Wednesday, August 8, 2007

From the toll-free cruising department:

The Panama Canal recently changed the way they calculate the toll for cruise ships. They used to calculate it the same way as they did for cargo vessels, but now they charge on a per berth basis, which has caused a tremendous increase in the toll for most cruise ships. Since it's a legitimate tax or port fee, a cruise line would be justified in passing it on to passengers, as cruise lines have for years when faced in similar situations.

Disney Magic will be going to California next summer and will have a Panama Canal repositioning cruise going and one coming back. The Orlando Sentinel said in an article today that Disney had advised passengers booked on the two cruises of the new fee they were expect to pay, which would amount to $100 per person. Passengers were outraged and let Disney know.

Surprisingly, Disney backed down and is absorbing the toll to the tune of a half million dollars. Disney told CND today that not only are they not charging previously-booked passengers, but neither are they charging the fee on new bookings. They told us they were doing it in the interest of customer service because their customers were so upset by it.

So passengers are getting by without paying $100 that, by industry norms, they should pay. Of course, what Disney never mentioned was the price of soft drinks on those sailings may rise to $10 a can.

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