Cashing In – Here’s how you could really feel the surcharge pinch.

Monday Mantra

A Small Price to Pay … A Small Price to Pay … A Small Price to Pay

Cashing In

Here’s how you could really feel the surcharge pinch.

Why do I hear so many cruisers whine about surcharges that usually apply to fabulous specialty restaurants and extraordinary new features that dramatically enhance their vacation? The truth is that cruise lines are missing the boat when it comes to a lot of revenue-generating possibilities and while I’m certainly not going to be the one to tell them, here are a few that come to mind:

Pay Toilets: No, I’m not suggesting that you pay to use your cabin bathroom, but how about that public one you’re so fond of popping into after the show? That’s convenience, ladies and gentlemen, and I’ll bet most of us would flick a couple of quarters into the slot of a public restroom nearby instead of schlepping all the way back to their cabin — I know I would.

Passport Peace of Mind: You know the routine collection of passports on most itineraries? That, my dear, is secure storage and it prevents loss for the duration of your cruise. I’m thinking 20 bucks because, really, can you imagine how upsetting it would be to lose your passport while traveling?

Tenders: Helloooo???? Transportation??? Show me a bus, a train, or a ferry that doesn’t charge a fee anywhere but aboard a cruise ship! $10 each way sounds reasonable — and for port-intensive itineraries, I’d offer a 10-tripper ticket for $90.

Room Service and a Show: A charge for room service is already commonplace aboard ship but with a bit of cabaret, you can increase that charge significantly. I’m not talking dancing girls or a full orchestra, but there’s no reason why that cheese plate or tomato soup can’t be delivered by a juggler, belly dancer, magician, or comedian. Entertainment fee: $10.

Handy Dandy: Nobody wants to get sick, particularly on vacation, so why should hand sanitizer be complimentary … everywhere? 25 cents per squirt.

Captain Meet-and-Greet: The captain is a pretty impressive dude so let’s put him to work! Why not offer a $50 Captain Meet-and-Greet package that includes a glass of champagne, a handshake, a photo, and a tour of the bridge? A $150 VIP option would add a spot at the captain’s table one evening of the cruise.

Dramamine Dream: Seasick cruisers are DESPERATE for relief, yet ships fork over free Dramamine like shady drug dealers looking for steady customers. A package of 12 Dramamine is about $6 ashore and I think they could easily charge $10 when you consider onboard convenience and the despair of the patient.

And there could be so many more! Water-slide entrance fees, replacement key card penalties, and deck-chair rental to name a few more examples.

So the next time you pay a surcharge for a memorable meal at a specialty restaurant, experience an onboard thrill ride, or bundle up for a visit to the ice bar, remember you’re paying for the experience and the adventure.

And it could always be worse. Much worse.

— Judi Cuervo



Judi Cuervo is a New York City native who fell in love with cruising in 1976 during her first sailing aboard Carnival Cruises’ Mardi Gras. Twenty years later, she began her freelance cruise writing gig and, since that time, has covered mass market, ultra-premium, riverboat and expedition ships for regional, national and international publications as well as cruise websites.