The Art of the Upsell

On the ship you can’t help but hear people talking about the changes in cruising since the pandemic, cost cutting and upsells, to make lines more profitable, or perhaps to help them pay off the debts they encountered while not sailing.

Cruising is still a bargain, and we are incredibly lucky to be able to do this.  But it is not the “all inclusive” that we had when I first set sail with my grandfather on a Furness cruise to Bermuda in the 1950s.  Stuff that used to be included, even 5 years ago, is now an upsell.  “Add surf to that turf sir?” or “Would you like freshly squeezed OJ?”

There is also more pressure on the upsell.  Before the cruise starts, they offer you a “have it all” package.  When on board it is clear that it’s a “have it some” package.  But don’t worry, you can buy your way closer to “all.”

One particular waiter was the king of the upsell.  “Oh, you want a better wine than that.  You are 5 Star, why not upgrade at 50% off.”  Or for our 3 Star table mates “Why not upgrade at 25% off?”  I was perfectly happy with the Shiraz in my wine package.  When I asked for water I have often have to specify “tap” or I get a can of water.  On the can it reads, “drink from the tap whenever possible.”  In almost every bar, “shall I make that a double?” 

Lots of Wine to Choose From

Then there are upsells on the upsells.  The Pinnacle Grill, an upsell from the main dining room, has upsells on its menu, an even bigger or better cut of meat.

Then there are the guys in suits standing outside the row of shops on one side and the art for sale on the other.  It’s a nightly gauntlet. They reach out with sheets of paper pitching special offers.  It would be good training for cruises to the Eastern Med before you reach the Khan el Khalili where touts implore you to visit Uncle Tonoones’ carpet shop.  Although, as far as I can tell the HAL shop touts do not offer you mint tea once inside.

Pictures for Sale

Now you can have a great time without spending too much extra.  And some changes I approve of, like reserving towel animals for special evenings instead of getting a new one each evening.  It saves on water, detergent, and makes them special when you get them. 

A Special Treat.

But there are some cutbacks that I miss, like no classical music on this cruise.  Or no live band for most of the performers.  The World Stage seems a little like a big karaoke theater.  And while I like the pre-packaged lectures the cruise director reads from a teleprompter, with well-produced photos and video clips, they are no replacement for a second live lecturer, especially after the second or third time you have seen the exact same prepackaged presentation that was read to you on the last cruise by a different cruise director.

What I miss most are the “location guides.”  They used to give you good lectures about the ports of call, not particularly pushing the HAL tours.  On the night before a port call you would find, waiting in your room, good maps, along with port highlights, some language tips, notes on local cuisine and even a discography of music from the port.  Now the maps are “shopping” maps, as if that is the only reason I want to visit a port.  

On our last cruise the cruise director assured me that next time there would be maps and other useful information for each port on the HAL Navigator app (to save on paper.)  That hasn’t happened.  When it comes to port information it’s good that we have Lonely Planet.

5 thoughts on “The Art of the Upsell

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more about the missing things. Little things, to be sure, but they do add up.
    By the time the cruise line can afford to put the missing things back, the clientele won’t remember what they are missing.

  2. I appreciate you disclosing this information. It will help us decide on a cruise.
    We’ve been on Uncruise, but never the large ships.

  3. You are 100 percent correct. It’s gotten out of hand and that’s why I have moved on to river cruises.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.