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Hi all, we (husband & I) are first time cruisers,  Princess Ruby Alaska September 2019, after purchasing our tickets paying for the all inclusive drink packages, paying for excursions, booking specialty restaurants, and all the other extras we are already paying nearly $10,000, is this pretty common for cruises, or is this typical cost of a cruise? We are in a mini-Suite but it seems to me that after this amount of money we should be Captains Circle, I believe that is what they term it, I’m just wondering if this is typical or not? Here is the breakdown of costs:  We spent $1500 each per excursions, $1000 on our drink packages, and $5000 for our tickets, the remaining $1000 is specialty restaurants (2), hotel and parking costs, and incidentals. Thanks again for your thoughts.

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It doesn't have to be. 

We get a balcony rather than a mini on most cruises. For Alaska, since it is cool there, we get an inside cabin.

We book way in advance, so we can take advantage of a Sip & Sail promotion which gives us the Premium Beverage Package at no cost. (Only with a balcony or higher cabin).

We rarely take a Princess excursion. We either go off on our own or join a private tour organized on the Cruise Critic Roll Call.

We skip the specialty restaurants.

We maximize our On Board Credit. Always have Future Cruise Deposits. We own 100 shares of stock in Carnival Corp. (parent of Princess). 

We book thru a travel agent who gives us a discount on the cost of the cruise as well as some on board credit.

Our on board account is usually zero or real close..

You did not mention internet. Maybe in your incidentals.  We get a credit since we are at the top  level of the Captain's Circle. We manage to the amount we get so we never buy any additional. If needed, we will find a free place in port.

 

Captain's Circle is the Princess loyalty program. You will automatically become a member when you complete your first Princess cruise.

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Welcome to Cruise Critic.

 

Booking a mini suite starts your expensive cruise.  Alaska is not cheap -- thus expensive excursions.

 

As to the drink package -- we don't buy them as we do not drink a lot to make them worth the price.

 

So -- for everything you have booked -- the price sounds right.

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the excursions through the ship are severely  overpriced and in some cases you are much better off doing stuff on your own or with a private company.  the all inclusive drink package is only a deal if you will truly get  benefit out of it.     we don't drink bottled water or specialty coffee and only have 2-3 drinks in the evening, so a drink package does not make financial sense for us.   

 

while we do sail in full suites, our  total cost for that and the specialty dining is  usually under $6k.  and even then, specialty dining is not a requirement.  

 

it should NEVER cost you a grand for a hotel stay, parking and specialty dining.  not unless your 'incidentals'  includes the  gratuities.  many hotels near ports offer free parking and a shuttle.  

 

so yes, I would say you have way overpaid.   we did use a travel agent for our first cruise and they helped us navigate the different options.  you also need to keep an eye out for sales on the drinks package for your itinerary.  

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There is really no right answer here. Could you have done this cruise for less? Absolutely. No drink package, no mini-suite, cheaper hotel, no specialty  dining, would be easy cuts, just to start .But YOU chose various options that drive up your costs, and if you are OK with that, then its fine. 

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  • You will have a fabulous time....however, so will someone in an inside cabin with no drink package, extra dining package, etc.  Personally, on a per drink basis, I could never drink $1000. in  a week.  So we just purchase our beverages one at a time.

If you spend time here on CC you will learn of alternate, cost effective (very) excursions that are better than what the ship offers.

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Not a typical total expense at all ,very excessive.

Look at current Princess Sale to adjust rate now.

TA's are permitted to Discount Princess Rates upfront.

Would you ever drink enough to make the Drink Pkg worth it (lots of off the ship time on an Alaska cruise)

Shore tours may  be excessive depending on what Tours .

Specialty Restaurants $1000 ? Are you crazy ? There are other dining rooms.

If you are Military or Carnival Corp Shareholder you can receive On Board Credits .

 

 Whomever sold OP this booking should be ashamed .

 

 

 

 

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Research your ports....the things you want to do might be easily done WITHOUT those pricey "excursions"....booking thru the ship is totally optional.  A guidebook or google is a good way to find out all there is in each place, and how easy it would be to do the things that interest you!

