Cruise lines are taking advantage of the fact that only about 3.1 percent of North America’s population have taken a cruise.
Since so few have sailed, when they finally get around to cruising they won’t know what they’re missing.
Yes, this has been the golden age of cruising … with massive ships loaded with amenities and options only dreamed of 20 years ago. And with 15 new ships coming over the next three years you can expect that trend to continue.
But as those ships are built, they’re starting to follow the airline’s flawed model by cramming more passengers into tighter spaces.
For instance, even though Royal Caribbean’s new Sunshine-class ships debuting in 2014 are slightly smaller than the line’s Freedom-class ships, each will hold 500 more passengers. To do that you’ll have to eliminate some public spaces. Since we haven’t seen plans are for Sunshine-class ships, we have no idea what’s being taken away.
That detail won’t matter to the 96-plus percent who haven’t experienced the pleasures of a cruise. They’ll be awed by FlowRiders, ice bars, ice skating, 3-D theaters, water shows, outdoor gardens and everything else that makes a modern-day cruise such a unique vacation.
For the veteran cruisers who remember the days when voyages were truly all-inclusive, the addition of pay restaurants and other money-making amenities brought about much disappointment.
But for those who started cruising after those things were added, it’s just part of a cruise to them. You can’t miss what you never had.
Frequent cruisers like me also remember when a deal truly was a deal … when a cheap cruise could be found on a regular basis.
Right now we’re in what is known in the cruise industry as “wave season,” a period from January through March where the best deals can usually be had.
But cruise lines have to pay for those new ships. If you’re expecting deep discounts on cruises … forget about it. The best you can expect are onboard credits, upgrades and other perks that really don’t cost them much. And they’ll make up for those freebies with drinks, slot machines, specialty restaurants, cupcakes and massages – things that will cost you.
Ah, the good old days. We’ll never see those again.
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