Have you seen it? There has been a subtle shift in the cruise lines lately: changes in dining options, changes in drink options, etc. While the cruise lines have always been notorious for developing the latest and greatest kitsch—surfing, boxing, bowling, roller coasters, zip lines, etc., they have also been equally notorious for nickel-and-diming the guests to bolster the bottom line. But is that changing?
One of the biggest selling points of land-based vacations is the all-inclusivity. Sandals, Beaches, Club Med, Iberostar, Karisma, you name them—pay one price up front and enjoy your vacation. Sure there are some personal charges—spas, purchases, side trips, etc., but at an all-inclusive resort, it is very easy to leave with a “zero dollar” bill on the last day.
Not so much with the cruise lines. I have three kids and between the sodas, the drinks, the ice cream, the premium dining, the room service, the shore excursions, the bottled water in the stateroom… I can guarantee a bill for $1000 is slipped under my cabin door at the end of the week.
Many of these ancillary fees have been rescinded over the past few months. NCL and Carnival began charging for room service. NCL is no longer charging for it. Earlier this year, Carnival launched the Cheer Program for unlimited drinks for a set fee. Some of the premium dining options on other lines have now been re-included with the base fare—reservations required, but included.
Are the cruise lines worried? I have not seen any recent data on repeatable trips for cruise versus all-inclusive, but it seems like the cruise industry may be perking up its ears to make sure it remains a relevant and marketable product. Of course, the major advantage the cruise lines have over all-inclusive product is the ability to experience many destinations in a single trip. What are your thoughts? Am I off target here? Onto something? Leave a comment!