Fuel surcharges, de rigueur in the travel industry for years, have hit the high seas. Royal Caribbean
The surcharges have become necessary. Everyone from JetBlue
It's no big deal. As anyone who has gone on a cruise can tell you, an extra $5 a head is a pittance compared to the lavish meals, live stage shows, and onboard activities provided.
So why is this even a story? Well, Royal Caribbean isn't simply going to tack on the fee to new bookings. It is offering travel agents a $12 administrative fee to go after existing reservations with post-January sailings and collect the surcharges.
That just isn't cool. I don't care if it's an industry standard elsewhere, it's going to tick off passengers who feel they're being nickel-and-dimed even before they set foot on the ship.
Cruise travel fans know that tabs can accumulate in a hurry. Whether it's pool-deck cocktails, spa appointments, keepsake photographs, or pricey shore excursions, cruise ships aren't necessarily all-inclusive. However, some guests will now be annoyed even before the first "bon voyage."
The cruise industry doesn't need this. Leaders like Royal Caribbean, Carnival
This also can't be good for a company like Steiner Leisure
It's a shame, because this remains a growth industry. Shares of Steiner have roughly doubled since I recommended them to Motley Fool Rule Breakers subscribers three years ago. David Gardner recently recommended Royal Caribbean to Motley Fool Stock Advisor readers.
Bumping prices to offset costs is cool, but don't go after the existing bookings that have already paid their way. That is not cool, Royal Caribbean. If you insist on burning those boarding bridges, why stop there? Stop using Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" for your festive television commercials. Dig deeper into Pop's discography until you pull up "Search and Destroy."
Set sail with further Foolishness:
RCL, Disney, and JetBlue are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Steiner is a Rule Breakers pick. UPS is an Income Investor selection. Set sail into the holidays with a free 30-day trial subscription to any of our newsletters.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz feels the signature rock walls on RCL ships may not be the only barrier for the company. He has cruised with all four of the operators mentioned in the story, but only owns shares in Disney. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool's disclosure policy is a streetwalking cheetah with a heart full of napalm.