Home / Travel / Cruise Ships Are Much More Expensive Than You Think, And Here’s What You Don’t Know

Cruise Ships Are Much More Expensive Than You Think, And Here’s What You Don’t Know

By KK Angus, 22 June

Cruise ships are often listed as a pocket-friendly holiday option and that is very misleading. One imagines that rather than a cross-country vacation, a weekend on a cruise ship is a much thriftier alternative as it's refreshing and yet there is lesser travel involved. But cruise ship vacations are pretty complex and the packages are designed in a way which can cost you a lot if you want a really good time and the best of amenities.

Amid the cruise ship, boom people are also realising how pricey a cruise ship holiday can actually be. For instance, did you know that your all-inclusive package might not include cocktails? In fact, you might have to pay a fee if you bring your drink of choice. Yes, there are several such details which you must know before you sign up on that cruise ship vacation.

1The port fee is quite a pinch in the pocket

A port fee usually involves tolls, immigration, baggage handling, disembarkation etc and can add up to be quite a hefty amount. It depends upon the cruise line, the destination, the number of passengers etc. But it is important to keep tabs on the port fee. Passengers are often told about it when they sign up for the cruise but are often sent a bill weeks after they have booked their ticket. In which case they have to pay the port fee.

The port fee is quite a pinch in the pocket

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2No alcohol?

You'll notice that most all-inclusive packages do not include hard drinks. Most people drink when they are on a cruise ship vacation. But cocktails or hard liquor are not part of an economical package. Passengers mostly don't realise it until it's too late. A regular cruise ship package contains beverages like coffee, milk, water etc. If you want to have a cruise vacation like you see on TV and want to order mimosas on the deck you have to pay separately.

No alcohol?

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3Mind games?

Most people agree that cruise ship passengers are encouraged to charge everything to their room. While in hotels you often pay for your dinner at the restaurant or clear some of the bills, in cruise ships you pay your bill altogether. When you charge one drink and a plate of nachos to your room and don't have to pay immediately you might want to have another cocktail and some more nachos. You only realise what it adds up to be when it's late and you have to foot the entire bill.

Mind games?

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4Singles are charged extra

In most cruise lines solo passengers are charged extra. It's not a single tax but a rather calculated profit move. Solo travel is on the rise. However, cruise ships are more often than not booked by couples or friends and often accommodate two people in a room, both of whom are charged for their occupancy. A single person will not share his or her room with anybody and are thus required to pay a single supplement fee.

Singles are charged extra

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5Expensive Wi-Fi

Everybody wants to Instagram their cruise vacation but it involves some serious money. If you thought hotels on land charge a lot of money for WiFi, wait till you hear this. Cruise lines may charge up to $20 to $25 for unlimited WiFi per day. Since all people using the Internet have to opt for WiFi you really have no choice. Plus you will also have to make peace with slower Internet connections as satellite connections are slower.

Expensive Wi-Fi

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6The gratuity

The chocolate on your pillows or the flowers may just be coming out of your pocket. All cruise ship packages charge a gratuity fee every day for the housekeeping services. This fee can go up from $9 to $12. There's also a compulsory gratuity for alcoholic beverages.

The gratuity

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7Coffee is not free

Though most all-inclusive packages include coffee you need to realise that you will need to pay extra if you like your coffee a certain way. Regular coffee is included in your package but if you want an espresso or a latte you will have to pay extra for that, every time you order it.  Most people only stick to the kind of coffee they drink and skip the coffee that is part of the package and this is quite an easy profit for the cruise line.

Coffee is not free

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8Bring your own wine

You must have heard that cocktails on a cruise ship is overpriced. Which is why most people bring their own drinks on board with them. But you will need to pay extra for the alcohol you carry. It's called a corkage fee and may go up as high as $25. What you can do is pace yourself and drink with your friends, which is the smartest way to drink.

Bring your own wine

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9Don’t waste the wine

Always save the leftover drinks while on a cruise vacation, especially if you’ve bought the bottle. Ask the server to recork it after you have finished drinking. You can use it the next day and save a lot of money. Always remember to be economical while you’re on a cruise ship, even when you’re at dinner. For instance, most people make use of the free buffets and often stock up on dry, to-go food items which can later serve as drinking accompaniments, like pretzels or nuts.

Don’t waste the wine

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10Avoid laundry

Avoid the laundry services aboard the cruise ship as they can seriously cost you. Dry cleaning a single item of clothing can cost you $6 or more. Though some cruise lines offer a capped package for unlimited laundry per cabin, the charges aren't cheap. The smartest thing to do is pack more clothes, but be smart about it. Pack clothes which can double up and can be used for a number of purposes.

Avoid laundry

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11Be thrifty

To avoid laundry on board pack smartly and be careful of the season and the fabrics. Make sure you make room for more clothes instead of handbags, accessories or shows as you will be needing them. Also opt for cotton clothes and lighter materials. Avoid carrying tweed or velvet or anything that feels heavier. If you are worried about evening clothes, opt for simple yet chic options and accessorize right.

Be thrifty

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12The spa is really overpriced

As you might have guessed a cruise ship spa is much more expensive than a regular spa. Getting a massage aboard a ship cannot come cheap, obviously. A basic facial can cost you around  $300 or more. Most people don’t realise it until they sign up for a relaxing massage or some other treatment. It is advisable to steer clear of the spas on your cruise vacation.

The spa is really overpriced

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13Here's what to do

Make sure you get all your treatments before your cruise vacation. But if you absolutely have to get a spa treatment wait for the port days. As most people leave the spas are in want of business and offer discounts and offers on treatments. Or you can carry your squeeze masks and skin oils with you. A cruise vacation is all about relaxing, and you can just have a spa day in your cabin.


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14Look for free alcohol

There are also ways to save money if you’re smart and keep an open eye. Look for happy hours and discounts in bars, when you want to go drinking on a cruise ship. Usually, cruise ships offer a ton of hourly considerations on foods and beverages. Interestingly, some lecture sessions or free talk sessions onboard a cruise ship also offer cocktails.

Look for free alcohol

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15Avoid cruise excursions

Instead of booking an expensive excursion package on shore, go explore on your own. Be careful about the time because a cruise-sanctioned excursion usually takes care of that, and you mustn’t wander off too far, or you will miss the ship. But you will find exploring an island on your own can be much more fun and economical.

Avoid cruise excursions

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