Jason Leppert | September 06, 2016 2:15 PM ET
Are Cruise Ship Photos Worth It?
Photo services onboard cruise ships have always been peculiar to me. It’s convenient to have a professional photographer at the ready to take your image in front of, say, the Hubbard Glacier in Alaska, but not particularly helpful for them to be in the dining room with a kitschy pirate costume.
And there has always been the question of waste when you know the thousands of prints that have not been purchased at the end of a voyage are disposed of. But thankfully, the future looks brighter under the flash bulb.
Before the proliferation of digital cameras and now camera phones, guests relied more exclusively on the services of onboard photographers and printers to capture those precious vacation memories. Traditionally, images were taken at the gangway upon first boarding and disembarking in each port, along the ship’s rail, at the atrium or in front of static backdrops and inexplicably in the dining room. Every single photo was then printed and put on display in a gallery for sale. If they were not bought, they were thrown out.
The likely reason for not buying a print: the ever increasing cost of one over the years. It honestly seems obscene to spend upwards of around $40 for a single 8x10 photograph, but if you want it, there’s little alternative to shelling out the cash. Of course, costs vary among the cruise lines, and package pricing makes it more manageable, but sometimes, you can’t help but wonder if such services are even worth having.
Today, lines like Viking Ocean Cruises have abandoned such photography services, altogether questioning their necessity. Others clearly make far too much of a profit to follow that route.
My generation of millennials is certainly fond of the selfie, and my wife and I have taken our fair share of those on our cruises. Still, there was one great image we wanted of us taken in front of the ship’s bell on Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 during formal night that a selfie would not have captured, so we bought it.
I only wish digital was more the name of the game over analog by now. That is, offering image files instead of prints more commonly, an option that did not apply to our single photo on Cunard but that is available on ships at other times. For now, plenty of photos are still printed before any purchase is made, but a larger number are being displayed on screen in conjunction to avoid excess waste, which is better for the environment, even if recycled.
I only hope that an increasing number of cruise lines go exclusively digital to avoid any physical waste and give up on the dining room photos and cheesy mascots. No one really needs a photo of themselves with a chive stuck in their teeth or a picture with a generic eagle suit in Alaska.
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