The 5 Hidden (And Unavoidable) Costs Of Cruising

The 5 Hidden (And Unavoidable) Costs Of Cruising


In this video I’m going to tell you
about the five items that could completely blow the cost of your cruise
apart. I am Gary Bembridge of Tips For Travellers. On average, people spend at
least $500 per person on board the ship per seven days. That’s a thousand dollars
per couple, and that’s probably on the low side. So here are a couple of things that you absolutely need to watch out for. The first of those is gratuities, which
can vary from on the low end from $12 per person per day right up to almost $20
per person per day – and they keep going up. Gratuities are increasingly auto
added on to your bill by the cruise lines. If you’re traveling with an ultra
luxury cruise line, gratuities are normally included in the fare and also
if you’re traveling in some regions of the world where tipping is not
culturally the norm, like Australia, you’ll also often find the gratuities are
included in the fare. But for most regions of the world they are Auto added
by the cruise line onto your bill. In some cases on some lines you can go and request that they’re either reduced, increased or totally removed. But increasingly
cruise lines are moving away from that. At the time of recording, for example,
on Norwegian Cruise Line if you want to change the auto gratuities you have to
pay them and then apply for a refund, or a change, once you’ve left the cruise. But
they are in fact an integral part of the members of crew on board salary, and they really rely on those gratuities. So in some ways, in my view, adding gratuities and
auto adding is a little bit dishonest because all the cruise line is really
doing is keeping the headline fare down – but actually it’s something that you’ve
got to pay – and the crew members’ salaries really depend on those gratuities. The
gratuity is going to cost you around $100 per person per seven days. The
second thing to watch out for are drinks. Unless you just drinking water, or
you’re perhaps on one of those high-end cruises where drinks are included,
for most cruise lines and most cruises you’re going to drink more than the tap
water that’s available! Even if you don’t drink a lot, you’ll soon find even just
soft drinks, coffees and teas can soon mount up. Cruise lines also add gratuities on
to your drinks of around 15%. Most cruise lines offer drinks packages and
these can cost around about $55 and up for an all-inclusive package that
includes soft drinks, wines, beers and spirits. That’s $55 per person per day and also
if you’re traveling with someone, everyone in the cabin has to buy the
package so you’re talking around about $100 per person per day. There are, of
course, cheaper packages like soft drinks only ones which could be $25 per person
per day. You can easily be spending around for a couple a hundred
dollars a day just on drinks. The third thing to watch out for are excursions.
Of course if you’re going on a cruise just to stay on the ship, and you
don’t plan to get off in any ports, there’s going to be no costs at all. However, most
people when they’re going cruising get off in the ports and many people will go on
excursions, either with the cruise line or with independent providers or they
may even go traveling by themselves on things like hop-on hop-off buses or
taxis. If you’re going on cruise excursions, you’re going to mount up a
pretty hefty bill as excursions can cost anything on the low end from $40 / $50 just for a very simple transfer, perhaps to a beach, up to of course many
thousands of dollars. On average I’ve found excursions are going to cost you
around $75 to $100 per excursion. So again you could be spending that
amount of money every single day of the cruise. You can minimize those costs by
going on independent excursions, which may cost you slightly less, or of course
you can self-tour but still you’re going to have things like entrance fees,
hop-on hop-off buses, taxis. You need to make sure that you understand
what excursions you want to go on and budget for them, because you could find
yourself spending $250 and upwards on excursions on your seven-day cruise. The
fourth big watch out is the Internet. The Internet on board cruise ships is
very expensive. You can be spending anything from 25 cents a minute up to 75
cents and above. So even if you’re just spending an hour online at the best
package price available you could be spending $100 per person across the
course of seven days. The good news is cruise lines understand that Internet
and access is becoming more and more important to people, and they are trying
to drive down the cost of the Internet. I have spent up to $250 in a seven-day
cruise just to have decent Wi-Fi access to be able to do all the things that I
want to do online like checking emails, browsing social media – so
that could be a big cost that can completely blow away your budget. The
fifth thing is discretionary spend. Things that you might want to do on
board, and you can probably control these more. There are things that you soon
find you’re racking up a lot of costs. One of the big ones is speciality
dining. Of course your fare includes all your meals in the main dining room or buffet restaurant and often it’ll include room service. But what the
cruise lines have started to do is to put in more and more specialty
restaurants, whether it’s a steak restaurant, a sushi restaurant, burgers
restaurant because they want to get you to spend more money on board. The
charge for speciality restaurants can be at the low end just $10 or so
but it can go right up to $75 or more. So if you decide you want to start
eating at those specialty restaurants it’s going to cost you quite a lot of money. Even one night out for two of you could be costing you you $150. The other thing, of course, is spa treatments. Spas on board ships can be very expensive. I found the cost of treatments to be quite high versus what I find them to be
on land. You can be paying way over $100 just for a 60-minute massage. The
good news is the fitness center is free to use, but they will try and sell
you classes for example where you can be paying $25 per class. Another
thing that people rack up a lot of costs is buying the on board photographs. There are photographers all around the ship at every event. They take lots of pictures
and you want to know why? It’s because it earns the cruise lines a lot of money. The
pictures themselves are pretty expensive to buy. Again you can buy packages. That’s something that people really like to do as they like to have their picture taken
with the captain or senior officers, which are often offered because again
the cruise lines know that a lot of people want to buy those. Of course
then there’s gambling and gaming like bingo. Of course that’s not
compulsory, but is something you might want to do. But again, if that’s the sort of
thing that you like to do, and it’s very easy when you’re on vacation to get
swept up in that whole thing and find yourself spending at the casino.
They take up a lot of space on cruise ships and, if
you’ve wondered why, it’s because it makes them a good sized amount of money. Once you’re on board those are the things to really watch out for. Some of
them are quite hard to avoid: some gratuities, you’ve got to drink
something more than just water even if you are a non drinker, you’ve got
excursions because you’re going to go out and see the port and you’ve
got the internet and you have discretionary spend. As you look at the
cruise, don’t just look at the fare. You’ve got to think about those other
costs, which are pretty hard to avoid and could add a huge amount onto the cost of
your cruise. I hope you found that helpful. If you did I’d love it if you gave the
video a “like” and very importantly please subscribe to the Tips For Travellers
channel because you get much more travel inspiration, advice and tips.

