Many moons ago, cruising was all-inclusive. You booked your cruise and outside of paying for your port taxes and your alcohol, there were no additional costs. Like I said, that was many moons ago. The cost of a cruise can be rather pricey – so beware.
Having just returned from a cruise on The Norwegian’s Breakaway, imagine my surprise at the add ons – from dining to entertainment, it felt as though every time you turned around there was an added expense.
What are the additional expenses you can expect when cruising?
- Gratuities – Norwegian charges an additional $13.50 per day for ‘tipping’for those staying in a mini suite with suite passengers charged $15.50 per person, per day. The cruise line raised these fees two times in 2015. The daily service charge is added to the passengers’ bills automatically at the end of the cruise although travelers can also remove the automatic gratuities at guest services if they want and substitute their own tip (something that is not known by many).
- Port Taxes – this is an expected added cost. Port Taxes have been around since cruising began.
- Room Service Fee – a $7.95 fee for room service.
- Dining Packages – while you can still eat for free while cruising, Norwegian has a number of speciality restaurants you can pay for, as well. The free dining options were good, but the restaurants we paid for were better. Steak Houses, italian Food and french food were among our choices. While you would think the free dining would be more popular than the paid options, think again. Getting a reservation for the speciality restaurants was difficult and needed to be made early. In addition, even during the free seafood buffet, the cruise line only opened half of the dining area, showing many people pay for their meals. Then again, the all you can eat seafood buffet felt like a huge secret, with even the staff not knowing the day it would be.
- On-Board Entertainment – where the on-board entertainment used to be completely free, this is no longer the case. Cirque Dreams and Dinner® Jungle Fantasy cost $48 per person. Part circus, part Moulin Rouge, it’s an entertainment extravaganza.
- Drink Packages – from soda to alcohol, the prices on the drink package can set you back quite a bit. The “Ultimate Beverage Package” costs $79 per person, per day, (plus an 18 percent gratuity) and includes soda, wine, juice, plus liquor and cocktails (all drinks $15 or less).
- Excursions – want to tour the Norwegian Ship – no problem. For a mere $79, you can get a behind the scenes tour. Excursions tend to be quite pricey. It may be worth doing some research to see if you can get similar excursions on your own. I was able to save more than $100 by booking my own glass bottom boat snorkeling tour.
Remember when budgeting for your vacation to add in the additional expenses. No surprises needed.