Healthy Travel Tips »

Healthy Travel Tips » Stay safe on vacation

8 Ways Cruise Lines Entice You to Spend More Money

Be aware of these techniques to avoid busting your budget.

U.S. News & World Report

8 Ways Cruise Lines Entice You to Spend More Money

Cruise ships at sunset.
Credit

(Getty Images)

Learn how to dodge these all-too-common extra fees and sales pitches.

One of the top draws of cruising is all-inclusive pricing. After all, with lodging, meals, activities and entertainment covered in one upfront rate, a cruise can offer a high value. Booking an at-sea vacation can be an inexpensive proposition, but once you climb aboard it's easy to get nickel and dimed for a variety of extra charges and lured to spend more without even realizing it. To help you dodge common rip-offs and better monitor where you spend your money, U.S. News pinpointed top ways cruise lines encourage you to overspend, and how to plan a truly all-inclusive trip with minimal unexpected out-of-pocket costs.
MBA finances
Credit

(Getty Images)

They encourage you charge items to your cabin instead of pay with cash.

Want to buy something on your cruise ship? Chances are you'll never pay in cash. Major cruise lines enable you to charge expenses to your room, like many hotels and resorts. In fact, on many cruise ships passengers use their room key like a credit card. If that sounds like a convenient way to pay, you're right. Psychology studies have shown that the mentality of handing over cash and paying for purchases later on causes people to spend less than when they use cards for payment.
Next:

Learn how to dodge these all-too-common extra fees and sales pitches.

One of the top draws of cruising is all-inclusive pricing. After all, with lodging, meals, activities and entertainment covered in one upfront rate, a cruise can offer a high value. Booking an at-sea vacation can be an inexpensive proposition, but once you climb aboard it's easy to get nickel and dimed for a variety of extra charges and lured to spend more without even realizing it. To help you dodge common rip-offs and better monitor where you spend your money, U.S. News pinpointed top ways cruise lines encourage you to overspend, and how to plan a truly all-inclusive trip with minimal unexpected out-of-pocket costs.

They encourage you charge items to your cabin instead of pay with cash.

Want to buy something on your cruise ship? Chances are you'll never pay in cash. Major cruise lines enable you to charge expenses to your room, like many hotels and resorts. In fact, on many cruise ships passengers use their room key like a credit card. If that sounds like a convenient way to pay, you're right. Psychology studies have shown that the mentality of handing over cash and paying for purchases later on causes people to spend less than when they use cards for payment.

They only charge a little extra for premium dining.

Ever eat at a steakhouse for just $35 a person? What about an all-you-can-eat burger joint for under $10? On a cruise ship, not only is this possible, but it's another way they get passengers to spend more. Food in the main dining room is always included on a cruise, but there are specialty restaurants that cost extra. The cruise lines price these dining establishments so they are still a good value compared to what you'd expect at dining establishments on land. So while passengers spend more to eat at premium places on board, they still feel like they are getting a deal on their specialty meals.

They offer convenience for an additional charge.

No one goes on a cruise to wait in line. Unfortunately, between waiting to embark, waiting at guest services and waiting to tender to shore, lines are a common component of cruise life. Cruise lines know people value their time and skipping these lines. Carnival Cruise Lines' Faster to the Fun package, for example, gives you priority boarding, a dedicated Guest Services line and puts you first in line when tendering, among other perks. The upgrade is optional, but it can cost up to $80. Carnival even touts "Faster to the Fun is simply an option for those guests willing to pay extra for these benefits" on its website.

They constantly market services and products to passengers.

If you've never been on a mainstream cruise ship, you may be surprised at how much marketing you'll receive. While not overly pushy, the clever sales tactics staff members employ are a constant reminder of an opportunity to spend. From flyers left at your cabin door to shopping seminars before reaching port, the cruise lines always make sure passengers know where they can spend some dough onboard and after their trip.

They offer specials and sales at onboard shops.

From discounts on souvenirs to "drink of the day" specials to deals on spa treatments, cruise lines are masters at offering promotions to encourage passengers to open up their wallets. Each day, you're likely to find an enticing discount for a variety of items around the cruise ship. If you're looking to make an onboard purchase, it's best to wait until they are offering a reduced rate or other promotion before buying. Just by timing your purchase right, you can shave a considerable amount off of the initial price.

They offer (and price) upgrades by the day.

Prices for cabin upgrades and onboard drink packages are rarely quoted as the full cost over the course of your cruise, but they are instead broken down into the price per person, per day. So the $150 cabin upgrade for a five-day cruise is instead sold as just $15 per person, per day. This little psychology trick is designed to make it seem like you aren't spending much more, even though the total cost for upgrades and onboard drinks adds up to a steep final bill over the course of the cruise.

They make sure passengers are never far from a bar.

If it seems like there is an open bar everywhere you are on the ship, it's not your imagination. Cruise lines know that people who cruise like to have a good time, and that usually includes shopping, indulging in memorable meals and drinking alcohol. That's why they strategically place bars close to any spot where people will congregate, including the main promenade and the pool deck. If the ships make it easy and convenient to buy a drink, they know they will sell more.

They strategically place the casino.

Look at the layout of every modern ship, and you'll notice that the casino is always in the center of the boat and within one deck of the main promenade. Why not toward the front or back of the ship or on a different deck? Placing the casino near the main thoroughfare of the ship gives it the highest foot traffic possible. And just like with the location of the ship's bars, having the casino in a convenient location turns more passengers into customers, meaning more revenue for the cruise line.
1 of 9

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.