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OP .... Cruise Critic has a great board about ALASKA, under the PORTS OF CALL forum, where you can find recommendations and ideas for going on semi/private tours as well as DIY things.  Also join the roll call for your cruise, you can find this by going to the Princess board and looking for ROLL CALL.  There might be people there who have booked a semi private tour and need to fill a van so your cost per person drops AND you get a more personal experience.

I try to book cruises that cost me less than $100 a day including fees and taxes. 

Did you look into other cruise lines or did your agent not give much choice?  There are several lines that offer the bar package as a booking perk where you just pay the gratuities (a seven night on Norwegian will run about $200 per person) so it does pay to look around.

 

Edited by Sauer-kraut

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1 minute ago, Sauer-kraut said:

OP .... Cruise Critic has a great board about ALASKA, under the PORTS OF CALL forum, where you can find recommendations and ideas for going on semi/private tours as well as DIY things.  Also join the roll call for your cruise, you can find this by going to the Princess board and looking for ROLL CALL.  There might be people there who have booked a semi private tour and need to fill a van so your cost per person drops AND you get a more personal experience.

it does pay to look around.

^ Good advice

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3 hours ago, CruiserBruce said:

There is really no right answer here. Could you have done this cruise for less? Absolutely. No drink package, no mini-suite, cheaper hotel, no specialty  dining, would be easy cuts, just to start .But YOU chose various options that drive up your costs, and if you are OK with that, then its fine. 

Plus 1 (sort of).

 

OP:  Just like hotels, there are different industry cruise segments where you'll find the cabin prices vastly different for the same itinerary. But, a premium/luxury ship's cabin price may include all sorts of things that cost extra on a mass market line (e.g., airfare or air credit, beverages, internet, gratuities et al.). Thus, you need to learn to compare the "net daily rate" (all required AND optional costs) instead of just cabin costs. Everything has some dollar value. 

 

Assuming a ten day cruise, you could probably have arranged a significantly better experience (e.g., included items, quality of food and service) on a premium line like Oceania with a bottom line at that same $10k (for a balcony cabin). For Princess, that does seem high even with all your add-ons.

 

Also, if your TA is not either paying your gratuities and/or sharing their commission (as SBC or credit or rebate), you need a different TA.

 

And, speaking of hotels: all sorts of things can affect daily price. For example, we prefer Intercontinental Hotels, a fairly upscale brand. In December, we stayed at the IC in SF at under $200/night. That same room later this month (during a major convention) is $700/night.

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Yes and no.  And maybe.  

 

Always look for sales.  I changed cabins on our upcoming cruise to the British Isles to take advantage of the 3 for 1 deal.  Total net savings was about $1500.  At that, our cruise is 12 days AND I got a mini-suite, so our cruise price alone is nearly $10,000.  

 

We are staying 6 nights pre-cruise in London and the hotels there are expensive.  I looked around a lot, including reviews on CC and ended up with a hotel in the area I wanted for what I think is a good price.  It's still over $200 a night.  It includes breakfast.  That's something, I guess.

 

Regarding excursions:  We looked at a lot.  Independent tours are not necessarily less expensive than ship's tours no matter what anyone says.  It depends a lot on the tour.  The big bus tours, sure.  If you go for a smaller van-type tour you will need to share with others.  Find your roll-call and either jump on board with someone who has already booked a tour or put it out there that you want to share.  Not sharing = big expense.  We have done a couple of independent tours and loved both.  But, we didn't share and paid much more than if we had booked a ship sponsored tour.  

 

I personally like booking a ship's tour for the ease of it all.  But, doing that in every port is not really feasible.  Too restrictive and yeah, too expensive.  I chose our tours carefully.  Half day tours in most cases (only 2 are all day), leaving the other half of the day to explore a bit on our own.  One independent tour and a couple of days of just "winging it".  Walk, hail a cab, take local transit.  It's the perfect balance for us.  But, overall for 9 ports the end cost was huge.

 

As for the drink package I could never drink enough to make it worthwhile.  Even if every day was a sea day.  Just couldn't so I never buy that.  

 

I booked a specialty restaurant twice for the 3 of us.  Love that restaurant.  Expensive?  Not as expensive as a similar restaurant at home, but still.  Not cheap, but worth it, IMHO.

 

I don't even want to talk about airfare.  Ugh, what a racket.