100 thoughts on “The 5 Hidden (And Unavoidable) Costs Of Cruising

  1. Save money on non-alcoholic beverages by bringing a sports water bottle with you — many cruise ships will provide free chilled water poolside or at bars if you have your own water bottle. You can then add a packet of flavored powder to your water if you want a flavored non-alcoholic drink.

    If you enjoy beer, wine or cocktails, wait until you go on shore for shopping and then stop at a bar or restaurant for a drink or two — this will be less expensive than buying drinks on board.

    Turn off your mobile phone/tablet when your first board the ship and keep it off until the ship returns to the point of embarkation. You are on vacation, so leave the mobile devices off and enjoy your expensive cruise. If you are hopelessly addicted to your electronic devices, check if your cruise ship offers free or low-cost wi-fi — if so, set your device to airplane mode so you will not get stuck with international roaming charges.

    If you choose to buy shore excursions, it is safer to go on ones sponsored by the cruise line because those excursions guarantee to get you back to the ship before it sails. It is very expensive to catch up with your ship at the next port of call if you miss the sailing. Cruise line sponsored shore excursions are at their least expensive and are more available when purchased well in advance of departure.

    Avoid the onboard specialty restaurants, ice cream parlors and other food opportunities if they are not already pre-paid as part of your cruise ticket fee. Stick to food in the main dining room or other places where the food is free for passengers.

    Plan your shopping and sightseeing at ports of call around returning to the ship for lunch. Those onboard lunches are pre-paid as part of your cruise, so do not buy a restaurant meal in a port of call if you can avoid it.

    Bring enough basic OTC meds (cough drops, antacid tablets, mild pain relievers, bismuth tablets, sun screen, etc.) and basic toiletries (toothpaste, deodorant, feminine hygiene supplies, shave cream, etc.) with you so you do not have to pay a very high price for the same products in the ship's gift shop. Some of this stuff cannot be brought onboard airplanes, so plan for your flight to arrive a day or two before your ship embarks and buy what you need locally the day before embarkation.

