Starting on July 1, 2024, cruise lines are making a big change to how prices for cruises are advertised in the U.S.

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On July 1, 2024, a new consumer protection law will go into effect in California that will require companies to include taxes and fees in advertised prices. This law will mainly affect mainstream cruise lines as many of the luxury lines already do this.

Currently, cruises are advertised as just the base rate, but the total cost of the cruise is much higher.

Right now on Carnival Cruise Line’s website, cruises are advertised as low as $169 per person ($338 for two), based on double occupancy.

However, the $169 cruise comes to a total of $618 ($309 per person) at checkout after mandatory taxes, fees, and port expenses are added in.

Screenshot from Carnival Cruise Line’s website showing the breakdown of pricing for the $169 per person cruise.

On July 1, this cruise will be advertised as $309 per person, instead of $169.  The total price of the cruise will remain the same, but the advertised price will now include taxes/port fees etc.

While the law only applies to consumers in California, cruise lines will price all cruises this way in the U.S. to avoid confusion and to make sure they are in full compliance with the law.

Princess Cruises sent out the following statement in April to travel agents about this upcoming change:

“This will provide guests with the clear total price upfront for the cruise selected. Please understand this is only a change in the way the cruise prices are advertised but does not impact the total price consumers pay today or the portion of the cruise fare that is commissionable to travel advisors.”

MSC Cruises sent out a similar statement saying that the total price of cruises will remain the same and the change will not affect an agent’s commission.

MSC Cruises also announced that they will price all cruises this way in the U.S. starting on June 26, 2024, a few days ahead of the deadline.

The advertised prices will only include mandatory fees/taxes and not items like gratuities etc.

Airlines used to also exclude fees for flights in advertised prices until January 2012. That is when the U.S. Transportation Department began to require them to include taxes and mandatory fees in advertised prices.

Cruise lines now will price cruises the same way, eliminating the “bait and switch” pricing from advertising super low fares with the checkout price being higher.

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