 

Worth is the bottom line.  What is the value rather than what is the cost?  Getting to go to England, Scotland and Ireland for 18 days with my 2 sisters?  Very, very expensive, but priceless. 

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The range can be very wide and you are probably a bit above average. It is up to you how luxury you want. Just set a budget and do some planning. 

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I forgot to add that I have done Alaska 4 times and it is so worth the price.  You could get your costs down, especially by getting a smaller cabin and certainly think twice about the drink package.  I agree, also that your hotel costs seem high.  I see that you are in Oregon so can I assume you are going out of Seattle or Vancouver?  If so, what we did was drive within a couple of hours of the port so we could get a cheaper hotel.  The cost in Seattle is high.  We then drove to the port the morning of the cruise.  I wouldn't cheap-out on excursions, although if you look around you maybe could do better.  Just takes some research.

 

But whichever way you go, Alaska is worth every penny you spend.

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One can certainly do what you did, but it is certainly not a good way to control your budget :).  We have cruised nearly 300 days on Princess so have some knowledge of that line.  I cannot even imagine spending $100 on specialty dining much less $1000.  The Main Dining Room (MDR) is adequate for most folks and does not involve any additional costs (other then the normal tipping process).  We find the alternative restaurants on Princess to be somewhat underwhelming so seldom bother with places like the Crown Grill or Sabatinis.   As to excursions, in Alaska they are expensive.  In fact, in Alaska just about everything is expensive.  But it may not be necessary to spend the big bucks on excursions in each port.  Do some homework on your ports (you can find a lot of information right here on CC under their Ports of Call blogs and in some reviews) because you might find some ports where you might want to simply go off on your own.  

 

Drink packages are a personal issue...and what you do really depends on your  own drinking habits.  DW and I normally share 1/2 of a bottle of wine at dinner (we have them hold the other half for another night) and have more then our share of adult beverages.  Over a long cruise we will a average about $75 per day for drinks (and that is the cost for both of us).  Sea days will find us drinking more, but on port days we drink less.  We have never purchased a Princess drink package because we thought it was overpriced for our own habits.  On some other lines such as Celebrity we often do get a drink package because the cost is much more reasonable if included in a booking promotion.

 

As to your mini-suite....we also like Princess mini-suites.  But we only book them when we get a good deal (often through some kind of promotion).  A regular balcony cabin is quite adequate (for us) and can save you a lot of money.  All that mini-suite gets you is a little more space (it is not really a suite).  Since we do not spend a lot of waking time sitting around our cabin, a regular cabin is fine.

 

Hank

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4 hours ago, MCC retired said:

 Whomever sold OP this booking should be ashamed .

 

Or looking forward to a big commission cheque.

 

Personally, I'd say it's way too much.  Our upcoming cruise did cost us $5k each but it's 27 nts, on a very small ship, and is drinks and gratuities included.   Our previous 5 cruises totalling ~61 nts probably costed (including gratuities) only a bit more for 2 than what we're paying per person for the next one. 

 

You could look at a Holland America sailing instead. A standard cabin has a loveseat so that gives you a lot more room than a standard Princess cabin.  Not as big as a Princess mini-suite but most of the features.  I don't think a Princess minisuite comes with enough benefits at that price.

 

If you are willing to pay that, I would almost suggest you look at the 22 August cruise from Seward to Vancouver on the ship I'll be on (Le Soléal).  Yeah, it does cost $3k more per person for 12 nts in total but you get  lot more for your money.

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9 hours ago, DeAnna from Oregon said:

after purchasing our tickets paying for the all inclusive drink packages, paying for excursions, booking specialty restaurants, and all the other extras we are already paying nearly $10,000, is this pretty common for cruises, or is this typical cost of a cruise?

not typical, because WE, for example, never get a drink package or specialty restaurants or any other extras. That's just crazy. But if it's what you want - then you pay for it.

Our typical 7 day cruises cost us no more than $3,500 for the 3 of us, and that's including flying to FLL, gratuities, and beach trips. We book either inside or balcony, whatever is the cheapest. Now, Alaska cruises are usually 1.5-2 times more expensive than Caribbean cruises, and mini-suites will definitely empty someone's pockets.

 

I think somebody used your lack of knowledge and it being your very first cruise to his/her advantage...

 

Quote

$5000 for our tickets

are you flying from the Moon and back?

 

since you are still ahead of the final payment day, I think you need to rethink/redo your choices, and return most of that crap, like specialty dining, the drink package, look into the excursions yourself, and what are all the other extras you don't really need?

Edited by Itchy&Scratchy

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When we budget our cruise to Alaska, we have decided not to spend extra money on anything that we can do elsewhere and at lower cost, like eating and drinking. I would save those money for excursion and pre/post cruise tour in Seattle and Vancouver.

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I would not spend that kind of money for the trip you are going on.  Here is what I would do:

-cancel the mini, book a BD on Caribe deck, save $1464 and get $300 OBC with the current sale.  That covers your gratuities ($195) and incidentals.

-adjust the drink budget to $50 pp/day, save $300.  Many people drink MUCH less than this.

-drop the specialty restaurants altogether, save $120

-cancel the ship excursions, book independent.  Using Alaska Shore Tours, you can see the White Pass in Skagway, do whale watching and the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, and see the Eagles in Ketchikan for $287 pp, saves $2426

-At Seattle Cruise parking it costs $21/day with a shuttle.  Get a hotel a little further out for less than $200. Saves $650

 

A discount TA can save you another 8-9% on the fare, you can use that for your nice dinner the night before.

 

Overall,  this plan would cut your costs in half.  In the end, it is up to you to decide how much you want to spend and on what. (All costs checked just now online and used Ruby Princess RT Seattle 9/14 for pricing)

 

 

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14 hours ago, DeAnna from Oregon said:

Hi all, we (husband & I) are first time cruisers,  Princess Ruby Alaska September 2019, after purchasing our tickets paying for the all inclusive drink packages, paying for excursions, booking specialty restaurants, and all the other extras we are already paying nearly $10,000, is this pretty common for cruises, or is this typical cost of a cruise? We are in a mini-Suite but it seems to me that after this amount of money we should be Captains Circle, I believe that is what they term it, I’m just wondering if this is typical or not? Here is the breakdown of costs:  We spent $1500 each per excursions, $1000 on our drink packages, and $5000 for our tickets, the remaining $1000 is specialty restaurants (2), hotel and parking costs, and incidentals. Thanks again for your thoughts.

 

My first comment is that you are on an AK cruise and those are always more expensive.

 

1st mistake was buying excursions from the cruise line. You can get the same thing for about 33% less booking independently.

2nd Cancel the drink packages. Are you going to spend $1000 on alcohol that is very port intensive? Probably not.

3rd cabins in AK are expensive, but $2500 for a mini suite seems excessive.

 

Be aware that in addition to the incidentals that you have mentioned, you have no mention of gratuities or service charges. I would add another $1000 for additional incidentals that you haven't thought of, including cabs, tips, souvenirs, pictures, etc.

 

If you are willing to spend that much I would reconsider cruise lines and look at Regent or Silversea.

Edited by zqvol

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16 hours ago, DeAnna from Oregon said:

Hi all, we (husband & I) are first time cruisers,  Princess Ruby Alaska September 2019, after purchasing our tickets paying for the all inclusive drink packages, paying for excursions, booking specialty restaurants, and all the other extras we are already paying nearly $10,000, is this pretty common for cruises, or is this typical cost of a cruise? We are in a mini-Suite but it seems to me that after this amount of money we should be Captains Circle, I believe that is what they term it, I’m just wondering if this is typical or not? Here is the breakdown of costs:  We spent $1500 each per excursions, $1000 on our drink packages, and $5000 for our tickets, the remaining $1000 is specialty restaurants (2), hotel and parking costs, and incidentals. Thanks again for your thoughts.

I don’t know Princess but will make a few general observations. First, especially in Alaska, you do not want to spend a lot of time in your cabin. I don’t know your reasoning for using a Suite, but that seems to be a waste. Second, don’t prebook any speciality restaurants. For one thing, you may love the food in the MDR (we do on Celebrity) and would have no reason to spend extra. Even if you do want to try the Specilities, wait for the discounted prices which will be offered on board. Third, as others have said, choose your excursions carefully. There is little or nothing the cruise line can do in Alaska that you cannot easily arrange on your own for half the cost. Fourth, Alaska is a great destination. At some point, forget about what you have spent and might be spending. Just forget it and enjoy the experience, and learn what if anything you might do differently next time.

