Cruise control: Insider sails through spending traps and shocking ship shenanigans!

Embarking on a cruise can be the adventure of a lifetime, with the promise of exotic destinations, luxurious amenities, and the open sea.

However, for those who are setting sail for the first time, the cruise experience can be as much about navigating a sea of potential spending traps as it is about exploring new horizons.


Lucy Southerton, a seasoned cruise ship worker from Birmingham, regularly shares her insider knowledge on her social media account, stating that she has seen ‘every trick in the book’.

‘I've seen how they get you to spend money when you are on board,’ she said.

‘How they entice you to go to certain venues at certain times so everyone is spread out. It's actually very very clever.’

‘How they entice you to go to certain venues at certain times so everyone is spread out. It's actually very very clever,’ she added.

From loyalty programs to all-inclusive packages, Lucy revealed the six most common marketing tactics aimed at encouraging customers to spend more.


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Lucy Southerton, an experienced cruise ship employee, revealed six marketing ploys that often trap first-time cruise passengers. Credits: YouTube / Cruising As Crew


1. The all-inclusive illusion

Revealing that cruising is one of the priciest holiday options, Lucy stated that travellers typically spend 50 per cent of the initial cruise cost while on board.

‘One thing they try and do to get you to spend more money actually happens before you even step foot on board,’ she warned.

According to Lucy, cruise lines often offer customers the option to upgrade to an ‘all-inclusive’ package.

Such packages may include amenities like WiFi, drinks, dining experiences, and even potential upgrades.

However, she argued these deals may not always be worth the money. Sometimes the WiFi may be subpar, or customers may not consume enough drinks to justify the cost.

‘If you work it out and you would drink eight to ten drinks a day and you think the drinks package would be worth getting—get it,’ Lucy said.

‘But it is something that you really need to consider. This shouldn't be an off-the-cuff decision when you are booking your cruise.’

‘Because although they will tell you: "This will save you money", it won't always save you money,’ she added.


2. Bidding for upgrades

Similar to all-inclusive packages, this practice, labelled a 'trick' by Lucy, occurs before boarding the ship.

When booking your cruise, you'll have the option to bid for upgrades on your room.

According to Lucy, many people who bid for upgrades find out later that they paid more for the upgrade than if they had booked the upgraded room from the start.

‘It is really easy to get caught up in the bidding process. It's exciting you think you're going to win,’ she explained.

‘But it can obviously be a bit disheartening when you realise that you have paid $100 more than you would have if you just booked that [the cabin] in the first place.’

Additionally, Lucy advised researching your desired rooms before bidding to determine their initial price and setting a spending limit accordingly.


3. Excursion expenditures

Transitioning to spending traps onboard, Lucy highlighted the high costs of excursions that customers often fall for.

She explained that cruise liners promote excursions to discourage passengers from spending with other companies and to dissuade them from exploring ports on their own.

‘They will tell you stuff like, ' It's a little bit dangerous. You may not come back to the ship on time. It's safer to do it with an excursion,’ she explained, acknowledging that it has some truth to it.

‘[However] there are only a few instances where I believe going on an excursion is worth the premium price.’

‘Cruise lines are going to want to get as much money out of you as they possibly can so they are going to push this,’ she added.

Once again advising viewers to do their research, Lucy emphasised the importance of looking into the destinations they are visiting and planning ahead.


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Cruise marketing tactics—pre-cruise upselling of all-inclusive packages and room upgrades, onboard excursion bookings and loyalty programs—may lead passengers to overspend and limit their options. Credits: Shutterstock


4. Itinerary changes

When you book a cruise, you enter into a contract with the company, and according to Lucy, the fine print allows the ship to change your itinerary unexpectedly.

The cruise expert clarified that such changes typically occur for valid reasons, like inclement weather or the inability to dock.

She recounted how many disappointed holidaymakers have expressed their intention to seek compensation because the ship altered its travel plans.

However, she also revealed that even if the ship skips a destination you were eagerly anticipating, you are not entitled to any compensation.

