Why Your Cruise Will “Look” More Expensive on July 1 (And It’s Actually Good News!)

Starting July 1, the “price” of your cruise will likely rise considerably. But don’t be too worried. What you’ll pay in the end will stay the same, and the new pricing is actually a good thing in our opinion.

Bow of Princess cruise ship
Beginning in July, cruise lines — including Princess — will start to include taxes, fees, and port expenses in the advertised fare. The change comes following a new consumer protection law in California.

Since cruises returned from the pandemic pause, they’ve seen surging demand, including many lines seeing record bookings. As well, prices for everything from cruise fare to gratuities have also moved higher. In many ways, while still a great value, the days of dirt-cheap cruises have been put on hold… at least for the time being.

But consumers may soon get some sticker shock as the prices advertised for cruises are set to rise sharply thanks to a new law in California.

Beginning July 1, 2024, many cruise lines will move to include taxes, fees, and port expenses into the advertised cost of the fare. Traditionally, cruise lines have offered a headline fare, but then put the additional fees — which are not optional — in fine print.

So a cruise fare that may be $499 per person may actually have upwards of $200 in these extra fees that are tacked on before booking. Most people don’t see them until the full cost of the cruise is disclosed just before buying.

Now, that looks to be coming to an end. California passed Senate Bill 478 late last year. The bill aims to “specifically prohibit drip pricing, which involves advertising a price that is less than the actual price that a consumer will have to pay for a good or service.”

While the law only applies in California, it appears cruise lines are opting to simplify pricing across the nation instead of showing one set of prices for the state and another for the rest of the country.

For instance, Princess Cruises recently sent an email explaining the change:

This email from Princess explains how taxes, fees, and port expenses will now be included in the cruise fare from the start, instead of showing a headline fare and then adding on the charges later.

While we’ve seen talk of other cruise lines following suit, this is the first official announcement we’ve seen about the upcoming change. Considering Princess is part of the Carnival Corporation umbrella of cruise lines, it seems a safe bet that Carnival Cruise Line will also follow suit. It also appears Royal Caribbean and Celebrity will do the same.

Just to be completely clear, this IS NOT increasing the amount of your cruise. These port fees and taxes are simply charges that will be disclosed in the advertised price at the start, instead of being fine print and added to your fare just before buying. In our opinion, this is a much more straightforward way to buy and makes it much easier for consumers to know what they will actually pay to cruise.

One thing that won’t be included in the price? It seems that even though gratuities are automatically included when you sail, you do have the option to wait and pay them during your cruise or prepay them before. So they don’t appear to have to be included in the advertised price.

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