Could Resort Fees Come to Cruise Ships?

If you travel to popular vacation spots around the United States, then there is a good chance you’ve run into resort fees.These fees have boomed in popularity in recent years among hotels, much to the dismay of travelers. Headed to Las Vegas, Orlando, or South Beach? Hotels in all these cities — and many more around the nation — have these dreaded fees.

So could they be coming to cruise ships next?

Small amounts of cash

If you aren’t familiar, resort fees are extra charges that some hotels make customers pay to have access to the services at the hotel. For example, a hotel might charge a guest a daily resort fee and say that it’s to cover services like wi-fi, pool access, and free local telephone calls. Even if you don’t use these services, you still have to pay the fee.

What rankles many guests is that these fees aren’t included in the nightly room rate, yet they can cost a small fortune. Hotels in Las Vegas, for instance, charge up to $45 per night in resort fees. That means a three-night stay would cost almost $150 even before you were charged for the actual room.

In addition, these fees have been implemented under the guise of covering things like pool access, newspapers, bottled water, and wi-fi. These are all things that used to be free to guests at a hotel.

And despite people loathing these fees, they only seem to be getting worse as they bring in extra revenue for hotels.

Of course, this all begs the question — could resort fees soon come to cruise ships? After all, cruise ships are resorts floating on the water and are tourists hotspots, just like popular places like Las Vegas and South Beach.

Will Cruise Ships Be Next for Resort Fees?

Let’s be clear — as of right now there is no hint or rumor that any cruise line will start to charge resort fees similar to what some hotels offer.

But in some ways passengers are already charged in ways similar to resort fees. For instance, if you want to get on the Internet on a cruise, it’s an extra charge. Want to eat at a specialty restaurant not included in your fare? Extra charge. And gratuities — which can add up to $30 per day for a couple traveling — are definitely an extra charge.

While these aren’t resort fees (which presumably go right into a hotel’s pocket), they are extra fees that many passengers don’t know about until they book, especially first-time cruisers.

Ships lined up at dock

So what about real resort fees that charge passengers extra for things that are normally included? Remember some resort fees cover things like pool access or a morning newspaper or a bottle of water — items that in most hotels would be free of charge.

While there’s no sign of this sort of resort fee on a cruise right now, we are of the opinion that it could happen (or at least be tested) in the next few years.

Unfortunately, American consumers have been pushed by extra fees of all sorts, and the fees seem to be moving to the norm instead of a special case. Obviously there are things like resort fees, but think about baggage fees on airlines. A decade ago baggage fees were largely unheard of. Today airlines bring in roughly $5 billion from baggage fees alone.

In other words, while companies know that consumers hate these charges, they are simply too lucrative to pass up. And given that cruising is in the same industry as hotels and airlines (travel), it’s a place where more and more consumers have become accustomed to these extra fees.

Comments from cruise executives, such as Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank del Rio, who said “we’re pushing price higher everywhere we can in 2019 and 2020,” also should make budget-conscious travelers leery that fees could be tested.

All that said, we have seen backlash from higher prices before. Recently Carnival planned on increasing the cost of its room service to passengers and it was quickly scuttled after public outcry.

Even so, cruise lines are in business to make money and extra fees are one of the easiest ways to get passengers to spend more. In our opinion it wouldn’t surprise us if one day in the near future we see a cruise line attempt to charge passengers a resort fee.

Whether it would stick — or if passengers will make their displeasure heard — is a different story.

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