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Ship port charges


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With all the extra tasks the ports seem to be doing for health protocols, especially home ports, I wonder if port charges might rise.   Maybe spread among all the passengers it wouldn't be noticeable for passed on.   But they are doing something additional with most passengers so it would seem the extra expense would need to be accounted for somewhere.   I don't know if anyone is in tune with port charges, but I think it's an interesting question.    I find the behind the scenes business interesting.

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I've generally seen many of the total port charges on sailings going up what I'd call dramatically over the last 6 months or so. Much moreso than they usually move at a time. I should try to pull out some sort of complete report on it, but just looking at some random ones among those I've booked...

 

Anthem 12/12/2021 went from $169.35 to $180.63 on 2/23/2021, then to $180.73 on 5/11/2021.

Anthem 1/31/2022 went from $162.36 to $194.37 on 2/23/2021, then to $194.47 on 5/11/2021.

Oasis 5/22/2022 went from $155.63 to $169.64 on 4/26/2021 then to $169.74 on 5/11/2021 then to $183.74 on 5/17/2021.

Enchantment 11/13/2021 went from $120.40 to $125.99 on 2/19/2021 then to $126.09 on 5/11/2021.

 

I wouldn't necessarily call it widespread, but there do seem to be some specific ports involved that have led to larger than usual increases overall. I'm not sure which ports, nor am I sure if it's the departure port vs a visited port. And there's some amount of what-the-hell going on, too. A 7-day sailing on Oasis out of NJ to Port Canaveral, CocoCay and Nassau has a $183.74 port charge? Seems outrageously high, really, for what it is.

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Probably anticipated changes to booking levels and capacity changes.

Port fees that passengers are charged have often varied week to week.  I see this on the same 3 and 4 nights cruises out of Florida for example.  Some of that I believe is due to historical knowledge of load levels.  A cruise during slower periods off peak will have fewer passengers compared to the same cruise during summer peak season for example.  Many port fees are fixed to the cruise line so they need to spread those charges over fewer numbers of guests resulting in variable port fees on passenger invoices one week to the next for the same itinerary.

Fees such as pilots, berthing fees, and longshoremen and so on are the same regardless how many passengers book the ship.  

Let's make up some numbers using nice round numbers that are way off but illustrate the math.

If port fees are $100,000 for everything lumped into "port fees" and there are 3,000 guests that's $33.33 per guest.

If port fees are $100,000 for everything lumped into "port fees" and there are 1,000 guests that's $100.00 per guest.

When a cruise line first opens a new sailing they don't know exactly how many guests will end up booking that sail date so they estimate based on historical knowledge.  If that sailing is in the summer historically the data will show they are more likely to have 100% capacity.  If the sailing is off peak like September historical data might show they can expect 80% of capacity.  Based on that historical knowledge they set port fees for every sail date in the future.

The pandemic and the restart have made a mess of past data trends.  Past trends are thrown out the window and they are left blindly trying to estimate loads in 3 months, 6 months and beyond.  As this evolves they revisit previous estimates for every sail date and revise them.  The result is what we see.

Increasing port fees probably indicates they are expecting fewer bookings and that sail date will go out below full capacity.

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There is a misconception that if a port on an itinerary is skipped at the last minute they refund the associated port fees.  

On more than one occasion they have not refunded me anything when a port was skipped due to adverse weather.  

When I inquired I was told they incorrectly estimated and therefore charged lower port fees for that sailing compared to actual so they were unable to refund any port fees. 

Other times some port fees have been refunded upon missing a port at the last minute.

The port fees we pay are estimates.   Sometimes the estimates are right, sometimes the estimates are wrong.   In the past, over time and across the fleet it averaged out.  In the past there was vast historical data trends to guide them.  Now not so much.

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9 hours ago, twangster said:

There is a misconception that if a port on an itinerary is skipped at the last minute they refund the associated port fees.  

On more than one occasion they have not refunded me anything when a port was skipped due to adverse weather.  

When I inquired I was told they incorrectly estimated and therefore charged lower port fees for that sailing compared to actual so they were unable to refund any port fees. 

Other times some port fees have been refunded upon missing a port at the last minute.

The port fees we pay are estimates.   Sometimes the estimates are right, sometimes the estimates are wrong.   In the past, over time and across the fleet it averaged out.  In the past there was vast historical data trends to guide them.  Now not so much.

What I've noticed is that the refund gets calculated based upon the port fees last charged for booking the sailing, adjusted for the port fees I was charged when I booked. So if I benefited from paying less in port charges when I booked than they charge now, my OBC refund for a missed port, if any, is smaller to account for that. I haven't experienced a huge number of missed ports, but in every single one there has been some sort of refund, and it has varied with what others received, and theis is what it appeared to be when we did some more detailed comparisons to try to figure out why amounts of refund were different.

Just anecdotal, of course.

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