Carnival Cruise Lines rolled out a pilot program this week that charges a separate fee for priority boarding and check-in, early access to staterooms, express luggage delivery and other perks.
Sound familiar? It should, just not on the water. Travel industry watchers liken the test run to the advent of airline fees, which appeared quietly and eventually grew into a multibillion-dollar cash cow.
Faster to the Fun, as it's called, is being tested on two ships for the moment, Monday's sailing of the Imagination and the Saturday cruise on the Liberty, as part of a pilot program. Carnival says it will evaluate the results before it decides whether to expand the program. The cost is $49.95 per stateroom, and the one-time cost covers everyone in the cabin, according to Carnival's website.
Other benefits include priority dining reservations, priority tender times that allow you to head to shore when you like and early or late debarkation time when the cruise ends.