Tom Stieghorst
Tom Stieghorst

It occurred to me on a recent cruise that I could really get by with about a half a ship on my next voyage.

Of course I don't mean sawing it in half, or cutting off construction after the first couple of decks. It's more like lightening the ship by throwing overboard all the things that I don't need or use.

I could start with the casino. When I'm in a ship's casino it is because I have to get through it to get from point A to point B. There's no charm for me in gaming, much less the smoky atmosphere. I can count on one hand the times I've wagered while on a cruise and they didn't last very long.

Next, I would probably get rid of the spa. I've had spa treatments, generally massages, only a little more often than I've played blackjack or roulette. I would keep the personal fitness area and the sauna, however.

After that, I'd probably jettison all the shops onboard. I don't shop on ships. I save my shopping budget for the destinations that the ship visits. In dozens of cruises, I've probably made fewer than half a dozen shop purchases, mostly things like sunscreen and Tylenol. Once I had to buy cufflinks because I'd forgotten mine at home.

What else?

Alternative restaurants. Yeah, they can probably go. I enjoy them, but I don't enjoy the extra charge, especially with a family group to fund. On most ships, I could easily get by eating at the Lido buffet morning, noon and night, at least on cruises seven nights or less.

Alright, we've handily dispensed with the casino, the spa, the shops and all the alternative restaurants. We're really starting to save some space. I'm starting to get inspired. What else can go?

Art auctions? How could I have forgotten? I've attended them once or twice to collect my free glass of champagne. I have never bid on anything. Never, ever have I bought something.

The cigar lounge? That's not even in the discussion because it's a goner anyway.

Still, while not all these features are on all ships, most of them are on most ships. If they weren't popular, or at least passionately used by a minority, they wouldn't be there. And since the places I would axe generate onboard revenue, I really should be grateful for the people that use them. Because without them, I'd be paying more for my cruise.

Subtracting the largest source of onboard spending, adult beverages, the rest of the category represents something like 10% to 15% of the cost of a cruise. On my half-ship, the ticket prices would have to be that much higher for the cruise line to break even.

Okay, I change my mind. Bring on the spa, the casino and the art auction. Each to his own, and let the folks that enjoy those things enjoy them to the hilt. And subsidize my cruise while they're at it.

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