Is Everything Free On A Cruise? Costs Included and Hidden

Cruise fares include the cost of accommodation, meals, and some entertainment.

a daily planner of a cruise ship

But there are also mandatory charges like taxes and gratuities which are extra.

Other charges like shore excursions, drinks packages, internet, etc. are optional.

So, is everything free on a cruise? No, there are hidden charges.

Please note that:

  • Cruise lines list only the cost of staterooms excluding taxes.
  • Taxes and port fees get added at the time of final payment.
  • Cruise fare and taxes are on a per-person basis for the entire cruise.
  • But gratuities, which are also mandatory charges, are payable on a per person per day basis.

What does a cruise fare include?

Cruise fare includes the following expenses:

1. Stateroom

The cruise fare includes the price of the stateroom you have chosen for the cruise.

The cost is for the entire period of the cruise.

2. Free Restaurants

There are free multi-cuisine restaurants and cafes on cruises.

You can have your breakfast, lunch, and dinner in one or more of these free restaurants.

You can also have snacks like grills, pizzas, ice cream, etc. at the cafes.

3. Basic Coffee

You can have basic coffee for free at one of the free restaurants onboard a cruise.

4. Entertainment

Entertainment shows in the theatre, lounges, and pools are available for free.

You can watch a variety of shows like dance, singing, magic, plays, etc.

5. Activities

Some activities like pool games, movies, basketball, mini-golf, etc. are free.

6. Pool

You can use the pools and the sun decks for free.

7. Gym

The use of gym equipment in fitness centers is free.

8. Beaches at Private Islands

Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Princess, Carnival, etc. have their private islands.

On these islands, you can use the beach, pools, and lounge chairs for free.

Some free food options are also available on these islands.

9. Shore Transfers

At some ports, the ship may anchor at a distance from the shore.

In such cases, shore transfers on small boats are free.

What expenses are extra on a cruise?

Here are the expenses you have to pay extra on cruises:

1. Taxes

The cruise fare listed at the time of booking may or may not show all the taxes, fees, and port charges.

But at the time of payment, you may find these added to the cruise fare.

These are taxes charged at the different ports in the itinerary.

So, these are mandatory.

2. Gratuities

Gratuities are tips to waiters and stewards onboard a cruise ship.

These are also called Service Charges.

Cruise lines charge gratuities on per person and per-day basis.

This is also a mandatory charge.

3. Medical Centers

Every cruise line has a medical center to take care of anybody falling sick during a cruise.

There will be doctors, nurses, and equipment in such medical centers.

But the service is not free.

You have to pay for their services and medicines.

Do note that your regular medical insurance will not cover such medical costs.

4. Room Service

If you order food from the room service menu beyond specified hours, you have to pay an extra fee.

Some of the items on the menu may be free while others are chargeable.

5. Laundry

Some cruise lines have self-service launderettes onboard.

For those that don’t, you have to pay either per item or on a per-bag basis based on the policy of the cruise line.

6. Babysitting

There are activities for kids which are free on most cruise ships.

But if you want babysitting services in your stateroom you have to pay extra.

7. Specialty Restaurants

If you want to dine in one of the specialty restaurants, you have to pay extra.

8. Specialty Coffee

Basic coffee is free at complimentary restaurants.

But lattes, cappuccinos, etc. cost extra.

9. Soda and Bottled Water

If you want you can buy soda and bottled water as you go.

Or you can buy a Drink or Beverage Package.

10. Alcoholic Drinks

Alcoholic drinks are also available a-la-carte or with a Drinks Package.

11. Corkage Fees

This is a fee charged when you consume alcohol purchased at a port in one of the dining rooms.

If you consume it in your stateroom, there is no charge.

12. Adult Areas

There may be kids-free sun decks on some cruise ships.

But these are chargeable.

13. Spa and salon

There may be saunas, steam rooms, thalassotherapy pools, snow rooms, etc. on a cruise ship.

But, spas and salon treatments on cruise ships will cost extra.

14. Special Activities

Some cruise ships have special activities.

For example, there are go-kart tracks on Norwegian Encore.

Royal Caribbean has a skydiving simulator on the Anthem of the Seas.

But you have to pay extra to enjoy these activities.

15. Photo Packages

Some cruise ships have their photographers onboard.

If you want you can have them shoot a professional photograph at an extra charge.

16. Shore Excursions

If you book a shore excursion through the cruise line, you have to pay extra.

17. Internet

You will not get internet in the middle of the ocean on your cell phone.

But you can buy an internet package from the cruise line.

Before buying keep in mind that the speed won’t be great.

18. Casino

You can play at the casino by paying in cash or loading your onboard account.

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About Tully Seal

Avatar of Tully SealTully Seal is a travel blogger. She is a BA graduate in Hospitality Management and has over 4 years of work experience in the travel and hospitality industry. She loves to cook in her spare time.

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