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Your cruise cost just went up by 37%.

Your cruise cost just went up by 37%.
February 28th, 2013 8:09 pm     A+ | a-

You save for months to pay for the cruise of a lifetime. You phone in your credit card payment and pay for the cruise. After you pay, the cruise line says that you owe 37% more on top of what you have already paid. You gasp out loud and can't believe how they could make such a demand for more money!

Obviously, it doesn't happen the way described above. But the reality of cruising is that the average passenger will spend another 37% of the ticket price on board the ship. For those not prepared for this type of expense, they may have a shocker on the last day of the cruise when they get the bill for 37% more.

Cruise lines actually rely on this extra income to make a profit. Without it, the cruise line would actually lose money on each cruise. So, from a business standpoint, the more money you spend on board, the healthier the bottom line is for the ship and the cruise line. With that motivation in mind, it is no wonder that on many ships you are enticed to spend more money on board. For example, as soon as you walk on the ship, they will start handing you flyers to spend money in the spa. You will also see tables set up, with crew members selling soda and drink packages. You will hear announcements about art auctions and bingo games. While enjoying your dinner in the dining room the ship photographer will accost your group while you are trying to eat your meal to take pictures that they then will try to get you to buy later on in the photo gallery. They will also take your picture when you board, they will take your picture when you disembark at each port, almost blocking the gangway and forcing you to pose with a pirate or dolphin.

As you stroll the main deck you will walk right through the casino with the slot machines calling out your name, tempting you, by promising you a big win. In your cabin there will be flyers for shore excursions and spa treatments and gift shop sales. On board there will be specialty restaurants, where if you spend just a little bit more money you will be treated to a much “better” dining experience.

At the end of the cruise the average passenger has spent 17% more money in the casino and bar, 6% more just for the tips, 6% more for shore excursions, 3% for spa services and 5% more for other things on board. That is the average. Some passengers spend less than that, and others spend much more than that.

Frankly, I have no problem with the cruise lines trying to increase revenues by offering more services on board. After all, they are in the business to make money.

It is important for cruise passengers to know this before boarding.  Be prepared for all these extras and develop a plan on how much you are willing to spend on board. Know your budget and what you are capable of spending so you won’t regret it when the vacation is over.

Steve Millay, ACC

May 31st, 2013 3:42 pm
This is a good summary of the extra cruising expenses. I've had 6 cruises and hope for many more and was quite surprised with the 'extras' on the 1st trip. Now I know what to expect and plan accordingly. The down side for me is I feel like I am being 'nickel and dimed' to death and it cheapens the whole cruise experience.
February 14th, 2014 12:08 pm
Like so many others, we learned on our 1st cruise. We now bring our own pop and fill our water bottles from the tap in our room. We are very light drinkers, can't stand the smoke in the casino so we don't go there. Going ashore, we grab our own cab and head to the beach on our own. We decide before the cruise if we want to get a formal portrait otherwise we don't stop in the photo gallery.

My issue is with the gratuities. Why do I want to tip someone the full amount for doing an "adequate" job? I have only been on one cruie when the Matre'D stopped by my table on a regular basis so why should I tip him/her when they give me no personal service? Room Steward, Table Waiter, and Asst Waiter are the only ones that I want to tip. Bar service automatically adds 15% for every drink, so why tip more for simply adequate service.

Like Steve said -- this is all to add to the bottom line. We simply choose not to help. We just did a 12 night and our shipboard account was under $200. Its easy. Just say "No thanks".
February 20th, 2014 5:29 pm
There are some cruise lines like Azamara, Regent and Crystal that are all inclusive. Just remember, you get what you pay for.
March 13th, 2014 6:39 am
I never understood the tipping policy on ships. Who am I tipping? The kitchen help? If the cruise line feels their employees do such a good job, (and I certainly I DON'T always agree) let them give their employees a raise. Stay out of my pocket.
June 7th, 2014 9:02 am
The standard tips of $12 per day on most cruise lines is split between the waiter, assistant waiter, and the cabin attendant. Of course the tipping can increase if you are booking suites because the tip usually includes the butler and concierge as well. I can understand people being frugal. However, plan a head and live a little. You are on vacation.
June 8th, 2014 11:39 am
The cost associated with a cruise vacation is one that is totally under the control of the passenger. One example - we are going on our 15th cruise next week and have found that it is best for us to head down to the Front Desk and ask that our tips be taken off our account and request envelopes at that time. This gives us the opportunity to not only control how much money we want to provide as tips but it also allows us the personal touch when tipping someone for the service they have given. We give the tip in a sealed envelope on the last evening of the cruise and know that it is going to the person we want.

When it comes to the balance of the costs on board, it is extremely easy to swipe and sign, but knowing that we can compare our receipts at anytime on our cabin television or print a statement at the kiosk near the Front Desk and deal with any discrepancies right away is a good feeling. We have never left a cruise and felt that we had been side tracked into spending money where we didn't feel it was necessary.

Sure there are many opportunities for a passenger to spend money, but that is what going on a vacation is all about, having options available to you. One opinion of a passenger might be that there are too many distractions about spending options, if they were done away with, another passenger might say there were too few. The cruise line does its best ... but they can't please everyone all of the time.
Ylreb Relots
October 4th, 2014 8:31 am
I totally agree it is all up to the passenger to be informed and make their spending decisions from the information. You should tip according to service received.
JoAnn Gronbach
March 20th, 2017 12:16 pm
That tip you give in a sealed envelope to a select few will have to be turned in to be shared on most ships. That is, IF you have removed gratuities from your account. Therefore, you are gaining nothing. Unfortunately, most cruise lines pay their help very little, so they depend on tips to make a semi-living wage. My opinion: If you can't afford tip, don't cruise!
December 22nd, 2017 3:16 pm
If you think that the cruise lines giving their employees a raise will "keep them out of your pocket," you are sadly disillusioned. This raise will come DIRECTLY out of your pocket when you book the cruise.

I have zero problem tipping. I am about to embark on cruise number 26, and rarely do I have any issues at all giving extra, for the great service I've received (on top of the already scheduled gratuity, which is high because we always book a small suite.) On our last 3 cruises, we had zero additional charges, too (though we bought and paid for internet service in advance....otherwise that would have been extra).

We have also noticed a much more pleasant experience lately when the photographers come around. A simple "no, thank you," - with a smile - sends them right on their way, with no fuss.

You can spend as much - or as little - extra on your cruise as you choose. Just pay attention, and don't think a good cruise requires you to buy everything you see.
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