Despite recent events that placed a blemish on the cruise industry, people are still flocking to these mega-resorts on the sea for vacation. According to estimates from Cruise Market Watch, the amount of passengers crossing the deck plates will be near 21 million this year, with estimates of almost 24 million by 2017. This isn’t a surprise. For one payment vacationers receive accommodations, meals, excellent service, and stops at international ports. However, beneath that all-inclusive payment there are hidden costs for extra services, day trips, extracurricular activities, and souvenirs that can put a definite dent in your finances and leave you miserable while others around you enjoy themselves.
Of course, it won’t be this way if you budget for these expenses well ahead of your trip. In fact, your cruise categories should be created as soon as you confirm the reservations. With many cruises booked six months to a year in advance, there’s plenty of time to build up a cushion for all the other temptations. Here are a few things to consider.
Tips – Unlike staying at a hotel, tipping is more of a firm request on a cruise vacation rather than a courtesy. From the server that gives you an extra plate of escargot at dinner to the person that leaves a towel molded into a bunny on your child’s bed, many cruise employees deserve a tip for their services. The good thing is there’s no need to estimate what to give each person. Most cruise lines offer tip recommendations on their website, which means you can place the money in your budget well ahead of your trip.
Spa Services – Nothing is better on a cruise than to have someone knead those tired and sore muscles at the ship’s full-service spa. Unfortunately, these treatments are on the opposite side of free. Depending on what you’re interested in, spa services can run several hundred dollars, and that doesn’t include the oils and creams the spa employees try to sell to you after everything is done. Those in your party interested in treatments can review the menu of spa services well ahead of time at the cruise ship’s website and budget accordingly.
Gambling – Save for those in the Disney Cruise Line, most cruise ships offer gambling in their casinos once out in international waters. Rates and opening bids for video poker, slots, and table games is similar to brick and mortar casinos you’d find in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, but the winning percentage is much lower. Budget money in for this event if you want to have fun rather than break the bank.
Excursions – Most stops made by cruise ships allow you to disembark and tour the area on your own. However, some destinations require additional transportation to a certain spot or offer additional activities such as snorkeling or parasailing. You may be able to check the cruise company’s website ahead of time for some of the extra cost items, but you’ll mostly likely find out about them once you arrive on the ship. Best thing to do is budget several hundred dollars for these activities if you’re interested.
Souvenirs – What cruise vacation isn’t complete without some souvenirs? Many ports of call offer trinkets at deep discounts for tourists. To maximize your souvenir budget, stay away from vendors who cater just to tourists. Head into town and find some of the smaller shops for some unique items. And if you don’t pick up something for your friends while in port, there are plenty of items to pick up in the ship’s shopping area.