April 1, 2008
Carnival to refund $40 million in fuel surcharges
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced that his office has reached a resolution with Carnival Corporation cruise lines over the imposition of a retroactively-imposed fuel surcharge on cruise passengers. Carnival has agreed to refund approximately $40 million to consumers nationwide who were charged the fuel surcharge after they had booked their cruises on Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and The Yachts of Seabourn.
Carnival said it will make a voluntary refund of the company's fuel supplement for applicable U.S. bookings that were made prior to November 7, 2007.
Carnival says the fuel supplement, announced November 7, 2007, was applied to all U.S. bookings for voyages departing on or after February 1, 2008, regardless of when the booking was made, for cruises on the Carnival Corporation & plc brands Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and The Yachts of Seabourn. However, this effective date allowed guests already booked at the time of the announcement the opportunity to cancel and receive a full refund.
The company will now refund the fuel supplement for those guests who were already booked at the time the supplement was announced.
Carnival says the fuel supplement remains in effect for all bookings made on or after November 7, 2007. The $5 per person per day fuel supplement applies only to the first and second guests in a stateroom and will not exceed $70 per person per voyage. Also, at the time the fuel supplement was announced, travel agents whose clients had existing reservations were offered $10 per booking in administrative compensation for notifying those clients of the supplement. Those travel agents will still receive the $10 per booking.
"I commend Carnival and its cruise lines for taking the necessary steps to ensure that this matter is resolved in their passengers' best interest," said Attorney General McCollum. "I appreciate this company's commitment toward protecting not only our citizens and our guests but also Florida's reputation as an attractive vacation destination."
The agreements were reached after the Attorney General's Economic Crimes Division received several hundred complaints from around the country about the entire cruise line industry because cruise lines were retroactively charging a fuel supplement charge after cruises had been booked and deposits had been made by consumers. Under the agreements signed today, all consumers who were retroactively charged a fuel supplement will be refunded the full cost of the surcharge. In the future, the cruise lines must also ensure clear and conspicuous disclosure of any fuel supplement charges at the time the reservations are made, as well as in their advertisements. The agreement with Carnival and its cruise lines will affect more than 1.1 million bookings.
Carnival will contact consumers eligible for refunds and must report to the Attorney General's Office on the status of refunds within 30 days.
Earlier in the month, Attorney General McCollum announced a similar agree with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises.