Hidden Costs of a Cruise

Cruising is one of my favorite ways of traveling.  I love seeing new places in a short period of time and looking off the balcony and seeing water as far as the eye can see is incredibly calming.  However, the cost of a cruise can creep up if you aren’t sure what is included in your cruise fare.

  1. Your cruise fare will likely include your room and meals at the non-specialty restaurants. Make sure you check and see which ones those are. Recently, I have even seen in the Main dining room, the menu offering a couple selections for an additional charge. However, there are always enough dining options to keep you satisfied.  I had been on several cruises before I had even tried a specialty dining option.  FUN TIP: some specialty restaurants will serve a smaller or limited menu at lunch for free so you can try it out and see if it would be worth the splurge.
  1. Gratuities: These can be added into your cruise fare or you can choose to pay them later, but regardless you’ll have to pay them.
  1. Drinks: This includes soda, specialty coffee and alcohol. If you need your Diet Coke or Dr. Pepper in the morning to get you started or your iced vanilla latte to perk you up there is going to be a charge for that.  Many cruise lines offer beverage programs (soda cars or drink packages that include a number of drinks or even all-inclusive drink package) but you’ll need to do the math on whether you would drink enough to justify the cost. 
  1. Casino: unfortunately, cruise lines don’t foot this activity! However many do offer to teach you how to play craps, blackjack, poker, etc. Be sure and check the daily newsletter for the times this is available.
  1. Arcade: This is for the young or young at heart.  If you give your child charging privileges, be aware that the arcade does charge per game.
  1. Spa: Most cruise lines offer great spa packages.  You can have everything from a hot stone massage to Botox injections if you want.  FUN TIP: Check with the spa, they will often offer specials during days you are in port!
  1. Fitness Center: You will have access to the fitness center, if you enjoy working out. However, if you’d like to do any classes: spin, yoga, Pilates or use the sauna or steam rooms those are an additional fee.
  1. Shore Excursions: When you arrive to a new port, you can certainly explore the destination on your own, but if you want to go deep sea fishing, scuba diving, swim with the dolphins or any other organized tour there will be a fee.
  1. Internet & phone calls: Check with your service provider, but you’ll most likely want to turn your cell phone to airplane mode.  To check your email and other social media you’ll need to purchase internet packages.  Many of the cruise lines offer tiered programs where you can either check your email or constantly check and post to Facebook.  You’ll have to decide which one is the right fit you.  Additionally if you use the phone in your cabin, you know the one where there is a spiral cord attached to the handle of the phone, there is a charge per minute.
  1. Laundry Services: If you run out of shirts or underwear or just have a baby that is a messy eater or has a REALLY good digestive system there are laundry facilities, but there is a fee.  FUN TIP: If you sail often and frequently, this could be an added perk if you are in the upper levels of their loyalty programs!
  1. Medical Services: If you have a few too many margaritas and have a slip and fall and have to visit the infirmary – It will cost you.
  1. Gift Shop Purchases – This includes the photos, or those watches that are a steal, they will be charged to you and you’ll be responsible for those items.

This list isn’t meant to steer you away from cruising, but be aware of what you’ll be responsible for prior to debarkation.

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