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Every year, cruise companies seem to be trying to outdo each other with new, exciting activities onboard.  I’ve always wanted to try one of these big, new ships, so lately I’ve been doing some future travel research into various cruise lines and destinations.  

 

The other day, I was looking at a big NCL ship in Alaska thinking how much my husband and son would like the go-carts. But after researching a bit further I noticed that these, along with various other activities onboard (such as the laser tag) come at an extra cost.  

I found it quite off-putting to be honest.  During land vacations, we wouldn’t prioritise activities such as these as we could do them closer to home should we choose to (and, to be honest, we rarely choose to).  But on a ship, they look like they would be a bit of unique fun. That is, until I realise they cost extra money, and then they just seem a bit gimmicky.  

 

I’ve cruised enough to know about the added cost of excursions, alcohol, spa costs, specialty restaurants etc, but what I’m wondering is if anyone has been on a cruise before expecting something to be included in the cost and found it wasn’t?

 

I know some will argue that this is the way many mainstream cruise lines are going and ‘what’s a few extra dollars?’.  I get that, but for me, much of the appeal of cruising is the mostly all inclusive nature of life onboard.  

I’m not wanting to start a debate, I just like to make sure I’m informed.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

 

 

 

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4 minutes ago, oskarNZ said:

Every year, cruise companies seem to be trying to outdo each other with new, exciting activities onboard.  I’ve always wanted to try one of these big, new ships, so lately I’ve been doing some future travel research into various cruise lines and destinations.  

 

The other day, I was looking at a big NCL ship in Alaska thinking how much my husband and son would like the go-carts. But after researching a bit further I noticed that these, along with various other activities onboard (such as the laser tag) come at an extra cost.  

I found it quite off-putting to be honest.  During land vacations, we wouldn’t prioritise activities such as these as we could do them closer to home should we choose to (and, to be honest, we rarely choose to).  But on a ship, they look like they would be a bit of unique fun. That is, until I realise they cost extra money, and then they just seem a bit gimmicky.  

 

I’ve cruised enough to know about the added cost of excursions, alcohol, spa costs, specialty restaurants etc, but what I’m wondering is if anyone has been on a cruise before expecting something to be included in the cost and found it wasn’t?

 

I know some will argue that this is the way many mainstream cruise lines are going and ‘what’s a few extra dollars?’.  I get that, but for me, much of the appeal of cruising is the mostly all inclusive nature of life onboard.  

I’m not wanting to start a debate, I just like to make sure I’m informed.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

 

 

 

I never thought cruises were all-inclusive.  The "extras" have always had an extra cost on my cruises.  

 

 

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It's good to be well informed about what your cruise fare covers and what it does not.  It's a passenger's responsibility to find out so misunderstandings about money don't occur.  Granted, some cruise lines, just like hotels and airlines, sometimes make this info a bit harder to find, one may actually have to read the fine print.

 

In any event, even if a cruiser didn't realize that the go carts would be an add on fee, once they were asked for their key card the element of a surprise fee is gone.  I truly doubt there are many pax who honestly think such add-ons are free.  One cruise on any line should disavow them of that thought.

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Hi

 

I don't find those extras inexpensive. If the company can attract enough patrons who feel that way, then they make more money. Just as there sales in the stores, spas, casinos, they are meant to get a few dollars more out of your pocket and into theirs. That's what all companies do.

 

Cruises are not all inclusive. Room and board, some entertainment, along with transportation, that all you get for your basic fare. Cruise lines over time saw the opportunity to take advantage of people who were susceptible to spending money because they are easily bored and they are a captive audience when not in port. All they needed to do was offer things that people could spend their money on, and they realized the cash cow.

 

After all, just a few decades ago, who would have imagined turning a ship into an amusement park. 😁 Like you said, go carts, laser tag, wave riders, roller coasters, skating rinks, bowling. 😅😋 You name it they got it.

 

Those aren't cruise ships anymore. You are going to go to Alaska where you can fly onto and walk on a glacier and you are worried about what the ship's ammenities are. Alaskan cruises are truely about Alaska. Don't worry about missing out on the go carts. As you said you can do that anywhere.

 

have a great cruise  

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Hi

 

I forgot to mention... the reason the cruise lines will charge for all these extras (and in fact continue to raise prices, for those things, not the cruises themselves) is because people will pay. The main other reason is because if they didn't charge, the lines would be unreasonable.

