How to Budget the Cost of a Cruise Ship Vacation
By Alex Stewart
Despite the brochure's claims, most cruises are not all-inclusive. So, as a responsible traveler, you need to set a budget that goes beyond your basic cost of passage. The question is, what are those extra costs?
To learn about the additional expenses that come along with a cruise vacation, keep reading to find out how you can budget for shore excursions, alcoholic beverages, service tips, rounds of golf and much-deserved spa treatments.
Typically, most cruises do not include the price of shore excursions. When budgeting for your cruise, add several hundred dollars to participate in popular shore activities like scuba diving, guided town tours, paragliding, sea kayaking, golf and more.
Typically, you can go online or refer to the cruise line's brochure to get an idea of the shore excursions available on your trip and how much they cost. Often, you can book your shore trips in advance of the your time at sea, but try to set a bit of your budget aside for the whimsy - you may decide halfway through your cruise that, yes, you do want to try horseback riding after all.
Drinks and snacks
Check in advance what your cruise does and does not include in "all-inclusive." Typically, meals are included but not specialty drinks or snacks.
Again, every cruise line is different, with some offering assigned and monitored dining while others include 24-hour buffets and alcoholic beverages.
If you're unsure of whom to tip and how much, then simply call the cruise line and ask them what's expected of passengers. On most ships the steward or cruise director will make announcements about tips, including tip etiquette.
Typically, you'll be able to include a tip when signing a bill for drinks or service. You're also able to include a service tip either as a flat day fee on top of your on-board account or at the end of the cruise in the form of cash in an envelope, given to either your steward or cruise director. The latter method is less frequent. The average amount is about $10-$15 per day per passenger, but that can depend on the ship and level of service.
Extra Activities like Golf and Spas
Cruise ships are becoming more elaborate, including new amenities like driving ranges and spa facilities. When budgeting for a cruise vacation, set some money aside for extras like a facial or a bucket of balls at the driving range.
And while you're considering extra activities on-board the ship, remember that you want to work within your budget, but you also don't want to deprive yourself.
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