Home Cruise Safely 17 of the Worst Ways Cruise Ships Try to Rip You Off

by Jess Bolluyt

Considering a cruise ship for your next vacation? Cruises sound like a great value. After all, you get your food, accommodations, transportation, and entertainment all under one roof (and for one price). Of course, there are plenty of cruise trip secrets you should know before you arrive. But a big one cruise lines won’t tell you? At many points on your vacation, the cruise line is probably trying to rip you off with brief port visits, overpriced beverages, and terrible staterooms.

Of course, you don’t want to interrupt your time gazing out at the ocean or adventuring into exciting ports of call to worry about prices. The solution? Read up on the most common cruise ship rip-offs.

1. They sell you the wrong kind of cruise

A travel agent gives tickets and a passport to a woman about to embark on a cruise. | iStock.com/dima_sidelnikov

Cruises (and cruise ships) come in many varieties. Some focus on giving you tons of downtime (plus amenities, such as spas and massages). But others pack in numerous cultural experiences and visit a new port every day or two. Some cruise ships cater to families. And still others make it easy to party day and night. Cruise lines sell customers cruises based on itinerary. Want to find the right trip for your personality? Check out the details before handing over your credit card.

2. The cruise persuades you to buy expensive shore excursions

People walk along a pier near the Liberty of the Seas and The Zuiderdam ships as they lie moored. | iStock.com/chrisbradshaw

Part of the fun of sailing on a cruise ship? You get to stop at a variety of ports to explore new cities. But as Business Insider reports, you shouldn’t blindly buy shore excursions from the ship. Cruise lines often charge unreasonably high prices for their excursions. And if you pay attention to the time, you can have a similar experience — if not a better one — by planning your own shore excursions in the ports you’re most excited to visit.

3. Cruise lines don’t give you a refund if you change your mind about an excursion

Mother and son look at Santorini, Greece. | iStock.com/Nadezhda1906

If you think you want to participate in one of the shore excursions offered by the cruise ship, it makes sense to book it ahead of time. But plans change — even if cruise lines don’t want them to. Condé Nast Traveler reports some cruise lines won’t issue a refund if you change your mind about an excursion. Always read the fine print before you sign on the dotted line.

4. They sell you cruises where all you’ll experience is terrible weather

Everybody wants to save money when they compare cruises. But Business Insider advises against booking when prices fall to their lowest. The reason why? The weather. Cruises through the Caribbean between September and early December will experience nothing but hurricane season. And winter cruises in Europe will bring cold weather and rough seas. Plus, May or September cruises in Alaska will subject you to lots of snow, mud, and even rain.

5. The cruise ship serves you food that’s been left out for too long

You might know several people who have gone on cruises and caught norovirus. The problem? Food, especially when served buffet-style, sometimes gets left out too long. And food that sits out, or gets handled by too many people, might get contaminated with norovirus. Plus, if somebody infected with the virus touches the serving utensils? They might infect you. Avoid the buffet, especially if it doesn’t look fresh. And perhaps think twice about booking cruises on the cruise lines with the most stomach bug outbreaks.


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