Carnival to get rid of fuel charges, raise fares

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Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise operator, said effective Oct. 31 it will eliminate fuel surcharges on new bookings for 2010 at six brands and raise fares instead.

The Miami-based cruise giant also laid out guidelines to reimburse consumers for 2008 and 2009 voyages if oil prices drop. If the price of oil is $70 a barrel or less during the 25 trading days ending five trading days prior to departure, a passenger will get a shipboard credit to refund the fuel surcharge.

The moves apply to Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and the Yachts of Seabourn.

Carnival Corp. was the first in the industry to impose the fuel surcharge last year, a move that was soon followed by its competitors.

In a statement, Bill Harber, director of marketing for Carnival Corp., said the company is moving away from fuel surcharges to reflect the recent downward trend in fuel prices. He added that Carnival may reinstate fuel surcharges if oil prices rise.

At Seabourn, the fuel surcharge is $15 a day per person for the first and second passengers, up to $210 per cruise, and $4 a day per person for the third and fourth passengers, up to $56 per cruise.

At the other five lines, the fuel surcharge is $9 a day per person for the first and second passengers, up to $126 per cruise and $4 a day per person for the third through fifth passengers, up to $56 per cruise.

The six lines operate 88 ships with 167,000 lower berths.