The Extra Costs of Cruising

The Extra Costs of Cruising

If you are looking for a holiday that includes the essentials for your holiday a cruise can be a great option. When you book a cruise you do get a fixed price for your transport between ports, accommodation and food. For many travellers, this might be enough to get you through your holiday.

But it likely won’t take long for you to realise that there is a nearly endless list of added extra’s available. To some degree, this will depend on the cruise line that you choose to travel with. But there are very few if any that are truly 100% all-inclusive. Just remember though if you are not paying for it later you did pay for it in your initial cruise fare.

The Extra Costs of Cruising

When it comes to cruising I am a rather frugal traveller, but on most cruises have ended up with extra’s between $500-$4,000. Depending on the cruise this has included, drinks, tours, massage, hair cut, laundry, internet, speciality dining, photography, fitness classes and more.

Let’s take a look at just what some of the expenses might be. While I am trying to give a comprehensive list, there are little differences in almost every cruise line. Likewise, prices could also vary from what I mention below, some are from my personal experience and others from my research. But with so many different ships and cruise lines, it can be difficult to cover all bases. As such the below is just an indication and it might be wise to check with the cruise line you are travelling if you want to know before you go.

Getting A Drink

The first thing many people will come up against is getting a drink. Depending on the cruise line you are likely going to be very limited on what you will get for free. Table water in the dining areas may be the extent of what you don’t pay for. Although there are a few lines that do offer something like Iced Tea as an option and fruit juice at breakfast time.

I would be prepared with the knowledge that you will likely pay for anything beyond a glass of water. That even includes bottled water and soft drink. Prices for the basics can include

  • Bottled Water can range from $2.50 – $7.00 a bottle.
  • Soft Drinks or sodas can range from $2.00 – $3.00 each.

Another drink that can catch you out might be tea and coffee. There may be tea and coffee available at meals, although I have seen reports of some lines charging for this even. But if there is a cafe onboard you will likely pay for the speciality tea and coffee they offer.

  • Depending on your favourite coffee expect to pay between $2.00 and $4.50

One range of drinks that might not surprise you as an out of pocket is alcohol. When you get to the bar the beverage list is rather extensive with beers, wines and spirits from all over the world. The pricing can vary widely and very much depends on your tastes in some respects.

  • Beer might see you spending from $7.00 up depending on your favourite brand.

When it comes to wine there are a few options to consider. You, of course, can purchase by the glass, but just like in a restaurant at home this is going to be the most expensive option. There is also wine by the bottle and often multi-bottle packages. Just keep in mind that many of the offers have higher prices to allow for good loyalty program discounts.

  • Wine by the glass can start around $5.00 and go up from there depending on your taste.
  • Wine by the bottle can start around $15-$20 and go up from there.

You might find that cocktails have a somewhat standard price around the ship. When it comes to spirits that is a whole other game. Depending on the ship and cruise line I have seen them from $6 right through to hundreds of dollars for one drink. But again this is because of such a large and extensive list of everything from the basics to the top top shelf stuff.

One other thing to keep in mind with your drinks is that there is often a service charge of 15% added. So that $10 cocktail will cost you $11.50. Do a little research on your cruise line first just to be sure you don’t get a surprise.

Speciality Dining

Going hungry while on board is something that you might not need to worry about. But depending on the ship your choice can vary in where you dine. Most ships will offer a couple of free options from the main dining room to a buffet and maybe a pizzeria or a more relaxed quick stop for food.

But like many other things you can find your way to some more high end and in some cases interesting dining experience for a little money. Some start out at low as $10 per person, while some special wine pairing dinner events can see you getting closer to $100 per person or more.

Laundry & Dry Cleaning

The need to do laundry or dry cleaning while you are onboard a cruise will depend on two factors. How long your cruise is and how many changes of clothes you pack.

There are a few ships that do offer a laundry facility that you can use just like a laundromat. But there are more ships that do not offer this facility, and if you want something cleaned it will cost you. Some of the costs could be.

  • Dry Cleaning can range between $8.00 and $20.00+ depending on what it is.
  • Laundry services on a per-item basis may be available.
  • Some ships do offer a laundry bag option, with a fixed price for what you can fit in.
  • Some loyalty programs do offer some or all laundry free, but often require being in the higher tiers.


If you have been on a cruise before you are likely very aware of the photographers that float around the ship. They often set up for boarding the ship, when arriving in ports, on formal nights and other special times in the voyage to photograph passengers.

While some people do find them to be rather annoying, it can also be a great opportunity to get a professional photo of yourself. The images are generally available as individual images or they will offer a range of packages to get a small number of photos or every photo from the cruise.

