The Future Of Cruising: Botox And Data Mining

Cruise lines are sullying their heritage as the height of cultured travel by working overtime to squeeze every last penny out of passengers. Though gluttons are still sated by free meals, cruises now regularly charge for sodas, “special venue dining,” and other amenities that were once free. A recent industry convention in Miami revealed that these charges are just the tip of the iceberg.

Spa treatments, traditionally seen by cruise lines as cash cows, will soon expand into Dr. Zizmor’s territory with services like botox and dermabrasion. Some lines may even deploy botox cruises:

Such cruises could attract top-notch doctors with whom the passengers would feel comfortable, and they could create an effective learning environment. “Teaching and evaluating individuals before getting Botox on how to make healthy lifestyle changes that really matter — that’s what’s most important,” Barber said.

Cruise lines are also exploring the data mining opportunities made possible by tying all shipboard purchases to a single stateroom key.

For example, the software could detect a passenger who often orders cognac in the ship’s bars but hasn’t bought a bottle of cognac in the duty-free shop; that passenger could then be targeted with a promotion.

These changes are, of course, the consumer’s fault. According to a Vice President for Celebrity Cruises, “when people go on vacation, they want to spend money.”

Botox … no more laugh lines at sea? [MSNBC via Peter Greenberg]


Edit Your Comment

  1. cgi5877 says:


  2. @cgi5877: Stop spamming the comments or you will be banned. For now, entertain yourself with the Dramatic Chipmunk.

  3. hallik says:

    Here I am going on a cruise in a month, and when booking I was shocked to hear that “all inclusive” doesn’t mean “all inclusive” like the good old days. It’s ridiculous for me to pay $4300 and then to add on drinks (even non-alcoholic), meals at the restaurants (Because we all know buffets=ehh), etc. This wouldn’t be happening if Captain Stubing was steering the wheel and Mr. Roarke and Tattoo were in charge of the shore excursions!

  4. banned says:

    It’s high time consumers stop spending their money at all until companies start changing their ways.

  5. tozmervo says:

    I was going to make an incredibly thoughtful and insightful comment about cruise lines, but the chipmunk is just too damn entertaining.

  6. Melsky says:

    No way would I have botox on a ship – what if the ship hits an iceberg right when the doctor is sticking the needle in and he gets your eye instead?

  7. badgeman46 says:

    Cruise prices are rediculously low these days. I would say that they are simply making up a deficit by charging for drinks. Last fall, Carnival was offering 4 day cruises to the bahamas for 140 bucks. You’d be camping for that much a day. Cruises used to cost somewhere around 5 grand. In this instance, you should vote with the ol wallet to change things.

  8. superlayne says:

    @rocnrule: The average cruise goer isn’t worried about paying extra. Being part of the average middle-middle family, I can tell you, there will be complaints about all the “extras” we have to buy, but nothing is going to be done about it. Pretty much, most consumers on a cruise, or who get to go on a cruise take the, “Thats how the business works” approach to explaining way the extra money spent on drinks and additional meals. Paying more for drinks isn’t going to break the dam.

  9. snowferret says:

    Yes I always love spending 5 bucks for a can of coke, that always makes me relax.

  10. Dustbunny says:


    Stick to cruises to tropical locations and you wont’ have to worry about icebergs. I would definitely take a Botox cruise when I get to the point where my face looks like a road map.

  11. yg17 says:

    @Melsky: If your cruise ship hits an iceberg, you’ve got bigger problems to worry about.

  12. B Tex says:

    You CAN bring your own cokes if you really had to have them. It’s not something they promote but if it keeps the prices down, I don’t mind not having sodas for a week. I bring my own 7UP on board to mix with vodka that can easily brought on as well.

  13. balthisar says:

    It’s not just the new stuff discussed here that keeps us from going on a cruise. It’s the existing silliness that gets me. Port stop and want to buy some Don Julio Reposado? Okay, but you’ve got to store it when you get back on board, and drink the ship’s overpriced, substandard Jose Cuervo Blanco. All inclusive, right, so I’m going to be charged extra for a mandatory tip why? It’s not that I don’t want to tip, but I also automatically avoid restaurants that force it on you. What do you mean I have to go to seating B for breakfast? I don’t even wake up then! And so on.

    Then aside from that, there’s the practical aspect. What do you do on a cruise that you can’t do by going to Cancún, Guanajuato, or some other place with resort accomodations?

  14. ldavis480 says:

    There’s a basic principle of economics that states products’ and services’ costs are commensurate to what consumers are willing to pay for them. Simply put, people can expect to pay more for amenities as long as they are purchasing them. If, however, people begin to discover their vacation dollars take them further elsewhere then the market will correct itself. This is a basic power and advantage the consumer has, one of the few at that.

  15. TPK says:

    This is not meant to be an insult, but the level of plain old fashioned ignorance about cruising here is amazing! And we are supposed to be somewhat consumer-savvy!? I can’t begin to imagine what the general population must think.

    If you want to get informed, start here: []

    Crusing is absolutely not for everyone, but it is a vacation unlike any other. The satisfaction rate is incredibly high, I heard one industry rep say it’s better than chocolate… Do the math, then use your brain. It can’t be all bad.

  16. formergr says:

    Well if an industry rep who has nothing to gain from this at all says that cruises have a higher satisfaction rate than chocolate, then it must be true!

  17. TPK says:

    @formergr: True indeed… The contextual quote was something like “We have a satisfaction rate of [some unremembered percentage]. That’s higher than chocolate.”