    Do not pay for onboard beauty parlor, barber and spa services. Do those things at less cost right before you sail.

    Check you country's customs website to be sure on the latest rules on how much value of foreign goods you can bring back before having to pay duty on those goods. Stay within the limit or that bargain bottle of fancy cognac may not be a bargain when the duty fee is added.

  2. Forgive me for my ignorance, but what are gratuities? Never heard the phrase other than cruise context. . .

  3. P&O Australia offers a "Unlimited Social Media Access" package for AU$10 per 24 hours. You don't need to buy it for the whole cruise, just the days you want it. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. You can even do video calls via Facebook messenger. A cheap and handy option for those who need or want it.

  4. I don't see how the alcohol packages are economical unless you are drunk the whole cruise. That doesn't sound like a lot of fun either.

  5. So hard to pinch when you wanna have fun. We did a 5 day out of S.C. Carnival Ecstacy. We got a case of water to the room, not a bad price. Spent about 250.00 the wife & I, we did very little. We even drove down from Ohio to save on airfare, got a room the night before. 10 hr drive. We stayed under 1500.00 for the week.

  6. We went with p&o and i refused to,and did not pay the gratuity tip at the end of the cruise it is a cheeky extra cost, that is not mandatory .Period. you dont pay it on package holidays!

  7. As a tour guide and a tour company owner on the Azores, sometimes doing tours for cruise travellers, if you want to do tours/excursions in most locations but you'd like to save money:
    -Get some people, friends or not, and speak with one of the guides (a bigger number of people in a van, for example, will definitely grant you a substancial discount).
    -Make contacts directly with tour companies before you reach the port, the sooner the better, make sure they pick you at the pier.
    -If you don't have any tour scheduled you can try to speak with the local guides trying to sell their tours and try to negotiate with them but don't push it. Some of them are smart enough to know their time is precious and they can't save all the seats and all day just for 2 people looking to do a tour at 1/2 the price. If you try that, don't be suprised to hear a price you are not willing to pay.

  8. A tip I found useful that I don't recall Gary saying anything about is, if you or your family are taking a cruise during the warm parts of the year and you are going to need lots of bottled water we found it is way cheaper to buy a case of bottled water from the cruise lines before you departure because once that ship leaves the post that $4.00 case of water will suddenly go to $12 a case or more.

  9. $55 per person per day for a drink package? No thanks. $250 for 7 days of internet service. No thanks. Once you are on board one of these floating money pits, you are a captive audience with little or no choice but to pay these and other outrageous fees and prices. It sounds like a first class con job to me.

  10. We where able to prepay our tips so staff got there tip at the end in a envelope done by the cruise line. We didna mixture of ship and some we arranged ourselves the ship one where terrible and we ended with a full refund.

  11. Dear Gary, thanks for the video. But what you say it’s actually wrong. The staff does not see a cent from the “Service Charge“. It is just a way to make more money. The Harmony of the seas makes every year about 26 Million in service charges. You really believe that they give it to the staff? Unfortunately the charges has to be paid from American guests and the accept this. Because they are used to pay tips. When I book a cruise in Germany were I live there ist no service charge. At an NCL cruise there are always all drinks and charges included and we don’t pay more. In Europe they are some cruise companies that charge but you can cut the charges to zero. Because of a lawsuit in Germany the judge admitted that the decision regarding a tip must come from the guest and not by general principles from the cruise line.

  12. Thanks, Gary. Passengers are not allowed to bring alcohol on board, including that purchased on excursions on many ships. Wine waiters may up-sell wine and vintage wines. Excursions can be good or poor value:always check what is included. Call it a 'Gratuity', but a tip is a tip for service by a specific person. I always reward good service but never pay a daily gratuity. Casinos are for mugs, wherever they are. Thanks!

  13. First Time going on cruise. Excited. After watching videos about gratuity, have to pay for water, I might be spending more time on thinking on gratuity, what to eat,? where to eat? My excitement is slowly fading away:-(

  14. The employees work hard. We keep the tips on our accounts and pay extra most of the time to our cabin stewards and to the waitstaff (if we ask for them every night for YTD). My husband and I don't drink soda, so save a lot of money, and don't drink much. However, we don't mind paying for internet. We choose 50% through the ship and 50% with other tour guides or on our own. I'd rather enjoy my cruise and spend money and not spend money on movies or other entertainment at home.

