You may have found the cheapest cruise deal around, but there are still certain extras which are easy to fall for and can cost a fortune.
Un-doubtly a cruise offers the greatest value for money as all accommodation; meals, snacks, activities and entertainment are included. However there are certain optional extras that you need to pay for and before you know it you have spent over your budget.
Regular cruisers may be aware of all these extras, but for first timers these will come as a shock.
So to make sure the incidentals don’t break the bank, here are the things that cost extra and the top savings tips.
Shore Excursions are probably the most expensive part of your onboard bill as the cruise lines do inflate the prices. Prices vary depending on the type of shore excursions that you choose, which can vary from the quick city tour to over the top helicopter flight seeing.
Savings Tip - Do research before your cruise as you might be surprised at how easy it is to do the tour independently, at the fraction of the cost. Check out books and websites on your destination to get ideas on popular things to see. Cheaper options include taking local transport like the bus or train. You can even use the taxis but make sure you agree a price before you get in the car. If you simply want to wander around then lot of the ships dock near the town so you can just hop off and have a look around for free.
Although breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are included in the main dining room and buffet restaurant, cruise lines have a number of alternative dining venues for a fee, ideal for those who want an extra special dining experience. The costs for these can vary from £5 to dine in the Italian restaurant on Adonia to a whopping $200pp to dine in the first Relais & Chateaux restaurant at sea where the food is paired with the highest quality of wines and spirits on Silversea Spirit.
Savings Tip - The simple saving tip is Don’t Go! The food served in the main dining room is of a very high quality anyway and includes multiple courses with decadent desserts. You also have the choice of dining in the buffet restaurant or complimentary room service if you fancy a change. If you are tempted by the speciality restaurant be sure to include it in your budget or avoid cocktails for a few nights so not to get a high bill at the end. Look out for the special deals offered by some cruise lines on day of embarkation to get it for cheap.
ALCOHOL & BEVERAGES
Other than some luxury cruise lines like Regent, Silversea and Seabourn alcohol beverages and wines are not included in the cruise price. You will also need to splurge out for soda, bottled water, certain juices and speciality coffes. Be forwarned that the drinks prices onboard, which are usually based on restaurant prices can really increase your bill if you are not careful.
Savings Tip - If you know what you are likely to drink then I suggest you buy a drinks packages. The soft drinks packages are particularaly useful if you are going to take kids onboard. The average charge is about £4 per day which allows unlimited soda and juices through out the day. Cruise lines also offer alcohol and wines packages. Look out for the discounted daily specials which are advertised on most ships. Dont forget to attend events like the Captain's Cocktail party and Champagne art Auctions, which offer free drinks. To avoid paying the extortionate cruise line prices you may be allowed to bring your own alcohol onboard. For individual cruise line policies for bringing Alcohol onboard click here
[SPA & SALON TREATMENT
The prices charged onboard for spa and salon treatments are shocking, which are equal to high end salons. A massage is typically about £49 to £100 . Also be prepared for the hard sell as the staff onboard work on commission so they will try to persuade you to buy their expensive products.
Savings Tip - Make the most of the spa discounts, which are usually offered on embarkation or port days. Check the daily program fpr spa treatments which are only available for one day or certain hours at a cheaper price. Avoid being tempted by the sales pitch as the products are very expensive or if you are brave enough just tell them outright you are not interested. The cheapest option would be to get the treatment done before your cruise at a local salon.
Although most activities are free there are special activities which will incur an extra charge. Among these are fitness clases like pilates, yoga, wine tasting events and behind the scenes tours.
Savings Tip - There are more then enough free activities to keep you entertained such as the dance classes, the seminars, cooking demos, pool games and trivia. If you are really intriqued by the for fee activities then it is best to set a budget and pick the most interesting ones.
Dry cleaning and laundry on cruise ships can be steep about £3 per item. Some cruise ships have self service launderette, which work out lot cheaper as you only need to pay for the detergents and fabric conditioners on per load basis.
Savings Tip - You can either pack enough clothes for the duration of your cruise and wash them all when you get home. Alternatively bring your own travel sized detergents and fabric conditioners and use the self service launderette. Alternatively look out for the special deals that are offered with discounts of up to 35% where 6 items will be washed and pressed for £14.99 on P&O cruises.
The tipping policies vary for each cruise lines. The British Cruise lines like Fred Olsen and P&O Cruises charge an average of £3 per person per day. While the American lines like Royal Caribbean and NCL usually charge the average of £7 per person per day. The tips are then distributed to those who provide important services like cabin stewards, dining room waiters and assistants. Bar tabs will also have an extra 15% service charge added even if you get the drinks yourself from the bar on the American cruise lines.
Savings Tip - Unfortunately tipping is not an area where you can save money as you are required to pay them (they should just add it to the cruise price really). You can however adjust the auto-gratuities to pay those who you feel deserve it at the end of the cruise.
The chances are you probably want to buy something to remember your cruise by. It's very difficult to resist the temptation to pass on the beautiful souvenier and it seems the local shops are aware of this hence why the prices are considerably higher.