Edited by Nic6318
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Well in all honesty, you're talking about NCL- the king of nickel and diming. So no, I wouldn't expect all of these amusement park gimmicks to be included in the base fare. And the only cruise lines where you're going to find anything close to all inclusive would be the top tier luxury lines. And guess what- they aren't floating amusement parks.

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33 minutes ago, evandbob said:

It's good to be well informed about what your cruise fare covers and what it does not.  It's a passenger's responsibility to find out so misunderstandings about money don't occur.  Granted, some cruise lines, just like hotels and airlines, sometimes make this info a bit harder to find, one may actually have to read the fine print.

 

Thanks for your reply.

I agree that it’s customer responsibility to do their research beforehand and it’s the reason I asked the question.  I love all styles of travel (cruising being just one piece of that) but because flying from this side of the world is so terribly expensive, I tend to assume that most of my travel experiences will be a once and only, rather than a learn and do it better next time.  If something doesn’t fit with what I’m looking for, the bucket list is plenty long enough to replace it with something else.  

 

59 minutes ago, evandbob said:

 I truly doubt there are many pax who honestly think such add-ons are free.  One cruise on any line should disavow them of that thought.

I’ve never assumed they were ‘free’, but I did (perhaps naively) assume most cruise entertainment outside the spa, alcohol, shopping and gambling, were included in the fare.  

I have cruised with 5 cruise companies so far and in December, I’ll add a sixth with Carnival.  Other than the surprisingly steep cost of the behind the scenes tour on Celebrity, there hasn’t ever been any activity expenses that have taken me by surprise. 

 

I genuinely assumed the go carts fit into an activity category similar to the water slides and  would be included in the fare.  I guess though if something is ‘new and different’ it should be assumed that it’s being treated as an opportunity for extra revenue?  If it’s mini-golf it’s included, but if it’s bowling it’s not. Or if it’s broadway-style theatre it’s included, but if it’s IMAX theatre it’s not?  Am I on the right track here and is this the case for all companies?  I’ve never cruised Royal Caribbean either, so I’m none the wiser about them.  

 

 

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On some lines it is possible to have a very enjoyable time having just paid the fare, buying a few drinks, and providing gratuities to the staff.  

 

On others there here is a huge array of expenses to be considered if you want anything more than bare-bones transportation, mediocre food poorly served, and minimal entertainment.  These lines are able to advertise very low fares - and you will receive a very low quality experience (big surprise!), unless you pay for extras here and there. 

 

It pays to do your homework so you know what you are getting for the fare, if you will want more, and what it will cost you.

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In regards to my term ‘all inclusive’, I just want to be clear that I understand that not absolutely everything on the ship, drinks in particular, are included.  

By all inclusive, I mean that I go on a cruise hoping/assuming that most meals and most onboard entertainment will not cost me extra.  I go on hoping that I will be able to still have a good time without flashing my key card every hour.  

I have never cruised on a luxury line (unless you count Disney) and up until now that has always been the case.  

Once cruising becomes like a land-based holiday and the cruise fare really only covers the transport and bed I sleep in, it will lose a lot of it’s appeal.  

 

I realise that many love cruising so much that they will adjust to the changes and charges.  That’s great. But for me, the world is a big place and my travel preferences are my own.  I’m happy to put my money where my mouth is.  

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2 hours ago, oskarNZ said:

Every year, cruise companies seem to be trying to outdo each other with new, exciting activities onboard.  I’ve always wanted to try one of these big, new ships, so lately I’ve been doing some future travel research into various cruise lines and destinations.  

 

The other day, I was looking at a big NCL ship in Alaska thinking how much my husband and son would like the go-carts. But after researching a bit further I noticed that these, along with various other activities onboard (such as the laser tag) come at an extra cost.  

I found it quite off-putting to be honest.  During land vacations, we wouldn’t prioritise activities such as these as we could do them closer to home should we choose to (and, to be honest, we rarely choose to).  But on a ship, they look like they would be a bit of unique fun. That is, until I realise they cost extra money, and then they just seem a bit gimmicky.  

 

I’ve cruised enough to know about the added cost of excursions, alcohol, spa costs, specialty restaurants etc, but what I’m wondering is if anyone has been on a cruise before expecting something to be included in the cost and found it wasn’t?

 

I know some will argue that this is the way many mainstream cruise lines are going and ‘what’s a few extra dollars?’.  I get that, but for me, much of the appeal of cruising is the mostly all inclusive nature of life onboard.  

I’m not wanting to start a debate, I just like to make sure I’m informed.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

 

 

 

My wife opted to try a go cart 4 years ago.It was free.

