The Hidden Expenses of Cruise Vacations
What hidden expenses can I expect on my cruise vacation?
You’ve done your homework. You’ve compared several different types of vacation. You want to be prudent with your money. (Who doesn’t need to do that these days?)
Lucky you! You’ve found what appears to be a great deal on a cruise. What could be better? All of your meals are included, all of your onboard entertainment as well. What a value!
You need to know what other charges you’re going to be responsible for once you get on board. Because the value of that price you got on that cruise isn’t complete until you know what you spend on the vacation from beginning to end.
The cruise price you pay prior to departure does include your cruise fare, your port charges (what are port charges, anyway?) and your taxes. For that you can expect to receive accommodations onboard the ship as well as your meals. Most onboard entertainment is included as well.
You will most likely have a significant amount of additional charges after your cruise. First of all, you will be expected to pay gratuities. On most mainstream cruiselines this comes to approximately $10.00 per person per night of the cruise. So, for a family of four on a seven night cruise this would be an additional $280.00. This is if you tip the standard amount. You have complete latitude on this, but most people do tip the recommended amount, if not more.
Additionally, all of your alcoholic drinks, all of your carbonated beverages as well as things like bottled water are an additional cost. This is just one of many ways an all inclusive resort differs from a cruise vacation. The costs for these beverages frequently adds up to a substantial cost.
Passengers on board a cruise ship typically take organized shore excursions while in port. Because passengers are in port for just the one day, there is no time to become familiar enough to really strike out on one’s own. Most passengers, in fact, take the shore excursions sold through the cruise line. Passengers feel safe in taking these excursions because they feel like the ship won’t leave them behind if they’re on a ship sponsored adventure. They also feel safe because they believe that they will receive what they have paid for. That’s great, but the ship’s own shore excursions are also the most marked up. They do have a captive audience.
Beyond the drinks and the shore excursions, you’ll find countless other ways on board to part with your hard earned vacation dollars. Some ships now have coffee shops that cost extra (think Starbucks). Of course, the spa is a huge draw. There are art auctions at sea on many ships. Ships even now have optional restaurants that carry an additional charge. Some lines charge also for room service. A couple of years when I was sailing on Carnival Cruises I found a very nice assortment of what appeared to be room amenities. Upon closer inspection it became evident that the cost of these items would be added to my room bill if they were consumed.
Back right after 9/11 when no one was traveling, I remember reading an article in a trade publication explaining that even if the ships were to sail with passengers who boarded at no cost, the cruise line would make a profit just from the onboard revenue.
So, beware. Keep track of what you’re spending on board. If you don’t, be prepared to experience what several of our clients have experienced. Upon returning home, discovering a credit card bill and believing that you’ve been double charged for your cruise. You haven’t been double billed… Those are just your on board charges!