Readers Respond to Voyages of Discovery Charges

July 25, 2008
You may remember earlier this month we reported on the case of a U.K. couple who were charged a high fuel supplement on an already-booked £9,000 cruise with Voyages of Discovery.

Though Ron and Gwenda Bennett were offered a cabin downgrade to make the cruise more affordable, in the end they cancelled their trip and lost their £900 deposit in the process. The Association of British Travel Agents' (ABTA) guidelines states that if you're cancelling a cruise because of excessive fees, the fees amount must add up to more than 10 percent of the trip price in order for you to get the deposit refunded. Because of the cost of their trip, the Bennett's surcharge came in just shy, at 9.92 percent.

Since publishing our initial story, Cruise Critic members have spoken out on the situation. Of concern is the fact that the surcharge was added to bookings retroactively (a tactic U.S. cruise lines attempted but were forced to rescind) -- not to mention that at £19, the fee is truly exorbitant and by far the highest in the industry.

Here's what else people are saying:

"Yes, I love to cruise," Morgsmom says. "Probably too much, if there can be such a thing. But I can't compromise other things in order to do so and there will be a point when the 'affordable' cruises are just no longer affordable. If I had a £19 daily fuel surcharge, I'd be in a position to have to cancel that cruise too."

"The cruise industry may soon learn that many cruisers, like [me], will no longer book cruises in advance like we used to," posts MMDown Under.

"I would rather do the cruise in a lesser cabin which let's face it, is only basically used to sleep in, than [lose] £900 on a principal thanks to a fuel surcharge," says Philipahain. "Like it or not oil prices have gone sky high."

"I know of many who have cruised with Voyages of Discovery for many years and who have made the decision to go elsewhere in the future," says Goldryder. "Travel agents are equally peeved at the lack of assistance and the lack of honesty and openness by Voyages of Discovery. Personally I expected better of a company whose cruises are not exactly cheap to begin with."

We have contacted Voyages of Discovery several times to inquire as to why the line's executives chose to implement such a hefty charge, regardless of booking date. At press time, we have not received a response. We'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, there is a bit of good if ironic news for its customers: The line is currently offering a no-surcharge guarantee on summer 2009 bookings.

--by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor