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Our Ultimate Guide To Extra Charges Onboard A Cruise Ship

Our Ultimate Guide To Extra Charges Onboard A Cruise Ship

If you’ve booked a cruise holiday, you can look forward to an incredible and memorable experience, exploring spectacular destinations and indulging in luxurious onboard amenities. However, if it’s your first time on a cruise holiday, there are many extra charges that you should be aware of.

To avoid any surprises that may impact your budget, we share all you need to know about these additional cruise charges in our ultimate guide below.

Cruise charges for drinks

Basic drinks, such as water, tea, standard coffee, milk, and select juices, are typically free on a cruise holiday. However, if you want to enjoy an alcoholic beverage or fancy a soft drink, you will usually have to pay extra.

Almost all cruise lines offer differing levels of drinks packages, charged at a set amount per day. All-inclusive drinks packages are more expensive and cover drinks such as premium spirits, cocktails and speciality coffees, while more basic ones may just offer standard wines and beer.

You often get the opportunity to purchase a drinks package when booking your cruise holiday and can get some good deals this way. However, if you decide not to buy a drinks package, you can still purchase drinks as and when required on board, but prices do tend to be more expensive. What is more cost-effective for you will depend on individual preferences.

Added fees in speciality restaurants

Onboard dining is one of the aspects of a cruise holiday that many guests look forward to. On many cruise ships, you’ll be spoilt for choice, with cuisines from every corner of the globe and something to suit everyone, from all-out foodies to child-friendly options.

Usually, cruise ships offer various complimentary dining options. As well as the main restaurant and a buffet serving a wide variety of dishes, there’ll be poolside snack bars and, sometimes, cafes, serving items, such as sandwiches, pizza and burgers.

Speciality restaurants offer more gourmet options, intimate dining experiences or international flair. Think fine dining endorsed by Michelin-starred chefs, steakhouses, Mexican, Thai or sushi. For these restaurants, there is an extra charge.

The surcharges can vary quite a lot, depending on the restaurant. If you plan on visiting a few during your cruise holiday, look out for speciality dining packages to get the best deals.

Cruise service charges

Cruise ship gratuity charges, also known as cruise service charges, are one of the added fees on cruise ships that all guests are required to pay. Cruise lines typically charge a daily gratuity fee per person, which covers tips for the ship’s crew, including cabin stewards, dining room staff, and other service personnel.

Cruise ship gratuity charges vary by cruise line. However, most add them automatically to your cruise fare, so you pay them before you sail. If you prefer to pay them when on board, these cruise charges will automatically appear on your room bill, so it is worth being aware of them.

Paying port fees

When a cruise ship docks at a port, it has to pay a port fee. These fees cover the personnel and infrastructure required to help the cruise ship dock. The cruise line will pass these port fees onto its guests, adding them onto your cruise fare.

Every guest has to pay them, and the amount is the same for each person. However, the fees are different depending on which port you visit.

Port fees are typically paid when you purchase your cruise holiday. And, although cruise lines are transparent about port fees, most do not include them in their initial brochure price. You’ll only see them added to the bill when the total cost is presented, which can be a surprise if you’re unaware.

Supplementary onboard activities and entertainment

Many of today’s cruise ships offer an impressive variety of onboard activities and entertainment, a lot of which will be free.

You can enjoy theatre, dance and live music performances, movies and sports activities, as well as the pools and fitness centres. More often than not, there’s plenty to fill your time on board without needing to spend more.

However, some activities offered on your cruise will come with extra charges. For example, you’ll usually need to pay for spa treatments, salon services, fitness classes and casino games. If you want to try a cooking class or wine tasting, these will also often have a surcharge.

Cruise charges for shore excursions

One of the highlights of a cruise holiday is the opportunity to explore different ports of call. However, if you decide to join a shore excursion organised by the cruise line, it usually comes with a price tag.

Generally, shore excursions are very popular, whether it’s a guided city tour, a snorkelling adventure, or sightseeing at a local attraction, but some can be pricey. If you’re on a budget, it is worth researching to see which offers good value for money and which you can potentially do independently and save money.

The extra of Wi-Fi


Accessing the internet on a cruise ship can be challenging due to gaps in coverage. After all, you will be in the middle of the ocean for a lot of the time. Therefore, there are extra charges on cruises for using Wi-Fi.

Most cruise lines offer different plans depending on the access required, i.e., from just checking your emails to streaming videos. If you need to stay connected, consider purchasing a plan that suits your usage needs. Alternatively, head to the internet cafes at the ports, which may be more cost-effective.

How do the extra cruise charges vary between cruise lines?

While most cruise lines have additional charges for similar things, as described above, some offer different cruise fare options with these extras built in. For example:

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises‘ extra charges depend on which cruise fare option you choose. It offers four choices, ranging from the basic cruise-only rate, where none of the above extras are included, to the all-inclusive Retreat option.

Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruises

While both Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean have an outstanding range of complimentary amenities, dining and activities, there are no inclusive or tiered packages.

When sailing with Norwegian Cruise Line, extra charges are found on things such as speciality dining and alcoholic drinks, shore excursions, select activities and gratuities.

Royal Caribbean’s extra charges are very similar. However, they do offer a few different beverage packages that can be more cost-effective than buying drinks individually.

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises has three fare options when booking their cruise holidays: Bella, Fantastica and Aurea. Each of these fares has varying perks, including discounts on some of MSC Cruises’ extra charges.

Princess Cruises

Similarly, Princess Cruises also has three levels of cruise packages: Standard, Plus and Premier. If you opt for the more expensive package, you’ll have more of Princess Cruises’ extra charges included.

Which cruise lines do not charge a single supplement?

Most cruise fares are based on double room occupancy. Therefore, you’ll often have to pay a single supplement if you are a solo traveller.

This extra cruise charge can vary quite significantly between cruise lines. Occasionally, it can be double the fare. However, more recently, you’ll find more solo-friendly cruise lines.

For example, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean have solo cabins, and Saga Cruises has a good proportion of single rooms. Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines also have many cruise options with no single supplement.

Do cruise lines charge for infants?

Unfortunately, many cruise lines do charge for infants.

MSC Cruises is one exception and, therefore, an excellent choice if you’re looking for an affordable way to cruise with children. On its lines, children under two are free, and fares for under 11s are reduced.

Infants under two also sail for free with Cunard Cruises, while the rate is reduced on Disney Cruise Line and P&O Cruises.

It is helpful to be aware of added fees on cruise ships so that you can budget accordingly and get the best deals on these cruise charges.

Before booking your cruise, thoroughly research the cruise line’s policies and fee structures and carefully review any terms and conditions related to additional charges. Doing so helps you set a realistic budget for your cruise holiday- without any hidden surprises!

If you have any questions about extra charges on cruises, please get in touch with our cruise specialists.

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