival. The cruise line agreed to pay $6.25 million to cruise workers who argued they hadn't received their full wages, including overtime payments.

So take heart: With challenges to the fuel surcharges arising on multiple fronts, you may have a decent shot at getting your money back, after all.

For the full scoop on who's charging what, read our feature, At Your Service: Fuel Charges.

We'll keep you up to date on the outcome of the class-action suit.

--by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor