Comprehensive Guide to Planning Your Cruise Budget

IMG_6431 Before you go on your cruise, you’ll need to decide how much money you need, or can, bring along.  You’ll probably find this easier on a cruise than for other vacations because of the quasi-all inclusive cruise programs.

The cabin, on board entertainment and food are generally always included. Some things not included would be:

  • Beverages (bottled water, soft drinks, alcohol)
  • Casino Gaming & Bingo
  • Photographs
  • Alternative Restaurants
  • Specialty Ice Cream & Coffee
  • Gratuities
  • Internet Access
  • Laundry, Pressing & Dry Cleaning
  • Medical Treatment
  • Shopping
  • Shore Excursions
  • Spas, Salons, Personal Trainers & Specialized Exercise Classes
  • Sports

Other necessities of a personal nature can add up as well. Be sure to pack extras for essentials like toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair spray, soap, etc.   You don’t want to find yourself in a position where you may have to buy these things on board because they’re much more expensive. On my transatlantic sailing a bottle of NyQuil cost me $20, where that same bottle cost $8.99 back home.

Before leaving home, consider the cost of passports, visas (for certain countries), and travel insurance (read more about cruise travel insurance here).  You need to figure in these costs because getting out of them isn’t an option.

Those expenses aside, the majority of on board “extras” are strictly discretionary. You can choose whether to purchase alcoholic beverages or cappuccino, for instance. And no one will blink an eye if you shy away from the casino or spa. While the extras greatly enhance the overall experience of a cruise, they can quickly add up and exceed the initial fare if you aren’t careful.

Cruise passengers are caught in something of a “Catch-    22″—either pay a higher fare up front or pay for non-included items later. By determining your priorities in advance, you may find that a truly all-inclusive luxury cruise can be comparable in total cost to a mainstream or premium level cruise, depending on the category booked and your personal spending habits.

The ships generally plan on about $100/day/person in on-board revenues including drinks, shops, slots, shore excursions, etc.  You certainly don’t HAVE to spend this much, but it’s a good starting point to consider.
It certainly is possible to not go overboard (pun) with extras, but one area to not skimp on is gratuities. Read the fine print in your chosen cruise line’s website and you should face no spending bombshells once you are on board.

Cruise Budget tips:

  • Consider using a pre-paid credit card so you don’t over extend yourself
  • Pre-book everything you can so you aren’t caught off guard with expenses and your vacation will be paid-in-full
  • Purchase travel insurance, I know I always say this but I always purchase and have used it – protect your investment – trust me on this one.

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