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What should I expect to pay for once on board?


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Cruise lines are keen to point out what they will be giving you for free, but what is harder to work out is what you'll have to pay for once you're on board.  Is there a topic on CruiseCritic that shows which services each cruise line charges extra for?

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Welcome to CC.   I don't know of a link with all the info in one place on CC.  You'll want to for info on the forum for the particular cruise line you are looking to sail on since it differs between lines.  Additionally, each cruise line's web sites have Frequently Asked Question sections that are very helpful.

 

Here is a quick link to the list of cruise line forums.

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/

 

Have fun with your research.  🙂

Edited by ColeThornton
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I second ColeThorton's welcome to cruise critic!  There is so much information here that it can take a while to master the content and the various functions.

 

In addition to his useful suggestions, there is a search function in the top right corner of the forum home page below your name.  I used it and typed in 'what is free' and it returned about 2 pages worth of threads including some specifically for various cruise lines.  I'd recommend following Cole's advice first and then try the search.

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The main things will be alcohol, unless you BUY a "package".....on most lines, you'll pay for sodas, too...unless you have a "package".  There are "specialty" restaurants that cost additional....excursions, souvenirs, etc.....

 

Most lines nowadays have drink packages you can BUY to access sodas and booze.....one or both.  Same with "specialty" dining....you can PREPAY for those options, or simply pay as you go.

 

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38 minutes ago, eddleetham said:

Cruise lines are keen to point out what they will be giving you for free, but what is harder to work out is what you'll have to pay for once you're on board.  Is there a topic on CruiseCritic that shows which services each cruise line charges extra for?

I seem to remember a CC article years ago regarding a comparison of "extra charges" onboard. Use the CC search feature (with Boolean inquiries for more focused results). There was also some advertising comparing bottom line average passenger costs between/among industry segments. It was a real "eye opener."

 

At the same time, know that you have started to think about something I call the "net daily rate," which is all required/desired cruise related expenses divided by total days of the trip. 

 

Many folks make the rookie mistake of only comparing listed cabin costs. This often results in a decision to not consider any cruise lines outside of the "mass market" choices because of a missing and/or erroneous "bottom line."

 

For example:

If your cruise plans are a "fly to/from" start/end port (particularly intercontinental), a premium/luxury line price may include at least economy air. That could easily be a $1k per person value. Add INCLUDED beverages, internet, specialty restaurants, and even gratuities or some excursions/booze options (all of which would usually be extras on a mass market line) and the math will clearly demonstrate that, depending on your needs/wants, your "net daily rate" on a premium/luxury line may be a far better deal than what you get with the "mass market" choice.

 

And we haven't even mentioned what you could avoid by choosing the premium/luxury cruise industry segments: floating amusement parks, cheap art shows, nickel-diming, thousands of fellow passengers facing undesirable crew and space ratios, less restrictive smoking policies, mediocre food.... the list goes on.

 

In any case, do the math - ALL the math.

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I don't know of any centralized database - but the US mass market cruise lines (Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian, Princess, Royal, etc) are mostly the same:

auto gratuities added

extras for specialty dining, some shows (usually only if they include a dinner), some activities, gambling, bingo, spa, excursions, all alcoholic and some non-alcoholic drinks, etc. 

Some like Celebrity, Norwegian, and Princess routinely run promotions that "include" some of these things in the price so you just have to take that on a cruise by cruise basis.

 

When you get into the premium lines (Crystyal, Oceania, etc) or Non-us based cruise lines these items change quite a bit line to line. 

 

There really isn't an easy way to compare inclusions across many lines at once.

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58 minutes ago, Flatbush Flyer said:

 Use the CC search feature (with Boolean inquiries for more focused results)

 

You win!  First time I have ever seen a response referencing the usage of Boolean queries on Cruise Critic!

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I think the main expense on board is drinks........  then other things room service, laundry, specialty restaurants..

 

To be honest lots of good advice has been posted..... Best idea is to go to a specialist cruse travel agent.....

 

they can be worth their weight in gold to steer you the right direction as well as the total costing .....

 

Don

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7 hours ago, eddleetham said:

Cruise lines are keen to point out what they will be giving you for free, but what is harder to work out is what you'll have to pay for once you're on board.  Is there a topic on CruiseCritic that shows which services each cruise line charges extra for?

