Cruise Lines Required to Be More Transparent In Pricing

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California’s new “Honest Pricing Law, effective July 1, 2024, will require cruise lines to include all mandatory fees, such as taxes and port fees, in their advertised prices. The legislation aims to provide consumers with clearer and more transparent pricing, eliminating the surprise of additional costs at checkout.

The law, also known as Senate Bill 478, prohibits all businesses from advertising a price without including nearly all required fees or charges.

Cruise ship in California
Cruise ship in California (Photo Credit: canadastock)

California Attorney General Rob Bonta emphasized the importance of this transparency, stating, “Our price transparency law is about clear and honest communication with consumers, so consumers can make the financial choices that are best for them and their families.”

He added, “The law is simple: the price you see is the price you pay.”

This change will impact major cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, and Princess Cruises, which often have additional costs exceeding $100 per person.

Some cruise lines, like Disney Cruise Line and Silversea Cruises, already include these fees in their advertised prices and will not need to make adjustments.

While the law mandates the inclusion of port fees and other necessary expenses, it does not require the inclusion of optional charges like gratuities.

New Law Requires Full Disclosure of Cruise Prices, Ending Hidden Fees

Cruise lines advertising and operating in California will now need to list all-inclusive prices encompassing mandatory fees, taxes, and other expenses, including cancellation fees.

Mandatory fees include costs imposed by port authorities for using their facilities and services, often passed along to cruise passengers as port fees. These fees cover various expenses, including docking fees, pilotage fees for a local pilot to navigate the ship, security fees, wharfage fees, harbor maintenance fees, environmental fees, and customs and immigration fees for processing passengers and crew. 

Port fees can vary widely depending on the port and the services provided, but cruise lines are aware of the costs when setting cruise prices. Traditionally, port fees are listed separately from the base price of the cruise.

Cruise Ship at Port of Los Angeles
Cruise Ship at Port of Los Angeles (Photo Credit: Underawesternsky / Shutterstock)

The regulation aims to end “drip pricing,” where customers are initially attracted by a low advertised price but end up paying more due to undisclosed mandatory fees.

Royal Caribbean Group, which operates Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea Cruises, has announced it will implement California’s changes nationwide to maintain consistency and avoid confusion. This means that starting July 1, the advertised prices for all of its cruise lines across the United States will include all required taxes, fees, and port expenses. 

Royal Caribbean Group said of its decision, “We strive for simplicity and clarity in our pricing. Treating California differently than the rest of the United States could have created confusion and introduced unnecessary complexity.”

Read Also: Los Angeles Cruise Port – Terminals, Getting Around, What’s Nearby

Carnival Corporation has also confirmed similar changes for its brands, including Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, and Cunard North America. 

In an email sent to travel advisorsCarnival Corporation’s cruise lines stated, “At this time, the Carnival Cruise Line, Princess, Holland America, and Cunard North America brands have elected to include ALL the current taxes, fees, and port expenses into the advertised price. Seabourn already advertises fares this way, but the changes described for refunds and cancellation fees will apply to Seabourn as well.”

The letter explained pricing would list the cruise price, government taxes and fees, and required cruise fees and port expenses in its advertised prices.

“This will provide guests with the clear total price upfront for the cruise selected,” Carnival Corporation continued.

Cruise lines that do not comply with the new law may face fines, penalties, injunctions, and legal action.

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