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5 Overrated Onboard Purchases to Avoid on Your Cruise

Gina Kramer

Jan 8, 2020

Read time
3 min read

There's nothing worse than getting that onboard account bill at the end of your cruise and counting all the unnecessary purchases -- $20 for aspirin and toothpaste, really? Unfortunately, other items, which might have seemed justifiable in the moment, might not be the great buy you thought they were at the time. Step up your onboard spending game, and save yourself some hard-earned cash, by steering clear of these five overrated purchases.

On This Page

  • The "Welcome Aboard" Photo
  • Basic Necessities From the Shops
  • Souvenir Glasses
  • Spa Products
  • Mini-Bar Drinks

1. The "Welcome Aboard" Photo

Caught up in the whirlwind and excitement of embarkation day, you might feel compelled to purchase the first professional photo taken of you. Usually, it's that one in front of a cheesy "Welcome Aboard" backdrop in the terminal, where you look tired and disheveled from standing in lines all day. Our advice? Save your money for a nicer shot -- preferably one taken on formal night on the atrium staircase or in front of a more appealing backdrop set up by the photography staff onboard. Single prints can cost up to $25, depending on the cruise line, so you want to spend wisely.

2. Basic Necessities From the Shops

Make sure you pack sunscreen, bug spray, a seasickness remedy, pain relievers and anything else you might need during your cruise. Otherwise, you could be stuck paying almost double the amount onboard, as the prices of basic necessities are usually marked up at sea. If you do forget to pack these items, however, we recommend purchasing them in port, where the prices tend to be more affordable. Stay prepared with our top 10 cruise packing tips.

Souvenir cups on Carnival Valor (Photo: Cruise Critic)

3. Souvenir Glasses

That gigantic fishbowl you purchased in a tipsy stupor might make for a great Instagram post, but let's be honest: You'll probably never use it after this cruise. (Those things are a pain to lug around and take home, anyway.) Some cruise lines offer discounted refills with the purchase of a souvenir glass (which can range between $5 and $15), but those refills still cost about the price of a regular drink, so you don't end up saving much. Another thing to keep in mind: Most beverage packages do not include drinks in souvenir glasses.

4. Spa Products

No, that $80 bottle of eucalyptus body oil is not the reason you feel like you're floating on a cloud after your massage. But your therapist might try to convince you it will reduce cellulite, help you sleep better and ultimately solve all your life problems. (It won't. In fact, we've heard horror stories from members who've spent hundreds of dollars on products that didn't meet their expectations.) Kindly decline the post-treatment offer -- or just say you'll think about it when you're not in a massage-induced haze.

5. Mini-Bar Drinks

Unless you've got a beverage package that includes the mini-bar (which is rare) or are sailing on a luxury ship where alcohol is included, we recommend not touching the drinks in that little fridge. For starters, there isn't much variety in terms of liquor. Some lines also allow passengers to bring their own soda and other nonalcoholic drinks onboard, so there wouldn't be a need to take them from the mini-bar. One bottle of liquor -- usually no more than 2 ounces -- can cost just as much as a cocktail from the bar. Even with water, if you prefer bottled over tap, it's better to purchase from one of the onboard bars so you can avoid the automatic mini-bar restocking fee/service charge.

Updated January 08, 2020
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