Crazy Cruise: 7 Absurdities of the Sea
There's something for everyone on a cruise. And I don't mean that the same way your travel agent or cruise line does.
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.
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 begin 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 LAWS
I asked my colleague, cruise expert
In Dixon's case, the Jones Act forbids foreign ships, which includes most major cruise line fleets, to transport cargo or passengers between two
THE RESTAURANT UPSELL
Most 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
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 DIMING
It isn't just the best restaurants that are extra, of course. That margarita you ordered with lunch is
Even amenities that you think would be included, aren't. For example,
AIR DEVIATION FEES
When you buy 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," says
Even then, you don't necessarily get the flight you want, but instead choose 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.
THE CRUISE CONTRACT
If you thought airline contracts were bad, check out a cruise contract. They seem to be written by a team of maritime lawyers who want to take your money and give you nothing in return.
Think I'm kidding? Reader
The cruise line should have refunded her port fees, but a review of her cruise contract -- the legal agreement between her and her cruise line -- shows it didn't owe her much more than that. It had no obligation to keep her advertised schedule. The contract is full of other clauses and traps that you should familiarize yourself with before you set sail.
JEWELRY AND ART SALES
Smart cruisers stay as far away from onboard jewelry seminars as possible. Look out for art auctions, too. "These events are tagged as educational seminars that also include tip sheets on where to buy while in port, and on some cruise lines includes a 'buyer's guarantee' that is supposed to help the passenger with refunds in the event that they are unhappy with the purchase," says
Unfortunately, travelers are often caught up in the romance of the moment, and feel a false sense of security because of the cruise line's guarantee, adds Dewdney. When they get home, they realize that their jewelry is worth less than they thought and that the cruise line is unwilling to help.
These absurdities are enough to make you rethink your next cruise vacation, aren't they? But if you decide to cruise, you might consider a few preventative measures (http://www.elliott.org/the-travel-critic/revenge-at-sea-5-ways-passengers-are-getting-even-with-cruise-lines) that will ensure you don't get the short end of the stick.
After all, it's a cruise. And there's something for everyone.
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