lines tacking on more fees
By Jayne Clark, USA TODAY
When the CostaVictoria sails into the Caribbean in December, it will
offer a shipboard extra aimed at pleasing passengers: an Italian
alternative-dining restaurant. Less pleasing, perhaps, is the $18.75 fee
diners will be charged for the privilege of eating there.
many cruise ships offer fine-dining restaurants as alternatives to the
main dining room, Costa Cruises is the first line to charge extra for a
meal - a daring move in an industry long famous for its all-you-can-eat
But it's not the only line tacking on fees for amenities
that once were gratis.
"I'm not saying it's unreasonable, but the
days are limited, I'm afraid, when everything is included," says Anne
Campbell, editor of the online magazine, Cruisemates.com. Royal
Caribbean's 3,000-passenger behemoth Voyager of the Seas, which launches
later this month, will sport facilities never before seen on a cruise
ship. But it'll cost you to engage in the more unusual activities such as
ice skating ($6 an hour), rock-climbing ($8 a session) and golf ($20 an
Even the mass-market Carnival Cruise Lines charges $1.50
for a cup of Seattle's Best Coffee served in its patisseries on some
ships. And if you want a pastry with that, it'll cost another $2.
Meanwhile, Princess Cruises raised the hackles of some passengers
when it began charging $1.90 for a scoop of Haagen Dazs ice cream on its
Grand Class ships. "There was practically a war going on on America Online
message boards," Campbell says.
Industry watchers say the cruise
business has become so competitive that individual lines are cutting - or
passing on - costs wherever they can.
"As ships get bigger they're
adding all these things they didn't used to have," says Cruise Week
editor Mike Driscoll. "The stuff you used to get for free you still
get for free. But if you want something a little different, you have to
pay for it."
Cruisers might not balk at paying a few bucks for
richer coffee or more varied activities, but Costa's dinner charge may not
go down as easily.
"The cruise lines have been accused of
nickel-and-diming passengers, but this takes it to an all-new level,"
CostaVictoria's alternative restaurant is modeled
after chef Paolo Belloni's Zeffirino in Genoa, Italy. The cruise line
tested the concept - and the surcharge - last season and got an
"overwhelmingly positive response," says Costa's Hans Hesselberg. "We
still have all the (regular) food service. But if there's a huge
resistance, we may have to rethink our strategy."