We asked our readers what they most regretted buying on a cruise.
With all the extras, add-ons, and items for sale on board a cruise ship, there were bound to be a few things they wanted to take out of their shopping cart in hindsight.
Sometimes the idea of something is better than the reality of it. While a cruise offers amazing value it can be hard to resist the temptation to buy a service or product that you may end up regretting.
This list is a combination of things from our followers on social media and other cruisers we have talked to about what they most regret buying during a cruise.
Often these are impulse buys that seemed like a really good idea at the time.
You might think an item or two should absolutely not be on this list, or maybe you would like to add your own “regrettable buy”. Feel free to leave a comment below this article and let us know your experience and perspective.
In no particular order, here are 10 things cruisers most regretted buying on their cruise vacation:
There’s nothing wrong with picking up a beautiful piece of jewelry that catches your eye while walking through the promenade of a cruise ship. And you can confidently rely on the authenticity of the jewelry you purchase at sea.
But sometimes all that talk of “duty-free” shopping can lure you into thinking everything you buy is a great deal.
So, there are a couple things to think about here. For one, you will usually pay a premium for that watch, necklace, or shimmering bracelet. Second, a complication arises if you have an issue with something needing a repair on the jewelry you purchased once you’re back home. It’s a good idea to ask the salesperson on the ship about how it works if you do have an issue so you know if it’s worth it or not.
Some cruisers have expressed regret in buying jewelry off-ship from places like Diamonds International as well. These establishments are very common near Caribbean cruise ports and many shopping talks will emphasize the deals you can get at these jewelers.
Whatever jewelry you decide to buy make sure it’s something you will actually wear once you get home as well.
Here are a couple replies we received from readers:
Jewelry that I only wear on cruises.
— Cathryn Heslep (@CathrynHeslep) April 28, 2023
Popped into diamonds international for a couple of free beers and ending up spending £1500 on an eternity ring for the missus!
— S H (@hugheshornet) April 28, 2023
2. Digital Cameras
I hear this one quite often. Cruise ships often have the latest and greatest GoPro cameras and other camera equipment. What you may not realize is that you pay a little extra for the convenience of buying a camera on a ship.
You can often get a much better deal through Amazon or your local retailer back home. Once passengers see the retail price of a camera or other tech device back home they often feel a bit of buyer’s remorse.
That being said, if you NEED a camera and you regret not packing one with you, a cruise might just be the perfect time to tap into your photography and videography skills by picking up that new tech on board.
As an amateur photographer myself, I often recall the adage, “The best camera is the one you have with you.”
Of course, we all have cameras on our phones that are taking increasingly better quality photos, but an action camera or 360-degree camera is great to have for certain shots on a cruise ship’s water slide or during an adventurous excursion.
3. Lotions from the spa
Those fragrant lotions may smell amazing after your spa treatment, but some cruisers have expressed regret in making the purchase. The main reason isn’t because of the quality of the lotions and ointments that can be purchased from the spa but because of the price.
At the end of your massage or other spa treatment you will often hear a sales pitch about some of the products offered. This offer can be hard for some people to turn down, and sometimes they feel bad about saying no.
Just realize you will be hearing this pitch at the end of the treatment so you can determine ahead of time how you would like to respond. Don’t feel guilty for saying no, but also go ahead and buy those lotions if you think it’s worth it. No judgement here.
Read more: The cruise elevator survival guide: 16 rules
4. Drink Packages
Some of you will think I’m crazy for even putting this one on the list, but some cruisers have expressed regret in buying the drink package. It adds quite a bit of extra cost to a cruise that is 7 days or longer, but it also might encourage some to drink more than they normally would, all in the name of trying to justify the price.
Always do the math first. You might find that buying individual drinks will be cheaper than buying the drink package based on how much you will realistically consume. After buying a drink package it’s always a good idea to calculate how much you consumed so you can see if you saved money or not by buying the drink package.
Beverages on a cruise ship are not cheap. I mentioned in a recent article that you can save a lot of money by just drinking the included beverages on the ship: water, juice, tea, and coffee. And if you really need to spice things up add you can pack some water enhancer with you.
Even if you choose a soda package or other non-alcoholic beverage package make sure you do the math to determine how much you need to consume to justify the cost. And if you’re trying to be more health conscious there’s nothing wrong with drinking all the H2O you can handle.
5. Overpriced Excursions
When I say “overpriced” I realize it’s somewhat of a subjective thing. Some readers told us they regretted paying too much for some of the excursions offered through the cruise line’s themselves.