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34 minutes ago, Nic6318 said:

 

Those aren't cruise ships anymore. You are going to go to Alaska where you can fly onto and walk on a glacier and you are worried about what the ship's ammenities are. Alaskan cruises are truely about Alaska. Don't worry about missing out on the go carts. As you said you can do that anywhere.

 

have a great cruise  

Thanks and good point.  

Alaska is not set in stone as my list of places I want to go is long, but you’re right that the itinerary needs to be the priority.  

 

I’m pleased though I asked this question, as I’ve always been intrigued by these new ‘amusement park’ style ships and was keen to get a better idea of what to expect.  

 

I’m guessing from all the ‘nothing is free’ comments I’ve got so far, I might be best to just stick to older, less expensive ships. As long as they offer plenty of trivia and live music and are going somewhere interesting, we’re pretty much guaranteed to enjoy ourselves.

 

 

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19 minutes ago, lenquixote66 said:

My wife opted to try a go cart 4 years ago.It was free.

Interesting.  

I wonder if the costs have recently been introduced and that’s why I was surprised by them.  Or perhaps they’re free on some ships but not others.  There are so many new ships to the market, I’ve struggled to keep up with them all.  

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2 hours ago, oskarNZ said:

 . . . .  but what I’m wondering is if anyone has been on a cruise before expecting something to be included in the cost and found it wasn’t?

 

 

I suppose it happens all the time as not everyone reads the fine print all the time.  My SIL was recently surprised by the taxes charged to her account for her "free" packages on NCL.  It was a fairly large charge.  

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27 minutes ago, ldubs said:

 

I suppose it happens all the time as not everyone reads the fine print all the time.  My SIL was recently surprised by the taxes charged to her account for her "free" packages on NCL.  It was a fairly large charge.  

Thanks - exactly the kind of thing I was asking about.   I had read about these charges a few years back, but the reminder is good.

 

I’ve got the ‘free’ drinks and wifi with Celebrity a few times where the taxes and service charges are included in the package. So it’s easy to see how confusion could arise between the different lines if you don’t research carefully.

 

I’m cruising on Carnival Splendor soon and hoping I’ve done my research right, but I can’t see any surprising costs.  Of course, it would be great to know if there is something I might have missed. 

 

By the way, I should mention that when booking cruises here in NZ, the service charges/gratuities are more often than not included in the fare.  When they’re not, I prepay them. That’s only relevant in that it’s another way I avoid seeing the extra onboard charge side of cruising.  

Edited by oskarNZ
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2 hours ago, oskarNZ said:

In regards to my term ‘all inclusive’, I just want to be clear that I understand that not absolutely everything on the ship, drinks in particular, are included.  

By all inclusive, I mean that I go on a cruise hoping/assuming that most meals and most onboard entertainment will not cost me extra.  I go on hoping that I will be able to still have a good time without flashing my key card every hour.  

I have never cruised on a luxury line (unless you count Disney) and up until now that has always been the case.  

Once cruising becomes like a land-based holiday and the cruise fare really only covers the transport and bed I sleep in, it will lose a lot of it’s appeal.  

 

I realise that many love cruising so much that they will adjust to the changes and charges.  That’s great. But for me, the world is a big place and my travel preferences are my own.  I’m happy to put my money where my mouth is.  

 

Disney is hardly a luxury line.  It is just a very much overpriced middle market line that caters to Disney fanatics.

 

DON

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4 hours ago, lenquixote66 said:

My wife opted to try a go cart 4 years ago.It was free.

What ship?  I thought the Norwegian Joy and Bliss were the first ships on NCL to have them and they came into service in 2017 and 2018 and as far as I remember there was always a charge for the go carts.  Please correct me, if I'm incorrect.  

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My biggest unexpected charge was on my very first cruise.  When I got that final bill and they let me know that all those drinks I had were not included in the fare.  Joking of course, but it was a slight surprise to find out how much more fun I had than what I remembered having.  

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Unfortunately, TAs and even the cruise lines are at times less than forthcoming about extra costs.  FREE AT SEA doesn’t make it obvious that the FREE drinks come with $20/day/person “service charge” - my first booking with this showed a $200 or so charge for “special services” that I couldn’t figure out until I experimented with my booking, removed the “free” drinks and the charge went away.  “Free air” does disclose the cost of the reduced price tix clearly, but adds on extra-cost transfers that are NOT displayed anywhere, but are added to the final price, and you have to click on “details” to see they have been charged.

 

When I booked my first NCL cruise after not cruising for several years, the TA took my booking, gave me my total, and accepted my deposit, without a single word about DSC - which I asked about AFTER booking.  Had I not known, it would have been a costly surprise.  Likewise NCL call center, when I asked about butler/concierge tips said “they are included in the DSC”.  Surprise, they are NOT included!

 

Whether or not a cruise line “should” charge extra is one discussion .... but the moral for OP and other experiences here is unfortunately, in order to have an accurate idea of additional cost, people need to do research beyond what should be expected, and don’t rely on what the TA and cruise line tell you.  That’s kinda sad, I think.

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17 hours ago, oskarNZ said:

what I’m wondering is if anyone has been on a cruise before expecting something to be included in the cost and found it wasn’t?

 

 

Our very first cruise multiple decades ago.

 

We took a Caribbean cruise for our honeymoon.  We knew nothing about cruising.  We did not know anybody who had ever been on a cruise.  This was years before "The Love Boat" (which, who's kidding who, would have, probably, filled our heads with false expectations).  There was no such thing as Cruise Critic.  We went into the experience wide-eyed, but pretty naive.

 

On the first sea day of the cruise, we attended a presentation given by the cruise director in the ship's theater.  I was surprised to learn that the ship actually arranged excursions for the various port stops.  I had no idea.  Of course, then I quickly learned that there was a charge for any of these excursions.  Who knew?

 

Well, I had enough money, or credit, to enjoy excursions at most of the ports.  Obviously, we enjoyed ourselves, because we are still cruising.  I did, though, learn from the experience.  My personal solution is to make sure that my credit card has room for unexpected expenses.  I just assume there will be some.

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12 hours ago, donaldsc said:

 

Disney is hardly a luxury line.  It is just a very much overpriced middle market line that caters to Disney fanatics.

 

DON

 

I found DCL to be a marked step up from Royal Caribbean, which was the worst vacation I've ever taken.  

 

I do agree that DCL is not luxury, but they have a product that in my experience was considerably superior to that of Royal.  I haven't been on the other mass market lines, but I imagine they are the same or of lower quality than Royal.

 

PS--I live 25 minutes from Disney and haven't been in over a year.  I'm far from a Disney fanatic, and base my opinion of their ships on the actual hard and soft product I received as opposed to Mickey being on board.

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17 hours ago, oskarNZ said:

Every year, cruise companies seem to be trying to outdo each other with new, exciting activities onboard.  I’ve always wanted to try one of these big, new ships, so lately I’ve been doing some future travel research into various cruise lines and destinations.  

 

The other day, I was looking at a big NCL ship in Alaska thinking how much my husband and son would like the go-carts. But after researching a bit further I noticed that these, along with various other activities onboard (such as the laser tag) come at an extra cost.  

I found it quite off-putting to be honest.  During land vacations, we wouldn’t prioritise activities such as these as we could do them closer to home should we choose to (and, to be honest, we rarely choose to).  But on a ship, they look like they would be a bit of unique fun. That is, until I realise they cost extra money, and then they just seem a bit gimmicky.  

 

I’ve cruised enough to know about the added cost of excursions, alcohol, spa costs, specialty restaurants etc, but what I’m wondering is if anyone has been on a cruise before expecting something to be included in the cost and found it wasn’t?

 

I know some will argue that this is the way many mainstream cruise lines are going and ‘what’s a few extra dollars?’.  I get that, but for me, much of the appeal of cruising is the mostly all inclusive nature of life onboard.  

I’m not wanting to start a debate, I just like to make sure I’m informed.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

 

 

 

With the coast of fuel and maintenance and all the overhead going up, most cruise lines are doing there best to find ways to keep the basic cost of the cruise price down. Ways to get more income without raising the cost of the cruise a lot. Carnival especially usually does not offer much in the way of perks or OBC. Others do and basically you are paying part if not all for those perks with the higher cost of the cruise. So giving you a choice of paying for extras if you wish is a great way to do it.

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18 hours ago, oskarNZ said:

Interesting.  

I wonder if the costs have recently been introduced and that’s why I was surprised by them.  Or perhaps they’re free on some ships but not others.  There are so many new ships to the market, I’ve struggled to keep up with them all.  

NCL has always charged for go carts (they are relatively new).

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18 hours ago, ldubs said:

 

I suppose it happens all the time as not everyone reads the fine print all the time.  My SIL was recently surprised by the taxes charged to her account for her "free" packages on NCL.  It was a fairly large charge.  

Not taxes, it was the 20% gratuity she would’ve paid if she purchased the package.

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