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The Hidden Costs of Cruising

By Edited Sep 7, 2015 1 1

Taking a cruise vacation is a great value.

But, there are a few things that are not included in your cruise fare.

Cruise Vacation

Taking a cruise vacation is an excellent value.  You will enjoy a lovely (although compact) cabin, excellent and varied dining options, live on-stage entertainment, personal service, a wide variety of activities, and the opportunity to travel and visit wonderful and exotic places around the world.

With all of the amenities that are provided there are a few hidden costs that are associated with cruising.  Many times you aren't told about these costs and they come as a complete surpise to new cruisers.  However, there are some luxury cruises that are all-inclusive, but most mass cruise lines don't include everything and there are a few services you will need to pay for after you purchase your cruise fare.


Your airfare and shuttles are generally not included in your cruise fare unless requested.  It can be cheaper for you to book these yourself.



When you are quoted a cruise fare it does not cover the cost of tipping.  You are expected to pay a pre-set gratuity amount at the end of the cruise to cover tipping your cabin steward and waiters in the dining room.  For many cruiselines this is $10 per day per person.  Children are also expected to pay these fees.  Children actually receive extra special attention from the cruise staff and they work hard to deserve their tips.  If you have had excellent service you can tip your wait staff and cabin steward extra at the end of the cruise.  The Maitre D' is also on this list.  The extra tips may vary from $5 and up.  Consider adding your drink waiter to this tab as well.

Other tips expected:  Even though room service and food is provided free of charge 24 hours a day it's recommended that you tip $1 or $2 when they arrive with your order.  You will also want to tip $1 a bag to the porters when you arrive at the ship to embark.


Coffee, tea, juice, ice tea, lemonade and milk are included with your cruise fare.  You will have to pay extra for soda pop, specialty, and alcoholic drinks.  These can be very expensive onboard  and a gratuity is included with each drink ordered.  An alternative that is offered is purchasing a "fountain card" when you arrive onboard which will allow you to order all of the soft drinks you want for the duration of the cruise.  The fountain card will average approximately $8 to $10 a day and is great value if you drink a lot of soda pop.  They cannot be shared with other passengers.  Alcoholic drink costs are generally $5 and up. 

Most ships will also have a coffee bar where you can purchase specialty coffees and other specialty treats.

Spa Treatments and Other Special Treatments

Even though the spa is available to everyone, expect to pay for anything other than using the exercise equipment.  Exercise classes, massages, and other treatments are generally more expensive than on land. 

They will offer beauty salon services and even teeth whitening!

Children's Services

Most ships provide a fun-filled kids camp which is free of charge during the daytime activities.  They will provide extra activities and late night babysitting for an extra charge.

Specialty Dining

Dining on a Cruise

There is an extremely wide range of dining options available free of charge throughout the ship.  You can eat almost anything you want anytime of day!  You can eat pizza on deck and lobster in the dining room.  Most ships offer a specialty dining room for which you will have to pay an extra charge but this can be very reasonable considering the high quality of service and food offered.   

Land-based Excursions

When you dock at the various ports you have so many options available to you for land-based excursions.  You will have to book these excursions through the cruise line or independently though a good agency.  Expect to have to pay a fee for almost everything you decide to do, even sitting on the beach as many times you are charges an entrance fee and then will have to pay for the use of chairs and umbrellas.  After many excursions, most tour guides expect a nice tip.


Probably not a surprise here that your casino gambling is not included.  And, to make it even worse, the drinks are not complimentary! They also offer Bingo games before the nightly shows and during the day which are spendy, usually about $5 per card.

Shopping on Board

You will have to pay for any purchases that you make in the many gift shops.  You are allowed to purchase alcohol in the gift shop but they won't give it to you until the end of the cruise.  They want you to purchase their high priced drinks while onboard. 

Medical Services

There are limited medical services available for emergencies with a doctor onboard but these are expensive to use.

Art Auctions and Jewelry Sales

They will offer these throughout the cruise.  Depending on your needs, they can actually be a pretty good value.

Laundry and Dry Cleaning

Some cruise lines have small laundromats available throughout the ship at a reasonable cost.  All cruise lines offer dry cleaning and laundry services and most of the time they are not much more than typical service at home.

Formal Wear Rental

You can rent your formal wear onboard for the formal nights.  This saves on packing and if you don't own a gown or tux, can actually save you money in the long run.

Most of these hidden cruise costs are totally voluntary and you don't have to spend much more than your orginal cruise fare.  Careful planning and budgeting will insure that you have the vacation of a lifetime when taking a cruise.



Feb 14, 2011 12:27pm
Wow, lots of extra fees to be considered when cruising, thanks for sharing!
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