These Major Cruise Lines' Prices Are About To Be A Lot Less Confusing And Secretive

From the Caribbean's best private island voyages to weeklong explorations of Hawaii, many people look to cruises for good value when planning their vacations. But trying to find the total cost of a cruise can be a lesson in futility. Until now. If you live in California or plan to cruise with certain cruise lines, new legislation is making it illegal to advertise rates that don't include the fees that are typically buried in the fine print. Thanks to the "Honest Pricing Law," which goes into effect on July 1, 2024, consumers will have better transparency when shopping for cruises.


The new California law requires all companies who provide a service to include all the taxes and fees the customer will incur. In the case of cruise lines, this law will affect all the major cruise lines that do business in California. In response, some of the most notable names in the industry, such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Celebrity, and Princess, are all implementing new pricing practices to accommodate the regulations.

The old and the new of cruise pricing

In the past, shopping for a cruise has been a web of partial pricing. Say you find an advertised price under $500. Excited, you follow the link and dig into the itinerary while simultaneously evaluating the best luggage solution for maximizing space in a tiny cruise ship cabin. After finally making some decisions, you add it to your cart, only to find the price jumps significantly. Scouring the details, you find port fees and taxes have been added on.


While all cruise lines provide this information somewhere along the way, the approach of listing a bare-bones price is almost click-bait. It creates more work for the guest, who has to track down the total cost through each provider in order to accurately compare them. The Honest Pricing Law changes that, with the requirement that every cruise line includes taxes and fees in the advertised price. For the most part, this means you will pay that price. But, there are some caveats to be aware of.

The ins and outs of the new Honest Pricing Law

The most important thing to note about this new law is that it is a California state requirement. That means that it doesn't have to apply to all cruise lines, or even to all cruises within the same cruise line. Each company can decide how they will deal with California's requirements. For example, Royal Caribbean Group (which also includes Celebrity Cruises) and Carnival have already announced they will include the fees in all pricing for all cruises in order to stay consistent with the changes in California. Other cruise companies, however, may only include the fees for the California region, but continue to exclude them in other areas.


Cruisers should also note that there are other add-on fees that are not included in the Honest Pricing Law. For example, excursions and gratuities will be separate. Customers will also still have to decide whether buying a drink package is worth the additional expense. Overall, travelers will still have to do their due diligence; however, for many, the Honest Pricing Law is simplifying the cruise-buying process. That's great news, and now that you're on the right track with your cruise pricing, you should also be aware of other major factors, like what happens if your cruise ship leaves port without you.