I have been on exactly one cruise where I didn't buy a single photo. The reason we didn't buy any was because we didn't have any made. We knew we didn't want to buy any so we avoided the temptation. We skipped the embarkation photo before getting on the boat. We didn't pose in our fancy clothes on formal night. We refused to stop getting off the boat in port. We declined the photos at dinner. Because just as there are no limits to how many you can have made, there aren't any that are required.
On our last Dream cruise, we took advantage of something new that was being offered, and that was private sessions with a photographer to take pictures around the ship (and it was also available in port if you wanted a few beach shots), not just a quick pose in front of a fake backdrop. (That's where the picture at the top of this post came from) The pictures were beautiful and I was very happy with them, but they were pricey. The advantage to these was that, because we made a minimum purchase, we got the ones you purchased on a CD so we could share and re-print them. Even with that block of time, it was kind of chaotic because we had a group of about 14. I am not going to coordinate it again like I did last time, but if someone else wants to be responsible for it, they are welcome to it and I will be happy to participate. One day, when we're taking a cruise with our kids, I could definitely see doing this with them!
This is an easy way to spend a lot of money if you aren't careful because they do add up very quickly. If you're a scrapbooker, they're very tempting because they often have props, dates, place names, and other details that you might like to have included. They can be cute and funny, and they don't require you to keep up with your camera, especially if you're going on a water excursion where something might happen to it! There is something to be said for the convenience of it.
There is a down side to buying pictures, besides the price, and that is getting them home! Sure, they put the pictures in a heavy-ish folder to keep it from getting bent up, but you need a place to store it and then transport it home. I have found that, if you have a laptop sleeve in one of your bags, that's a great place for keeping and transporting them!
Being aware of all of the good and bad, Jeff and I are probably going to have a few made on this next cruise. I like having good family photos made at least once a year, and the timing on this next cruise will be perfect for Christmas cards so to me, it's worth the cost to get one or two good pictures. I always hope that I end up with a couple of good ones taken by family members, but I'm not going to expect that. We're going to budget for a couple of good photos, and if we end up not getting them we can spend that money on something else!
I have heard that some cruise lines have started doing a "buy a CD of all your photos for a set price" and I really REALLY wish Carnival would do something like this. Even if it was $250 I would probably buy it, which is more than I would normally even consider spending on buying the printed photos, but I would make it a point to have pictures made and get my money's worth out of it! Plus, it would eliminate the whole transportation issue!