 

Howdy @eddleetham and welcome to the Cruise Critic message boards!emo22.gif 

 

Perhaps the following Cruise Critic articles will be helpful. Both were last updated January 8, 2020.

 

Fee vs. Free: What's Included in Your Cruise Fare?

l3 Cruise Fees That Might Take You By Surprise 

 

I sincerely hope this will be helpful and glad to have you aboard Cruise Critic! emo35.gif

 

Happy sails,

 

Host Kat emo32.gif

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I didn't see WiFi on anyone's list as an additional cost but I may have missed it.  WiFi is sometimes bundled (depending on the cruise line and its promotions) with drinks and/or gratuities for a single additional cost.

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1 hour ago, capriccio said:

I didn't see WiFi on anyone's list as an additional cost but I may have missed it.  WiFi is sometimes bundled (depending on the cruise line and its promotions) with drinks and/or gratuities for a single additional cost.

See post #5. Oceania includes one unlimited wifi account per cabin -even if you book "cruise only."

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You're right, wifi is often not mentioned and it's hard to work out how much it's going to cost.  It's sometimes included in an extra cost package, but it's even harder to decide whether it's worth it, especially if you don't want other parts of the package.  Some lines tell you clearly how much their wi-fi packages cost, but others don't.

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4 minutes ago, Flatbush Flyer said:

See post #5. Oceania includes one unlimited wifi account per cabin -even if you book "cruise only."

Yes, I like Oceania.  They usually include free wifi and most of their restaurants are also fee-free.  Regent are even better as they include everything - at a cost, of course.  However I booked onto a P&O cruise to the Caribbean on a special deal and then realised that once I added on all the extras I could buy a Regent cruise at a similar price.  So I've decided to go with Regent instead and get a bit of extra luxury.

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24 minutes ago, eddleetham said:

Yes, I like Oceania.  They usually include free wifi and most of their restaurants are also fee-free.  Regent are even better as they include everything - at a cost, of course.  However I booked onto a P&O cruise to the Caribbean on a special deal and then realised that once I added on all the extras I could buy a Regent cruise at a similar price.  So I've decided to go with Regent instead and get a bit of extra luxury.

You may want to do the math (net daily rate) between Oceania and Regent. For as close as identical cruises as you can get, an apples to apples comparison (I.e., adding the O options that are Regent inclusions) shows R to be several thousand $ more on a several week cruise. Of course, the difference from included economy (Oceania) air to included bizclass (Regent) air can make the bottom line fares a "wash." As always, do the math - especially when comparing premium and luxury in the same cruiseline family.

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The great news is you can cruise and not HAVE to buy anything. Many people do this. Common purchases are:

- Alcohol

- Casino

- Specialty food

- Shops 

- Wifi

- Excursions

- Spa

 

I don't take a hard line in the sand either way. Not splurging or being stingy. I buy what I want within reason. For as much as I like to drink alcohol, I'm done with the drink packages. Drinking every day is excessive.

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On 11/4/2020 at 9:21 AM, eddleetham said:

Cruise lines are keen to point out what they will be giving you for free, but what is harder to work out is what you'll have to pay for once you're on board.  Is there a topic on CruiseCritic that shows which services each cruise line charges extra for?

There is not a simple one size fits all answer.  What you pay onboard will depend on the cruise line, your specific amenities (i.e. drink package, pre paid tips, etc) and your own spending habits.  Regarding spending habits, if you are a gambler and drop lots of money in the casino, playing Bingo, etc.. that is on you.  If you decide to buy a photo package for $500...that is on you.  Keep in mind that some of the luxury cruise lines (i.e. Seabourn, Silverseas, etc) are essentially all-inclusive so it is possible to leave those cruises without having spent a penny onboard.  Even if you book a mass market line like RCI, you might book a package of amenities that includes free unlimited drinks and pre-paid gratuities.  In that case, if you stay away from the casino and shops you might own zero at the end of a cruise.

 

Also keep in mind that if you get off the ship in ports, what you spend is also up to you.  I can go to a port like Cozumel, use shared taxis to get to the beach, and spend nearly nothing in that port.  But somebody else could book an expensive excursion and spend $500.  

 

Hank

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1 hour ago, GrJ Berkshire said:

If you sail on Regent SSC then the answer is nothing , it's all included. Many other lines may appear cheap but you pay an arm and a leg to get off, including 18% tips on lots of items........

