Poll Position: Fee-Free Fantasy

May 7, 2012 | By | 11 Comments

Over the past several years, avid cruisers have seen more and more added-fee amenities aboard sailings with mainstream cruise lines. From specialty snacks and meals to fitness classes and even ship tours, today’s dailies are teeming with for-fee options. Of course, when you’ve been cruising for years and you’re used to just hopping onboard and not having to worry about extra expenses, these costs can be quite the annoyance. And although we were pretty certain we could peg your responses, we thought we’d ask which amenity you would most like to see included in your cruise fare.
What we asked: If I could pick one thing to be included in my cruise fare, it would be ___.
What they said: Just as we thought, just over 49 percent of the 4,228 people who responded to our Daily Poll would choose to have alcohol and/or soda included in their cruise fare. Another nearly 26 percent of respondents would choose shore excursions and in a close third, just over 20 percent would prefer alternative dining be included. A mere 5.37 percent would have spa treatments included.
What it all means: You can get your fill of water at home! Most folks want to indulge at least a little while on vacation and having a few Diet Cokes with dinner or a couple fruity cocktails by the pool seems like an affordable way to do so – until you see your final tab. So of course, it would be awesome to drink to your heart’s content without having to worry about having a coronary when you go to settle up. As for shore excursions and alternative dining, well those bills can add up quickly as well, especially if you’re traveling as a family.
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    11 Responses to “Poll Position: Fee-Free Fantasy”

    1. Jim
      May 7th, 2012 @ 1:27 pm

      I don’t mind paying for alcohol, but soda should be included.

    2. Brian
      May 7th, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

      I’m all for any of those. As long as they offer a “discount” for those of us who chose not to participate. I’d rather not subsidize the “all you can…” crowd.

    3. Debra Mc
      May 7th, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

      Perhaps more folks should look into River Cruising: wine & shore excursions are included in the price.

    4. Gary
      May 7th, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

      Never never never have all-inclusive alcohol on a cruise unless you want to ruin the cruise with drunks slobbering and puking all over the ship.
      Free sodas and free spa treatment is a very good idea.
      Free excursions would shoot up the cruise price for those who do not want to go on excursions.

    5. ron
      May 7th, 2012 @ 6:23 pm

      for those interested disney cruise lines does not charge for sodas

    6. Carole Rosenthal
      May 7th, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

      Soda/liquor have never been included, but paying for coffee, or fee restaurants should not cost. Our last several cruises, we were forced to pay for a restaurant because the food quality in the fee less restaurants had deteriorated on purpose to make money in the fee restaurants. Food was something we looked to. Now it the ports that is the highlight of the cruise.

    7. Cheri
      May 7th, 2012 @ 7:21 pm

      Any of the options would shoot up the cruise price. Personally, I knew the free alcohol/soft drinks would win, but really other than maybe the alternate dining, the others far exceed what I personally spend. Maybe I just don’t drink enough – LOL.

    8. Janet
      May 7th, 2012 @ 7:59 pm

      I think that there should be packages for alchohol or spa services that cruisers can purchase either on the ship or prior to sailing. I do believe that sodas should be included.

    9. Lonna
      May 7th, 2012 @ 11:14 pm

      Carole..Soda was included at one point and time and they took that away.
      Now it is for pay restaurants, which I think is fair if lines would stop lowering the standard in the MDR to try to get people to go to specialties. I do wish they would bring back the free soda, paying for alcohol is expected, but soda should be free.

    10. Matt
      May 9th, 2012 @ 8:35 am


      I went on cruises with my parents in the 1970s (NCL) and even then sodas were not free. Ice tea and lemonade have always been free. Not sure why those don’t suffice for most people. Given the health hazards of sodas–even diet ones–and seeing how much of the stuff people drink who are on the pre-paid packages (a tablemate drank 150 Sprite Zeros on a 15 day cruise), I’d prefer that those of us who are happy with what’s served for free not pay for their indulgence.

      The one thing I miss after a two-year break in cruises is free cappuccino in the MDR. At first I thought it was just NCL that started charging, but was just on X and they charge extra now too. $3.50 isn’t unreasonable, but as we are frugal cruisers (and the regular coffee was disappointing), it was sorely missed. Our MDR waiter had the best suggestion–use the instant packs from the buffet. No, it’s not gourmet, but at least it’s consistent and can be customized for strength.

    11. Margaret
      May 10th, 2012 @ 12:02 am

      Just got back from a river cruise in France. Lovely house red or white wine was part of every meal and the regular shore excursions were also included. I can only hope this remains the case as I thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and intend to go on more river cruises. I wish the more mature adult-oriented ocean cruise lines would move in this direction. There should be an included excursion of each port. They could still have other excursions at an extra cost. I just find it a bit ridiculous for vacation cruises to act like they have nothing to do with the stops they make. Having house wine included with meals did not stop people I cruised with from purchasing other alcoholic beverages, so the cruise line still made money on board.
      Wifi was also included, though it could be spotty when we were away from port. Internet use is so ubiquitous these days it is beyond the pale to charge by the hour for it, or to charge by each email you send.

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