  18. Elsewhere says:

    The quote about people liking to spend money while on vacations is from Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, who is quoted at an online article in Tripso, and she is described as the “vice president of onboard revenue and entertainment for Celebrity Cruises.”

    It is quite possibly the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard an exective say.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a lousy time on a vacation, yet somehow managed to console myself and raise my lagging spirits by reminding myself, hey, at least I spend thousands and thousands of dollars. Once I remember that, I feel sooooooooo much better.

    And I say this as a devoted lover of ships and all things ship like, and Celebrity, which is a line I’ve cruised on and enjoyed.

  19. dantsea says:

    I have mixed feelings about cruising. I like the value and the destinations, but I’m becoming less and less enchanted with the “extras” sales pitches. Lately — and with Carnival as top offender — it seems that any time they’re not entertaining you or feeding you, they’re trying to sell you something.

    Yes, these things are optional and they’re not hard sales pitches where some salesman is trying to jam his foot in the cabin door to make you a deal you just can’t say no to, but it’s just so constant that by the third day of a ten-day cruise I was about ready to beg someone, anyone to make it stop.

  20. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    Aren’t cruises for lame-os that are too scared to get out and travel to places where you actually have to – gasp – mingle with the locals?

  21. jdorian says:

    Back in 1998 when I went on a cruise, they charged $2 for a soda pop. I never knew that other cruise lines gave it away for free. As profit protection, they disabled the lovely juice dispensers except when the buffet was open. I think all you could get was water, and that was only in your stateroom, for free. I cannot even remember the bar prices, but it was high, but then again you were a captive audience.

  22. bdgbill says:


    Exactly! Just like Americans who go to Paris, stay in a Holiday Inn and eat at McDonalds everyday.

    I don’t think I would go on a cruise if it was free.

  23. foghat81 says:

    I will absolutely agree that cruises aren’t for everybody. But many on here need to realize not all cruises are akin to going “to Paris, stay in a Holiday Inn and eat at McDonalds everyday.”

    I’ve been on one cruise and it wasn’t for low-class people afraid of mixing with the locals (it wasn’t some super luxurious cruise either….I think it was $500 for 7 days in the Carribean).

    While I usually prefer to get to one destination and hang out/explore there, I found the cruise to be a nice change….we got to stop 3 (maybe 4) different places and explore each for the better part of the day. We weren’t blasted with sales pitches and the only “extra” we paid for was the casino, a couple games of bingo, and the non-mandatory tips. I may try one again one day.

  24. Shadowman615 says:

    “I like to stop at the Duty-Free Shop. I like to stop at the Duty-Free Shop. I like to stop at the Duty-Free Shop.”

    But seriously, no more iceberg metaphors in articles about cruises, please.

  25. selianth says:

    The thing with complaining about how cruises aren’t “all-inclusive” anymore… the price of cruising has actually come down quite a bit when adjusted for inflation from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, when they WERE more “all inclusive.” Now cruising is more “a la carte.” Obviously the industry has gone this way so they can appeal to a broader base of customers – they want to set the prices to get families, etc. on the boat in the first place and then sell them more stuff. But the base fares are actually less than they used to be.

    If you still want an “all-inclusive” cruise (alcohol, shore excursions, etc.) they’re still out there. Just be prepared to pay the price.

  26. dantsea says:

    @stanfrombrooklyn: Tell us more about your cruising experiences. Surely you’ve taken one or two in order to form your opinion, yes? It’s always good to hear varied informed perspectives on the topic.

  27. Geekybiker says:

    Cruises are actually quite a deal I think. Just dont do the shore excursions, and dont get too many days at sea. You can pick up most of the shore excursion stuff for 1/2-1/3 at the dock in the Caribbean.

    I kind of look at cruises as the equivalent of bus tours in Europe. You have someone to take care of most of the logistics, you’re go go go to see all the sights, but a much nicer “bus”

    Shore based vacations in the Caribbean are really a different pace and I dont think you can compare them. They appeal to different people for different reason.

    But you’re right about one thing. Its easy to get fleeced by a cruise line if you’re not aware.

  28. SisterHavana says:

    My family went on a Carnival cruise in 1992 and a Big Red Boat cruise (they did Disney cruises before Disney came out with their own cruise line) in 1993. In both cases pop was not included. I never knew it was included on any cruise line. (although I thought it was crazy to have all your food included but your drinks not included)

  29. Anitra says:

    @stanfrombrooklyn: Or, you know, people who don’t want the hassle and expense of planning a multi-stop vacation. I wouldn’t normally take a cruise, but when it came to planning our honeymoon, I wanted to get somewhere warm and not have to think about details. I did not want to worry about renting a car or finding a bus tour, packing and unpacking, meals, or (alternatively) paying 3 times as much to go to an “all-inclusive” resort.

    Think of it as one-stop shopping for vacations.

  30. 7livesleft says:

    We took a cruise on Carnival a few months back. Sodas and alcohol were not included with the price of the cruise. That should be obvious when you book the cruise, since the travel agent tells you that when you listen. My son drinks soda like I drink coffee. The last day, we got our billing for passenger card purchases, and the “extra” charges for drinks was not even high enough to flinch over. Perhaps I bought a mixed drink that contained a particular brand of rum, and never thought to buy a bottle. Putting an add in the daily newsletter reminding me that I could buy it in the DF shop might entice me to do so. If I don’t want to, I wouldn’t.

    What’s wrong with cruise lines targeting purchases for advertisements? If you can’t afford to buy items, don’t put yourself in the position to be presented with the temptation. When we cruise, we make sure we have the money to spend, so we don’t have to fret over bills not getting paid after we get home.