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by Paul Motter
Peter Greenberg is an acknowledged expert in travel. I have been fortunate enough to travel with him on a few cruise ship inaugurals and he even mentions CruiseMates in his latest book, The Complete Travel Detective Bible.
He recently created a video for the AARP web site where he talks about the "hidden costs" of cruising and he is oddly inaccurate about many of the facts. For example, he says that just a few years ago you could go on a cruise ship and put your wallet away for a week, confident everything on board was included in the cruise fare. Now, he says, one should figure that your end-of-cruise onboard charges will likely add up to 75% of your cruise fare, to be paid separately.
He cites a number of "extras", such as tips and tours, but we have always paid for those separately at the end of a cruise. Then he notes a number of added activities on ships such as rock climbing, ice skating and wave-runner surfing, and says they are added charges. None of those activities carried an extra charge the last time I checked.
Cruising is not an all-inclusive vacation, but it is far more inclusive than most vacations. You get meals, entertainment and transportation between your cruise ports included in your cruise fare.
I am currently in Las Vegas. Talk about NON-inclusive vacations! I cannot even get coffee delivered to my room for less than $14.95 per person. Vegas has a brand new monorail to shuttle guests between hotels, but it costs $5 per person per trip (that's $20 roundtrip for a couple each time you go someplace new). The meals are excellent, but expect to pay well over $100 per couple for dinner for similar food as you get on cruise ships included in your fare. And the shows? We paid $330 for two tickets to a Cirque D' Soliel show.
Add it up for one person, one night in Vegas; $300 hotel, $15 morning coffee, $25 lunch, $10 monorail, $50 dinner, $165 show tickets = $565 for one person one day. That will easily pay for one person to cruise for a week in the Caribbean, food and entertainment included.
Peter, in reference to cruising, was talking about how the industry has changed. In truth, it hasn't changed its offerings, it has expanded them to offer optional activities, some of which carry an extra charge.
Vegas has changed, too. In the past gambling revenue supplemented most things at the hotel; food, drinks and entertainment were cheap. Not anymore. Everything in Vegas has to be a revenue stream these days, from the coffee shop to the monorail. I even heard a security guard say he might lose his job because security does not produce revenue. I don't have any proof, but it also seems to me I see a lot fewer winners in Vegas than in the past.
Vegas is an exciting city, no doubt, but it is not an inexpensive vacation. There are plenty of good reasons why most people only spend a few days here.