20 unexpected cost of cruising

20 Unexpected Cost of Cruising


Cruising can get expensive because the little things add up

Cruising is a great way to see different cities and even different countries.  There is something for everyone and cruising gives you the luxury of only having to unpack just once.  The price on the brochure is tempting especially when the prices are affordable.  However, there can be additional costs that you should consider when budgeting your next cruise.  Vacations don’t have to break the bank but make sure you review these 20 unexpected costs of cruising.

1.  Port fees and taxes – Make sure to read the fine print because these fees are tacked onto the price per person.  These fees vary depending on which part of the world you are traveling and for the duration of the cruise.

2.  Gratuity – This is the bulk of crew’s income and it’s why the customer service on ships is awesome.  Some cruise lines will automatically add this to your bill at the end of the cruise, while others provide a suggested amount to tip.  According to Frommer’s the suggested amount is $10-$12 per day, per passenger.

3.  Pre and Post Cruise Transfer – Unless you live within driving distance of any cruise port, you will more than likely need a way to get to and from the port.  Within the last few years, Uber and Lyft are a great way to cut down on those cuts.  However, if you are traveling overseas these rideshare programs aren’t available in all cities.

4.  Photo shoots – If you have never cruised before, the crew will take every opportunity to document your cruise by taking pictures of you as you disembark at each port.  The staff will also set-up back drops on formal night and also make their way around the tables during dinner time too.  Half the fun is trying to find your photo but you aren’t obligated to purchase.

5.  Alcohol – As you might have guessed it, this is an additional charge.  Don’t even think of trying to bring your own beer or hard liquor on board, it will be confiscated.  However, you maybe able to bring a few bottle of wine but check with the cruise line first.  You will also find an automatic gratuity on your bill.

6.  Specialty coffee drinks – If you can’t live without your morning latte or mocha, expect to dish out some cash for the java.  Just like alcohol, you will also find an automatic gratuity.  If you want to save a few bucks, drink the coffee in the dining room or by the buffet.


7.  Shore Excursions – Visiting new destinations is very exciting and the cruise ships provide a lot of options for passengers.  However, the cost of taking an excursion at each port can really add up quickly, especially if you are traveling with the entire family.

8.  Spa / Salon – Who doesn’t enjoy being pampered, especially while on vacation.  The spa and salon provide a lot of services and are a great way to spend some time during sea days or before formal night.  No one said being beautiful is cheap, right?

9.  Casino – Bingo – Scratch Tickets – The cruise ships are clever to have gambling on the ships but I’ve always wondered what the pay-out is like?  Make sure to set yourself a budget and stick to it.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement but maybe save it for Vegas…I’m sure the payout is better.

10.  Specialty Dining – This is a great way to experience fine dining with the best service.  As specialty dining becomes more popular, the prices continue to climb.  However, treating yourself to a $40 dinner with 7 courses is hard to beat.

11.  Duty Free Shop – Clothing, perfumes, cologne, cosmetics and liquor are common. There can be deals found on board but at times the prices are also comparable to traditional store prices too.  Just remember you can’t access your alcohol until the last day of your cruise.

12.  Internet – Who doesn’t love showing off their vacation pictures on Facebook and Instagram to make all their friends and family jealous?  Unfortunately, free wi-fi cannot be found anywhere on board unless maybe you have 100+ cruises under your belt.  Even if you decide to purchase wi-fi access, the speed is not what you maybe accustomed too.

13. Boutique Shops – Shopping for jewelry and clothing on the ship is convenient but the prices can be expensive.  It’s easy to spend money when everything gets charged to your stateroom.

14.  Art Auctions – I always enjoy walking through the art gallery on the ship.  It is also fun to enjoy a little complimentary sparkling wine during the auction too.  Remember, auctions are an easy way to drop some dough with all the excitement and don’t forget, your winning art piece still needs to get back home.

15.  Future Cruise Desk – Cruise shopping on a ship will not be cheap.  It’s too easy to put down a deposit and charge it to my stateroom.  Wait until you get home to book your next cruise, you may be able to find a better rate.  At times they offer some great deals but all-in-all its a great way for them to hook you in.

16.  Wine Tastings – The wine experts are on the ship but you also pay for their knowledge.  Sipping on vino while you sample some international cheeses is surely an experience but also comes with a price.

17.  Soda Package –  One would hope that soda would be included with your cruise expense but sadly it is not.  However, it maybe cheaper to purchase the unlimited soda package rather than a soda at each meal.  Or, skip the soda and drink tap water instead.

18.  Chef’s Table – This is the ultimate dining experience on any cruise ship.  There is limited seating and your 7 course meal is written and prepared by Sous Chef or the Chef himself.  Of course, this is another luxury experience but many say its worth the money.

19. Ship Tours – I have to admit that taking a ship tour would be really interesting.  However, the price tag may surprise you.  Each cruise line has their own program but the cost for this experience starts at $50 per person.

20.  Laundry / Dry Cleaning – If you don’t like cleaning your clothes in the sink, expect to pay for self-laundry or dry cleaning service.  This expense can really add up especially if you are on longer cruises or traveling with the whole family.  Pack smart.

What are some other hidden costs of cruising that weren’t mentioned above?


Check out some of our other cruise topics:  9 Reasons Why Formal Night Needs to Go, 8 Reasons to Cruise with Your Kids, 10 Best Reasons to Cruise, Family Cruising – Fact vs Fiction, and 10 Tips to Save Money on Your Next Cruise.



  • Angie Surratt

    I'm the founder and publisher of My Family Guide. I'm a wife and mother of two. I've managed to visit all 50 states and travel to over 25 countries. Sharing my experiences, tip and tricks about my adventures.

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