Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Avoid some fuel surcharges by booking ASAP

As we reported earlier this month, many cruise lines are adding fuel surcharges to their fares, and in the past two weeks this trend has become a wave.

The fuel surcharges vary between $5 and $12 per day, depending on the cruise line. In most cases, they apply to everyone in a cabin, though some lines are applying them only to the first two passengers in a cabin.

Some lines are also capping the surcharges at a maximum amount (such as the six lines of the Carnival Corporation -- Carnival, Holland America, Cunard, Costa, Princess, and Seabourn --which are capping the amount at $70 per passenger per voyage, applied to the first two passengers in each cabin.)

The other main variable is when the fuel surcharges start.

For some lines, it's already too late. The above-named Carnival Corporation lines will apply the surcharges for cruises departing on or after February 1, 2008, even if you've already booked and paid for them.

The three cruise lines in the Royal Caribbean family -- Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Azamara -- are also applying $5 per passenger per day surcharges to cruises leaving February 1 or after, but are letting passengers off the hook if they fully paid for the cruise by November 15 of this year.

Other lines in which it's too late to act include Cruise West (where surcharges apply to all cruises booked after November 11, though you can still complete payment until December 7); Silversea (where surcharges apply to cruises booked after November 13); and Voyages of Discovery (where surcharges apply to cruises paid for after November 19 and which depart from February 1 until late April, 2008).

However, you can still save on fuel surcharges by booking and fully paying for cruises on the following lines by Friday, November 30:

Oceania (save $7 per day per passenger for cruises departing now through at least April 2009); Norwegian (save $7 per pay per first two passengers and $3 per day for all others on sailings starting December 1); Orient (same as Norwegian); Regent Seven Seas (save $7.50 per passenger per day for 2008 cruises); MSC Cruises (save $6 a day per passenger for cruises departing on February 1, 2008, or later.

On some lines you have a little more time to save:

Majestic America and Windstar (save $8.50 per passenger per day on cruises from now through March 2009 by booking and paying by December 14, 2007); Viking River Cruises (save $7 per person per day for upcoming 2007 and 2008 cruises by booking and paying by December 18); Crystal (save $7 per person per day for 2008 cruises by paying in full by December 31, 2007).

All these surcharges can add up fast, so if you're planning to book a 2008 cruise, now may be the time.

Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

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