 

Stan

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3 hours ago, cherylandtk said:

I would not spend that kind of money for the trip you are going on.  Here is what I would do:

-cancel the mini, book a BD on Caribe deck, save $1464 and get $300 OBC with the current sale.  That covers your gratuities ($195) and incidentals.

-adjust the drink budget to $50 pp/day, save $300.  Many people drink MUCH less than this.

-drop the specialty restaurants altogether, save $120

-cancel the ship excursions, book independent.  Using Alaska Shore Tours, you can see the White Pass in Skagway, do whale watching and the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, and see the Eagles in Ketchikan for $287 pp, saves $2426

-At Seattle Cruise parking it costs $21/day with a shuttle.  Get a hotel a little further out for less than $200. Saves $650

 

A discount TA can save you another 8-9% on the fare, you can use that for your nice dinner the night before.

 

Overall,  this plan would cut your costs in half.  In the end, it is up to you to decide how much you want to spend and on what. (All costs checked just now online and used Ruby Princess RT Seattle 9/14 for pricing)

 

 

This is one of the good advice you can take here.

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Wow! I’m so overwhelmed by everyone’s great insight and feedback which is truly invaluable when booking a cruise for the first time. I want to give you some more information: Incidental costs are hotel, parking, fuel, cruise must haves like non-surge protector, fan, alarm clock, medical kit, stuff like that, prepaid gratuity. So, when considering cruising again and booking on the ship for next cruise, what I’m wondering is are most cruises comparable to an Alaska cruise, or is Alaska in a different type of cruise...I totally understand we don’t have to take excursions, but on a cruise let’s say to Mexico is the price around $10,000, or are there more reasonably priced excursions and cabin options, we are so excited about this cruise, but we aren’t taking the kids and I was hoping to book a cruise before leaving the ship, but not certain what we are looking at for price with the entire family, if that makes sense? Thank you all so very much, what a great welcoming site, I feel like we’ve joined a whole new culture so does my husband, we were just hoping to bring the kids next time!

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31 minutes ago, DeAnna from Oregon said:

Wow! I’m so overwhelmed by everyone’s great insight and feedback which is truly invaluable when booking a cruise for the first time. I want to give you some more information: Incidental costs are hotel, parking, fuel, cruise must haves like non-surge protector, fan, alarm clock, medical kit, stuff like that, prepaid gratuity. So, when considering cruising again and booking on the ship for next cruise, what I’m wondering is are most cruises comparable to an Alaska cruise, or is Alaska in a different type of cruise...I totally understand we don’t have to take excursions, but on a cruise let’s say to Mexico is the price around $10,000, or are there more reasonably priced excursions and cabin options, we are so excited about this cruise, but we aren’t taking the kids and I was hoping to book a cruise before leaving the ship, but not certain what we are looking at for price with the entire family, if that makes sense? Thank you all so very much, what a great welcoming site, I feel like we’ve joined a whole new culture so does my husband, we were just hoping to bring the kids next time!

You really need to find a good "cruise specialist" TA.

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Next to World Cruises, Alaska cruises have one of the highest per diem rates and the shore excursions are also among some of the most expensive.

 

Many different cruises are available to the needs of most people. Personally we spent about 35 years with Princess, but our 2015 cruise with them will be our last. In our opinion, their standards have dropped below what we are looking for and the constant nickle and diming was ridiculous.

 

Our preference is for smaller ships, better quality meals, no kids, no casino, more space per passenger for less crowds. The mainstream lines like Princess don't offer these, so we only consider premium/luxury lines - Viking Ocean is our current preference. We also considered Oceania.

 

After you cruise, I suggest reviewing what worked for you with Princess and more importantly what didn't work. With a good TA and/or own research you should be able to find a cruise line that meets your needs. Might still be Princess, but lots of other alternatives are available.

 

With respect to the Ruby Princess. Princess developed a fairly decent class of ship, starting with the Grand Princess. However, starting with Caribbean Princess (2004) they added an additional deck of cabins (about 500 pax), but did not change the hull. These are known as Super Grands. The Ruby Princess is a Super Grand and we found them rather crowded compared to the earlier Grand Class.

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