So you’ve decided on your perfect cruise itinerary and when you want to travel. You know how many of you are cruising, so it’s just a case of doubling the price per person right? Not exactly. Though there’s so much included in the price of your cruise these days, there are still a number of costs to factor in when it comes to budgeting accurately. Because we want you to enjoy your holiday without any financial worries, here are seven handy tips to help you work out the total cost of your cruise.

1. Fly or no fly?

Fly to your embarkation port overseas

Fly to your embarkation port overseas

One of the biggest extra costs can be getting to your departure port, especially when it’s overseas. At we’ll always try to offer you a with-flight price, which not only takes the hassle out of looking for your own flights but makes for clearer budgeting too. Of course, if you feel like a city break before you sail, you’re free to book your own flights so you fly out at a time that suits you best but it’s worth noting that in peak season they’ll likely be more expensive. Unless you’re getting the train or a lift to and from the airport, there’s parking costs to consider too, though free airport parking is something we sometimes offer with our cruise deals. If you’re departing from home shores, the cost of getting to your ship is likely to be a lot less but there are still fuel costs and cruise port parking to consider, or train or air fares if you’re not planning to drive yourself to your departure port.

2. It’s all in the service

Butler service in your private suite

Butler service in your private suite

Gratuities are a part of cruising and because cruise ships are largely cash-free and there are that many service elements involved in your cruise from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, a daily gratuities charge is added to your room account, which is payable at the end of your cruise. This automatic charge ensures that everyone involved in looking after you during your cruise gets a fair share of your money. It makes for clearer budgeting too, because the daily charge is always outlined in the FAQ section of your cruise line’s website.

3. The right room

Luxurious and spacious suite accommodation

Luxurious and spacious suite accommodation

Another potentially big cost is your choice of stateroom. Again, the price of interior, window and balcony accommodations are always clearly shown so you’ll know exactly what your room will cost but it’s worth noting that taking the step up to a room with a balcony will cost you considerable more. On that note though, it’s not uncommon for lines to offer free upgrades to balcony rooms as the date of a cruise nears, which is something to bear in mind if you’re looking for extra value on a late deal.

4. Exploring ashore

Safari adventures ashore in South Africa

Safari adventures ashore in South Africa

Explore your ports of call to the best effect and you’ll certainly have a more satisfying holiday. While it’s true that you’re usually free to explore on your own, it always makes sense to book excursions if you’re visiting a destination which is an hour or two from port or one that you’ve never visited before. Depending on duration and what’s involved, the cost of these can vary greatly but the best way to get the best value and clearly budget before you set sail is by booking your excursions in advance. Specialists like Cruising Excursions allow you to do this, and also offer packages specific to certain itineraries, saving you money and time and helping you to plan ahead

5. Put it on my tab

Guests enjoying drinks at Celebrity Cruises' Crush Bar

Guests enjoying drinks at Celebrity Cruises’ Crush Bar

Though all your food is included in the cost of your cruise, drinks are not and that goes for sodas too. If you like a drink or if a meal’s not complete without a bottle of good wine, the cost of your drinks can soon mount up. One of the most cost-effective ways of budgeting is to buy a drinks package before you sail, which will be added to your room account. It’s worth noting that such packages are sometimes offered as free added extras when you book your cruise, too.

6. A speciality meal

Delicious speciality dining at Princess Cruises' Crown Grill

Delicious speciality dining at Princess Cruises’ Crown Grill

All your meals are included on your cruise and you’ll have more than enough choice when it comes to mouth-watering menus and complimentary dining venues. However, there’s always the option of a meal in one of your ship’s speciality dining venues, which involves a cover charge per person. Of course, this is completely optional and may not affect the cost of your cruise at all but it’s worth noting if you are planning to treat yourself. Charges vary but if you use as a guide the cost you’d typically pay in your local restaurant and half it, you’ll be in roughly the same ball park.

7. A spot of indulgence

Norwegian Cruise Line's Mandara Spa

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Mandara Spa

Another completely optional cost is making use of the health, beauty and hair treatments offered on-board your ship. If you want a new do for that special black tie night or fancy treating yourself to a facial, such things are not included in the cost of your cruise, so if you prefer to be pampered on holiday, prepare to pay extra.

Emma Smith
Emma has more than seven years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for nearly five years. She loves learning about new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Princess Cruises, Cunard, Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages, Avalon Waterways and Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in her diary for 2024! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

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