Travel writer Robin Mead gets a few cruising complaints off his chest...
You only have to look at newspaper or web advertisements for cruising holidays at present to sense a certain amount of desperation in the task of filling all those cabins: cut-price offers, cabin upgrades, double upgrades, and big on-board spending credits are widespread.
So why, one wonders, do cruise companies keep shooting themselves in the foot by doing things that may suit them but certainly won't suit the passengers?
The latest example is Disney Cruise Lines' decision to stop serving afternoon tea on their cruises from later this year. Such a break with shipboard tradition will irritate more than just British passengers. And other penny-pinching initiatives by various cruise lines - from charging for bottled water to selling tickets for the bus ride from the ship to the harbour gates - do not go unnoticed.
Worst of all, however, is surely the increasing enthusiasm for doing your tipping for you by adding a percentage to your final shipboard account.
This is an iniquitous practice. If you are not on a "no tipping" cruise make your first job on board a visit to the Information or Accounts Office. Tell them you will be deciding for yourself who to tip and how much, and demand that they remove any additional "gratuities" item from your bill.
They will probably argue the point, but as tipping is supposed to be voluntary they will have little choice but to agree.
For more cruise news, views and travel articles see Robin's website: www.robinmead.com