Don’t Be An On-Board Revenue Generator

Gene Sloan of USA Today’s Cruise Log blog points out an interesting remark by Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein in an earnings call Wednesday.

Questioned about passenger spending on the cruise line’s new mega-giganta-ship, Oasis of the Seas, Goldstein said the ship “has proven to be an even stronger onboard revenue generator than we had foreseen.” Passengers are not only paying premium rates to sail on this massive ship, they are spending quite merrily on extras when aboard.

Royal Caribbean has given them no shortage of opportunities to do this, as Sloan points out, with “an industry leading number of extra-charge restaurants, bars, stores and other outlets where passengers can spend money.”

Despite this trend toward expensive add-ons and “unbundling” of previously all-inclusive amenities, I still believe a cruise vacation can be an excellent value. The key is to find a good rate and enjoy the experience of being at sea while resisting the temptation to shop and spend just for the sake of shopping and spending.

My own strategy is never to book the newest ships, which rarely offer a good value, but to wait and sail on them a few years later, when the buzz has faded, some new mega-ship has stolen their cachet and the rates have dropped. If the ship was so much fun when it was new, it still ought to be plenty of fun three or four years later.

When on board, I enjoy the all-inclusive food and entertainment but resist the expensive shore excursions, overpriced spa treatments and questionable art auctions. I can usually arrange my own shore activities for less than the cruise line charges, and I can certainly get a less expensive massage or a better deal on merchandise in port than on board the ship. 

My goal, in short, is to avoid being an onboard revenue generator —  though I hear there’s one of those born every minute.

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