Let's try a discussion with more opinions and less personal flames.
I'm in complete agreement with the article. Without the extra sales, I probably wouldn't be able to afford cruising as often as I'm planning. It would be once every few years instead of the twice a year I'm shooting for now.
As for all the advertisements on cruise ships now, they're still far, far less than opening up a magazine or listening to my 'news' radio station. It's amazing how, in ten minutes of news radio, they manage to slip in at least six minutes of ads! And TV--forgetaboutit.
I like having lower prices with the option to be suckered into buying things, since it is at least optional and, realistically, no one has to spend more than their cruise fare if they don't want to. Drink iced tea, wander the ports on your own, forgo the booze and fancy restaurant and fancy coffee. It gives people who aren't very well off the chance to experience a cruise. For those who are well off, there are still all-inclusive lines.
The other (deleted) thread seemed like an unfair attack on Tim and his article, and kind of inspired me to respond.
I always enjoy good discussions of issues, even if a bit "spirited"; but that post went a bit too far.
Anyway, I'd like to see the cruise lines eliminate the nickel and diming of we passengers. If the cruise lines adjusted the fares such that everything (excluding shore excursions) were included, I'd much prefer that.
The average passenger is going to pay "X" amount for his or her cruise anyway, why not just make that the average fare! That way we would cruise and not feel nickel and dimed to death!
I like choices. I prefer to decide whether I pay for something. If I use it, I'll pay for it. If I don't use it, I don't want to pay for it. It isn't fair for the cruiselines to charge customers for, say alcohol, when they don't drink. All they'd be doing is paying extra for their cruise so others can drink if the ticket price included drinks.
I would like to see the price of the ticket include the port and taxes, though. I saw on i-cruise.com an Imagination cruise of 5 nights on Oct. 14 for (now) $74 per person. The port and taxes are $157 pp. Now you can't really take that cruise for $74 can you? Even though $231 for a 5-night cruise is fantastic the truth is the $74 rate is B.S.
I would also like to see the option to pay cash for onboard charges. I don't like the shipboard charge cards. Sometimes they come in handy but I'd at least like the option to pay in cash. Sometimes I don't want Mrs. Thomas to know what I spent <grin>
I agree with Thomas and Denise also. There are options for those who want to cruise with everything included. Of course, these are the ultra-luxury lines, but you are paying the higher base price because tipping, alcohol on the ship, and even some shore excursions are included. Dining is like dining in a specialty surcharge restaurant every night. Where's the surcharge? Already paid as part of your fare.
Now posting as MichelleP.
While my personal preferences are with those favoring inclusiveness, or at least more of it than many lines offer, it's good that there are choices for those who prefer to go "ala carte". Just wish there were more choices than there are on the "inclusive" side.
My problem with the "ala carte" approach is that I am a captive market while onboard a cruise ship. If I want something that is extra, I'm stuck with just one supplier, even though the quality may be low or the price too high. This worries me more in theory than in actual experience. But reports over the last year or so of more and more things that used to be included being at extra cost now on some lines (even some entertainment on, for example, NCL) do nothing but increase the dislike I have for being a "captive market".
So while there's nothing wrong with a ship or line being pretty much "ala carte", and while there is certainly a market for cruising of this type, I only wish there were a greater number of line and ship choices for those of us who favor inclusiveness (at least to a greater degree). IMO, this is a market that is underserved.
Denise and Thomas:
The question of someone paying for someone else's goods or services is often advanced as a reason why all inclusive cruising would be a bad idea. Of course, I know of no line in the world where massages are included! But when a line or ship becomes MORE inclusive than most are now, so many different things are included that one can always find something of value to participate in that is included, regardless of his or her preferences. Here's an example. The RSSC Paul Gauguin is semi-inclusive. On this ship earlier this year, I suggested to a fellow guest that we go to one of the many included coctail parties. He said he couldn't. Couldn't drink for medical reasons. At the same time, the ship was offering water skiing from the stern sports platform, and he suggsted we we do that instead. I told him truthfully that I couldn't water ski, for medical reasons (old war injury!). So I enjoyed a few included drinks, while he enjoyed an included water skiing session!
Truth is, most of us who prefer a more inclusive cruise aren't talking about 100% all inclusive. Just MORE inclusive. The Paul Guaguin does not have included drinks all the time, nor included water skiing all the time, nor many of it's host of inclusions all the time. It simply has a sufficient number of included things that are extra on other ships to provide a complete vacation without spending any extra money, if one choses to do so. And here, the term "more inclusive" does not mean only drinks. Rather, it includes things like water sports, some on-shore activity, soft drinks, bottled water, dining choices, and tips. Something must be included for everyone (not just drinkers), or it does not work.
