Cunard and Princess will skip Melbourne calls because of fee increase

Princess Cruises and Cunard will boycott Melbourne, Australia, and visit other nearby ports in 2025 in reaction to the port authority’s decision to hike the port fee next year.

The port will increase the fee to $32 per passenger, up from $28.50, according to the Australian Associated Press. The increased fee goes into effect on Jan. 1. 

“We cannot continue to plan voyages to Melbourne should unexpected and substantial increases be imposed by port operators. These sorts of steep price raises with very little notice are not something that any business can wear, let alone a business that is still at such a fragile point of recovery,” said Teresa Lloyd, chief strategy officer for Carnival Australia.

She said Princess and Cunard are open to working with Ports Victoria and the Victorian government to find a “long-term solution together,” according to Sky News in Australia.

Government authorities defended the Port of Melbourne’s decision and argued the last port fee increase was more than two and a half years ago and the cruise industry is booming.

“Let’s get a little bit of perspective here. This is a highly profitable industry that has not had any increases in two and a half years. People are coming back. The cruise shipping industry has never been healthier,” said Victorian Ports Minister Mel Horne, adding that the pier needs maintenance.  

Travel Weekly has sought comment from Carnival Corp., parent of Cunard and Princess. 

A range of cruise lines regularly call or homeport in Melbourne, including Virgin Voyages, Viking and P&O Cruises. Disney Cruise Line began sailing from Australia for the first time in October with departures from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, along with Auckland, New Zealand. 

Melbourne is not alone in imposing increased fees on short notice. The Bahamas sought in June to raise fees in July, but ultimately delayed some of the fee increases until January 2024 after pushback from cruise lines.

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