Cruise Fares to Rocket as Two More Lines Add Fuel Surcharges

January 25, 2011
cruise-ship-fuel-surcharges (1:15 p.m. EST) -- Two U.K. cruise lines have said this week that they will impose daily fuel supplements on their passengers, adding from £100 per person upward to the cost of a two-week cruise. All Leisure Group, which includes the ships of Voyages of Discovery, Swan Hellenic and Hebridean, announced earlier this week that it would pass some of the burden of rising fuel costs to its passengers. And today, Cruise & Maritime Voyages issued a statement saying it, too, will be bumping up the cost of cruising with fuel supplements. Three other lines, P&O Cruises, Cunard and Fred. Olsen Cruises, have already started to pass on higher fuel costs to their passengers in recent months. Here's the situation so far: According to a statement released today by Cruise & Maritime, the line has "reluctantly taken the decision to impose a fuel supplement of £4 per passenger per day with a maximum supplement of £100 per person for all new bookings taken effective from Tuesday, February 1, 2011." We don't know how much the All Leisure surcharge will be, but the company's annual report, published this week, stated: "The sterling cost of Brent crude oil . . . is close to the highs of the last few years and as a result we will be introducing a new booking fuel supplement for passengers travelling from this summer which will help mitigate some of this cost increase." P&O Cruises and Cunard both introduced fuel supplements last year for bookings made after December 31. Each line charges £4 per person per day, with a cap of £150 per person. Fred. Olsen has gone a step further, introducing a fuel supplement as a percentage of the cruise fare (5.5 percent) after discounts, rather than a flat rate, with no cap. That means the extra fuel cost on a world cruise could rocket to more than £500 – and the more you pay for the cruise, the more you pay for the supplement, despite the fact that all passengers presumably account for the same amount of fuel. We're still waiting to hear from Thomson Cruises as to whether its policy on fuel surcharges (there are currently none) will change. So what to make of all this? Well, fuel supplements come and go for U.K. cruisers as oil prices fluctuate. They're not usually applied on bookings already made and in the past have been scrapped when oil prices fall. They are, unsurprisingly, universally hated, and cruise lines don't like imposing them, either. The All Leisure Group report admitted that the impending fuel surcharges were imposed "despite the fact that our passengers are still experiencing all time low levels of interest on their savings." Can they be avoided? One line, Saga Cruises, promises never to add fuel surcharges. "All companies hedge their fuel purchases and should be able to price their products based on this," a spokesman told Cruise Critic. --by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor