You save for months to pay for the cruise of a lifetime. You phone in your credit card payment and pay for the cruise. After you pay, the cruise line says that you owe 37% more on top of what you have already paid. You gasp out loud and can't believe how they could make such a demand for more money!
Obviously, it doesn't happen the way described above. But the reality of cruising is that the average passenger will spend another 37% of the ticket price on board the ship. For those not prepared for this type of expense, they may have a shocker on the last day of the cruise when they get the bill for 37% more.
Cruise lines actually rely on this extra income to make a profit. Without it, the cruise line would actually lose money on each cruise. So, from a business standpoint, the more money you spend on board, the healthier the bottom line is for the ship and the cruise line. With that motivation in mind, it is no wonder that on many ships you are enticed to spend more money on board. For example, as soon as you walk on the ship, they will start handing you flyers to spend money in the spa. You will also see tables set up, with crew members selling soda and drink packages. You will hear announcements about art auctions and bingo games. While enjoying your dinner in the dining room the ship photographer will accost your group while you are trying to eat your meal to take pictures that they then will try to get you to buy later on in the photo gallery. They will also take your picture when you board, they will take your picture when you disembark at each port, almost blocking the gangway and forcing you to pose with a pirate or dolphin.
As you stroll the main deck you will walk right through the casino with the slot machines calling out your name, tempting you, by promising you a big win. In your cabin there will be flyers for shore excursions and spa treatments and gift shop sales. On board there will be specialty restaurants, where if you spend just a little bit more money you will be treated to a much “better” dining experience.
At the end of the cruise the average passenger has spent 17% more money in the casino and bar, 6% more just for the tips, 6% more for shore excursions, 3% for spa services and 5% more for other things on board. That is the average. Some passengers spend less than that, and others spend much more than that.
Frankly, I have no problem with the cruise lines trying to increase revenues by offering more services on board. After all, they are in the business to make money.
It is important for cruise passengers to know this before boarding. Be prepared for all these extras and develop a plan on how much you are willing to spend on board. Know your budget and what you are capable of spending so you won’t regret it when the vacation is over.
Steve Millay, ACC
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