Cruising has gain popularity amongst travelers with its “all-inclusive” pricing. With transportation, lodging, food and an assortment of activities and entertainment already included on cruises today, how do some cruisers end up breaking the bank with that final bill at the end of the cruise?
Although cruises pricing includes so many amenities, not everything is included and if you don’t plan properly or get advice from your travel agent, you may end up dipping into your savings and spending more than you initial budgeted.
Beverage Packages (Alcoholic & Non-alcoholic)
As a responsible travel agent (and friend), I encourage everyone to drop the soft drinks and stick to water, juice and tea. It’s very hard to get off the sugary drinks especially with so much energy you get after consumption, but not only will your health appreciate it, but also your wallet. But what about bottled water, most beverage packages include getting premium bottled water as well? TIP #1: Drinking water on a cruise ship is extremely safe. The water is filtered on the ship itself and is regularly checked to meet sanitation regulations. The (free) drinking water is more likely better and cleaner than that of the bottled water they are selling to you.
Cruise lines make a killing when it comes to this add-on because honestly what’s a few dollars compared to your comfort. Well, A LOT! Most beverage packages begin at $8-$10 dollar per person per day, which at first glance seems small but when you calculate the cost for say a 7 day cruise, it’s $56-$70 per person (for two people $112-$140). Again, I may not have the same passion for soft drinks, but I can’t imagine the need to spend that much on pop. I mean a 2-liter bottle is about $1.99 at home, so one person will practically need to drink 10-12 bottles of soft drinks throughout the cruise to even make it comparable.
Now what what about the alcoholic packages that offer free beer & wine, and even premium liquor. Okay, the lure of being able to buy unlimited drinks has its appeal, but honestly you would have to drink about 4-5 drinks a day to make it worth your time. Remember, you will not be on the ship the entire time and you will have access to go onshore and drink there, where most of the time it will be cheaper.
If you need to some liquid courage, check the daily guides for drink specials and you can save a lot of money. TIP#2: Remember your bartenders name and make sure you tip them big in the beginning. For me, I always tip when I am ordering to make sure they bartender knows that I am going to hook them up. You remember their name, they will remember you when it comes to cashing out.
IMPORTANT: Never skimp on the tip – I completely understand the need to save money, however you pay for what you get and if you are not willing to give them an extra something, I really doubt you will get anything extra from the staff.
The need to CONNECT
In this day in age, the need to be online and post your pictures on Facebook is as important as brushing your teeth, however internet on board cruise ships are horrible and simply not worth your money. Cruise lines use satellite’s to connect to the internet which often lead to long waits and interrupted service, however you pay per minute which is often around $0.65 per minute. You can purchase package with up to 500 minutes but it will cost you about $200 for that. TIP#3: Most cruise ports offer free Wi-fi and if they don’t, just find a local shop once onshore and buy a drink and they will be happy to let you jump on their signal.
Just avoid the Casino
If casinos were in the business to help people, this headliner would change immediately, but we all know the house always win. Casinos onboard cruise ships are most likely filled with smokers who enjoy the luxury of smoking inside and of course another way to throw your money down the drain. Again, if you have a need to gamble and that is y our way of having fun, just be mindful of how much you spend. It’s not like Vegas, where you get free drinks if you play, it’s just a nicer way to give your money to the cruise line.
Unless your celebrating a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary, try to limit the amount of times you dine at one of these premium venues. Included in your cruise fare is a wide range of food throughout the ship which include the buffet, room service and of course the main dining which is available during breakfast, lunch and dinner. TIP #4: If you need to make reservations for a specialty restaurant, then I suggest making on the first day. Most cruise ships like to fill their restaurants immediately and will offer 20%-50% off if you purchase it you plan which night you want to dine. However, if you plan on going on a Celebrity Ship, I would highly recommend Qsine. This is a fabulous restaurant and experience. Completely worth it!
Going to the Spas
Spa treatments onboard can be very costly and can easily skyrocket that final bill. Make sure to budget what services you plan on taking by asking your travel agent for the spa prices (you should only be asking me). Here is a sample of prices to get you prepared:
Facials range between $100 – $300
Massages range between $125 – $200
Women’s Haircuts range between $70 – $150
Men’s Haircuts range between $30 – $65
Manicures range between $40 – $90
Pedicures range between $70 – $120
Tip #5: To save money on spa treatments, make sure to book your reservation during shore days. When everyone leaves the ship, the spas usually run specials to entice those who plan on staying onboard.