Just got an email indicating that Regent and Silversea intend to begin advertising their cruises without including port charges in the pricing. This is a radical departure in the way pricing has always been structured with cruiselines and other sources. Only a few fringe sites that have dubious marketing have done this in the past, kind of a "come on" price and when you call you discover the price is not really the price. If this new marketing approach is successful it will be much harder for clients to shop for cruises without digging deep to get at the real cost. I know you already have to add the tax and fuel surcharges to get a total but the port charges are significant in the rates currently shown and have historically been included in pricing by reputable agencies. This change will also affect the way other providers of cruises by these two lines show pricing in order to be competitive in what they show. I hope this does not stand the test of time and further hope that other lines don't adopt this policy.
Just my opinion but I feel its a poor way to attract calls and interest in your line to advertise pricing that is not consistent with the way the industry accepted pricing is established and offered to the public.
Every line has included port fees in the advertised pricing on their sites and has all approved agencies commit to doing the same. This is the first reputable line(s) to pull the port charges from the advertised price. It is obviously to make their cruises appear to be lower cost than other comparable lines. Oceania kind of started the hidden cost practice by hiding much of the cost of their cruise in the taxes and fees lines of their invoicing. Their cruises are advertised at a price that is said to include port charges but when you add the taxes and fees they are typically 3 times the cost of such fees on any other line. They found a way of invoicing that hides a portion of the cost of the cruise through some very creative accounting. This is the next step in that evolution of hiding the actual cost until you call to check total pricing or do a booking. It appears deceptive, at least to me, in that other lines don't hide costs or manipulate the actual taxes and fee structure and put the port charges in the advertised price. These lines did as well, but now announce that they will not from here forward.
You're right, and they don't typically question the cost they see advertised. This makes the advertised price of these two lines appear lower than a similar cruise on a competitor like Crystal or Seabourne. In the case of Oceania there rates appear lower on the surface than Azamara. Its definately a marketing thing. If folks actually compare the gross total they'll spend between the lines that put things in and those that seperate the costs for advertising purposes, who will they call first? The one that appears to be a real bargain. The problem is, this will eventually force other lines to follow suit. I'm willing to bet there will be many more announcements in the near future of lines pulling the port charges from advertised rates shown to the public. In the end, this short sighted marketing will affect the average cruise shopper. They will have no idea how to budget for the cruise they see advertised until they call on each and every cruise of interest. Port charges are not like a tax of between $40 and $70 per person on an average 7 day sailing from FL. They are not like the $5. to $9. per day, per person fuel surchagre that everyone now (we didn't have to add this in our heads until Feb. 2008) has to plan for. On a 3 or 4 day cruise, the port charges can be significantly higher than the actual cruise rate, expecially on cabins for 3 or 4 passengers where the rate is reduced for add'l pax. There will soon be no transparency in pricing, you'll have to call to see what each and every cruise actually is going to cost.
Even taking the port charges out, won't they still be about double what "main stream lines" are? What do they think they will gain by marketing this way? Everytime I get an email from one of them for "deals", I wonder why their "deals" are double Princess or even RCI charges.