9 Smart Ways Cruise Ships Are Getting You To Spend


Do you think that once you have paid for your cruise, you will be done spending your money?

It is definitely not the case. Cruises are a fantastic value compared to similar land travel. But once on the ship, there is still plenty of opportunity to spend.

Indeed, in normal years Expenditures on board account for around 30% of cruise company revenues. So for every $ 1,000 in cruise prices, the company can expect about $ 400 to $ 450 in in-flight revenue.

And over the decades, cruise lines have had plenty of time tweaking things on the ship in order to generate more revenue. It’s nothing illegal or sneaky, but from the design of the ship to the way you pay for things on board, there are some very clever ways you can end up spending more money than you planned …

Use a card to make purchases on board

Let’s start with the most basic part of spending on a cruise: how to actually make a purchase. Nowadays everything is done on your room key card. Sure, it will open your cabin door, but it can also be used like a credit card on the ship.

Do you want a drink? Make an order and then the bartender swipes the card (or for COVID, just asks for your room number and lady). The fee will then go to your account and you will pay it out at the end of the cruise.

All spending with a card not only makes things easier than dealing with cash and change, but it also makes things easier Studies have consistently shown that people tend to spend more when paying with credit cards than with cash. How much more exactly varies by study, but the trend is undeniable.

So, not only can the cards be more convenient on the ship, but they also mean people can potentially spend more on their cruise.

Prices in “per day” terms

Which sounds better to you Paying USD 60 per day for a drinks package or USD 420 for the package for the duration of the cruise? It comes out the same amount over the course of a week-long cruise.

However, for many things they are charged per day. Obviously, this makes it easier to split prices as different people take cruises of different lengths. But psychologically, it is less difficult for many people to see the smaller amount to spend the money than to see the full price right at the start.

Well, this isn’t a bait or switch as you always know what total you’re paying for a package or upgrade before paying. But much like seeing a monthly payment when buying a car or house, that lower daily price may be easier to handle and seem more reasonable.

Sales & discounts

Sale sign on a cruise

Who doesn’t love a good sale? For people about to buy, an offer to sell is sometimes enough to get them off the fence and open their wallet.

Whether when buying your cruise or on the ship, you will find that selling prices are everywhere. Go to any cruise website and you will be greeted with a large banner displaying a discount or special offer. It’s similar on the ship. Shops around the ship seem to offer constant sales.

Would you like to have a service in the spa or in a specialty restaurant? During your vacation, you are likely to see some type of discounted sale or offer.

These sales are nice, but they are also a technique to get passengers to make this purchase.

Advertising on the ship

Advertising on a cruise

You can’t spend money on a product or service if you don’t know it is there or if you don’t think about it when it is time to buy. That is why cruise lines like to advertise to passengers.

We’re not talking about the eye-catching TV commercials you might see or the direct mail that goes to your mailbox. Instead, we’re talking more about advertising in your booth.

When you go on a cruise, you often come back to your room with the daily planner by your door and a pile of newspapers, which have everything from spa treatments to art auctions to offers for booking your next cruise while on the ship.

These advertisements are designed to ensure that you know – or be reminded – of what is on sale and for sale around the ship.

Upgrades & special items

Sure, you will be spending money on the cruise, but there is always an option to spend MORE money on the trip.

Take upgrades, for example. Maybe buy a plain interior cabin. For a little more, you can upgrade to a room with a sea view. Or even if you are sailing in a suite, there is an option to upgrade to an even nicer suite in a better location with more space or a larger balcony. No matter what you’re spending, there is always an opportunity to spend a little more on something better.

It is similar with specialties such as restaurants. Sure, you can eat for free throughout the cruise, with food included with your trip. But there is always the option to eat elsewhere – for a price.

All of this helps ensure that passengers can spend more money when they want a better experience.

Packages for all levels

Ever wonder why you have so many options when it comes to packages? Take the drinks package. Many cruise lines have a regular drinks package, but then there could be a higher quality package and maybe even one that is simpler and has fewer options at a lower price.

The same goes for WiFi packages. There’s going to be a top notch package with streaming but also slower, easier access – like just being able to post on social media and check email – at a lower cost.

When you have these choices, the more likely a person will find a package that they like. Let’s say you only had a choice between the top tier Internet package for $ 25 a day or nothing at all. You can skip the purchase if you just want to check email. But if you have the option of a lower plan for $ 12 per day, it might be worth the money to spend.

Bundles and “Fresh Wallets”

Are you the type of person who hates buying the cruise and then having to pay for a drinks package, then wifi, and then tips? You’re not alone. It can feel like you’re nickel-plated and blacked out.

That’s why cruise ships offer bundles. This is just an industry term for grouping things together when buying. So instead of buying a cruise and drinks package separately, buy them together when you buy the cruise.

This bundling can make you spend more while sailing. Industry managers call it a “fresh wallet”. Since you paid for the bundled package months ago, it means you are essentially starting over on the ship. So instead of throwing hundreds at a package of drinks when boarding, you feel like you can spend more money on the ship.

Strategic location of shops & casino

Table games and slot machines on a cruise

Have you ever been on a cruise ship and seen the casino on a lower deck at one end of the ship? Absolutely not. The casino is always close to the heart of the ship and is usually easy to get to from the main promenade. In fact, one often has to walk through it to get from one end of the ship to the other.

And have you ever noticed that bars and shops are easy to find and close to meeting points such as the pool or the ship’s main thoroughfare?

It’s just common sense that when you have a place you want to visit – and are spending your money on – you put it at the center. The same principle that applies to a Main Street store also applies to a cruise ship.

Dynamic prices

Ever heard of dynamic pricing? Not every line uses it, but one big line that does: Royal Caribbean.

Dynamic pricing is just a fancy way of saying that there are no fixed prices. Instead, prices for many things on and off the ship change with the cruise.

For example, you might find a price to visit CocoCay’s water park just for someone who sees a completely different price on a different cruise. We personally took a cruise in 2019 where the price of admission to the water park was $ 51. On the same cruise just months later, it was $ 84 per person.

And there is no fixed price for beverage packages. Instead, Royal Caribbean has a range of $ 63 to $ 89 per day for current cruises.

In other words, the prices of things can change in a similar way to different prices for different cruises.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you will pay more. Prices can also come down to encourage you to buy. But it is another tool for enticing passengers to spend money.

How to save on your next cruise

Obviously, soliciting passengers or placing the casino in a conspicuous location isn’t groundbreaking. Even so, it is a good idea to be aware if you are a passenger on a budget.

The good news is that despite the onboard expense, the value of cruising is still undeniable. It is also possible to sail without having to spend money on the ship. However, if you want to save money on your next cruise, we have it Some of our favorite money saving techniques here.

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