Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cruise Marketing: When Is the Price Final?

In the spirit of marketing transparency, cruise lines should clarify whether passengers will pay a fuel surcharge for cruises booked for later this year and into 2010. Some cruise lines have eliminated the surcharges, which were tacked on during the period of $100+/barrel oil. Others are leaving the door open to possible surcharges if the price of oil surges.

The most surprising surcharge policy I found was in Cunard's "New Fuel Supplement Update" (dated June 2009)--click the supplement update link at left of the page to read. Even if customers pay in full for their cruises on the Queen Mary 2 (above) or another Cunard ship, they still may be hit with a fuel surcharge if oil prices spike above $70/barrel before their cruise begins (read the fine print for more info).

Disney Cruise Line says it doesn't plan to add a surcharge for new bookings on its cruises through 2010. Also Disney may refund fuel surcharges prepaid by passengers for 2009-2010 cruises, depending on the price of oil, as explained on its website.

USA Today reported that some cruise lines are reconsidering fuel surcharges as oil prices gyrate.

How can customers make informed decisions if they don't know when the price of cruise is final?

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