11 Things You Want to Spend Money on While at Sea


Its true cruise ships are made of many, many profit centers. You might think once the ship pulls away from the dock, your objective should be to get as much as possible for free. After all, cruises were one of the first “all inclusive” vacations. (Although alcohol was usually separate.) Frugal or not, here are eleven things where you should part with some cash during your vacation.

  1. A drink in the best bar with the best view. The ship is pulling away from the pier. You see the city skyline. You want the full experience of getting the captain’s eye view of the shoreline as your trip begins. After boarding the ship, hunt out the bar with the best view. It’s probably right under the ship’s bridge. After the lifeboat drill, nail down a table with your friends. Buy drinks.
  2. Flowers in the cabin. This stateroom is your home away from home for the next week or so. Visit the purser’s desk. Ask about fresh flowers for your cabin. You will probably discover they are reasonably priced. Go for a small arrangement. Your cabin is small. You don’t want to overwhelm the space.
  3. The logoed polo shirt. It’s a great ship operated by a great cruise line. How will your friends at home know if you don’t own the shirt? It sounds trite, but the shirt is a great conversation starter.
  4. Shore excursions. Yes, you can probably do a fair job exploring on your own, but why not take preparation off your plate and signup for at least one tour? CruiseCompete links you to third-party shore excursion providers, giving you access to higher quality cruise shore excursions at substantially lower prices than the cruise lines. Enjoy a more intimate tour experience away from the crowds.
    Be confident in your choice with 24/7 support for travelers, a full refund if you miss your shore excursion due to itinerary changes or weather, and guaranteed return to your cruise ship!
  5. The speaker’s book. Some cruise lines feature celebrity speakers. They often have a book, which they will autograph after their speaking presentation. If you liked the speaker, buy the book. Think out of the box: If it’s a famous politician, astronaut or fashion designer, think about Christmas presents. Who shares the same interest and would enjoy a book personally autographed to them?
  6. Dry cleaning and laundry. Hopefully you packed enough clean clothing. Evening wear gets dirty. On land, you expect hotel dry cleaning to cost the earth. For some reason, I’ve found dry cleaning at sea to be pretty reasonable relative to my local guy back home. You are on vacation. Present yourself in clean clothes.
  7. The professional photo. You are now in clean, pressed clothing on a formal night. Even though everyone takes photos on their Smartphones, there’s still a place at home for a framed 8×10 photo of you both looking good. If that’s not your style, your parents would probably appreciate the photo.
  8. The menu set. Here’s the good news. It’s probably free for the asking. At the end of your trip, ask your waiter if you can have a set. They probably get this request lots of times.
  9. Specialty dining. Most ships have themed restaurants, accessible for a nominal charge. They need to deliver food that’s more inventive than the main dining room. It should also be less crowded. If you are celebrating a birthday or anniversary, this is the way to do it.
  10. Duty free liquor. For me, the jury is still out on perfume and other luxury goods at sea. Buying duty free alcohol to carry off the ship is usually a pretty good deal. Know your prices beforehand. If you are a vodka fan back home, it’s going to get used up anyway. Buy a nice brand if it’s at a reasonable price.
  11. Your next trip. If you are like me, you are amazed there always seems to be a line at the future voyage booking office. Although you might not know when your next trip might happen, it may be worth putting down a small deposit, redeemable towards a future trip in the next year or so. Why? Because they often add in benefits like a statement cash credit for that future voyage. Check into it.

Yes, ships have plenty of profit centers. However, there are times when parting with cash is money well spent.

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