If you are planning a Cruise these tips will help you make the most of your trip and prepare for additional costs.
Seasoned Cruisers will be aware of the additional expenditures, but those new to Cruising who have not budgeted in advance might find it a shock to their pocket books.

Options like alternative dining, alcohol, shore excursions, enrichment programs, gratuities and spa treatments can add $50 to $150 a day to your costs, Not to mention onboard casinos. Being aware of these expenditures and how you want to budget for them before your departure will prepare you and help you make the most of your vacation.

The cost of alternative or a la carte dining on Cruise ships varies but can be up to $75 per person. Reservations for the a la carte restaurants need to be made in advance if these are of interest to you.

There are many included options onboard for all your meals so unless there is a special occasion or the cost is of no relevance to you choosing to eat at the alternative restaurants or fast food outlets should be chosen wisely.
Some ships are now offering for a fee Steak and Lobster options in their main dining room.

Shore excursions organized by the Cruise Ships themselves can run between $50 to $200 per excursion.

There are other cheaper options available if you research your Ports of Call in advance to know what you would like to do and see. Know the timings of the places you want to go, and you can hire a taxi to take you to these places. If there is a group of you, you can contact your travel agent to set up a private tour for you. This is often less expensive, and you get to see more.

Having done this myself several times, I have found doing a private tour either by taxi or as a private tour for our own group is for more productive. We got to see more and got to places that large coaches couldn’t go. More especially we were not waiting around for 40 or more people each time. We could stay a little or more time at the sites as we wished not being controlled by the group. Once back onboard and talking to others who had taken the Cruise’s Tours they were envious of our trips.

A word of caution. You must be aware of the time you must return to the ship. Allow plenty of time to return from the sites. The ship will not wait for you, and if you miss the ship you will have to fly yourself to the next port of call at your own expense. Don’t take any chances, and arrange for the places farthest away to be visited first so you are close to the ship as the end of your touring.

It should be noted that Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks are not included on most Cruises. These can run quite expensive ranging from $5 for hard liquor and $2-$3 for soft drinks. Wine with dinner can be quite a bit more expensive than at home, so check the prices before ordering.

Some drinks are complimentary with meals. Usually tea, coffee, milk, iced tea and juices are included. However check with your waiter.

There are usually daily drink specials and happy hours and some Cruises offer unlimited soda packages. Bottled Water in the cabin can also be quite expensive. You can bring onboard your own water and soda, but most Cruise lines prevent you from bringing alcohol onboard. If you wish to bring aboard alcohol check with the Cruise line ahead of time so it is not confiscated.

Most Cruises offer gym and aerobic classes free, and a fully equipped Gym. Many now have climbing walls and running routes around the ship. Some may charge a fee for services like Yoga.

Spa services are normally not included in the cost of your Cruise. Depending on the ship these services are quite popular and can get booked up quickly. Massages will likely range from approx.$110 to $150.

Check your daily news program for specials. These are usually for set hours or a set day.

Most children’s activities and programs are included in the cost of the Cruise. If travelling with children check the various Cruise lines as some ships cater more to children than others. Make sure that you have services that cover the age ranges of your children so they have plenty to do to keep them happy and occupied.

Baby- sitting services carry an additional fee depending on the Cruise line and number of children. The fees are usually from $5-$12 an hour. If you plan on using these services check the pricing in advance of your trip.

Many Cruises are now offering enrichment and educational programs. Programs such as language classes, cooking classes, wine tasting etc. Check in advance of your Cruise what programs are offered and what costs are involved if any.

These services can be quite costly, so if you need to use them please check out the costs in advance. If you can wait, most of the Ports of Call will have local Internet Cafes, and you can purchase calling cards if necessary for phoning home.

Laundry and dry cleaning services can be expensive, so prepare to hand wash some items if necessary. If using the laundry services ensure they will be returned in time for your departure from the ship. Some ships now have self-serve Laundromats. Again if this is going to be important to you check out the services available in advance, and if you don’t want to get involved in laundry make sure to take enough changes of clothing with you.

As a Travel Agent the biggest complaint we get is about tipping. When to do it and how much is always the question, and why can’t it be included so we don’t have to think about it.

Some Cruises are now doing prepaid gratuities so it included when you pay for the Cruise. If not most Cruise lines will give you envelopes for Cabin and Wait Staff. The average you should allow is $10-$12 per day per person. Of course tipping is always a personal preference depending on the service you have received, but these are guidelines for those who are not sure.

It is hoped this will give you a clearer idea of what to expect for expenditures on your Cruise. It is advised to thoroughly check out the Cruise ship you are about to travel on in advance. Find out what services are offered and the costs of paid services. Like Hotels all Cruise Ships are different and offer different standards, programs and services.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Avril Betts, I have over 25 years experience in all aspects of Travel and Tourism. I hold a CHA (Certified Hotel Administrator). Along with my partner Khaled Azzam we own A-Z Tours and Action Travel in North America along with Travelocity Travel Egypt in Cairo, Egypt.

I have co-chaired Atlantic Canada Showcase an International Travel Trade Show, managed 450 volunteers for the Tall Ships Visit in July 2000, and was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia. In 1996 I hosted the president’s wives luncheon for the G7 conference. In 1988 I founded the Country Inn Association in Nova Scotia.

As an experienced speaker I have presented seminars for many years on subjects ranging from Marketing and Sales and Life Skills to Tourism, Travel and Real Estate, and operating an online Travel business.

I enjoy working with tourists to pass on my knowledge to help our clients make the most of their vacations. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or travel inquiries.

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