How Cruise Lines are Adapting to California’s New Honest Pricing Law

Things are about to change in California (and nationwide) for

cruise travelers budgeting for their vacations. A new price transparency bill, also known as SB 478, goes into effect on July 1, 2024.

In short, the “Honest Pricing Law” or “Hidden Fees Statute” stipulates that businesses operating in the state cannot advertise or list a price for goods or services without including all necessary fees or charges, save for select government taxes and shipping costs.

Cruise Critic breaks down what that means for cruisers looking to view and book cruise vacations after July 1, 2024.

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What the Honest Pricing Law Means for Cruisers

Ultimately, the Honest Pricing Law is better for the consumer. Currently, cruise pricing does not always display the full bottom line cost until it is itemized later in the booking process – which can lead to unintended sticker shock as taxes, port fees and surcharges are added to base fares. But that’s exactly what is set to change: listed costs will soon bundle all taxes and fees as part of the up-front price.

At least in the case of

Carnival Corporation, the company assures travelers that “fortunately, despite how our prices will now be advertised, the total price guests pay today for our cruises has not changed – guests still get the same great value and affordable prices we’ve always provided,” according to a spokesperson.

You’re not paying any more to book a cruise on July 1 versus June 30; you’re just seeing the total, all-in price for what it is.

Which Cruise Lines Will Follow the Honest Pricing Law?

Most cruise lines within the United States plan to comply with the Honest Pricing Law nationwide as of July 1.

Carnival Corp. confirmed that not only will its brands operating in California – most often

Carnival Cruise Line,

Holland America Line and

Princess Cruises – abide by the new law and thus pricing model, but they all will across the U.S.

“While this is a California state law, we are making this change nationwide to ensure our advertised pricing is consistent no matter where guests shop for our cruises,” said the spokesperson.

So come July 1, all Carnival Corporation brands operating within the United States will show a total advertised price that will include all government-mandated taxes, fees and port expenses that were previously itemized separately for the sake of consumer awareness.

MSC Cruises is in the same boat, so to speak. Beginning even earlier on June 26, 2024, the line’s total advertised cruise prices for U.S. reservations will now include taxes, fees and port expenses, according to a spokesperson.

“These costs, often government-mandated and previously itemized separately, are now seamlessly integrated into the total price, providing a simple and transparent booking experience,” the spokesperson said. “This change does not impact the overall price paid by our guests or the commissionable portion of the cruise fare earned by our trusted travel partners.”

Meanwhile, corporate cousin

Explora Journeys already includes all taxes, fees and port expenses in its total advertised cruise costs.

Royal Caribbean Group is acting similarly, according to a spokesperson, who mentioned two out of its three brands, excluding

Silversea, which infrequently visits California.

“We are updating the way we display our pricing in the U.S. beginning July 1. Guests booking with

Royal Caribbean International and

Celebrity Cruises will now see pricing that is inclusive of their selected cruise fare and all required taxes and fees.”

Royal Caribbean is also working to support its travel partners across the country ahead of the change.

Regarding Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. – which regularly operates its

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) brand from

San Pedro, just outside of Los Angeles – the company plans to apply the new pricing even farther according to a spokesperson for NCL:

“To comply with this new law and to simplify the booking experience for all our guests based in the U.S. and Canada, Norwegian Cruise Line will be incorporating applicable government taxes, fees and port expenses into our advertised pricing beginning July 1, 2024.”

The specific line adds that the cost alteration will only impact the way it displays prices and not those that guests ultimately pay to take a cruise nor the portion that is commissionable for travel partners.

“We are committed to delivering exceptional vacation experiences at every step of the cruise journey, and we hope this change will provide our guests with a more satisfying booking experience,” the spokesperson concluded.

As for

Viking, another line that only periodically makes calls in California, the brand indicates it always includes all port taxes and fees, “so our guests never discover unexpected charges,” according to a spokesperson. “We have a long history of open and honest pricing, and we do not nickel-and-dime our guests.”

The line’s Viking Inclusive Value pricing covers everything guests require and nothing they do not.

Last but not least,

Disney Cruise Line, which frequently sails from San Diego, also plans to abide by the new regulations.

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