9 Often Overlooked Costs of Cruising

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So you have your cruise booked and your thinking that you’re all set. The cabin is paid for, the airfare is booked and it’s time for an all-you-can-eat fest, right? Well, maybe.

There are extras in cruising that people are sometimes unaware of, and it comes to a shock to them when they realize that fruity umbrella drink isn’t free.

Here are 9 extra costs when cruising:

1. Tipping. Depending on the cruise line, you will pay in the ballpark of $11.50 per person per day. Times that amount by the number of days on your sailings and you have your gratuities for the sailing. You can pre-pay gratuities before your sailing to eliminate the cost while you’re sailing.

2. Gambling. Just like you wouldn’t walk into a land-based casino and expect it to be free, it isn’t on a cruise ship either. There is a temptation of linking your onboard sign and sail card to your account so be careful, you could get yourself in a lot of trouble. This goes for the ever-so popular game of bingo too.

extra costs when cruising
Automatic beer machine on Carnival Sunshine.

3. Drinking. If you see a drink on a tray with an umbrella, it’s probably not free. In fact, a lot of drinks unless you’re at an art auction or welcome back reception aren’t free. Some cruise lines do allow you to bring a bottle of wine on though.

4. Specialty dining. While a majority of the food on the cruise ship is included in your fare, there are some venues that carry a surcharge. The Italian venue aboard Carnival Sunshine, Cucina del Capitano, charges a $12 per person surcharge while the steakhouses can charge upwards of $40 per person.

5. Excursions. Past walking off the gangway of the cruise ship, nothing else is free. You have a couple options when it comes to shore excursions, you can book through the cruise ship or book through a third-party company.

6. Spa. Even though you can find some good port day deals in the spa, it does cost extra. You can get facials, massages and even teeth whitening with a cruise – but it all comes with a cost. Check out the spa menu when you first board to see if you think it’s worth it. Also, ask the spa employees what there is a port day discount is.

7. Laundry. Unless you are really high up in a cruise line loyalty program, chances are you are going to pay for laundry and its charged on a per item basis. For example a pair of boxers are $3.00 and a pair of socks are $1.00. It adds up.

8. Photos. You will see photographers all over the ship from the gangway to when you’re eating dinner – all with one goal in mind – wanting to snap your photo. While taking the photo doesn’t cost money, buying the photo does. Usually to the tune of $19.95. If you’re going to get your photo taken on a cruise, make sure its worth your money.

9. Parking or transportation. Keep in mind that you can pre-pay for your ground transportation to the port so that will help lighten the load. If I am traveling in Europe I will always opt for the cruise line transportation, which is usually around the $40 range. If you find your self arriving in plenty of time, consider a cab or shuttle, depending on your party, it could be cheaper.

So the next time you set sail and head for cruise ship, remember that unless you’re paying $4,000 per ticket (luxury cruise line) you’re probably going to have to pay for all the extras. Some calling it nickel and diming – I call it the cost of living.

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