Cruise lines often offer perks to passengers at the time of booking to make the cruise more appealing, but are they worth it? Let’s take a closer look.
Examples of perks:
- Free gratuities: this is one of the most common perks offered by cruise lines at the time of booking.
- On board Credits: this perk is usually different based on the type of cabin you book ie: for an inside cabin you’ll get $50 while if you book a balcony you might get $150
- Free cabin upgrade: this perk usually sounds better than it is. Most of the time it means that you’ll get the same type of cabin you were originally booking just in a better area of the ship. For example you were booking an aft inside cabin, you will get a mid ship inside cabin. Very rarely you will get a free cabin type upgrade (ie. oceanview to balcony for the same price)
- Free specialty dining: most of the time this kind of perk is combined with one of the previous one
- Free drinking package: this is one of the most wanted perks, and it’s usually only attached to balcony rooms and higher (rarely you’ll get it with ocean view cabins). Some cruise lines charge extra for gratuities on the drinking package- so be aware! Another thing to watch for is the type of drinking package, if the cruise line has a cheap package and an expensive one- usually the cheap version consists of bottom shelf sprits, domestic beer and house wine etc.
- Free internet minutes, free photos, free casino credits etc: these are less common, but can be useful for some.
Here’s the thing – These perks are not really free they are just built in your cruise fare. If you are wondering if it’s really a “deal”, the best thing to do is to do some math. Ask your agent how much is the cruise fare without the perks and calculate how much would the gratuities or drinks cost and see if it is really worth it. You’ll soon discover that those perks are not a huge saving.
Twice or three times a year, however, cruise lines have special sales and they combine 2 or 3 of the above perks together that’s the time to book! Usually during those sale (normally around January-February and September and October) the perks can be really advantageous!
It’s also worth mentioning the future cruise deposit. This is a deposit for a future cruise booked on board. Most of the times booking on board will give you extra on board credits that normally you won’t get and they are combinable with any other sale!