Friday, November 16, 2007

From the fuel surcharge department:

From our letters to the publisher, a subscriber writes:

Good Morning,

In a very succinct writing may I just say that there are many ways to play the game. If the cruise lines want to take away my on-board money with a surcharge, I just take away money that I would have spent somewhere else. There is plenty of good food to be had in a variety of venues so I will simply choose not to dine at one of the specialty restaurant's a couple of times per cruise. Other people will cut back on cabin attendant's gratuities. People really aren't dumb!

Ron Young

Hi Ron,

I believe that the fuel supplements are justified. This isn't just a way for cruise lines to extract more money from the passengers. Just watching the price of crude oil or a trip to the gas pump proves it. Costs of everything are going up because of the price of fuel, not only goods and services where fuel is a major component, such as cruises, but even any product that has to be transported to the seller, and retailers are routinely passing those increased costs on to the consumer. It doesn't make sense that cruise lines wouldn't.

Naturally everyone has to stay within their vacation budget. Those who are going to recoup the fuel supplement by reducing the cabin steward's gratuity are grossly unfair. The cabin steward had nothing to do with the price of fuel or the fuel supplement, so I see no reason to punish him, because he didn't reduce his service to the passenger.

Reducing your other onboard spending would be a valid way to contain your cost, but in the end, I think you'd really only end up punishing yourself.

When I was a travel agent, occasionally I'd have people who would be on such a tight vacation budget that after buying the minimum accommodations on the ship, they really wouldn't have much money left to spend on the trip. I sometimes had people ask me to help them select one shore excursion because they could only afford one for their entire trip. Once I remember a couple telling me that to stay within their budget they were limiting themselves to only ordering one bar drink per day.

Those were the type of people I'd try to talk out of going on the cruise. I'd suggest to them delaying the trip a year and saving a little more so they could go and spend whatever they wanted. In my opinion, they would have a much better time going once and having the freedom of being able to do whatever they wanted rather than going twice and having to be careful about every cent they spent.

In the case of the fuel supplements, on most lines, for a week's cruise it's going to cost passengers between $35 and $50 (or $70 to $100 per couple). Whatever the reason for the increase, I believe that if your vacation budget doesn't have that much flexibility in it, like the people who can only afford one drink per day, you'd be better off cancelling the cruise and rescheduling a bit later when you've saved enough that you're not going to have to restrict things you might really want to do during the cruise, such as the specialty restaurant, as you suggest.

I suspect you really have that $100 worth of flexibility in your budget, and it's really just a matter of principle. In this case, my principles wouldn't tell me to punish myself along with the cruise line.

Royal Caribbean Brands Institute Fuel Supplement

Royal Caribbean has announced a fuel supplement for all sailings beginning February 1, 2008. The surcharge, which applies only to the first and second passengers in the cabin, will be $5 per person per day, with a maximum of $70 per person.

The policy applies to their Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity and Azamara brands. (They have also instituted a similar surcharge for their Pullmantur brand in Europe.)

Any passenger currently booked who does not wish to pay the surcharge may cancel by December 7 without penalty.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

From the more Windjammer trouble department:

Windjammer Cruises has canceled three more weeks worth of cruises. Worse yet, Windjammer is being very hazy about when those people will get refunds. We understand there are also still lots of people waiting for refunds from canceled sailings even farther back. Windjammer is now also even unwilling to refund any charges for changing air fare for those who were on the canceled cruises.

In preparing today's edition of Cruise News Daily, we spoke with Sandi Copes of the Attorney General's office in Florida. She told CND that they have been contacted by 34 people regarding Windjammer. That doesn't necessarily mean 34 official complaints have been filed with them, but it is at least one step in the process. Depending on their circumstance, the individuals may go on to file full complaints.

She said that right now their office is conducting an internal review of the situation. She said that is a preliminary step to deciding whether or not to take some action against Windjammer.

Copes encouraged all consumers having a problem with Windjammer (even if they are not in Florida) to either call the Attorney General's office or register the information on their website. She said that helps them see if there is a trend, and it assists their office in deciding a course of action.

They'd like to hear from anyone who feels Windjammer hasn't dealt with them fairly, including people who have not been refunded money for canceled cruises, people who have had to resort to getting a chargeback on their credit cards, and people who are owed money for air fare to meet up with canceled cruises (especially those who may have gotten to the port before they found out the cruise was canceled).

Inside Florida, the number to call is 866-966-7226.
Outside Florida, the number is 850-414-3990.
The Attorney General also has an online complaint form.

NCL Adds Fuel Supplement

Norwegian Cruise Line has become the second of the major cruise companies to add a fuel supplement. The first and second passengers in the cabin will pay $7 per person per day, and any additional passengers will pay $3 per person per day. Unlike the Carnival program, there is no maximum charge per voyage.

The supplement will apply to all new bookings from December 1, 2007 and beyond.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Coast Guard continuing to search:

Coast Guard spokesperson Jennifer Johnson tells CND that they are continuing to search the waters north of Hollywood Beach (Florida) for the crew member missing from Sea Escape's Island Adventure.

In addition to the HH-65 Dolphin helicopter that mounted the search yesterday, a Falcon jet joined the search today. Late yesterday, a cutter and one of the Guard's smaller vessels also were on the scene assisting in the search, and they also were searching today.

At the time he may have gone overboard, the currents were going toward shore. They still remain optimistic that the man will be found.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Crew Member Believed Overboard

A crew member was reported missing this morning from Sea Escape's Island Adventure.

The man is believed to have gone overboard during last night's cruise to nowhere out of Ft. Lauderdale. The Coast Guard is searching an area due east of Hollywood (Florida) and north and toward the shore where the current models show he would likely be.

The 44-year-old man was last seen about 9:30pm during the evening cruise, which returned to Port Everglades at 12:15am this morning. Records show he did not disembark from the ship.

Sea Escape spokesperson Judy Jarvis said the man is an assistant cook and is not a US citizen. She told CND he lives aboard the vessel, as many of their crew members do, so it wouldn't be unusual for him not to disembark. She said he was discovered missing this morning about
8:30 when he didn't report for work. After thorough searches of the vessel, he was reported as missing to the Coast Guard about noon.

From Cruise News Daily Nov 13, 2007