Unless you are travelling on a ship which is ‘all inclusive’, you’ll receive a bill at the end of your cruise for a variety of extra charges. They include purchases and services which are not included in the fare and can be for soft drinks, alcohol, shore excursions, photography and alternative dining. But which extras are worth paying for and why? Here are our top picks.
These can add up, especially if travelling with children or in a group. Although you can book similar excursions independently in many destinations, or explore solo with a good map, in some destinations there are sound reasons for organising trips through the cruise line. One is if you are visiting anywhere which has any safety issues, or if you are in a place where English isn’t widely spoken. Also, if you want to venture further afield, and you return late, when you opt for a cruise-line organised tour, the ship has to wait for you. Go it alone, and it doesn’t.
Alcohol and specialty drinks
On most cruises you’ll end up paying for specialty coffees and teas, bottled water, soft drinks and all alcohol, which can quickly add up. One option is to not to pay for anything extra, as ships all provide filtered water, basic tea and filter coffee and some soft drinks, such as iced tea and lemon squash, free of charge. If you enjoy a cappuccino and a glass of wine daily, if available, check out any drinks packages, as some include everything from soft drinks and specialty teas, to alcohol. Estimate how much you are likely to spend each day and compare the value.
If you’re on a longer cruise, avoiding the launderette may not be possible, but the cost of dry cleaning and laundry can be steep. However, sometimes a ‘special’ might be offered, such as a full bag of washing regardless of the number of items, or a discount off a full bag towards the end of the cruise. These are usually advertised by flyer, or in the daily cruise program, and can save you doing your laundry on what should be a holiday.
Sometimes paying for alternative dining is worth the extra cash, if you enjoy variety, exotic food, or are on a longer cruise. Also, if you prefer to dine as a couple, or in a smaller environment, alternative venues operate the same as restaurants, and you can book a table for two at the time you wish. If you are seeking culinary variety, check for dining packages, as they can save you money.
The best reason to fork out for balcony accommodation is to avoid seasickness, as having access to a view and fresh air can help combat nausea. Also, if you are cruising in a hot climate, a balcony allows you to be outside while avoiding the crowds and on longer cruises they offer extra space. If you are travelling as a family or group in a single room, a balcony adds to your living space and gives you a place to relax, while the youngsters or elderly parents are taking a nap.
Again, this largely depends on the destination, as the cost of transfers can be expensive, especially when travelling with children or in a group. Although you can make independent arrangements in many destinations to get to your hotel or the airport, in some ports when embarking or dismebarking a cruise, organising a transfer with the cruise line can be safer, and easier, especially if it’s a place where English isn’t widely spoken.
To find out more about cruising or to find the cruise of your dreams within your budget, visit CruiseGuide.com.au