  15. Love watching your videos. One of the few channels that tells me what I want to know. Most channels if you search "prepare for your first cruise" it tells you to make sure your outfit matches, make sure you bring enough makeup…. Really lol. Again thanks for the honest need to know things you tell us in your videos.

  16. Well those are all true. I couldn't do without the internet. Lol. I'm actually just checking on cruises after I've been on my first cruise. Whew.

    I was glad to know there's WiFi on cruises when I browsed through the cruise site last month. I'm not sure about other cruise lines but I got on a cruise via external travel agent and they could not get me the online sale price of the WiFi because they didn't have the booking number yet until almost the day of the trip. Is that true for other cruisers using a travel agent or should I have booked the cruise directly from the cruise website so I can put whatever add-ons I want?

  17. #1 tip!
    Unless you don't want to see your luggage until later in the cruise, tip ANYONE who touches your bags. They may not loose it, but it can get delayed for quite a long time.
    Also, your cabin stewards do a lot for you and they work very long hours. Make sure you treat them well and tip them. I try to find some reason, any reason, to tip them as soon as I get to my cabin. I seem to get much better, and quicker, service when they find out that I am "a tipper".
    You'd be amazed how much a steward can do to make your cruise more enjoyable.

  18. We found that we were able to get by with free drinks (coffee, tea, water, lemonade) and prepaid our gratuities and two excursions so there was less additional costs at end of cruise. After our first cruise (11 days) we left with an 84$ bill plus an extra tip for our room attendant. This extra cost included a BOGO speciality restaurant we were offered once on board.

    I really hated the pull to spend money once we’d already paid for the cruise so we were pretty diligent about not having a big bill at the end.

    Just sharing this to say that you can have a fantastic time on a cruise without the extras (of course splurge if you can – you would probably have even more fun).

  19. They may name it as a gratuity but a gratuity is not mandatory thus if one is obliged or forced then it is a tax or surcharge. This idea that staff on board ship are poorly paid is ridiculous and in any case the cruise should pay the correct rate to get the best persons who may then be rewarded with a tip for their service.

    I am going off the idea of a cruise rapidly.

  20. On the one and only cruise we took 15 plus years ago, the customer service people were from America but everyone else was from Indonesia. One of the workers we spoke with told us that they did not get paid from the cruise company. The wages they earned was from tips only. He worked to support his family in his native country and saw them once a year. I can't remember if he said he had to pay a percentage for his room and board. It was a nice independent cruise line that since has gone out of business in Florida.

  21. I took a two week Southern European cruse and didn’t pay anything for beverages. I drank Ice tea the whole time. I just made it in the drink area of the buffet restaurant. You can make 3 or 4 of them in the morning and put them in the fridge in your room. Then when you need one just go to your room and get it.
    I just remembered I did buy some bottled water for excursions. But that’s it.

  22. vacations cost money! i just consider a cruise a cheap way to see many places quickly! its a hitel that includes food! don't be a cheapskate! expect to pay money to go places. that said…the spa treatments, my opinion are not worth the money (you can get better cheaper in the states) and the photographers can't filter like an app or Photoshop so whats the point. excursions are worth the cash, why go if you aren't going to explore! specialty dining is a nice break from the busy dining room..and if im in vacation im drinking!! all day..everyday

  23. Vielen Dank, es ist jedesmal ein Vergnügen Deine Videos anzusehen und Parallelen zu entdecken, ganz besonders geil finden wir immer wieder das die Passagiere es gar nicht abwarten können von Bord zu kommen – ok, wenn man eine Excursion gebucht hat macht das Sinn, aber gerade in der Karibik stürzen die Leute von Bord um dann in der nächsten Bar (Senior Frog usw…) die gleichen Drinks zu bestellen, die an Bord inclusive oder schon bezahlt sind… das werden wir auch nach noch so vielen Kreuzfahrten nie begreifen…
    Mach bitte weiter so – Du bist uns immer eine Quelle der Vorfreude auf die nächste Kreuzfahrt – Mai 2019 Neue mein Schiff 2 Mallorca mit Ibiza 10 Nächte, wir freuen uns 👍👍👍

