Originally Posted by cwdefouw
This one really is an important factor. Returning cruisers will definitely spend less on board than a first timer would. I remember our first cruise, we were buying drinks every day, photos, stuff from the gift shops, duty free alcohol, expensive excursions etc. Now we don't do all of that. We bring our own alcohol to make drinks, we definitely don't buy the photos or do much in the way of excursions (except Alaska), we will browse the shops but usually don't buy anything. On our last cruise a month ago, we had $150 on board credit to cover gratuities and a few drinks. We ended up only spending $63 dollars above that of our own cash. So in that way, the cruises do become more inexpensive although the actual cruise prices do increase every year.
YMMV but this is not true for us. As we've done more and more of the free activities we end up spending more for supplemental ones (like the for-fee dining as we are bored with the main dining room). Also, we might actually spend more at ports since we do them on our own... and don't just do a flat-priced excursion. So it ends up being around the same amount