Define Nickel Diming Cruisers

Many of you talk about the feeling of being "nickel dimed" to death on a cruise ...what does that mean to you?

13 Answers

In General, the concept of a cruise, and as well as the perception is an of "All Inclusive". I guessing that at one time, this was probably the case. Now those who have cruised more will probably confirm this, but I am going to guess here that the only bill you may have got was the bar bill.

At that time the cruises were more money for the whole cruise and the industry brought down the price to reach a wider audience. When they did this, the Spa, Photos, Excursions and even events on board started to be charged to the cruisers. It can be a surprise to many unsuspecting travelers.

Personally, we feel that extra dining options, room service, shows and of course the Spa charges are too much for what you get. I would rather pay a little bit more at the outset than have a larger bill at the end. I like the idea of booze packages, as they give options.

I know that some lines, due the the recent decreases in passenger volume have offered special packages if you chose inside to suites for the sailings, This and other options have made the option of cruising as opposed to land vacations an option.

That's my view and I'm sticking to it.....Big Smile

I think it's now all the specialty restaurants.

I totally agree with Johngold, plus charging for room service when before it was included, charging for "special" tea bags at "tea time" (otherwise you get Lipton). Charges for things that were included before. I makes you not want to do that activity. It isn't that one can't afford it, it is that it should already be included.

Years ago, when you boarded the ship, your bill was paid. Except for gratuities, bar tab, photos, and souvenirs from the gift shops on board. Most, if not all meals, were eaten in the MDR or buffet. Now, you have specialty restaurants, coffee bars, candy, pastry, and ice cream shoppes, and whatever else. You even have to pay for certain shows. Being nickel and dimed is the sense that, you board a ship for less money, but once on board, everything ( or so it seems ) has an up charge. Granted, it's up to the individual if you want to spend on all the extras, but who doesn't want to try the steakhouse ? If you always go to Starbucks, you are going to utilize the coffee bar.

Its about volume now. Larger ships, more pax. Look at all the balconies now. Too bad most are unusable. We've had balconies that had a lounge chair, regular chair, and table. Now I hear many of the balconies are SRO.

Agree with JohnGold and BAK. But the cruise lines have also gone a step beyond the specialty restaurants. When first introduced these were a flat fee for each usage. Many have now gone to an a la carte model for the specialty restaurants which really gives the feel of being nickeled and dimed. One feels more like they are in a hotel now as opposed to on a cruise ship. The cruise lines are feeling the pinch of increased capacity and trying to lure more travellers so they are trying to make it attractive by reducing the initial cost and then trying to get it back however they can. It is a marketing thing. Smoke and mirrors. I much prefer to know and look after the total cost up front and then the holiday is worry free. Many lines have recognized this and you can purchase your drink package and specialty dining package in advance so you do not have to be nickled and dimed. With that in mind I can foresee them starting to also offer an advanced purchase room service package as well.

When I started cruising you paid for the cruise and only other thing was Bar tab, tips, excursions, spa and Photo's. You did not need to pay for show's, up-charge dining, ice cream, coffee or candy. On formal night it was good surf and turf in the MDR included. I mean charging for Johnny Rockets.....paying for a burger ?

I can remember when they did the midnight buffet. when they did away with that in place at about 11:00 they had staff walking around the clubs with trays of hors d'oeuvre's to snack on. Now it is pizza for late night snack, I also remember a fruit bowl in the cabin, now I take fruit at lunch and put in in the cabin to snack on later in the evening.

We haven't felt that way at all on our cruises - they have been all inclusive for us because we choose not to eat in specialty restaurants, don't order room service items that are extra costs, don't get coffee from the specialty shop, and we always have had at least $50-100 OBC to use for photos or any extras we want. At the end of our week when we get our statement it has shown a zero balance or a little OBC remaining which is donated back.

Pretty much the same here. Plus they are charging for some room service menu items.

Pretty good question. What is the difference between the nickel and dime cruise experience and the all-inclusive type; which is better for you?

My opinion is that this all stems from the bottom line and the profit margin which investors in the cruise line business have a sole interest in. Assuming most voyagers know the difference between nickel and dimeing and not, the best way to understand it all is to recognize that the industry confronted a situation years ago wherein it faced the dilemma of how to increase volume, if not, stagnate.

Problem was, most folks could not afford to cruise, simple as that. So the answer to getting them on board was to charge them only one low basic fee which gave them passage, a simple cabin, food in a common dining room or buffet and freedom to roam about the ship taking in a show or two, but not much else unless they wanted to pay extra. In addition, were shore days, shore sightseeing adventures were expensive so during the port days they could get by with taking a free shuttle into the nearby town or walking there. That was pretty much it, bottom line, they love/loved it. To the point the industry has introduced gigantic ships to compensate for the demand brought on by those who desire a simple affordable cruise on the sea.

As for the days of yore, for the all-inclusive cruise lovers (like us) there were problems. Except for a few all-inclusive lines $$$$ which offered smaller vessels but more extravagant itineraries, amenities and service, those voyagers were being left out of cruising boom.

So the big boys compensated for that too. On board the giants they came up with all sorts of extra charge venues, in particular, extra charge specialty restaurants which blew away the ever increasing degradation of service and cuisine quality in the free main dining rooms by offering exquisite gourmet meals and super service. Commensurate with not only the addition of decent extra charge eateries, but almost everything else in the form of service and on board programs capable of being extra charged were enhanced in quality.

Actually, those marketing tactics might be irritating but are pretty ingenious, as one can pay for all the extras desired, cuisine, better cabins, balconies, deluxe shore excursions, top quality booze, spa treatments and on and on while still rubbing elbows on the main deck with those paying for a lesser class of cruise on a bare bones budget. But, at the same time beating the expense of a similar itinerary with like or better service, meal quality and cabin size as to what one gets on the so called “luxury lines” for about one half to two thirds.

Next it'll be a $5.00 fee for each sail and Sign card based on double occupancy a $10.00 mimuim fee.


* is not a booking agent or travel agency, and does not charge any service fees to users of our site. Our partners (travel agencies and cruise lines) provide prices, which we list for our users' convenience. does not guarantee any specific rates or prices. While prices are updated daily, please check with the booking site for the exact amount. is not responsible for content on external web sites.

Back to Top