  24. It`s not just the cruise lines. My wife and I dined at a restaurant in Sydney, Australia (on a Sunday) recently. When the check arrived, there was an additional $20 added to the list. As we had already spent $200, I asked what it was for and the waitress said it was a 10% "weekend cover charge". (I thought cover charges were for live music in venues). We thought at least they would a have sign explaining this at the door or something informing us of an additional charge on the menu! That, combined with an unexpected room service charge of $5 each time we ordered food (five times) at the hotel were staying in, it was all beginning to add up. Thank God they had ice machines on various floors!!! The hotel bill alone was over $600. Another hotel charged $20 "corkage" if guests chose to drink their own liquor in their room. Gratuities?!? Yeah, right! It`s more like deception!!! 😖 Why don`t they just be honest and pay their staff properly? If we find the food and service exceptional, it should be our choice to tip!!!

  25. Even if you don’t get internet on the ship, sometimes you can find a place in port that offers free WiFi.

  26. I like the tips, we budgeted for excursions and had great OBC and. paid gratuities ahead so it was already included – technically –

  27. I agree with everything he said except for tipping! Good grief, these crew members are working 7 days a week, sometimes over 12 hours a day for a low salary. Don’t be cheap, show some appreciation for their hard work and give a decent tip. I’m a very frugal person, but always tip 20%.

  28. We prepay our gratuities, excursions, internet, and buy the water package. We aren’t gamblers so we don’t spend any money there. The spa is a ripoff! Don’t do that!

  29. $500 in tips including $100 for my 4 year old son for our week long cruise is ridiculous. I understand tips are a part of service members' income but even if I were to tip %20 myself I don't see tipping $500 total. I don't drink. Also I would rather show the person how great they are by tipping in person and saying thank you. I'm going to see if carnival will let me tip on my own. I've heard they will.

  30. I mean, it's a vacation. I've been on all types of trips. Domestic, International, All Inclusive Luxury Resorts.. You mostly get what you pay for. Hell, going to am amusement park or ballgame these days will cost plenty. Cruises have options for plenty of budgets, and the newer ships are incredible. If a vacation or deal sounds too good to be true, it is.

  31. So u have to pay per person? example,room is ($1,000 7weeks) and lest say my friends or family are wanting to share the same room.They have to pay the same thing?

  32. Yep! Gotta keep those bar profits rolling – that's why they won't let you bring alcohol for your own consumption on board.

  33. I take cruises based on how many pints of Carlsberg it is from port to port.
    I look for a cruise which emphasises drinks packages…….

  34. i dont know why but i watch so many of your videos and have never been on a cruise, don't travel all that regularly and don't really plan on going on a cruise though my boss recently went on one and said it was a good time.

  35. I tip what I think is deserved. I’ll dispute all gratuity charges if not up to my satisfaction. I’ve only done it once.

  36. Many cruise lines and airlines have found that the public responds primarily to low fares. Ever since that commercial realization, a prevalent business tactic throughout the travel industry has been to advertise a competitive “low fare,” and then figure out various ways to sneak the real profit into the experience. The public has asked for it, and gotten it.

  37. If you go on a excursion not bought through the cruise and you are back late, depending on how late they will not wait for you! However, if you book your excursion through the cruise line they will wait for you regardless of how late you come back. I know this because on an excursion I went in, bought through the cruise, we were over 3 hours late back and the cruise ship waited for us.

  38. This is why I love AIDA cruises so much! Drinks (softdrinks, beer and wine) included, gratuities included, 5 buffets and 6 table service restaurants included. I'm not really a spa or excursion person so I won't spend much money on that anyway (except a cheap day pass for the local public transport, which is like €8-15 in most places in Europe). And AIDA sometimes also has some suuuuper cheap cruises, like a €500 7-night mediterranean or Canary islands cruise I was looking at earlier today. With their extra included stuff and also great staff and service, that's an unbeatable price I think.