 

 

You may have a point. My problem with these premium lines is getting them to tell you an actual price. I don't enjoy giving my information to a company that I'm not sure I will actually use to get a quote for a cruise. I just tried pricing out a regent cruise vs a comparable celebrity cruise. Regent says "2 for 1" rates, not sure if that actually means that the price listed is the price for the whole cabin or not. If it is, then yes, it would be cheaper than the celebrity cruise. But when you go to price it out it won't give you anything without you giving them all your information. Lack of transparency makes me skeptical that what their website is advertising is what they are actually going to give you. 

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9 hours ago, sanger727 said:

 

You may have a point. My problem with these premium lines is getting them to tell you an actual price. I don't enjoy giving my information to a company that I'm not sure I will actually use to get a quote for a cruise. I just tried pricing out a regent cruise vs a comparable celebrity cruise. Regent says "2 for 1" rates, not sure if that actually means that the price listed is the price for the whole cabin or not. If it is, then yes, it would be cheaper than the celebrity cruise. But when you go to price it out it won't give you anything without you giving them all your information. Lack of transparency makes me skeptical that what their website is advertising is what they are actually going to give you. 

 

This is a very good point.  Very irritating when companies (not just cruise lines) do that.  

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On 11/5/2020 at 2:36 PM, GrJ Berkshire said:

If you sail on Regent SSC then the answer is nothing , it's all included. Many other lines may appear cheap but you pay an arm and a leg to get off, including 18% tips on lots of items........

 

Apart from the fact that the free wifi is one connection at any one time per lower class suite. The free excursions are not guaranteed as higher paying guests get first choice. The same applies to speciality dining ... higher paying guests get first crack at reservations. 
I found this out from attending an RSSC sales event ... when I asked about these points I was told not to worry as I should (!!!) be able to sort something out on board.

I also asked about airfares as, where we live, we have minimal international flights and usually cannot get to European ports until late afternoon. Again ... don’t worry about it we will sort something out was the answer. 
A lot may be sold as ‘free’ (It’s not ... it is included in the price) but nothing is guaranteed.

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1 hour ago, MBP&O2/O said:

Apart from the fact that the free wifi is one connection at any one time per lower class suite. The free excursions are not guaranteed as higher paying guests get first choice. The same applies to speciality dining ... higher paying guests get first crack at reservations. 
I found this out from attending an RSSC sales event ... when I asked about these points I was told not to worry as I should (!!!) be able to sort something out on board.

I also asked about airfares as, where we live, we have minimal international flights and usually cannot get to European ports until late afternoon. Again ... don’t worry about it we will sort something out was the answer. 
A lot may be sold as ‘free’ (It’s not ... it is included in the price) but nothing is guaranteed.

 

So true.... nothing is free. With premium/luxury lines you just pay for everything in advance.

 

However, I am surprised with Regent's implementation, as that wasn't our experience with Viking.

  • Wifi - Viking now limit each cabin to 2 devices at any time. Since they have no 3 or 4 berth cabins it means 1 each person.
  • Excursions - the included excursion in each port is guaranteed. If all tours are full they will all another one. Might have to wait until getting on board, but the Shore-ex staff guarantee everyone can get signed up for an included tour.
  • Specialty restaurants - are also included, but higher priced cabins can make reservations before lower priced cabins, prior to the cruise. Once aboard everyone is equal and it is first come first served. In our 100 days at sea with Viking, we have never failed to get a reservation on any day. We rarely book in advance, checking the cabin TV any day we fancy something different. Might not get our preferred time, but usually within 1/2 hr to 1 hr.
  • Flights - with included flights they pick the flights unless you pay CAN $50 pp for premium air. With premium air we get to select preferred airlines and flight times.
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Also it helps to be aware of ALL expenses and not just ship related. For example we drive down to the city our airport is in the night before. We stay at a hotel that allows us to leave our vehicle at the hotel and then take a shuttle to the airport. So you have the hotel fee, possible food & drink and then tips to the shuttle driver (our air was paid months earlier, but still factor in to the grand total). That is just in the first few hours. Then we will most likely get some of that expensive water at the airport and a small bite to eat. You get the idea.
All of our cash is counted out before we leave the house, then we know how much we spent when we get back home. Any other expenses go on a card.

We learned early on, those non-ship costs can add up quickly and surprise you if you don't plan accordingly.

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