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Your Cruise Vacation - What's Not Included in the Price

Updated on March 28, 2010
Airfare is normally not included in the cruise price.  Photo courtesy of sxc.hu
Airfare is normally not included in the cruise price. Photo courtesy of sxc.hu

You have booked your dream cruise vacation.  You have memorized the brochures and know what shipboard activities you will enjoy, which shows you want to watch, and what shore excursions appear the most fun.  Glittery seas, sparkling sun and the adventure of a lifetime await.  You have thought of everything.

Or have you?  The price of the cruise will include many things – the cabin, meals, port charges, entertainment and the fuel surcharge if your cruise line charges one – but do you know what is not included? 

Inclusions and exclusions vary among cruise lines though most include and exclude about the same things.  If you have already booked your cruise, check with the cruise line for a definitive list of what is not included.  If you are still in the research stage of cruising, compare what is excluded among the cruises you are most interested in. 

For passengers who do not live near the departing city, airfare will be a big exclusion.  Some cruise lines will offer a package deal with airfare; however, cruise lines do not service all airports.  Flights departing from an airport your cruise line does not service will have to be booked and paid for separately.  Some cruise deals are cruise-only and cannot include airfare. 

Shore excursions will be a large added expense, or save the money and explore on your own.
Shore excursions will be a large added expense, or save the money and explore on your own.

The biggest exclusion will likely be the shore excursions.  A longer cruise can easily stop in five, six or more ports, all offering tantalizing shore excursions.  These day trips run the gamut from bus tours through the city to scuba diving or sailing excursions.  They can range in price from as little as $30 per person to $200 or more.  Some excursions can be booked prior to departing on your vacation and others must be booked on board.  Speaking with the excursion experts for the cruise line will give you the information you need to pick the right excursion for your interests.

Gratuities are an oft-forgotten exclusion.  The staff on board these floating resorts are more than happy to help and work hard to keep you comfortable throughout your cruise.  They really appreciate your tip at the end of the cruise.  Most ships provide guidelines for how much to tip, as the amount varies depending on the staff position.  Some ships make it easy and add the tip on to your shipboard account.

Alcohol and select other beverages, such as soda and bottled water, are not included.  One cruise line does include all soda, but most do not except in certain dining areas.  Another cruise line is now including common alcoholic beverages in the cruise price. 

Gambling in the casino, bingo, and the video arcade are excluded from your price.  If one of your passions is gambling, make sure you budget for playing in the casino.  Families with pre-teen or teenage kids may also want to budget for the arcade games. 

Cruisers who enjoy shopping should add that expense into their budget for the cruise.
Cruisers who enjoy shopping should add that expense into their budget for the cruise.

Another commonsense exclusion is shopping.  The duty-free shops may have plenty of bargains, but they are just that – bargains – and not included in the price of your cruise.  If you are a shopaholic, make concessions here in your budget, as well as for shopping at the ports where you disembark.

Every cruise ship has a hallway filled with photos of their current guests at different events, beginning with the day you embark.  Photographers appear all every event and can also be retained to take private family photos.  Every photograph taken by the cruise photographers is for sale.  None of these are included so set aside a bit of your budget for the welcome photo at the very least.  It’s a lovely reminder of the great time you had.

The spa and salon services also cost extra.  Haircut, manicures, pedicures and massages are happily given and happily charged for.  It’s all part of the pampering process.  Many of these can be charged to your shipboard account.

If you are on a cruise, why would you want to make a phone call or use the internet?  The need may arise and it may cost you extra.  Friends and family back home appreciate a short email letting them know how wonderful your vacation is.  Many times phone calls will be more expensive than internet usage and some cruise ships now include limited internet usage with the cruise price.  If this is important to you, double check that this service will not cost you an exorbitant amount.

Preparing properly for your cruise includes budgeting your spending money to cover all of these exclusions.  Research and compare the inclusions and exclusions for all cruises you may take and you’ll end up with a vacation worth calling, or emailing, home about.

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