Attorney General Bob Butterworth News Release
February 5, 1997
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
Cruiseship Lines Agree To Change Advertising Policies
TALLAHASSEE -- Six cruise ship lines operating out of Florida ports will pay a total of $295,500 and revise their advertising policies to settle allegations that they misled consumers about cruise costs, Attorney General Bob Butterworth announced today.
The companies entering separate agreements with the state include Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Norwegian Cruise Line Limited, Celebrity Cruises Inc., Dolphin Cruise Line and Majesty Cruise Line.
Butterworth accused the lines of charging consumers more for so-called "port charges" than necessary to cover actual dockage costs and keeping the difference. Port charges as defined by the cruise lines can equal nearly 30 percent of the price of the cruise itself.
"Port charges should only reflect the fees cruise ships actually pay for use of port facilities and services," Butterworth said. "The companies have included such things in port charges as their own operating expenses for fuel, fresh water and wages. The consumer winds up paying the cruise line more than the advertised price of the cruise, and that is inherently deceptive."
Under the agreements, the cruise lines can no longer charge customers any fees in addition to the advertised initial ticket price except those fees actually passed on by the company to a governmental agency.
Approximately 2 million people take cruises out of Florida ports each year, Butterworth said. The six cruise ship lines entering agreements with the state represent more than 60 percent of that market.
The attorney general said negotiations with other cruise ship lines over the port charge issue are continuing and his goal is the establishment of a uniform, industry-wide advertising policy.
The agreement was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Jack Norris and Todd Stone, Special Counsel Phil Shailer and Investigator Terrence O'Loughlin.