Carnival Imposes Fuel Surcharge

Carnival Corp. is assessing a $5  per day per passenger fuel surcharge on all its North American cruise ships after Feb. 1, 2008.

This applies to all the company’s cruise lines: Carnival, Costa, Cunard, Holland America, Princess and Seabourn.

It’s personal for the husband and me. We have a booking on a 12-day Carnival cruise next September. So that will cost us $120.

Carnival calls the fee a "fuel supplement," a phrase that suggests to me that Carnival wants to give me some extra fuel. Let us call it what it is – a surcharge. Anyway, Carnival says it needs the cash. Quoth the press release:

… the recent spike in fuel prices has dramatically impacted the company’s
operating costs, thus necessitating the supplement. The price the company
pays for fuel has increased 140 percent over the last three years, with a
50 percent increase occurring in just the last seven months.

This isn’t the kind of move likely to make passengers happy. We all like to feel that when we make a deal to buy something, the other party is going to honor the price. But the economic pressure is real, and the fine print clearly allows Carnival to do it.

We could cancel our reservation – there’s still plenty of time for us to back out with a refund. But we won’t. This cruise, a one-way to Hawaii, has been long-planned and was carefully selected.

I think this one calls for a big sigh and an "Oh, well."


11 thoughts on “Carnival Imposes Fuel Surcharge

  1. UnHappy Cruiser

    I would not have been upset if they added a fuel surcharge at the time of my booking, but I booked my cruise over a year ago and we agreed to a price at that time. My cruise was paid in full two weeks ago and then I receive an invoice for another $100.36. I was told that your cruise is not paid in full until the day you sail because they can impose these “other” charges at any time until then and after your cancellation period you will not receive a full refund if you refuse to pay! I wonder if they were going to refund me $100 if oil hit record lows instead of record highs.

  2. Joe C

    Here is an exchange between myself and the office of the President of Carnival…..did not help much–read from bottom to top
    From: White, Mitzi (CCL) []
    Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2007 9:54 AM
    To: Subject: RE: Concern on fuel Surcharge from a client perspective
    Dear Mr. C,
    I appreciate your taking time to express your feeling and I apologize for making you and your family upset. I understand how you
    must feel and I wish we were in a different position so that this action would not be necessary.
    I would like to let you know that there is an internal policy that if the price of oil falls below a certain point and is sustained for 30 day
    period, we will gladly remove the additional cost. Naturally, I hope you do not make the decision to cancel your cruise vacation and
    further hope that you can reflect on all the positive experiences with us that have led you to be one of our loyal Carnival guests.
    Most importantly, I thank you again for valued opinion and your understanding.
    Mitzi White
    Director – Reservation Sales
    Carnival Cruise Lines
    From: Joe C]
    Sent: Monday, November 12, 2007 6:32 PM
    To: White, Mitzi (CCL)
    Cc: Home
    Subject: RE: Concern on fuel Surcharge from a client perspective
    Dear Mitzi,
    I understand…but as stated below
    “Once again….I have no problem on the price increase….I just know that I could not go back to my customers 2 weeks after they purchased something and let them know that they would have to pay more for it.”
    In my opinion…this is the mistake…charging me when I make the reservation is one thing. Coming back to me after the fact….that is an issue.
    It will make me look at other options given I am not in a period when I will be charged cancellation fees.
    We love Carnival…but it leaves a bad taste in our mouths….Do I really want to spend the next 4 months “thinking” about how this makes me feel??? My vacation should be an all around positive experience…not one that makes me uncomfortable even before I step foot on the ship.
    Just one persons opinion.
    Joe C
    From: White, Mitzi (CCL) []
    Sent: Monday, November 12, 2007 1:14 PM
    To: Subject: FW: Concern on fuel Surcharge from a client perspective
    Importance: High
    Dear Mr. C,
    Mr.. Dickinson has forwarded your letter to me for response. I thank you for the opportunity to respond to your comments
    regarding the implementation of the fuel supplement specifically to deposited and fully paid bookings.
    Implementing this fuel supplement was a difficult decision but we felt it was necessary based on the significant fuel cost increases
    for the cruises that will operate on, or after February 1, 2008. Unfortunately, the price we pay for fuel has increased by
    140% over the past three years and 50% in the past seven months. This increase has had a huge impact on our operating
    costs and we unfortunately, cannot continue to shoulder this huge cost burden and now has find it necessary to implement a
    supplement to partially offset a portion of the soaring fuel costs. It was decided to charge all guests sailing on the affected cruises
    since we thought it would be a better decision to have a lower supplement for all our guests versus double the supplement
    for just part of our guests.
    Mr. C, we are very hopeful that you will understand our position given the severity of this situation with the fuel costs. We
    know that this has not been a popular decision but hope that I have explained our position and made it a little clearer.
    We truly appreciate your business and hope that Carnival continues to be your first choice for your family cruise vacation.
    Mitzi White
    Director – Reservation Sales
    Carnival Cruise Lines
    From: Joe C]
    Sent: Monday, November 12, 2007 1:57 PM
    To: Dickinson, Bob (CCL)
    Subject: Concern on fuel Surcharge from a client perspective
    Importance: High
    Attn: President Bob Dickinson
    3655 NW 87th ave
    Miami FL 33178
    Dear Mr. Dickinson,
    I just wanted to let you know of my concern on how the Fuel Surcharge is being handled. Myself and my family have cruised with Carnival before and have always had a wonderful experience. I am also involved in business so I know that sometime there are price increases and decreases.
    My concern is that once people have booked and paid deposits for a cruise it sends a bad message to increase the price at that point. I know that you must increase prices…but in my opinion it should have been on new bookings only for 2008…not for ones that already have paid in full or have deposits against them.
    For perspective…it is like finding out you have to pay additional money for gas you already bought 2 weeks ago…at least that is how it felt to me. We booked and paid our deposit 2 weeks ago only to receive an email from our Travel Agent letting us know that we would be hit with the additional charges.
    I am not sure anything can be done at this point, but felt you should know how it comes across….I also noted that this is a big topic of discussion on the cruise blogs etc. where people discuss cruise companies and Deals.(Google “Carnival Fuel Surcharge” and you will see the hits)
    Once again….I have no problem on the price increase….I just know that I could not go back to my customers 2 weeks after they purchased something and let them know that they would have to pay more for it.
    Thank you for your time
    JOE C

