Home Cruise Preparation The 10 Hidden Costs of Cruising — and How to Fight Back

The 10 Hidden Costs of Cruising — and How to Fight Back

By Erica Silverstein

Cruise Critic Senior Editor
You have probably heard the term “all-inclusive” applied to cruises. Sure, a voyage at sea is one of the best values around because all major expenses (lodging, meals, snacks, activities and entertainment) are included. However, there are some items — mostly of a personal or optional nature — that are out-of-pocket expenses. And those extra purchases can quickly run up your bill on a supposedly “all-inclusive” cruise.

Cruise lines are tempting travelers to come onboard with their ships’ expansive spas, diverse specialty dining options and concept bars and lounges. But if you want a massage, a fruity cocktail or dinner outside the main dining room, you’ll need to hand over your cruise card and pay up at the end of the trip. You’ll be paying extra, too, for onshore adventures arranged through the ship, Internet usage and souvenirs bought in onboard boutiques. And when you’re on vacation and hoping to live it up a little, it’s hard to say no to that formal night photo or snorkeling excursion.

Plus, as cruise ships grow bigger and more Vegas-like — with a jaw-dropping array of attractions and high-tech amenities — many lines are slowly moving toward a more resort-like fare structure, in which passengers pay a low upfront price and then pick and choose which experiences to purchase a la carte onboard. These days, “all-inclusive” is a term that really only applies to a handful of high-priced luxury cruises.

If you want the full cruise experience, you’ll need to set aside some cash to cover these extra expenditures, or make a vacation budget and stick to it. To make sure the incidentals don’t break the bank for you, here are 10 things that will cost you extra onboard — and how to find discounts and savings.

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