Taking a cruise is my favorite way to vacation. I took nine cruises last year on seven different cruise lines. As much as I love cruising, there are a few changes that I believe cruise lines need to consider that will make cruises even better. What are they? Here are seven changes that cruise lines should make.
No Smoking Inside Cruise Ships – The interior of all cruise ships should be non-smoking. At least two cruise lines already have this policy, Viking and Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line. The problem is that smoke doesn’t stay in just one area, it tends to drift throughout the entire deck. However, you also can’t just leave smokers out in the dark.
A compromise would be to have more designated areas on outside decks for smokers. Also, Norwegian Cruise Line figured it out in the casinos on their newer cruise ships. When I was on Norwegian Encore last fall, they had a separate glassed in area of the casino for smokers. This way everyone is happy and those who hate the smell of smoke can walk through all parts of the ship without any issues.
Sinks at All Buffets – Just about all newer cruise ships have this feature and cruise lines should add it to older cruise ships. Having sinks at the entrance to the buffet allows guests to wash their hands and creates a cleaner environment for everyone. I also would like a policy of “You don’t wash your hands, you don’t enter the buffet”.
Gratuities Included in Cruise Fares – It’s time that cruise lines just call them service charges (some already do call them that) and add them into the price of your cruise. I know, this is one of the hottest topics when it comes to cruising.
I usually try to avoid talking about tips and gratuities online because it never ends well. Anyone in any cruise Facebook group can testify to that, the pitchforks instantly come out. Cruise lines just need to add them into cruise fares and be done with it.
Port Fees/Taxes Included in Cruise Fares – So you found a cruise for $299 per person and you’re thinking it’s a great deal. At checkout, the price is over $500 with port taxes, fees, and gratuities added on.
This is something that airlines started doing a few years ago, the price you see is the price you pay. Two cruise lines, Viking and Disney Cruise Line, already add in port fees and taxes into cruise fares. The price you see when searching for a cruise is the total price for the cruise.
More App Features – This is one area where the cruise industry has spent the last few years playing catch-up with the rest of the travel industry. Right now, a cruise line’s app is pretty much only functional while you are on your cruise ship. Cruise lines need to add features to help people while they are at home.
I can open up the Delta app and book a flight to Singapore in less than five minutes, see all of my account info, process upgrades, and do pretty much everything I can do on their website. The same is true with IHG and booking hotels. I can book a hotel in Shanghai or an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora on the IHG app but I can’t book a $199 three night cruise to the Bahamas on a cruise line’s app.
It’s 2020, cruise lines need to look at the airline and hotel industry to see what features they should add to their apps.
Eliminate Hidden Fees – Have you ever chosen one of the “free” perks that come with a cruise line’s sale only to be charged a fee with it? If something is listed as free, it should be exactly that, free. Let’s get rid of the hidden fees and be more honest and open about pricing.
No More Self-Serve Buffets – The final change I would like to see cruise lines make is no more self-serve buffets. They need to keep the buffets on cruise ships but have staff members put food on your plate for you. This helps reduce waste and is much more hygienic.
When I took a cruise on Holland America Line’s Koningsdam last summer, it was my first experience with a non self-serve buffet. I quickly got used to it and think all cruise ship buffets should go to it. It just makes sense.