  39. Don't bother with a cruise. Get up into the Peak District and visit all the lovely places. Call in at a charming old pub for an excellent meal and a glass or two. There's plenty of them, many offering accommodation at a reasonable price.

  40. We ask for the gratuities to be removed now. It costs quite a lot of money for a few weeks, and some pro-rata it to what kind of room you're in, too. Not all staff are paid by grats, and if you remove it, they still get paid out of the fare price you paid, so the cruise lines just use the grats system as a means of retaining more profit. Removing them means staff are still paid what they would be had grats not been removed. It's should not the responsibility of the cruise goer to sure of wages of staff on top of the fare.

  41. The one thing I would not begrudge is the gratuities. That would be the first thing I would include in my budget when booking a cruise. Those stewards work extremely hard and also have to deal with demanding and sometimes obnoxious customers. They deserve every penny 🙂 However saying that I think P & O (UK anyway) have removed this completely. They were always flexible as you could reduce (which many did) or even completely remove gratuities from bill. I just hope the fact that P & O have removed completely means they have increased stewards wages. I of course would be happy to tip my steward personally handing the money to them on the last day of my cruise. I do consider many Brits a bit mean though with tipping so I just hope the majority of us still tip their own stewards well 🙂

  42. Sounds like a B&B deal to me. I shall not be going on a cruise anywhere. The idea of being cooped up in a floating tower-block with no option to come and go as I please appalls me. The food may be excellent, but to charge for the delivery is just not on. Charge more for the basic price, pay the staff proper wages, but don't add extras.

  43. Excersions can be much more expensive than you quote. I did a med cruise with Norwegian and in most ports they were $200 plus. After doing one I took the tours offered on the docks, the hop on hop off were MUCH better than the Cruise tours. On them 50 people following a guide, I do not hear well and could not hear any of what the guide said. DIY, MUCH cheaper and MUCH better.

  44. I booked through an excellent travel agent. When he quoted the price he added i n the gratuity and so I accepted this 'REAL" price.

  45. With some cruise ships the gratuities are voluntary and can be removed. If more people remove them from their account then the cruise ship will be forced to include it in the fare.

  46. Thanks for the breakdown. This is why I don't cruise. In general I enjoy tipping for good service. It obviously doesn't bother millions, but this gratuity system is just is an excuse for the cruise lines not to pay staff and charge up front a true cost for the holiday.

  47. Sometime taxes and port fees can sneak up on you even though they're paid up front. Partial Panama Canal is pricey. I still think a cruise is a good value. One of the biggest decisions you have to make is where on the ship you want an included meal, and what form of FREE entertainment you choose that night. Free first run movie, Broadway production, comedians, dancing the night away in the disco, piano bar (you don't have to drink to enjoy the music) and if you DO decide to booze it up, no DUI!

  48. try to buy cruises that include airfare and excursions , like oceania. excursions you must, internet just browse in port, juice, milk, and tap water is almost always free except for freshly squeezed. gelato hit and miss. i never buy photos, internet, specialty restaurants. on bus tours me, my friends, family never stay in hotels, avoid restaurants entirely , except ok one pasta, one pizza meal in italy, one schnitzel or pork knuckle in germany austria, something like that, fish and chips and one steak pie in england. know that restuarants are a luxury as are hotels.

  49. What is this business about everyone in a cabin having to buy the drink packages??? What if either my wife or I is taking prescription medications which require abstinence from ethanol, but the other one wants to get a alcoholic drink package? Boy I would like to challenge that rule. The cruise lines don't have a leg to stand on.

  50. Its been a dream of mine for decades to go on a Alaska Cruise. From everything i have researched, i've decided to stay on dry land and drive the AlCan highway instead. Between my friends and family, they have over 50 cruises under their belts. All said cruise ships are floating toilets. ALASKA OR BUST!!! 😃 🚙

  51. I'm going on an alaskan cruise September of 2020 & this video was very helpful. Just curious, has anyone been on an alaskan cruise thru princess, emerald ship? If so, how was it??

  52. budget for excursions especially when they are basically necessary, when the port is two three hours from advertised city. do not miss these sights, see if there are cheaper options but please do not stay on the ship to save money. i would rather stay home than stay on ship the whole cruise.

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