Whether it’s a silly upsell, like asking you to pay extra for fine dining on your “all-inclusive” vacation, or dumb laws that prevent you from boarding or disembarking your vessel, you won’t fail to find something absurd at sea.
Just ask Shirley Ann Schultz, a sales assistant in Tampa, Fla. When she boarded a recent cruise, the ship’s security confiscated a five-inch knife she uses to prepare food. “Then, a couple of hours later, they handed us a steak knife — with a six-inch blade,” she says.
No one ever claimed the security rules made any sense.
For better or worse, cruise ships are unlike anything else in the travel industry. These enormous floating hotels don’t play by our rules, thanks to maritime laws and ports of convenience, which ensure minimal regulations while they get to pocket the maximum profits.
But none of that explains the absurdity of some cruise line practices. Nor does it start to help you prevent these bizarre policies from sinking your next cruise vacation. Here are six more practices that defy explanation, and how to get around them:
Nonsense maritime lawsWhen James Dixon missed his cruise in Miami because of a flight delay, he tried to catch the ship in Key West, Fla. But when he arrived, a cruise line representative informed him that because of the Jones Act, he and his party couldn’t board. “I was in tears because our scheduled vacation for my mother was ruined,” he says.
I asked my colleague, cruise expert Anita Potter, what was going on. “Yes, there is such as thing as the Jones Act — this law was designed in the 1800s to protect and regulate the American shipbuilding industry and ensure a fleet of United States-flagged ships,” she told me. “In today’s world this law is very outdated — and sadly, still in effect.”
In Dixon’s case, the Jones Act forbids foreign ships, which includes most major cruise line fleets, to transport cargo or passengers between two United States ports without first stopping at a foreign port. How do you avoid it? Don’t try to board a cruise ship anywhere but its homeport.
The restaurant upsellMost cruise ships now offer “premium” dining that cost extra. Of all the fees that they charge passengers, these are probably the most maddening. Cruise lines like to present these upsells as options: If you want a “special” restaurant experience, they say, why not go out for a steak dinner?
But frequent cruiser Candice Sabatini has a different take. “I’ve already paid $5,000 on an all-inclusive cruise,” she says. “Also, I think it [implies] the cruise line will serve sub-standard food in the main dining room.” She avoids cruise ships that don’t include all meals for that reason.
It’s difficult to do that, but there are still some cruise lines out there that are truly all-inclusive. You have to look long and hard — and sometimes you have to pay a lot more — to get them. But if you don’t like being charged for something that should be included in your cruise, it’s worth the effort.
Nickel and dimingIt isn’t just the ideal restaurants that are extra, of course. That margarita you ordered with lunch is $8. Sodas are extra, too. So are excursions, and pretty much anything else that isn’t bolted down on the ship.
Even amenities that you think would be included, aren’t. For example, Diane Hansen found that her luxury cruise didn’t grant her to use the sauna and steam room without paying a surcharge. Most cruise ships grant you to use the spa at no extra charge. So she blogged about her experience and then decided to take her business elsewhere. “We were going to get a couples massage on board,” she says. “Instead, we opted for one on shore and did not spend any money at all in the on board spa.”
Air deviation feesWhen you purchase a cruise, most travel experts recommend booking your airline tickets at the same time, since you’re more protected if you miss a connection. “But you have no idea what your flights are going to be, nor what they will cost,” states Peter Mescher, a computer engineer from Raleigh, N.C. “When the cruise line reveals your itinerary, if you do not like it, you call them and pay an air deviation fee.”
Even then, you don’t necessarily get the flight you want, but instead select from a basket of possible itineraries, some of which may still have inconvenient connections.
Why bother with a deviation fee? Part of it is the money, but part of it is the perception that you’ll be better off booking an “air inclusive” cruise if you miss the boat. But is the money you save worth the hassle, or are you better off buying the airline tickets yourself and finding a good vacation insurance policy that would help you if you had to cancel or get delayed? Probably not.
- Take advantage of the local group offers overseas
- Cashing in on a local group of transactions abroad
- Served at a local group offers overseas
- Cashing in on local group deals abroad
- Cashing in on the local group working abroad
- National cruise vacation week provides fare deals
- Book your cruise trips to family fun
- Book your cruise trips for family fun
- Carnival: man jumped overboard on Mexico cruise
- Carnival man jumped overboard cruise to Mexico
Submited at Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010 at 4:00 am on Tips by ethan
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