This is a common problem when it comes to cruising; I hear huge amounts of complaints. People think that when they have booked their cruise then that’s all they have to pay for, but that’s not the case.
As cheap as cruising has become in the recent years there are still some “hidden charges” that you need to account for before you go on your cruise.
- The drinks – so many people think that cruises are all inclusive, indeed some of them are, but 99% of them aren’t. Your food and entertainment are all paid for, but you will have to buy your own drinks. The drinks can also be quite expensive, but a general rule of thumb is the English cruise ships will generally have cheaper drinks on-board than the American cruise lines.
- Tips or gratuities – tips and gratuities nowadays are added to your bill at the end of your cruise, this can be dangerous as it can leave you a hefty bill. It can be anything from $4.50 to $27 per day, that’s a crazy amount considering some people spend weeks on-board a ship. Most cruise lines offer you the chance to remove this from your bill, but some it is compulsory, make sure you know the score before you cruise!
- Excursions – when you arrive at port, you can just go off and do your own thing (as long as you’re back before the boat leaves!) But if you are not very confident then you may book a shore excursion, you should definitely consider this if you want to explore the local culture. The problem with these is they can be very expensive, from $45 to $225 per person. If you plan to do this in every port of call, this can be very expensive.
- Spa treatments – not everything on-board is all inclusive, you must remember that! Spa treatments can cost a lot of money and if your intentions for your cruise are to be “pampered” then you need to factor spa prices into your budget.
- The flights – to the experienced cruiser this might seem obvious, but many first time cruisers see an amazing deal that says something like seven night Barcelona to Barcelona cruise advertised as cruise only and assume it leaves from a port near you! Make sure you do research into flights if need be.
- Cruising from the U.S – you would think that leaving from the U.S would rule out the problem above? But sadly there is a similar issue, how are you going to get to the port? Will you book a coach? Get a taxi? Will you be driving, where do you park? Is it in a completely different part of the U.S, do you need to get another plane? These are all factors you must take into consideration before you go on your cruise.
- Hotels – sometime you will have to book a hotel, even though you are going on a cruise. Places like Australia you will need to budget as 9 times out of ten your flight will be way before your cruise departs. It’s also safer to add an extra night, I’d rather be early for my cruise than miss it.
- Transfer times – where are you cruising to? Rome or Florence? No you’re not. Cruise ships are sadly limited to where they can take you. Using Rome as an example, it’s way too far to walk there, so using a shore excursion or arranging your own travel is the only way you can get there. Rom is still a good hour and a half from the port so make sure you check where you are docking before you make any plans to see the city.
- Alternative venues – this is basically their “specialty” restaurants, you will be charged in these a lot! But the food is better standards some even are up to Michelin star quality. Some cruise ships have even added alternative entertainment where you have to pay for a specific show.
- Visas – not the credit card variety, depending on what country, you may need to purchase a visa to enter. Some can be $10 and some can be $100 per person. In a large cruise this can add up significantly.
- Roaming charges – no problem if your whole family is coming with you, but if you need to contact someone back home for an emergency your bill will escalate rapidly.
- Credit card charges – a cruise ship is known as a cashless environment. This doesn’t mean everything’s free, it means you don’t have to settle the bill until the end of your cruise, a bit like going for dinner in a restaurant. Many cruise lines will charge your credit card fee on top of whatever you have spent.
So what do you think? Is cruising really worth it?