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Hidden Costs of Cruising

Staying on budget with travel? It's all about planning

Cruise lines serenade potential cruisers with the "all-inclusive" promise but bounce into the disco the first night aboard ship and you know it's all a ruse. Sure, Two if by sea...Two if by sea...most of the big ticket expenses are prepaid: meals and snacks, accommodation, most onboard entertainment and activities. But incidentals can add up to more than the price you paid for the cruise in the first place.


Tea, coffee and juices are complimentary during meals - but everything else will cost. And your liquor bill can add up quickly. Save money with a "soda" or "wine" prepaid package.

On our last cruise we took a wine package that included a bottle for each meal that we chose at the table- and if we didn't finish it, they corked and stored it for us.

Shore Excursions

Everything you do off the ship is out-of-pocket. Activities arranged by cruise lines can run over $100 for full day activities. You can save money by booking your tours independently or doing something self-guided. Getting yourself to the beach is pretty straightforward. Remember to always negotiate prices before you agree to go anywhere with anyone - and your return time.

For a 7-hour hike up a volcano in St. Kitts, we went with the cruise line to avoid missing an early embarkation.

Casino Gaming & the Spa

You can dump buckets of money into either of theseBFF Massage at Loewsactivities - while at home or cruising. Set your limits and stick to them if you're on a budget. 


Like most hotels and resorts, laundry is an add-on. If you're on a budget pack enough to last you the whole trip or wash as needed in the sink. We do laundry mid-cruise in the sink and hang in the shower to dry.


If you travel, you tip - and cruises are no different. An earlier GG article on cruise tipping offers a great breakdown, but count on a minimum of $10 per person per day that's divvied up between the people who serve you.

How you much give should always be based on quality of service. I've always found that employees of cruise ships go out of their way to make life more enjoyable and tipping more is a great way to show appreciation.

Got some budget travel tips for us? We'd love to hear you save money while following your bliss around the world. Connect with us on Twitterand Facebook- we'd love to hear your ideas!  

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