Cruise Fuel Surcharges to Remain a Fixture

September 19, 2008
With the price of oil having fallen sharply, many cruise travelers are beginning to wonder whether it's time for the lines to adjust the surcharges, which have been place for nearly a year. But for now at least, according to the lines, the extra fees are here to stay.

At Carnival Corp.'s third quarter conference call, COO Howard Frank said bluntly that the surcharges would be around for some time. Carnival first added the fees, then $5 per person, per day, in November 2007. Having raised the charge twice, it now stands at $9 per person, per day, and applies to all lines under the Carnival Corp. umbrella (Carnival, Princess, Holland America, Cunard, etc.).

Likewise, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, the parent company for Azamara, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, has noted that it has no intention of removing the charges (the company awaits the day when they can "pass on the benefits of lower fuel costs onto [their] customers"), which currently stand at $10 per person, per day for Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises, and $15 per person, per day for Azamara Cruises.

The fuel surcharges were first implemented industry-wide in November 2007 in response to the rising price of oil, which at the time was trading at roughly $100 per barrel. Surcharges were increased the following spring, then again in July, when the price per barrel peaked at nearly $150.

Over the past two months, oil has steadily fallen to its current level of less than $100 per barrel -- where it was in November 2007 when the first surcharges were implemented. Still, the cruise lines have not budged.

For a line-by-line list of fuel surcharges, read our At Your Service piece.

We'll be closely following cruise line reaction to the surcharge situation. Stay tuned.

--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor