Conning cruise passengers

By | Category: Travel rumblings

in the Caribbean; a popular place for cruising

One of the attractions of going on a cruise has been the fact that it often looks like a cheap holiday. This needn’t be true because cruise companies have developed their own ways or rifling your pockets for that odd £100 or so.

Take excursions for example. With the brochure comes a list of opportunities. Many prices seem a little high. You think that you will book a similar excursion yourself. But you can’t because the cruise line has block-booked the only supplier. The tour that you might have paid £60 for has suddenly become £150 via the cruise company. The other little trick is that the excursions suddenly become available but only at a time in the late afternoon when you have to be back on board ship and ready to sail! Sometimes all the suppliers in a location can’t provide an excursion because all of them have been block-booked by the cruise line.
And when you can book an excursion in advance and directly with a supplier, it sometimes happens – just a day or two – after you sail – that the supplier suddenly says that the excursion is cancelled due to lack of demand or some other excuse. Surprise, surprise! The cruise line can offer you the same trip at an inflated price and guess what? It is with the supplier that you booked the cheaper rate through. One often annoying feature of booking excursions, even with the cruise company, is that you are not told until you get on board if the excursion runs. Cancellations give you no opportunity to re-book others because other passengers have booked them out.

Most, if not all, (I can’t say all because I haven’t travelled on all cruise lines) won’t allow you to take bottles of alcohol on board. You can only drink alcohol they supply. Your £5.99 bottle of wine from Sainsbury’s suddenly costs £15 on board ship or whatever. Bottled water can be double or treble the price of water you can buy ashore. Duty-free booze can be pricier than if you buy it onshore as well.

Some cruise lines make you sign a commitment to say that they will charge a certain sum each day for tipping or gratuities. And that is not for your party but for each individual person. Many people agree to do this because it is at a cheaper rate than paying on board. Should you pay later even at a 20% higher rate? Those that have paid at the end say they get better service from the crew. Those that pay before they cruise sometimes say that they get minimal service.

Tried money changing on board ship? The rate isn’t as good as it might be by pre-ordering ashore. But then, that can happen with whatever holiday you choose.

There are other little ways that make the cruise not as cheap as you might have thought. Let us know your little moans please.

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