(Photo: Cruise Ship Docked at Sunset in St. Maarten via Ruth Peterkin/Shutterstock.com)
At the going prices, cruises can be extremely good deals. Whether a lower-deck inside stateroom or a top-deck suite, a cruise cabin itself is almost never a rip-off. That's especially true when you track the many promotions you see advertised on information websites such as Cruise Critic, on big online cruise-agency websites such as CruisesOnly and Cruises-N-More, or even through good travel agents.
The rip-offs come when you start buying the extras or conforming to the industry's standard practices. That means if you're careful and you avoid the many temptations thrown at you, you can avoid most rip-offs completely. Sadly, lots of people don't want you to avoid the rip-offs, so diligence is the best defense. Here are 12 cruise rip-offs to look out for.
The biggest rip-off in the cruise business targets travelers who want to cruise by themselves—those who don't have a spouse or companion and don't want to share a cabin. The penalty is occasionally as high as 100 percent—when you pay two per-person rates—but is more often in the range of 50 to 75 percent. Even that, however, is stiff enough to deter many solo travelers.
Although you may see a single supplement as a rip-off, the cruise lines don't see it that way at all: Almost the entire industry is hardwired to serve couples and families, with cabins accommodating two to four people, at rates based on the longstanding "per person, double occupancy" pricing formula. Cruise lines can rightfully claim that getting less than both two-person rates for a two-person cabin represents lost revenue they can't recapture.
Cruise lines eagerly point out how you can "save" by sharing: If you can't find your own cabinmate, a cruise line—or a third-party matching service—will find one for you. But, for dedicated solo travelers, that's not the point. You're looking for a good deal, not a cabinmate.
Avoiding the Rip-Off: Cruise-line promotions occasionally drop the single supplement to a figure in the 10 to 25 percent range. A few cruise ships have a few cabins designed for singles. And Norwegian Cruise Line recently built several new ships that have studio-cabin sections outfitted for solo travelers as well as associated lounge areas.
Read the Entire Story: 12 Worst Cruise Rip-Offs.