Back

Hidden costs of cruising

If you are a newbie to cruising and have only just started out on your search, you have probably come across the term ‘all-inclusive’ being mentioned in some of the cruise packages you have researched and think that means everything is paid for. However, most major cruise packages only include lodging, meals, snacks, activities and entertainment, meaning there are some items and services not ‘inclusive’ of your package deal, which can rapidly run up your final bill. 

We take a look at 10 hidden costs you might find on your cruise holiday:

1. Shore excursions

Cruise lines will sell on shore excursions and you will usually find that they can inflate the prices above what the actual tour operators charge. Details and pricing can be found in your cruise lines tour booklet but you may find it cheaper to book your excursion on your arrival at various ports.

2. Alternative dining

Cruise ships are becoming cleverer in finding new ways to charge passengers for food. All ships offer free dining, but a lot of newer ships are finding ways to charge passengers for experiences such as having a chef at the table. We recommend if you are not looking to spend an awful amount of money and are happy with the meals you are already getting then don’t go. The main dining room meals and desserts are often very good with a large variety.

3. Drinks

Most cruise packages do not include alcoholic beverages and wine. In fact, some cruise lines will also charge for soda or juices and speciality coffees, such as mochas, lattes, etc, meaning your drinks tab quickly add up, as you won’t be paying retail prices for them. Our advice is to take advantage of the discounted drinks or cocktail happy hours on board. You could also order a bottle of wine for dinner and drink half one evening and the other half the next, rather than drinking by the glass.

4. Salon and Spa Treatments

Salons and spas on cruise ships charge rates equivalent to the higher end of the market. Take advantage of any spa discounts offered on embarkation and port days to save money and keep an eye on special treatment deals, which may be only available for one day. 

5. Onboard activities

While many activities are free on cruise ships, there may be certain activities which you may incur extra fees. This can range from wine tasting to babysitting young children to bingo and gym classes. Our advice is that there are plenty of free activities to keep you entertained on board, so unless there is something you absolutely insist on doing, enjoy all the free entertainment you have already paid for.

6. Laundry

Just like holiday resorts, you will find that laundry and dry cleaning can be pretty costly. Check to see if there is a self-service laundrette or bring your own travel-sized detergent to wash your necessities in your cabin’s sink. 

7. Tipping

Tipping can vary by cruise liner. For example, if you have a butler service, then be prepared to tip extra and if you open a bar tab, many automatically charge a 15% tip. If you feel you have not received a great level of service, then you can lower the amount of tip you give, however, tipping is usually a must.

8. Shopping

Most people purchase something to remember their cruise by and it may be tough to let go of the amazing items you see on board. However, you will probably find more relevant gifts and souvenirs at local markets and shops in the various destinations you may stop at.  

9. Photos and camera equipment

Passengers are often lured into spending money at the onboard photo gallery. However, purchasing additional batteries and memory cards will most likely keep costs down, but remember to purchase these items prior to travelling, as purchasing on board could come at a premium price. 

10. Internet

Whether you bring your own laptop or you’re using the onboard computer services, you will be paying extremely high rates for relatively slow internet. If you need access to the internet, then look for internet cafés or free Wi-Fi spots around the port.