How Much Does a Cruise Cost?
Estimating the cost for your cruise can be a bit tricky. The reason for this is the cruise lines have so many extra amenities, in addition to the major expenses and the all-inclusive-packages that they offer. Even those which are considered all-inclusive can still run an extra tab. With expensive spas, dining options, lounges, activities, and entertainment, you are already paying quite a bit. Throw in things like onshore adventures, Internet, and souvenirs, and it’s no wonder that the fee structure can be so confusing. But if you understand what is included in the cruise price and consider a few tips, then you can save money on your cruise.
Before you start with anything else, consider the cost of transportation to the cruise ship as the flights. Most cruises advertise less than $100 per person per day especially if you are going on a shorter cruise around the Caribbean. This is a great starting point for estimating your cost, but then you have to factor in any transportation fees. Remember that government fees and taxes are hardly ever included in this rate, and if you live far away from where the ship will embark and disembark, your total fare could be significantly more than the advertised price.
In addition to flying or driving directly to the port, consider transfers between the ship and the airport. Even if you are simply taking a domestic cruise, you are still going to have to get yourself from the airport to the port and back. Now the cost for this obviously varies based on the cruise line itself. Some of them have bus transfers for people who are traveling alone or as a couple. But if you're going in a larger group then a taxi might actually be cheaper. If you are driving directly to the port, you have to factor in the cost of parking in lieu of the cost for a flight and transportation.
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Unless you specifically see that your cruise includes gratuities in the package deal, you're going to have to tip about $12 per person, for every day of the cruise. On certain cruise lines tipping is not optional, so be sure you have read the fine print. For bar bills they might add 10 to 15% and gratuities might be automatically included in your spa treatment.
Speaking of spas, be aware that taking advantage of sea-day activities or aerobics classes, or even just visiting the gym can come at an additional fee. While there are myriad activities you can do on a cruise, some of these may cost extra - including food. Many cruise lines offer fine dining alternative restaurants, but these may not be included in the cruise price.
On the note of food and drinks, if you drink any alcoholic beverages, understand that the cost for drinking on a cruise is going to add up quickly. You should expect to pay an average of $10 per drink depending on what you want to consume. Even something like soda or water can cost you about two dollars each. Some of the cruise lines will sell you a drink card so you can have unlimited bottled water and soda, or will include unlimited water and soft drinks in the all-inclusive package. However, if you want something beyond this or your cruise does not offer it, factor in that cost as well.
The final detail you want to consider when estimating the cost of your cruise is the shore excursion. Wherever you make port, what is it you want to do? Walking tours or bus tours, cultural activities like visiting museums or taking classes, even renting a bike to explore on your own can come at an additional cost. And of course, if you would like to visit a restaurant or cafe while in port, be prepared to pay in the local currency or with your credit card (which may incur international fees).