Cruise Tips4 Things Cruise Lines Would Like You to Ignore

4 Things Cruise Lines Would Like You to Ignore

While cruise lines offer some great tips on your next cruise, there are some things that they hope you will ignore while you are on the ship.  Yes, they want you to have a great time and to go home and tell your family and friends about your cruise, they are also need to make a profit.
Here are a few things that cruise lines want you to ignore.  While these are not secrets, they are often overlooked.


The slot machines at your local casino (if you live in an area that has them) are under watch of the state gaming commission of the state where they are located in.  They will have a minimum payout percentage and can not go below it (on average).

Since cruise ships are flagged in foreign countries, they are not under the authority of the gaming commissions in the states and do not have to release the payout percentages of the slot machines.  However, according to the ICCL (International Council of Cruise Lines), slot machines on cruise ships are called to “meet the regulatory standards of the Nevada Gaming Control Board or other licensed jurisdiction for payback and internal software.”

The slot machines on cruise ships are tighter than you will find in the casinos in Las Vegas or Atlantic City.  While no one except the cruise lines knows the exact payout percentages, do not expect them to be as loose as the slot machines that you are used to playing. Yes, some will win big, but most passengers will lose.


On every cruise, there are “shopping highlight shows” where the cruise director and a shopping consultant will talk about each port and tell you about different stores and shops.  Some of these will include familiar names such as Diamonds International, Cariloha, etc.  Many of these stores will even offer something free (bamboo necklace, charm bracelet) to get you to stop by.

The stores and shops that are being promoted by the cruise lines are not places they feel are of good value, but rather they are only promoting them because they are getting paid to do so.   These stores pay the cruise lines commission to promote them and to get you to shop there.

Don’t be afraid to shop at a store that isn’t “recommended” by the cruise line.  Many times you can find better deals that these other shops since they do not have the overhead of paying commission to the cruise lines.

Also, don’t be afraid to barter to get a better deal.  Some of the best deals I got are when I said “no thanks” and took my first step towards the door.

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However, it can be worth it to attend the shopping talks since they often give away free things at them.  Try to remember to sit up front since they like to throw things (shirts, necklaces etc) to the audience and they normally don’t throw very far.

Brochure Prices

You many have seen advertisements for cruises that are “80% off the brochure prices”.  Are those cruises really that good of a deal?

First off, no one pays “brochure prices” for a cruise.  The “brochure price” is a highly marked up price to make you think you are getting a better deal that you are actually receiving.  I once saw that the “brochure price” for a 4 night cruise to the Bahamas was starting at $799 a person for an inside cabin.  4 night cruises to the Bahamas usually start around $199-$399 (depending on the time of year) per person for cruises on Norwegian, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean.

Anytime you see and advertisement for the “brochure price” for a cruise, ignore it.  It is merely a marketing tool to get you to book a cruise because you think you are getting an amazing deal.

Cruise Line Credit Cards

Norwegian, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and other major cruise lines all offer branded credit cards that help you build up points to save on your next cruise booking or for onboard credit.  A few of the cards offered are:

  • Royal Caribbean Royal Rewards Visa
  • Carnival Fun Points MasterCard
  • Norwegian World Points MasterCard
  • Princess Cruises Rewards Visa
  • Holland American Line Rewards Visa
  • Disney Rewards Visa

All of these credit cards offer no annual fee, 1 point per dollar spent, and double points on purchases with that cruise line.  Doesn’t that sound like a great deal?  Use your credit card and earn money off of your next cruise.  While it sounds like a great deal, the credit cards are really not all that special.

You can only use the points towards each specific cruise line.  If you have the Carnival Fun Points MasterCard and want to book a cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, you can’t use your points for it.

Instead of getting one of the cruise line’s branded credit cards, you will be better off with a card such as the Blue Sky from American Express with no annual fee or the Quick Silver Rewards from Capital One (1.5% back on all purchases, also with no annual fee).  You can use your points towards ANY cruise line and you will earn up to 50% more rewards than the cards the cruise lines offer (1%).

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Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70 cruises. He is one of USA TODAY's experts for their 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected].
Cruise Tips4 Things Cruise Lines Would Like You to Ignore


  1. Ben, let me make sure I’m clear on what you’re saying… You’re saying that the cruise line would like me to ignore the casino? I don’t think so…

    I think you mistitled your article. Shouldn’t it be “4 things cruise line EXPERTS” would like you to ignore”.

    • Hey Kyle, thanks for your comment. Not sure you saw the paragraph under the heading “casino”, but the article stated that it’s the slot machines in the casino that don’t have as high a percentage of payouts that is being alluded to.

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