5 Covered and 5 Uncovered Cruise Costs

Cruises are all-inclusive, to a point. Know ahead of time what you have to cover, and what you don't.

By Chanize Thorpe

Despite its reputation as an "all-inclusive" vacation, there are some extra charges attached to most cruise packages. Here’s a guide to what you get, and what you don’t.

5 Costs That Are Included:

1. Meals. Buffets, meals in the main dining room, snack-bar treats, and even 24-hour room service is included in the cost of your cruise. But you may have to pay a service charge of $20 or more per person to dine at specialty restaurants on board.

2. Entertainment. Admission to live musicals, comedy shows, and Cirque du Soleil-type extravaganzas carry no additional charge.

3. Drinks. Nonalcoholic beverages (soft drinks, juices, tea, and coffee) are included during meals.

4. Airport transfers. Some cruise lines will pick you up from the airport and bring you to the ship, free of charge — Disney, for example, has a streamlined program that leaves no questions unanswered.

5. Service tailored to your needs. There's a reason cruise lines call their customers guests. The best lines pride themselves on providing extraordinary service and making everyone comfortable. Don't be afraid to ask for what you need, and don't assume it will cost you more.

5 Costs That Are Not Included:

1. Fitness classes. If you want to participate in a ship’s yoga, Pilates, or Spinning classes, there will usually be an extra fee of $10 or more. But jogging or walking around the track is always free.

2. Shore excursions. You’ll pay extra for off-ship trips arranged by the cruise line, such as city sightseeing tours or island snorkeling adventures.

3. Drinks. Outside of meals, soft drinks aren’t included, though some lines offer all-you-can-drink nonalcoholic beverage cards — great for thirsty kids. But unless you’re on a truly-all-inclusive voyage, alcoholic drinks will be a separate charge, and BYOB is not allowed; if you purchase alcohol at a port of call, it will be stored until you disembark.

4. Parking. Embarkation ports often have parking set aside for cruise passengers, but it’s not free. Expect to pay a daily premium, which can really add up during a long voyage.

5. Tips. Once a complicated system of envelopes distributed to a host of staff members, today many ships add an automatic gratuity for crew service to your account, which you can adjust at the end of your trip.



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