Cruising: what’s not included?

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With accommodation, transfers and most food included in the fare, cruising is widely considered to be a value-for-money holiday option. However, there’s usually more than meets the eye – for most cruise guests, there will still be an account to settle at the end. So what are these extra costs likely to be?

Shore excursions
While some cruise lines include free shore excursions, most do not. Independent companies often provide cheaper tour options, but these aren’t available in every port. To save money, explore on foot, or make use of public transport or local taxis.

Alternative dining
All cruises include dining options in the total fare but some onboard eateries charge extra per person. If you fancy hitting an alternative restaurant, such as a steakhouse, check out any dining packages or lunch specials on offer – these can work out to be cheaper.

Adults only areas
These are increasingly popular on larger ships but the peace and quiet often comes at a price. If you don’t want to pay, find a spot away from busy areas of the ship, such as the library or the promenade deck.

Most cruise lines don’t include alcohol in the fare, and there are strict rules about what you can bring on board. Some allow a bottle of wine or sparkling wine, but you have to drink it in your stateroom or pay corkage fees to enjoy it elsewhere. Check the daily guide for happy hours, drink-of-the-day offers, or consider buying a drinks package.

Specialty beverages
Some non-alcoholic drinks are free, such as standard tea, coffee and some fountain drinks. However, specialty herbal teas, espresso coffees, and soft drinks usually cost extra. As with alcohol, you have the option of purchasing a drinks package.

Other optional extras

Fitness classes: the gym may be free, but spin, Zumba and yoga classes usually attract fees.

Room service: some ships charge for this luxury, particularly between midnight and breakfast, so try to curb the late-night snacks.

In-room movies: there are often pay-per-view options on your television, but you can get around this by taking your own entertainment on your iPad or laptop.

Gratuities: most ships charge your account daily for each person in your stateroom.

Activities: martini mixing, wine tasting and bingo are some of the activities that attract additional costs.

Internet access: you will need to set up an account and either pay by the minute or buy a package. Using wifi onshore often works out to be the cheapest and best way to connect.

Port shuttles: mainstream ships often charge a fee, either one-way or return.

Laundry: this is usually an extra charge, although many ships have a guest laundry. Another great option is hand-washing small items in the shower or sink. 

To find out more about cruising, or to find your dream cruise within your budget, visit


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Written by SJ


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