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stuart71

Booking USA or Australian Website

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Why do you get charged a premium to book the same cruise on the Australian website versus the US website on Royal Caribbean.

Using a 4 night Bahamas Cruise on Independence of the Seas as an example.  July 16th 2020 2 x Rooms, 1 x Interior cabin mid deck 9 and 1 x Balcony mid deck 8

Total Cost US$2880 -  AUS$4563 

Based on an exchange rate of 60 cents (As of COB today 1$A = US$0.6811Cents Reserve Bank of Australia) the US price converts to A$4032.  Well over 10% penalty.

This has been the same for the last few weeks.

Can anyone explain the the variation?

 

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Is it something to do with gratuities? I've read on these board that in Australia they are included as part of the cruise fare.

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I normally see equivalent price on RCCL European and US sites, however gratitude and maybe some taxes and fees are not included in the published web price at the US site while included in EU prices - probably the same for AU site.

At the end you’ll pays the same price.

Edited by hallasm

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It's been the case for almost all cruises, almost all cruise lines, for a whole lot longer than the past few weeks.

 

In part it is to do with inclusions in the cruise fare which are charged as add-ons in the USA. 

Port fees for instance.

 

And grammatically-incorrect daily "gratuities"as per Pyrate's post, which are included in many (all?) Aus fares.

Aus doesn't have a tipping culture and a high proportion of Aus cruisers used to remove this "optional" charge.

In comparison, America has perhaps the world's most extreme tipping culture, and only a very tiny proportion of American cheapstakes remove or reduce the charge. (Because of the different tipping cultures I use he word "cheapskate" only for those Americans & not for Aussies). Because those gratuities are removable by the passenger on most cruise ships, the cruise lines incorporate them into Aus and many Brit fares.

Costa is perhaps the only cruise line which makes those "gratuities" compulsory - in the UK at least, this is disclosed alongside the price as required under UK law.

 

But I think a more significant factor is the protections afforded by Australian laws to those who book in Aus.

Ditto the protections afforded by UK and EU laws.

Check the terms & conditions on cruise lines'  Aus websites and - if your computer will do it -  those terms and conditions on their US websites.

There are big differences - for instance under the US terms & conditions the cruise line's ability to skip ports and switch itineraries at will, or to cancel the cruise entirely without recompense other than refund of payments if, for instance, an organisation came along at the last minute & wanted to charter the entire ship.

Those US terms & conditions are heavily loaded in favour of the cruise lines, In Aus / UK / EU many of those terms are illegal.

The cruise lines of course need their fares to reflect those added protections

 

But that's not the entire reason for the higher fares charged to Aus bookings, which are often higher even than those charged to Brit or European bookings.

It's possible that it's a way of protecting their local cruise agents.

But it's more likely that they charge a much higher fare simply because they can. :classic_angry:

 

Years back we used to book through US agents and got those lower US fares - and the US rights to cancel without penalty before "final payment day". 

Nowadays we're retired and in a position to book last-minute cruises at last-minute prices thro UK agents.

 

You can choose to book through a US agent. 

Simply find a couple of well-reviewed agents (naming agents isn't permitted on Cruise Critic so you'll get no help on this website), and e-mail them. Include your phone number, modern technology makes international calls inexpensive and they'll usually respond by phone.

In recent years some cruise lines have banned US agents from accepting bookings from folk who are not North American residents, but in that case you can use the North American address of any friends or relatives or some agents will use their own address.

But if you choose to use a US agent, pay only by credit card - there are no organisations like Britain's ABTA which will recompense you if that US agent goes belly-up or runs off to a south sea island with your money.

And your booking will be subject to those US terms & conditions.

Also be aware that you'll be paying in US dollars, so between the time that you book & the time that you pay in full you'll be at the mercy of fluctuations in foreign exchange rates - you might gain, you might lose.

 

JB :classic_smile: 

 

 

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3 hours ago, John Bull said:

....... Also be aware that you'll be paying in US dollars, so between the time that you book & the time that you pay in full you'll be at the mercy of fluctuations in foreign exchange rates - you might gain, you might lose.

 

JB :classic_smile: 

 

 

And worth a mention is that OP's original post cited the wholesale bank conversion value of AUS-USD. Like with hotels and other third parties, what exchange rate you actually pay to the cruise line may have a few percentage points handling/profit built-in to the price.

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I believe that it has more to do with what 'the traffic will bear' than anything else.  Last time we booked an Australia/NZ cruise we saved just over 30 percent by calling the RCI office in Sydney vs the best price that our NA on line TA was offering.  Adjusted for currency of course.   RCI Australia were aware of our country of residence since they brought up our details from past cruises.  DW did exactly the same by booking her Baltic cruise with a UK agency.  Last month we booked five nights at a seaside hotel in Cyprus on a UK site.   About 40 percent less that we could find from the usual NA booking sites.   Had the same experience booking Aerolineas flights to Iguazu-saved about 30 percent by calling the Aeroplineas call center in BA vs buying on line.  It took all of 10 minutes.

 

When we shop for travel we always shop the international sites.  It is not often that the NA cruise price is less but it does happen.  But, we have enjoyed considerable price differences by booking hotels, air, and tours on out of country sites.  Now we do this as standard practice when we are shopping for overseas travel products.

 

We use a credit card that does not charge an admin fee for currency exchange.  We end up paying the Visa rate of about .35% over the prevailing market rate at time of settlement.   Our other credit cards would otherwise add 2.5 percent to this rate.

Edited by iancal

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