Sunday, June 1, 2008

Batteries (and Others) Not Included - Cruisin' Part 6

So what is NOT included in the cost of most cruises? I wanted to make sure to highlight these for you during this series. This is a huge part of budgeting for your trip, so pay attention:

*Airfare: Unless your buying a package deal through a travel agent or travel site, you will have to plan on getting to the boat on your own. It is becoming more and more common to get deals as a package, but keep your eyes open for this so there are no surprises!

*Special/Upscale Dining: Yes, you can eat free already paid for food night and day for the entire duration of the cruise. However, there are typically some other dining options on the boat that are not included as part of your regular dining package. Some of them are fine dining and some are themed dining (like Mexican or Italian). Either way, be ready to get a check (comparable to landlocked prices) in these establishments. If there are prices on the menu, make sure you have your wallet!

*Excursions: You can certainly enjoy a cruise without paying a dime for any additional excursions (for instance, we paid to SCUBA and go horseback riding at our stops), if you want to take advantage of these for your family, be sure to shop for what is worth the cost in your book. They can offer some incredible additions to your trip, but don't feel obligated--you can always just window shop and admire the beauty of your stops on your own without paying for others to entertain you!

*Casinos: Duh! Yes, most ships have casinos and shock--you have to gamble with your own money! =) No big surprise here. If you're going to visit, make sure you budget to it and don't get so emotional about winning/losing that you break your plans!

*Drinks: Typically all of the water you want on board is free (at dinner...sometimes you have to pay for bottled), but almost all cruise lines require you to purchase all alcoholic and carbonated drinks while on board. We had a great option on our cruise that I'm sure is offered by others as well: At the beginning of our cruise, we paid $17.50 each to have a Coca-Cola sticker put on our cruise card, which acts as your debit/credit card on board. It was a lot up-front, but when you consider that Cokes were $2.50 each (these are 2001 prices, mind you), the card paid for itself after just 7 bottles, it was well worth it, as we don't consume alcohol.

*Gratuities: You will have to supply your own tips for any personnel. Cruise lines have different rules/standards for tips, but typically you have to tip the room steward, luggage transport (if you see them!), and some waiters. Keep in mind that on our ship, the standard tip was $10 per person per day for the room steward. Ours did allow its employees to accept gifts, so he also received a bottle of champagne that we won in a trivia competition (we don't drink and we didn't want to have to get it through US Customs when we got home!).

*Spa Access/Salons: There are typically spas and salons on board and this is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of a relaxing atmosphere and available time to visit one. However, expect to pay, as this is not part of your initial cost.

*Shopping: Obviously you have to pay for any souvenirs at your stops, but there is also major shopping on board. You will fork out a pretty penny at these fabulous boutiques, so make sure you either plan it or hold onto your wallet tightly. Also, if there are special events you might have other rental charges--for instance, our trip spanned Halloween and you could rent costumes on board.

*Photographs: Let me warn you--these people know what they are doing! You will be constantly bombarded with photo ops and you will feel obligated to take them. Please do if you costs nothing to have them taken. However, don't be shocked when you end up forking over a lot of money when you pass photo station in the hallway that is displaying some awesome photos of you and your fellow travelers. We didn't buy ALL of them, but we spent some money here. Especially be wary of formal nights, as photographers are everywhere and you will most likely want a professional shot of your looking snazzy! =)

The next (and last) post will address any FAQs about cruises and some tips from a one-time-cruiser. I welcome any tips you would like to offer for this next installment!

Photo credit: davipt, mysticgringo, Tracy O


  1. Wow- I'm not planning on going on a cruise anytime soon (I admit a fear of water) but this is an excellent post for anyone thinking about it; I wouldn't have thought of alot of these things. It sounds like the money-out-of-pocket could really stack up!

  2. Kaye,
    You are too funny! It IS top secret info...just kidding...kind of :)

    Please email me!
    ( )