Even though I carry a camera everywhere I rarely if ever get a photo of me. So one cruise I decided to buy the package of all photos and end up with over 100 professional photos at the end. That was because I took every opportunity to get in front of their cameras. The key is if you order the package make use of it and don’t pay top dollar for a few shots.

Personal Training & Fitness Classes

In one way or another, almost every cruise ship is equipped with a gym. While the regular equipment is generally free to use there are plenty of other options where an extra cost may occur.

There is often the availability of a personal trainer, a range of fitness group classes and often an additional upsell service. The additional upsell is often promoted as a come and get this free check. Only the result is that they will be trying to sell something afterwards.

Often these extra costs are not going to be greatly worth it unless you are ensuring that you continue a practice. You are generally going to gain little benefit if you are trying to start a practice in the short time you are onboard.


Accessing the internet is one of the more common things that you will potentially end up paying for. It can be difficult not to want to email or connect with friends and family while you are away.

The cost does vary significantly between different cruise lines and depending on how much time you purchase. It also might depend on what level you are in the cruise lines loyalty program as you might be able to get some free internet time.

Also, it is worth taking a look at how internet access is charged. Depending on the cruise line you might be paying per minute, for how much you download or purely based on how many nights your cruise is. Along with some lines segregating differently priced packages depending on what you will be able to access.

Internet access is one of the things you might want to look into before boarding. Some if not many of the cruise lines may offer discounts for pre-purchase. But also double check once onboard that you did not overpay. On my last cruise, I pre-purchased thinking it was a good idea only to find out that a USD to AUD price conversion had been done online and I paid more than if I purchased onboard. I questioned this with the front desk and the difference in price was applied as a credit to my onboard account.

Phone Calls

Making a call home is generally available from all ships along with international roaming on your mobile phone while onboard. However, this could potentially be one of the most expensive phone calls you make. So just make sure that you are fully aware of the price of the call before picking up and dialling. In my experience there is usually a card with the rates listed, but if not check with the front desk.

Hair Cut & styling

Getting your hair cut or styled is something that is available on many ships. I have even ventured for a hair cut once while onboard one of my longer cruises. I had also been travelling for a month before boarding so it was getting a little unruly. I think at the time (which was 8 years ago now) it cost around $25 for the basic buzz cut.

Massages, Spa Use & Beauty Services

Along with the hair cuts, many ships offer a full-service day spa. Here you can get everything from massages, facials and any other treatment you might expect to find. Additionally, some ships even have a variety of relaxation offerings such as special spa rooms that have rather limited access for a tranquil getaway for those passengers willing to pay the price.

Baby Sitting & Kids Club

You might generally find that the day time and early evening activities in the kids club are included in their fare. On the other hand, there will often be the availability of outside these hours organising a baby sitter. There will often be an added cost for this which can vary between cruise lines and a number of other factors, such as the number of children.

Ice Cream

I have personally been on ships where the ice cream is free and others where there is an extra charge. So it is not a one size fits all. It may even be something that changes between ships in the same fleet if there is a speciality offering one some ships but not others.


While getting sick or injured is something that you do not want to happen there are on occasion unforeseen circumstances. In almost all cases to see the onboard doctor, you will need to pay for the service. Just remember while onboard your regular medical insurance at home will generally not cover you, and you will need to read the fine print for travel insurance depending on the circumstances.


There is also a range of duty-free shops available onboard which will vary between ships. Generally, there will be somewhere that will offer a limited range of basic essentials you might need.

You may also find any combination of stores offering souvenirs for both the ship and destinations you are visiting. A range of jewellery, watches, bags, sunglasses, and other higher-end items. On some ships, they may have a small selection of photographic equipment. While there is also sometimes an art gallery onboard some ships as well.

Future Cruise Deposits

Another push that most cruise lines try to do is either book you on another cruise or they have available a future cruise deposit. That is usually a lowered deposit that you pay in advance now and can be applied against any cruise you want to book in the future. There are some benefits such as this is usually all you will need to pay until the final payment date, as well as some onboard credit that is usually offered.

I have personally booked a future cruise deposit three times, but only actually used one. In the other two cases, they were refunded to me after a certain period of time. However, that is a key question to ask “what happens if I do not use the future cruise deposit?”

Have A Great Cruise

I know that is a lot to take in and keep in mind while cruising, but I do hope that you can still enjoy the cruise. As long as you have in mind what activities you want to do while onboard just enjoy the cruise. Because remember this is a holiday and you should be able to enjoy yourself.

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