Savings Tip - If your budget doesnt allow it then simply avoid browsing in the boutiques onboard and ashore. If you do plan to purchase some souvenirs, check the prices of merchandise at stores back home, and compare the prices. (They may be cheaper at home). Outdoor markets and street vendors tend to offer cheaper souvenirs. Typically, bargain tables appear on ships toward the end of a cruise, so wait for the latter portion of your cruise to buy onboard.
PHOTO'S & CAMERA EQUIPMENT
Dont be lured to spend lot of money for the photos, as they are only taken from a digital camera. Even buying additional batteries, memory cards and other camera supplies will cost you lot more money then it does back home.
SAVINGS TIP - Avoid spending your budget on photos, so it's best to just say "no thank you" when the ship photographer asks to take the pictures. Even if the photo is taken resit the urge to check out the photos in the gallery, (which are conveniently located in the middle of the main corridor). Best to take your own digital camera and get your dining companions to take photos of you on the formal nights. And it is best to buy the extra batteries and other camera supplied from home - and bring more then you think as it will be lot cheaper.
Cruise lines charge extremely high rates for the internet connections onboard. The speed of the connection usually depends on the time of day and the location of the ship, which is usually at sea so it is difficult to get a good connection. Most line charge an activation charge of about $4 after which you need to pay 75 cents per minute on a pay as you go basis. There are packages available to help reduce the costs.
Savings Tip- Use the Internet centers at port as they are lot cheaper and offer better connection. If you choose to bring your own laptop, look out for cafes with free Wi-fi. If you are going to use the internet regularly then it will be cheaper for you to buy a package which will cost about $55 for 100.
It is possible to use your own mobile phone even at sea but there will be an extra charge of about £1.40 per minute to call home and texts cost 50p. Receiving texts or calls will also incur a delivery charge but this is down to the service providor rather then the cruise line. You can also use the phone in you stateroom to call home but the cost for this can vary from $7 to $16 per minute.
Savings Tip - It might be a cheaper option to use the internet rather then cruise lines phone while at sea. Alternatively you can wait til you get to a port and make the phone calls from the pay phone. If you do decide to take your mobile phone make sure your operator is aware and turn off the roaming options as you may incur charges even if you dont make phone calls.
The medical treatment provided onboard is private so does incur a charge. The cost will vary depending on the type of treatment you need to have. There is an intial consultation before treatment can be provided which costs £40.
Savings Tip - Highly recommend that you have the appropriate travel insurance as you might be able to get the the money back if the unfortunate does happen.
Where you aware of these hidden costs before your first cruise? What other saving tips can you offer?
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Hidden Costs of Cruising - What the cruise lines don't tell!
12th October 2011, 05:43 PM #2Ship's Cat Member
- Join Date
- Feb 2011
my saving tip is for RCI Voyager of the Seas: Beware of anything you are offered by staff as soon as you accept it you are asked for your sea pass card to add it to your bill. As it was our first cruise after boarding we headed for the Windjammer for something to eat and the crew were at the entrance all dressed up, music playing all party like and they handed us large glasses of sangria or beers with all the trimmings. We thought it was a lovely welcome aboard gesture until we accepted the drinks and then were asked for our cards and our signatures to be billed later. We also noticed that they pushed trollies around at breakfast asking if you wanted fresh orange juice, again most people thought this was just being helpful and didn't realise that "freshly squeezed" orange juice was not inclusive until they were then asked for their sea pass cards.
12th October 2011, 05:54 PM #3Leading Seaman Member
- Join Date
- Jun 2011
I do wish I had access to such comprehensive information before my first cruise; thank you Jimmy the One! Please ensure this table is kept somewhere that all first timers can access it. Just one point, Fred is now saying £4 a day for 'tips'.
The 15% added to all on board purchases you cannot avoid, the amount added to you on board bill every day for tips you can and I always do........................
Many of those 'extras' are also temptations during land based holidays too!
This should be sent out with all enquiries. It may/may not be definitive, but it's def. thought provoking.
12th October 2011, 06:34 PM #7Leading Seaman Member
- Join Date
- Apr 2010
The best way to look at it when your a first timer is Nobody gives you something for nothing in this life!!
12th October 2011, 09:21 PM #8Leading Seaman Member
- Join Date
- Dec 2009
Regards free food on Cruise Ships the CEO of Royal Caribbean voiced his opinion some time ago saying that Land based Hotels exclude food in their prices.It is only a matter of time before some operator tests the water on this subject and make a charge for all food consumed onboard.It cannot be argued that the present accomadation prices on Cruise Ships are at the lowest (or the same) they have ever been over the last 25 yrs.Makes me wonder that one day passengers boarding at Soton will be carrying their Cheese and Ham sandwiches and a bag of Walkers Crisps and of course a Flask.You may think impossible, but dont bet on the Americans they are the experts at making cents into dollars.
12th October 2011, 10:00 PM #9
- Join Date
- Apr 2010
we have used the launderette on The Aurora, orania And five trips on the arcadia and as far as i am aware there is no cost for washing,drying or ironing,
Great list, I can see how we save a fortune as we only drink and eat (sometimes in Alternate dining)
However I think P&O have got our bills wrong as we seem to spend a fortune. Someone else must be spending it.
Come on own up who was it
P&O x Lots and Lots.
Ships Aurora, Arcadia(old),Adonia(old)Oriana,Arcadia(new)Oceana, Ventura & Azura