I'm not trying to "convert" anyone. Just trying to explain what some of us prefer, as there is considerable misunderstanding about it.
I agree about where to stop on the all inclusive is a interesting point.
But charging me 1.50 or more for each soda I drink. Heck, fast food places give you unlimited refills. Yeah some cruise lines have soda cards (some only do this for kids). Some charge for ice cream or coffee. These things are pretty basic. And charging for the shows. What's next, pay per view in the cabin.
Yes spa treatments are not within the basics in my opinion, neither would be water skiing off the back, or any shore excursions.
As far as paying for what you use - then we should pay for our meals (Yikes!). Imagine the person who manages to down 3 entree's and 4 deserts at every meal and hits a couple of buffets between formal seatings (you know these people exist) vs the person who skips a meal each day, and doesn't even have an appetizer nor desert. Today they both pay the same, and I think most like this plan. I know I do - bring me a lobster to go with my steak.
On alcohol, maybe they can do like some office parties and have drink tickets. Each person gets x number of tickets per day. Use them how you want, after that pay. Is that an acceptable option. I could take that, how about others.
Just my ramblings, but I would like to see more cruise lines include a bit more in the standard fare we pay, and not just the top of the heap lines.
Unfortunately, I'd only be able to afford a Paul Gauguin cruise once every few years.
The more inclusive they go, the higher the price, and the less cruisers there would be.
While there is probably a good market out there for all-inclusive, there is also a market for non-inclusive, where we have the choice of sinking our drink-and-sink cards or not. Both are offered, just far less of the all-inclusive, and I think there must be a reason for that. Silversea and Crystal are mostly inclusive and I don't see many people talking about them. The price is out of reach for the common Joe.
I also don't really understand the captive audience theory. If you pack everything you need, you never have to touch your sign & sail card (barring booze), so what do you actually feel forced to buy on a cheap cruise? I'm not trying to be sarcstic at all, merely curious about all of this.
I'm not too sure where this discussion is going or, for that matter, why it is going wherever it's headed.
If you book an all-inclusive (or mostly inclusive) there's no big surprise under the door when you wake up on the last morning. You know, well in advance, just what you are paying for and receiving. No "impulse purchases", as it were.
When you work it all out, when the cruise fare includes the port charges (or whatever they are being called these days), tipping, alternative restaurants if you choose to use them, some or all beverages, some or all shore excursions, the per diem isn't all that much different than a la carte.
Seems to me that people fall in love (as Anne said in her article this week) and get blinded by the published price then start to complain because that's not what they end up paying.
The "cheaper" the cruise, the more it's going to end up costing. It's called "cruise math."
I love all-inclusive vacations, but I also love cruising. They both have their positives and negatives. All-inclusive is just so easy; it's a no-brainer. You only have to budget for one expenditure. People new to cruising really need to do their homework to figure out what the cost of the cruise will be. And with all-inclusive resorts there's no auditing the room tab. I'm an accountant, and to me that's just something that should never be done on vacation. Cruising is more expensive overall, but you get so much more. The entertainment choices are much wider (and better quality) and you get to visit so many places without having to switch resorts. As far as cost, they're both worth it to me, and I will continue to do both. I just love vacationing, I guess my gripe is I don't get enough of it.
Whether you pay as you go or pay for it in your ticket price you are still a captive market and being supplied by one supplier. Doesn't matter the method you paid.
I prefer choices. I don't want my dollars spent on somebody else's activities or consumables. That's just me. I prefer to pay for what I consume. If I have to pay for dinner as well that doesn't bother me either. But the reality is all of us are paying for all the food being consumed by dinner being included in the ticket price.
Some people would rather pay one ticket price and have most of the offerings included in the price. That's fine. Some people will end up getting a bigger bang for their dollar than others that way. Other's won't.
