8 FREE Things on a Cruise You Could Soon Have to Pay For

One of the biggest draws to cruising is that it’s easy. You pay one fare and everything you need is included. You get lodging, food, and entertainment, all without having to constantly shell out extra money during your trip.

But what is great for cruise passengers also means money left on the table for the cruise lines. As publicly traded companies, cruise lines have to answer to investors who are constantly expecting greater revenue and profits.

Since building a ship is so expensive, it’s far easier for the cruise lines to simply increase the revenue they see from current passengers rather than expanding service. That means raising fees or taking away things that used to be free.

We’re already seeing this in many areas. For example, Carnival just increased the prices of its Faster to the Fun program… which itself is an extra fee to avoid waiting in line.

If we had to guess, it’s most likely that cruising will continue to copy what airlines have done — start charging big fees for things that used to be free.

If that’s the case, then what things could you be possibly be charged for in the future that are free right now? We’ve come up with some of the most likely items…

Room service

Being charged for room service isn’t a stretch. In fact many cruise lines already charge for room service if you order at odd hours in the middle of the night or order select items. The fee is usually nominal, but don’t think for a minute that cruise lines haven’t considered charging for room service around the clock. After all, if people are willing to pay, it’s free money for the ship.

Extra entrees

Steak dinner

One of the perks of eating on a cruise is that you can eat your fill in the dining room. Want another steak? You can order it for no charge. But that extra entree is a major expense for the cruise line. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing a nominal fee ($5 or so) for ordering a second helping in the dining room.

Onboard activities

One of the coolest things about cruise ships is that they continue to push the envelope with what’s possible at sea. What began with climbing walls and basketball courts has turned into ice rinks, massive waterslides, and more. And while onboard activities have traditionally been free, it shouldn’t be a surprise that cruise lines are starting to charge for some of them. Royal Caribbean has already started this trend, charging guests for using its North Star and RipCord features.

Luggage

Remember when airlines didn’t charge you for luggage? Once they started to do so, they raked in millions of dollars. Don’t think that cruise lines didn’t take notice. We can easily see extra bags being charged on a cruise as a way for the company to make more money.

Reserved show seating

Cruise ship theater

We’re doubtful that a cruise line would charge admission to the onboard shows. It’s one of the main forms of entertainment on the ship and a classic freebie. However, we can imagine them charging people who want to sit in prime spaces, such as the first three rows. A small $5-10 charge would be pocket change to many cruisers, but would add up to millions of dollars for the cruise line.

Reserved deck chairs

Just like the evening shows, people could be willing to pay to reserve the best deck chairs. Maybe it is the lounger in the shade or the one right by the pool. No matter the best location, a couple of dollars to reserve a deck chair (and have it waiting on you) would be a small price to pay for the convenience.

Early boarding

Want to board earliest and get on the ship while everyone else waits in line? Well, Carnival already uses this perk as part of its Faster to the Fun package. But many people would pay for early boarding by itself, without any other perks. We already see this in use with airlines like Southwest, which allow people earlier boarding for a small fee. There’s no reason that the cruise lines couldn’t implement this tomorrow across the board and rake in millions of dollars in fees.

Ice cream

Gasp. They wouldn’t take away our soft-serve would they?

No way! Don’t worry. Your ice cream is safe. The cruise lines aren’t that crazy.