A complaint against the prices of Royal Caribbean cruises promoted by Cruise1st.co.uk has been rejected by the advertising watchdog.
The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that promotional lead-in prices on three cruises advertised in the national press in August were not misleading.
The ASA investigated after receiving a complaint from a consumer who understood that the prices did not include a daily service charge, which was automatically added to a passenger’s on-board account.
Ruling against any further action, the ASA said: “The ad featured ‘from’ prices for three Royal Caribbean cruises and listed the departure point, trip duration, flight details, stop-off points and the board basis.
“We considered that consumers would understand that because the prices in the ad were quoted as ‘from’ prices, this would vary from the price they paid, depending on the type of room they chose. Nevertheless, consumers would expect the ‘from’ price to include all non-optional charges.
“We understood that although the daily service charge was automatically added to their on-board account, consumers were not required to pay the charge and could change or remove it at their discretion.
“Passengers were informed of the daily service charge prior to booking their holiday and they could change or remove it by contacting the guest services department.
“We understood that, based on the data provided by the advertiser, the proportion of passengers who chose not to pay the service charge was sufficient to demonstrate that the charge was optional.
“We concluded that the daily service charge was optional and the omission of the charge from the prices stated in the ad was therefore not misleading.”
Cruise1st.co.uk said customers were advised of the tipping policy of suppliers before they booked and that such gratuities were discretionary and could be changed or removed.
The agency pointed out that the Royal Caribbean website made clear that the service charge was discretionary. The website also stated that the charge could be removed by a verbal request.
Cruise1st added that a guest at a hotel would normally add a gratuity to their final bill if they were pleased with the service regardless of whether they had full board, half board, or room-only. Customers would not expect the advertised rate to include gratuities.
The firm provided data to the ASA from Royal Caribbean for two of the advertised cruises, showing the percentage of customers who opted to pay gratuities.
This demonstrated that customers were aware that it was a discretionary service charge and they were not required to pay it.
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