My personal opinion is that I've never felt "nickel /dimed" on a cruise. I go into knowing
what is included and what is not. I do not want to pay for an ALL inclusive situation because there are things I do not use. Take for example my little group of 4 people travelling the end of this month on Summit. Gram drinks soda, no one else does. Tony does not usually get off the ship in port, almost never takes an excursion. Papa and Gram use thelasotherapy , Tony and Donna do not. None of us use any of the other Gym Spa or "beauty" facilities. We all enjoy large table dining and love Celebrity's regular dining room and probably would not utilize an extra cost dining room. Gram eats icecream in the afternoon , no one else does. We tend to take all day , active excursions, Donna prefers half day or non at all. My point, why should I pay for things I do not use or ask someone else to pay for the things I do. No one forces you to do all these things and the food, activities , room and entertainment that you get inclusive with your fare are extensive and quite a bargain. If you want an all inclusive , go to Sandals or Breezes. If you want a MORE inclusive cruise experience try a line like Crystal (and
pay for it). If you want to cruise for $75 to $150 a day, pick a popular priced cruise line, ship and itinerary that suits you and enjoy. Go into it knowing what it will cost and keep
in mind that cruise lines are not "not for profit" businesses. My final comment will I'm sure draw some ire from others. If you can't afford to travel , don't. I couldn't until 7 years ago so I didn't.
Hi! Nobody is forced to buy anything on an "ala carte" cruise, except maybe bottled water in the case of my wife who drinks much of this due to a medical condition. Rather, it is a matter of the things many of us WANT on a cruise vacation that can really run up a tab. For someone who does not want a lot of activities, drinks, soda, water,etc. but just wants quite relaxing sea days, the SS Norway is a good choice (if you make sure you upgrade out of some of its broom closet rooms). And this is hardly an inclusive ship, by any definintion, and not expensive at all!
I recently "ran the math" comparing the Paul Gauguin (semi inclusive) to the Tahitian Princess (ala carte). When I added to the TP price everything WE would want that was included on the PG but not the TP, even considering that the TP is a little longer cruise, I came out with a "dead heat" as to actual cost for us. Then, considering qualititive factors, I tended toward the PG. But the math may be different for you and others.
Someone asked "where is this thread going?" Since the major mass market lines started going more "ala carte" a little over a year ago, post on this subject have generated more heat than light. I'd like to see that turned around, and hope that is where this thread is going.
We agree with you. I wonder if the cruise lines could sell tickets like the cable TV. Basic or Deluxe. Basic just room, food and entertainment. Deluxe everything else except for tours, beauty shop and gift shops that kind of stuff. They would have a different color card to show that they don't have to pay for drinks, ice cream or tips. Maybe that would make almost every one happy.
I agree everything seems to cost more these days aboard cruise ships but there is one item that sold in 1972 for $69.95 and still seems to sell for $69.95 today. This is those "designer watches" encased in boxes indicating a retail price anwhere from $150 to $250. These same watches in the same priced boxes can be purchased at our local "street fair" for $15 or two for $25.
I guess all things being equal, the cruise lines may have a point. I recall in the "yonder days" a can or bottle of beer costs 35 cents; on Princess ships you could get a Beef Eater or Tanqueray on the rocks for 75 cents and I used to get a charge when you ordered either with water or soda it was a dollar. I was on the first cruise ship to stop in the San Blas Islands and we were told how primitive these people were and I tested this. I bought a whole case of canned bear with flip tops. They had no trouble opening the can when tossed over the side. I was like the last of the big spenders when I paid 35 cents for a can.
Of course nickel and diming can add up especially when the amounts are high. I once was aboard a Crystal Cruise ship where our table partners were a lady with her teenage daughter and her mother. When she got has final bill she said that when she got home she did not know where the money might come from to settle with her credit cards. The problem here was that she should have not taken her daughter on a Crystal ship since most of the expenses were incurred by her buying bottles of wine and to satisfy her daughter.
To Herman Paul S. The situation you mention with Crystal is interesting because, at their rates, there is no justification for THEM to be other than virtually all-inclusive. If a person wishes to take a "special" on Carnival, RCI, or NCL and the like, then chose to pay (or not) for the growing list and cost of extras at his discretion, that's just fine. It's an option he, and we all, should have. But at Crystal's rates, it is a far different story.
I don't mind paying separate charges for extras, but I do object to in-your-face advertising on board. The last time I checked into my cabin on a HAL ship, the bed was covered with flyers and new promotions appeared under the door daily. It's fine to have the services and products available for purchase. I don't mind settling my account on the last day and budget accordingly. But spare me the ads.
One of the things I like most about cruising is getting away from the everyday commercialism. An ocean voyage harkens back to a more genteel time, before marketeers came up with their 'more and more advertising in your lifetime' schemes and come-ons. I don't want to spend time tossing junk mail or waiting through ads on cabin TV. I know where to look for merchandise and would rather opt-in than opt-out. I'm afraid some day we'll be getting telemarketing calls and door to door hucksters on board if the trend continues. I'm so turned off by advertising at sea, I purposely avoid the things being hawked. Come on, cruise lines. Give us a break from propaganda.