Booking an excursion through a cruise line offers peace of mind. If your excursion is delayed the ship will not leave without you. The same cannot be said for shore excursions booked through 3rd parties.
But the extra cost is not always warranted. Some excursions look great on the website or in the app but offers only a touristy, overcrowded view of something you could have seen or experienced on your own for much less.
Do your research before visiting a port of call to see if you can simply take a taxi to a point of interest or use a 3rd party vendor to have an amazing experience in port.
6. Bottles of Water
Some loyalty programs will provide bottles of water for certain tiers. But if you have not leveled up in your loyalty program yet buying bottles of water can get expensive quickly, even if buying them by the carton. Some cruise lines even have a “quasi-drink package” that will provide you with bottles of water in your stateroom.
While you may need to filter your tap water at home, the water on a cruise ship is perfectly safe to drink and has been filtered already. I recommend bringing a few collapsible water bottles that you can fill up from your stateroom.
Alternatively, some cruise lines will let you bring your own bottled water on board. Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises do not permit passengers to bring soft drinks or water onto their ships but some other cruise lines do. As these regulations are in constant flux, make sure you check with your cruise line before you tote along that 24-pack of water.
7. Cruise ship transfers
Getting a transfer from the airport to the cruise port straight from the cruise line seems to make a lot of sense as it simplifies the process. And some of the more all-inclusive cruise lines offer this service for free.
But more often than not, the price you pay for a transfer from a cruise line will cost much more than just getting an Uber or taxi on your own.
If you like the logistics of having the cruise line take care of this for you, go ahead and book it. We just often hear from passengers regretting they paid so much extra for something they could have handled easily and more affordably.
Before you buy that expensive Wi-Fi package on a cruise ship just ask yourself if you really need it. I mentioned this in a recent article as well. You can often use your phone’s international data while in port if you need to check your email, social media accounts, or simply browse the web.
If you have multiple devices connected to an internet package the cost can up quickly with some cruise lines charging as much as $30 per day.
While it can be hard to disconnect while on vacation, many find it refreshing to get away from the ball-and-chain of technology and social media for a while and actually relax. I know this is a foreign concept to some.
Even if you feel you absolutely must have Wi-Fi on your cruise, go ahead and try to go the first day or two without it and see how you fare. At least you will save some money on not having to pay for those two days of Wi-Fi. Although, buying an internet package before your cruise will usually get you a discounted rate, just FYI.
9. Photo Packages
I hesitate to mention this one because the photographers on a ship work so hard to get amazing pictures during a cruise. And those pictures represent memories of wonderful vacation days at sea that are great to put on your wall at home.
But if you’ve taken a cruise lately you know how much those prints actually cost. A photo package will make the price seem a lot lower per print, but often you will end up with extras of a print that you don’t really need.
With everyone’s phones taking great quality pictures these days you can still capture those memories on your own. But I will say, if you want a formal family portrait or picture of you and your significant other, a cruise is a great time to get it.
Some of you will remember the “old days” of going to Olan Mills or Sears to get those awkward family pictures that still hang over the fireplace at home, so a cruise can be a fun throw back to getting everyone in one shot.
And like I mentioned, you will get some excellent quality photos from photographers on a ship and they even do some light photo-shopping to make you look even better.
10. Art Auctions
Lovers of art will be drawn to those art auctions on a cruise ship. I’ve enjoyed a few talks on art while on a sailing and always love to learn about new artists and trends in the industry.
But we’ve also heard from a few cruisers who wish they would have held back on that cruise ship art purchase. As much as it might seem like a good investment there are a few things to remember. Art auctions are held in international waters and so don’t provide the same consumer protections a U.S. resident may be accustomed to back home.
There have been various reports on the practices used in art auctions and the bidding process which I won’t delve into here. Just be sure to do some homework before buying that canvas at sea.
As a counterpoint, there are also many things cruisers WISH they would have purchased while on a cruise. And when that regret of missing out on an incredible amenity or excursion on a cruise kicks in you know you just have to book another cruise to make up for it. At least that’s what we do.
I could have added something like “spending too much money in the casino” to the list, but I suppose that’s only a regret for cruisers who have walked away with less money in their accounts. But as I always say, that’s just your way of making a donation to the cruise line.
What regretful purchases have you made while on a cruise? We’d love to hear about it.
Who knows, maybe sharing your experience will even be therapeutic for you!
This article has been updated since the original date of its writing.