Carnival tests a fee-based priority service

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Carnival Cruise Lines is taking a cue from the airlines industry and is testing fees for passenger perks, such as skipping the main boarding line, on two upcoming cruises.

Carnival’s “Faster to the Fun” option, which costs $50, gives to passengers access to expedited boarding and deboarding lines, early cabin selection, express luggage delivery, priority dinner seating and fast access to guest services. Consumers who are part of the cruise line’s VIFP Club elite program receive  the same perks for no extra cost.

The $50 fee is on a per-cabin basis, so if one passenger purchases the option, all of his/her cabin mates may participate.

Carnival will introduce the pilot program on its Carnival Imagination ship on Aug. 20, 2012, and on its Carnival Liberty ship on Aug. 25, 2012. A spokesperson for Carnival says the company still is deciding whether to expand the program to additional ships.

Carnival’s program is likely the first of its kind, according to Dan Askin, who is a senior editor at CruiseCritic.com. He believes that if Carnival’s service is successful and expands to its other ships, other cruise lines could start similar programs.

– K. Fanuko