  3. Not Happy Either

    There is a way to get even… I think you should still tip the people on the cruise that provide a service… but Carnival makes a lot of money by selling photographs to their passengers. Each photo cost about $20… just don’t purchase any of the Carnival photographs… then at the end of your cruise, fill out a comment card and tell them you offset the fuel surcharge by not purchasing any photos…. Tell all your friends to do the same thing.

  4. Carnival - Never Again

    The price of oranges has gone up several hundred percent. Will Carnival be imposing an “orange juice surcharge” before we sail? Retroactive price increases after booking are outrageous.

  5. Joe

    The Florida Attorney General reached a settlement with Carnival and several other lines back in 1997, in which the cruise lines pledged that they would not impose “any” charge on customers above and beyond the base fare which was not a tax or remitted to the government. I would suggest that you file a complaint with the Florida AG. There is an input form on the Florida AG’s website. The more complaints they receive, the more likely they are to do something about it.

  6. jaxon

    As you all know, the other lines have followed. I do not know what Carnival’s contract language is, but I do know what RCI’s is, and it states that there will be no price increase after deposit except for taxes, and other government fees. What they did in imposing the fuel surcharge on deposited customers is breach of contract. IN 1997, many of the lines (was Carnival included?) were a part of a negotiated settlement dealing with port charges. As part of that settlement they were prohibited from collecting more money than the intitial price except for government fees. That language is the language of the RCI contract. If I were a Carnival customer, I would be checking the Attorney General of Florida’s site to see if Carnival was part of the settlement.
    The cruise lines can change their contract language (which they have) going forward, but not retroactively.
    Many of us who were under deposit at the time of the announcement, and subject to the surcharge, are submitting complaints to the Fl Atty General, as well as our state AG.

  7. Parker

    To Joe (C):
    I feel exactly the same as you regarding the fuel surcharge. I have never bought an airline ticket, then had the airline turn around and tell me that I had to pay a NEW, additional fee before I could actually receive the service for which I had already contractually paid. A possible problem that I noticed in your emails however, is that that you emailed “Mr. Dickinson.” I’m not sure if anyone replied to that email, but I did find that Micky Arison is now listed and the Chairman and CEO of Carnival Corporation (CCL) per–ID__11803–/free-co-factsheet.xhtml . I doubt that anyone will convince them change their minds on reservations which were made before the decision of the new surcharge and the fact that they changed their “Conditions of Contract” after adding these additional charges, but please let me know if you get anywhere.
    Thank you,

  8. Bob

    Good ideas, but also refuse to buy any photos, shore excursions, gambling, or shopping on ship! This will also hit Carnival where it counts; in their pockets!
    They’ll think twice next time before trying to extort more money from previously booked passengers/clients. Shame on You Carnival, Costa, Cunard, Holland America, and Princess!!!

  9. chuck marrally

    I`m a 68yr.old senior retired citizen,
    I have cruised CCL 15 times in the past 6 yrs.
    I am not rich i just had the good sense to work as many as three jobs stay home and pay of my house,cars ect.I live on social security
    and not much more,through-out these years i have sent CCL many friends to them instead of RCCL.
    Now not only do they want to due a fuel charge but as a single supplement traveler they now are going to charge me DOUBLE PORT
    CHARGES TOO! Is that a slap on the face or what? So what has now happened to me and many others is my cruising days are over,
    what a shame.
    Sincerely Yours,
    Chuck Marrally

  10. Paul

    I too am upset with the fuel surcharge. I booked in April ’07 for a cruise in March, ’08. I paid my deposit in May ’07. Nothing on my contractual statement of account indicates a right to increase the agreed amount for a fuel surcharge. I checked the Carnival brochure and sure enough there is a clause IN THE BROCHURE but NOT ON THE BOOKING STATEMENT. I’m not an attorney but I used to teach busines law and I do remember the PAROL EVIDENCE RULE. It states that neither party may bring in other evidence or provisions to dispute or change the original written agreement. So since my WRITTEN booking statement says absolutely nothing about fuel surcharges or contingencies (like were mentioned in their brochure) they need to back off on guests who booked and paid a deposit prior to their latest attempt at extortion.

  11. Raj

    I went to Attorney General’s Office of Florida’s website and posted my complain. The website is
    I also filled a complain with Better Business Bureau
    I recommend all to file their complain. Carinival can charge the fule surcharge to new bookings and I can understand that. But they should not charge extra to existing bookings.
    Lets raise our voice.


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