A new study by Allianz Global Assistance, which was reported recently in Conde Nast Traveler claims that of the two-thirds of Americans who say they have never been on a cruise, 47% give ‘prohibitive costs’ as a reason. Although the cruise industry bills itself as a less expensive means for a vacation because the fare includes all meals, activities and entertainment, ‘hidden costs’ can add up. This is even true on cruise lines that charge ‘all-inclusive’ rates where in some cases you pay extra for alternative dining venues, premium wines and spirits and of course shore excursions (which are occasionally included in special itineraries and almost always on Regent Seven Seas).
But, and this is a big but, even though Silversea, Seabourn, Crystal and Regent include a lot with the fare, they are the highest ticket items to begin with on the high seas. And yes, if you can afford the tab, very much worth it in every way from top food and service to staterooms and shipboard elegance. The Allianz survey pointed out that while cost is a major factor, other reticent seafarers cite safety concerns which linger especially following in the wake of the recent Anthem of the Seas storm incident, which left the ship and passengers battered and bruised; and of course the sinking of the Costa Concordia in the sea outside an Italian island and other unfavorable incidents. The survey also indicated that the remaining non-cruisers shared concerns about seasickness (10 percent), the anxiety of contracting an illness like norovirus or sustaining an injury from rough seas (8 percent), fear of shipwrecks (7 percent), and claustrophobia (6 percent).
In spite of this recent revelation the cruise industry is experiencing a major boom with dozens of new ship under construction and even behemoth ‘boats’ sailing near to capacity. But of course there is always room for more and for those who price is an object a cruise may not be for you even though there are ways to cut costs if you’re willing to forgo shore excursions, drinks that can really add up at the bars (even bottle water on some ships cost a premium, but is free on all-inclusive lines), stay out of alternative dining venues, and stay off the Internet where fees are by the minute and unless the line offers a package (a few provide free WiFi) can break budgets fast. And then there are obvious extras such as spa treatments which have risen in price astronomically (but you don’t need to do this or have you hair cut, colored or coiffed).
If you’re not sure if you can afford a cruise but want to try one go the line’s website to find out what’s included with your fare and do you need to spend an overnight in a hotel to catch the departure time, do you need to fly (which will add to the total unless you sail out of your home port), and are tips included (luxury lines such as Crystal, Silversea, Seabourn and Regent pick up gratuities). You might also want to check with a travel agent who should be well-informed as to what comes with your ticket.
Last but not least when considering the cost of a cruise think about how convenient it is to pack and unpack just once, visit many different islands or ports without having to get back on an airplane, and being able to sit back and watch the worries of the world disappear in the wake.