Cruise line to raise fuel surcharges. Others to follow?

cruise fuel surchargesIt’s not just gas at the pump rising in price, cruise lines too are paying more for fuel and some are passing along the cost to passengers.

Cunard Line, already charging a fuel surcharge since last May, today announced an increase from $3.85 to $6.00 per person per day on new bookings made on or after December 31, 2010. The supplement is capped at $200 per person on longer voyages and includes all guests traveling.

Cruise lines have resisted adding back on the unpopular fuel surcharge even though fuel prices have exceeded the threshold they commonly notify guests it would take to resume the fee. Fuel surcharges started in 2007 when oil went above $100 per barrel but were removed in late 2008 after pricing went down below $70.

The current price of a barrel of crude oil is about $90.

Other signs point to seeing more of cruise line fuel surcharges too. Earlier this month, British Airways raised their fuel surcharge for the first time since 2008 on long-haul flights by 10 pounds (about $16) each way.

Still, the cruise industry does not want to add the fee back. When speaking of fuel surcharges earlier this month, Carnival Corp Vice Chairman and COO Howard Frank told USA Today, “I don’t see that in the cards … not based on where we see fuel for this year.”

Photo courtesy Cunard Line

Women gaining (a little) ground as cruise ship captains

women cruise ship captainsShe’s not the first lady captain of a cruise ship, but when Inger Klein Olsen (pictured) takes the helm of Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria on December 15, she’ll join a small group of women in a male-dominated occupation.

“While we are far from being the first shipping company to have a female captain, it is nonetheless noteworthy when such a long-established British institution as Cunard makes a break with its captaincy tradition,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line.

43 year-old Captain Olsen joined Cunard in 1997 as First Officer on board the line’s Caronia and was then transferred to the Seabourn fleet in 2001, sailing on the Seabourn Sun and Seabourn Spirit before being promoted to Staff Captain on the Seabourn Pride in 2003.

Female cruise ship captains are few and far between.

The worlds very first female captain of a major cruise line ship was Karin Stahre-Janson back in 2007 on Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas. Since that time, few other women have been named master of the vessel on a number of lines.

Earlier this year, Sarah Breton became the first female captain of a UK-based P&O Cruises ship in the company’s 173 year history.

“But as Mark Twain drily observed, ‘the folks at Cunard wouldn’t appoint Noah himself as captain until he had worked his way up through the ranks.’ Inger has certainly done that,” Shanks continued, “and we are delighted to welcome her as our first woman driver.”

Photo courtesy Cunard Line

Cruise lines focus on the arts

cruise line artsIt’s often a little-noticed detail on board today’s cruise liners: the artwork that adorns everything from stateroom walls to stairways. While passengers do everything from climb a rock wall to just enjoy a day at sea with a good book, all around them is art that has been carefully selected to create a theme or set the mood of a ship.

New Allure of the Seas stirs up quite the buzz on everything from the ship’s sheer size to the tiny details that go into much of what they do. Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, a classic ocean liner with an elegant air, boasts the work of top-shelf artists from around the world. Carnival Cruise Line pays diligent attention to a theme for each ship that separates one from another in their fleet.

What was once simply a way to make a ship look less like a ship and more like a hotel has become a central focus of cruise lines that invest heavily in the arts.

Royal Caribbean’s new Allure of the Seas is one of those ships that has a central theme carried throughout. On Allure its all about “Wonders of our World Cultures” with artwork depicting scenes from all over the planet.

The artwork onboard Allure of the Seas, over 9800 pieces in all, has been created by artists from over twenty different countries such as Norway, Korea, Germany, South Africa, the Netherlands, Iceland, Spain, Colombia, Thailand and the United States. The diversity in artist nationalities in itself adds to the colorful and sophisticated aspect of the curatorial vision of Wonder of our World Cultures.

With pop-artist icon Peter Max along for the ride on inaugural sailings and an on-board Britto store with works from Romero Britto, Royal Caribbean is serious about what they do with art at sea. Sister line Celebrity Cruises has a similar focus on the arts, announcing recently some new additions to onboard programming on new additions to their Solstice-class ships. On those new-builds, the line will offer hands-on instruction from experts in drawing, painting and beading, as well as the art of food with culinary-themed classes.%Gallery-109473%

Royal wedding to be shown live on cruise ships

Royal WeddingTouted as a “front-row seat” to the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton, cruise lines are jumping on board a growing world-wide obsession with the event.

To be shown live fleet-wide on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises, other lines will show the event on select ships.

P&O Cruises’ managing director Carol Marlow said: “As Britain’s favourite cruise line it is only fitting that our passengers should have a front row seat from unique locations around the globe. It will certainly be a grand celebration with almost 14,000 passengers sailing with us at this time.”

Cunard Line’s will show the entire event from start to finish the ships main showroom on their three ships. Says Cunard president Peter Shanks: “If demand for seats exceeds supply we are able to use our Planetarium and lecture room, Illuminations, which seats a further 450 passengers.”

Cruise lines have been in the wedding business for quite some time, with most devoting considerable resources to on-board wedding ceremonies. The all-inclusive nature of a cruise vacation makes weddings at sea a viable alternate choice and cruise line involvement with the royal wedding a natural fit.