‘The reason I feel this is a trick [is] they don't spell it out for you on the phone saying, "They can change the itinerary,"’ she explained.

‘It's in the small print that a lot of people do not read.’


5. The lure of 'free' items

Lucy also cautioned that free charms and items distributed on cruises often have a catch.

As a former shopping ambassador and cruise ship expert, she explained that shops onboard would offer hundreds of free items to attract more customers to their stores.

‘If they give out a hundred free [items] and one person purchases something, it makes giving out a bunch of free stuff worth it,’ Lucy pointed out.

‘Especially if it's the jewellery store and that one person purchases something for $10,000—which happens.’

Stating that the marketing tactic wasn't necessarily negative, Lucy remarked, ‘Who doesn't love a bit of retail therapy?’

‘But I just want you to know that the reason there is something for free or a free informational seminar is just because they want you to purchase something.’

‘There is nothing wrong with it, but just know we are not doing it out of the goodness of our hearts,’ she added.


6. Loyalty programs

The last ‘trap’ Lucy exposed to viewers was loyalty programs. She explained that every cruise company offers them, aiming to retain customers and discourage them from shopping elsewhere.

As you progress through the program and receive better benefits, you're less inclined to explore packages from other companies, Lucy shared.

‘It stops cruisers [from] trying new cruise lines, adding that loyalty program in will make it more difficult to tear yourself away from that,’ she said.

While Lucy didn't outright discourage people from joining loyalty schemes, she reminded her viewers to recognise them as a marketing tactic.

She cautioned that members of loyalty programs might miss out on benefits because it's often up to the consumer to know what they're entitled to.

Lucy advised potential cruisers to visit their loyalty manager onboard to ensure they're aware of all the perks they can receive.

‘These little tricks aren't bad., but they are just things to be aware of because the less money we spend per cruise the more we can afford to go on,’ she added.

You can watch Lucy’s full video here:


Source: YouTube / Cruising As Crew

After learning about the common traps that passengers fall into on cruise ships, it's fascinating to delve deeper into the world of cruise ship employees and their experiences with passenger behaviour.

In another story, Lucy also revealed some shocking insights into the behaviour of passengers onboard, shedding light on the dynamics between crew members and travellers.

From peculiar requests to unexpected antics, these revelations offer a unique perspective on life behind the scenes of a cruise ship.
Key Takeaways
  • Lucy Southerton, a seasoned cruise ship worker, shared six marketing traps that first-time cruise passengers often fall into.
  • These traps could lead to passengers spending much more than they planned, including pre-cruise upselling of all-inclusive packages and bidding for room upgrades.
  • Onboard, passengers are persuaded to book excursions through the cruise line, potentially at a premium price, to avoid the perceived risks and inconveniences of independent exploration.
  • Loyalty programs on cruises are designed to encourage repeat business and can make passengers less likely to consider other cruising options, sometimes to the detriment of finding better deals or experiences.
Have you encountered any of these traps on your travels? Do you have other tips for first-time cruisers? Share your experiences and advice in the comments below!
 
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My daughter and her hubby recently went on a cruise to New Zealand. They were asked if the wanted to up grade to one drinks ( alcohol) package $1000 for hubby and receive a drinks package ( soft drink and juice) for $300 for her which they did.
This was a 10 day cruise and he may have had 20 drinks in that time $1000 🤔
 
  • Wow
Reactions: Penny4
4 of us went on a cruise last year from Japan to Alaska with Holland America Line. We all missed the small print until after booking that we would be charged $32 per person per day for gratuities,14 day cruise. It was charged to our credit card, not happy.
 
4 of us went on a cruise last year from Japan to Alaska with Holland America Line. We all missed the small print until after booking that we would be charged $32 per person per day for gratuities,14 day cruise. It was charged to our credit card, not happy.
😯 what were the gratuities ?
 
😯 what were the gratuities ?
It was $32 per day per person.In the small print it explains it as a gratuity (tip) for every employee on board, I feel we were basically paying their wages. Hopefully it's only an American thing. Won't be using them again.
 

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