The only silver lining from the nationwide economic crisis is that fuel prices have decreased dramatically. For cruisers, the drastic fall in fuel will save them a few more dollars on their cruise vacation. All three of the big cruise operators—Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Norwegian Cruise Line—have ended their fuel supplements, which they began instituting earlier this year as response to the then dramatic increase in fuel costs.
Here's the breakdown:
Carnival Corp. has ended its fuel supplement on its North American brands for all cruises that depart after December 17. This applies to: Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America, Princess Cruises and Seabourn. In light of the change, a refund of the fuel supplement will be made in the form of a shipboard credit for all bookings within the final payment period for departures on or after December 17. Bookings outside of the final payment period for departures on or after December 17 will be adjusted to remove the fuel supplement and guests will be provided with a revised final payment amount.
Carnival says it "reserves the right to re-instate the fuel supplement for all guests at up to $9 per person per day (except Seabourn, which would be up to $15 per person per day) should the price of light sweet crude oil according to the NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange Index) increase above $70 per barrel."
The fuel supplement for five of the six brands is currently $9 per person per day for the first and second guest (not to exceed $126 per person per voyage) and $4 per person per day for third, fourth and fifth guests (not to exceed $56 per person per voyage). Luxury line Seabourn's fuel supplement is $15 per person per day for the first and second guest (not to exceed $210 per person per voyage) and $4 per person per day for third and fourth guests (not to exceed $56 per person per voyage).
Meanwhile, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) had announced that its fuel supplement will not apply to bookings made on or after November 10 for sailings that depart on or after January 1, 2010. Now, the cruise line has announced that it is suspending its fuel supplement effective immediately for all voyages departing in 2009. Refunds will be provided through an on-board credit for all 2009 bookings within the final payment period and all 2009 bookings outside of the final payment period will be readjusted with the fuel supplement removed and final payment revised.
NCL will continue to monitor global fuel prices to determine whether the fuel supplement will be reimplemented in the future. It reserves the right to reinstate the fuel supplement if the price of light sweet crude oil according to the NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange Index) increases above $65 per barrel.
Royal Caribbean Cruises was the last of the Big Three to end its fuel supplement; it will suspend its fuel supplement for Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises on voyages, which depart on or after January 1, 2009. Similar to the other lines, Royal Caribbean said its decision was based on "the recently sustained lower price of fuel."
Effective December 8, guests making new bookings for sailings that depart on or after January 1, 2009, will not be charged the fuel supplement.
Guests who have already booked a voyage that departs on or after January 1, 2009, will receive a refund of any fuel supplement paid, as follows: Guests with existing bookings for sailings that depart on or after January 1, 2009, and who are now paid in full, will have the supplement automatically refunded to them in the form of an onboard credit during their sailing; guests with existing bookings for sailings that depart on or after January 1, 2009, and who are not yet paid in full, will have the supplement automatically removed from their outstanding balance.
Royal Caribbean says it retains the right to reinstate fuel supplement charges if the price of West Texas Intermediate fuel exceeds $65 per barrel, on the quarterly milestone dates mentioned by the company in October.
The company announced on October 24, 2008, that no fuel supplement would be charged for new bookings made on or after November 10, 2008, for sailings that depart on or after January 1, 2010, unless there is an upturn in fuel prices.