are they on cruise line’s horizons?
Well, we’ve all seen what has been happening since last month when we recently filled up the tanks for our cars. Fuel prices are on the rise and the jump was significant. How will this reflect on the airlines, and specifically to the cruise industry. Especially given the fact that we have grown so accustomed to phrases such as, “We reserve the right to add or re-impose a fuel supplement charge when the price of light crude oil surpasses $90 a barrel”. Well, just in the off-chance that you hadn’t heard the bad news, that price came and went a good while back, with oil futures experts indicating that number will most likely continue to rise.
Mostly the cruise industry relaxed, while maintaining a watch mode on the pesky FSC’s when crude settled back down some years back to the $60 to $70 a barrel range. It’s been a nice ride for the past couple of years without them, but they’re back. At least with one cruise line at present, Cunard announced that effective February 28, 2011 that their FSC would increase from $6 to a whopping $9, per person per day which applies to 3rd and 4th passengers as well for all sailings departing on or after April 14, 2011 . This begs the question is Cunard going to remain out there on their own, or are they merely “the tip of the iceberg”? (sorry about that nasty pun)
It would seem inevitable that either the price of cruises will be going up to accommodate these rising fuel costs, or the cruise lines may choose to re-institute the Fuel Supplements Charges in the very near future. And now with the “Wave” season (the time of year when typically our highest volume of cruise bookings occur), just beginning to subside will we be seeing the return of such pricing woes once again?
As for me, I truly hope that the cruise lines will take a more managed approach to the problem of rising fuel costs. All expenses are subject to fluctuation, but the cruising public is not unintelligent about such matters. It doesn’t make one difference that you call a total rise in cruise costs by another name. Passengers understand they have to budget for it, and ultimately pay it. Again, when cruising I am much better in my mind-set and my after thoughts towards a cruise line, if all my cruise costs were given to me up front, and I was able to pay for them before I got on board. Having yet another expense added to my on board account that needs to be settled before I depart the ship, only increases the potential for “bad taste memories” to be left on my palate!!
From a professional’s point of view, we oppose these supplements for a number of reasons; first, the biggest objection is that it might have an adverse impact on those who have already booked and may have an additional cost added they hadn’t budgeted for, or just cannot afford. Also, another contentious point is that it’s a way for cruise lines to increase profits into the costs of each and every cruise passenger fare without an ability for the public or anyone else to really be able to scrutinize the actual dollars being charged, as they make it in many cases even more complicated by imposing such fees by way of an “as of the date of sailing” assessment. While it may make the fee appear more authentic, it certainly makes it even more difficult to evaluate by any means if added to your on-board account statement. To engage in such cloaked accounting practices at a time when they (cruise lines) have been continuing to increase fees, fares and charges that have been brought about from whats being sold as “accomodations and service enhancements” which have been responsible for already creating an atmosphere of increased consumer objections just appears to be a bad idea. These price increases have benefited no one but the cruise lines. Travel Agents and Cruise Planners have continued to voice our disagreement with the implementation of such fees. However the cruise lines favor such approaches while our Customers are having to pony up more and more with each passing year. We shall continue to voice our dissatisfaction at any rise in cruise fares, especially such fuel supplement charges and/or fees. However, as in most gamesmanship disagreements, the owner of the game board generally prevails.
The fare you pay consists of three items; the cruise fare, port fees, and taxes. So now what, we have to add “Other Fees” to that list? If they add a fee, such as a fuel supplement, then they will have increased the cost to cruise, which has a direct effect on the cruise price that will be paid by consumers.
Professionally speaking, I believe that if you have to raise the fares in order to meet additional costs, then do it as a part of the cruise fare and don’t just add a fee. If the cost of labor goes up, have they added a Labor Supplement? If the cost of food goes up, do they add a Food Supplement? Of course not. So if the cost of fuel goes up, why do they feel it’s appropriate to add a Fuel Supplement instead of just raising the cost of the cruise? Is it because many other forms of fuel burning business entities are doing it? Is it merely because they can do it? Or is it a way for the cruise lines to (do better than) cover their expenses, as they are making more profits, that the already solely burdened consumer is just having to accept. Or as one analyst put it, “It’s Kinda like getting unchecked profits”. Also the cruise lines are taking an attitude that the public apparently is less likely to balk at a “fuel supplement”, as opposed to the negative reaction that would be brought about as a resulting reaction to a “fare increase”. The cruise consumers are way more savy about prices than they are being given credit for. Consequently, we feel that in all ways, that the return of the Fuel Supplements is a bad business practice. If you need to raise the cruise price, then by all means do so. The cruise lines contract for fuel well in advance to be able to know better than most companies what their actual costs will be. They should just add (or subtract) whatever the additional expense will be required to cover the rise or drop in fuel prices. This way with the fees known and put into the cruise price in advance, then each of the various cruise lines will need to compete open and fairly in the marketplace amongst each other. Any type of such murky fee structures only leads to consumer doubt and mistrust issues, which should never have been brought about in the first place.
For more information on Fuel Supplement Charges and what they mean to you, contact Mike via email firstname.lastname@example.org . You can tweet (or follow) Mike at http://www.twitter.com/cruisewithmike . To “Join” our Travel Club go to http://meetup.com/Sun-Cities-Travelers-Group/ Mikes web site can be found at www.mberryhill.cruiseholidays.com . View all of Mikes uploaded Flickr Photo Galleries at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cruisewithmike/ . Mike has a twice published daily e-newspaper called “The Compass Headings” you can see (or subscribe to) it free! at http://paper.li/CruisewithMike
We would like to know how you feel about the Fuel Supplement charges. Please give us your thoughts below.
So let’s hear what you have to say.
If added, will this supplement (around $9 per person per day) affect your decision to cruise? Will it have an affect on which cruise you’ll choose, the type of cabin, or the length?
Do you feel a separate Fuel Supplement is an appropriate way to handle the cost or should it be added to the price of the cruise?
Any other comments, or viewpoints? Please share them with us.