Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Lines will refund fuel surcharges to customers who booked their cruises before November 16th, says the Orlando Business Journal. Passengers who have not yet sailed will receive their refund in the form of onboard credit.
“Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises are the first cruise lines to step forward and take actions to resolve this matter in their customers’ best interest,” Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said in a news release. “This resolution will serve as a model for the rest of the cruise line industry and I expect the other companies to take this example and follow suit.”
The Attorney General’s Office said the agreements were reached after the Economic Crimes Division received several hundred complaints about the entire cruise line industry, alleging cruise lines were retroactively charging a fuel supplement charge after cruises had been booked and deposits had been made by consumers.
In addition to investigating how the charges were disclosed, the Attorney General’s Office said it looked into whether the charges violated an agreement from 1997, when six cruise lines agreed to not add any fees or charges aside from the advertised fare and any government fees to keep prices easy for consumers to compare.
The new agreements allow the fuel supplement as long as the charges are disclosed in a clear and conspicuous manner in advertising and bookings.
Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises will contact consumers eligible for refunds and must report to the Attorney General’s Office on the status of refunds within 30 days.
The surcharge is still in effect for North American bookings made on or after Nov. 16 for brands including Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises.
The surcharge is effective on voyages departing on or after Feb. 1, 2008 and only applies to the first two guests in a stateroom, not to exceed $70 per person per sailing.
Adding hidden fees instead of raising prices is so shady. Boo.