7 Rip-Offs to Avoid on Cruise Ships

by Fran Golden

7 Rip-Offs to Avoid on Cruise Ships

by Fran Golden

There are lots of premiums to entice you on cruise ships, some worth the splurge, some ... not so much. It’s easy to let your guard down while on vacation and live a little, but there are traps you definitely don't want to fall into. Heed our advice on which temptations to avoid.

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Jewelry display / iStock.com / kzenon
Gold and silver necklaces
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1. Gold and Silver Jewelry

What’s hyped as 14k or 18k is often just gold-plated — a small amount of gold layered onto a lot of metal. The same goes for the “silver” cut-to-order in bracelets, necklaces, and anklets. Chances are after a few wears your skin will change color.

What’s hyped as 14k or 18k is often just gold-plated — a small amount of gold layered onto a lot of metal. The same goes for the “silver” cut-to-order in bracelets, necklaces, and anklets. Chances are after a few wears your skin will change color.

Herbal remedies
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2. Herbal Remedies

We don’t begrudge true believers, but the idea of peddling dietary supplements on cruise ships makes us cringe. The come-on begins with a seminar presented by an acupuncturist in a white coat working on commission. Sign on for a consultation and you'll be pitched products designed to “cure” practically everything from stomach issues to depression. And they cost hundreds of dollars. Better to see a pro on land (and consult a medical professional).

We don’t begrudge true believers, but the idea of peddling dietary supplements on cruise ships makes us cringe. The come-on begins with a seminar presented by an acupuncturist in a white coat working on commission. Sign on for a consultation and you'll be pitched products designed to “cure” practically everything from stomach issues to depression. And they cost hundreds of dollars. Better to see a pro on land (and consult a medical professional).

Clay for spa treatments
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3. Ionithermie Spa Treatment

This spa treatment promises to take several inches of cellulite off your thighs and other problem areas by slathering them in detoxifying clay and stimulating your muscles with electrodes. One session starts at $159, but spas will recommend three sessions for $399. Your therapist (who works on commission) will also suggest pricey products to take home. Some people swear by this treatment, but only if you also eat right and exercise regularly — two things that already help with weight loss.

This spa treatment promises to take several inches of cellulite off your thighs and other problem areas by slathering them in detoxifying clay and stimulating your muscles with electrodes. One session starts at $159, but spas will recommend three sessions for $399. Your therapist (who works on commission) will also suggest pricey products to take home. Some people swear by this treatment, but only if you also eat right and exercise regularly — two things that already help with weight loss.

Photographer
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4. Commemorative Photos

Shipboard photographers who urge you to pose earn some of their salary by hitting sales targets. Photos cost $12 to $24, but a frame or a canvas blowup increases the tab. If you compare prices with a session at, say, JCPenney, you’ll likely find that you’re overpaying. (And once you leave the ship you can’t get more copies.) You may be better off taking selfies or asking a fellow passenger to snap shots of you.

Shipboard photographers who urge you to pose earn some of their salary by hitting sales targets. Photos cost $12 to $24, but a frame or a canvas blowup increases the tab. If you compare prices with a session at, say, JCPenney, you’ll likely find that you’re overpaying. (And once you leave the ship you can’t get more copies.) You may be better off taking selfies or asking a fellow passenger to snap shots of you.

Teeth whitening
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5. Teeth Whitening

The promise: A spa employee (not a dentist) will give you a sparkling smile in fewer than 30 minutes, with prices starting at $149. The problem: After the treatment you’re supposed to avoid potentially staining foods for 48 hours, so no coffee, tea, red wine, or pasta with tomato sauce. Another issue: Your teeth may be very sensitive for a few days, which may adversely affect your enjoyment of all shipboard cuisine.

The promise: A spa employee (not a dentist) will give you a sparkling smile in fewer than 30 minutes, with prices starting at $149. The problem: After the treatment you’re supposed to avoid potentially staining foods for 48 hours, so no coffee, tea, red wine, or pasta with tomato sauce. Another issue: Your teeth may be very sensitive for a few days, which may adversely affect your enjoyment of all shipboard cuisine.

Laundry bag
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6. Laundry

In this case, you’re a captive audience and ships can charge what they want — a lot. For send-out service expect to pay about $1.25 per pair of undies or socks, $3 for a T-shirt, and $4 for a pair of jeans. Dry cleaning costs more, typically $4 to $6 per shirt. Fill-a-bag laundry specials may be cheaper (starting at $25). Your best bet is the self-serve guest laundry room ($5 to $8 per load, or sometimes free). Or there’s always your bathroom sink.

In this case, you’re a captive audience and ships can charge what they want — a lot. For send-out service expect to pay about $1.25 per pair of undies or socks, $3 for a T-shirt, and $4 for a pair of jeans. Dry cleaning costs more, typically $4 to $6 per shirt. Fill-a-bag laundry specials may be cheaper (starting at $25). Your best bet is the self-serve guest laundry room ($5 to $8 per load, or sometimes free). Or there’s always your bathroom sink.

Champagne flutes
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7. Art Auctions

Attend an art auction and you may get a free glass of Champagne. But you also may get caught up in the frenzy and buy a painting that could cost less on land. Don’t purchase an expensive piece without first doing some research. And keep in mind that auctioneers and salespeople add a buyer’s premium and extra charges for framing, shipping, and handling — so your bid is not the final price. Plus, all sales are final.

Attend an art auction and you may get a free glass of Champagne. But you also may get caught up in the frenzy and buy a painting that could cost less on land. Don’t purchase an expensive piece without first doing some research. And keep in mind that auctioneers and salespeople add a buyer’s premium and extra charges for framing, shipping, and handling — so your bid is not the final price. Plus, all sales are final.

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