We are not bothered at all by the ads that appear oin our beds. We just throw them in the circular file. If all the cruises became all inclusive, we would have to stop cruising, since, as basically non-drinkers, we would not be willing to pay for other peoples booze.
If all the cruise lines start charging the tips on our credit cards the first day of the cruise and not allowing us to pay them directly to the crew members, then the tips should be included in higher cruise fares. However, I wonder how long it would be until the passengers would be encouraged to start tipping again?
It's odd how arguements in favor of inclusiveness are countered by problems of someone not wanting to pay for someone else's alcoholic drinks, which they don't drink.
Forgotten is the fact that entertainment is almost always included, but not all of us go to it as we are too busy during the days, and too tired at night. I am one of these, but I never complain about paying for someone else's entertainment! Unless this arguement is made by one with strong religious convictions against alcoholic drink, and coritributing to it for others, this arguement is flawed.
"Nickel and diming" complaints go so far beyond alcohol that "booze is almost a minor point. One ship HAS started charging extra for some entertainment, though this is not the norm and I hope it never will be. And the "non booze" list goes on to include high prices for soft drinks and bottled water and tips thereon, alternative restaurants, tips,and on and on. Fact is, if all ships included all non-alcoholic drinks, restaurtants, entertainment, and continued to charge for alcoholic drinks, spa services, shore excursions, and good purchased onboard, we'd see a lot fewer "nickel and diming " complaints.
A "tips included in fare" policy is a "no brainer". It's got to come as open seating dining continues to grow in popularity and relationships with our waitstaff diminish. Land based all inclusives usually have the policy that any employee caught accepting a tip is fired on the spot. Problem resolved.
Sorry Richard, but on this one I must disagree. Entertainment is included in the price and since this is the policy you don't hear of the arguments against "paying for someone else's entertainment." BUT, if it were not included in the price you would hear the same arguments against entertainment being added to the inclusives as you hear about alcohol, I believe. I know I would. Let's say your ticket price was reduced by, say, $25 per day but entertainment was an extra charge. And the debate was to include entertainment in the ticket price by raising tickets $25 per person per day. I think we would be hearing from people who don't go to the shows and would object to paying the higher price because others thought entertainment ought to be included in the price.
Personally, I like paying for what I use. That's just me. I don't use the gym (I wish I did, ) but I know I'm paying for it's use by all those who do. This debate can go on about a lot of things we consider part of the ticket price. It just happens to fall mostly on the drink thing.
On the last night of my first cruise ("Western Caribbean" aboard MV Sun Princess in March or so of 1998), I saw Princess's production play "Pirates" for the first time. Reflecting on the theme fo the play, I concluded that there are still priates on the high seas. They have simply changed their mode of operation, so now most passengers fork over their buck$ willingly!
And I also concluded that cruise ships are veritable cash cows and thus that well-run cruise companies are great investments, subsequently purchasing positions in both Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL) and Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company (LSE: PO.) prior to the "demerger" (which translates as "spin-off" in American) of P&O Princess Cruises Plc. (LSE: POC).
You really can have a great cruise without paying all those charges for "extras" like dining in "sucker" restaurants, Princess' s ice cream on deck, shakes at Johnny Rockets on Royal Caribbean's newest ships, overpriced alcoholic beverages ("a virgin Cape Cod, please -- easy on the ice!"), etc. There's plenty to do that's still free without paying for aerobics classes, going to "art" (?) auctions, and lining the pockets of the smooth-talking concessionaires who offer messages, seaweed treatments, and other services of dubious benefit to one's health (at least they are not particularly harmful...) at the spa, then invest the savings in an industry that's still growing at a rate of about 20-25% per year.
The bigger issue with port charges and taxes being called out separately is that they are subject to increases by external authorities. If there's a change in the rate before the ship calls at the port, calling out these items as separate charges allows the line to pass the increase along to the passenger. The line would have to eat the increase if these items were included in the fare.
It seems to me that there's room for balance here. There are some charges that are downright annoying, like the charge for Hagen Daaz at Sundae's on Princess's newer ships (which probably would not be so offensive if Hagen Daaz really were the superior grade of ice cream that it's purported to be) and charges for non-alcoholic beverages. I do think that personal services (beauty parlor and spa treatments, for example) and alcoholic beverages ought to carry separate charges.