Cruising on a budgetPosted on: 18 February 2010 by Mark O'haire
Knowing how to avoid paying additional fees adds to the enjoyment and affordability of a cruise vacation, particularly for longer journeys.
Many cruise lines continue to offer affordable options on itineraries in Europe, South America and Alaska. Although the actual cost of the cruise may seem remarkably low, the extra fees accrued along the voyage can create a sticker shock at the end of the trip. Keeping track of extra expenses and avoiding a few items will make the cruise a better experience for anyone watching their budget.
Cruise line daily fees
This controversial charge for a “hotel tax” is usually clearly stated in the brochure; however, it may be negotiable. Stewards, servers and attendants work diligently and for long hours and certainly deserve a tip. However, in many cases gratuities are added to bar charges and many of the personnel receive generous salaries.
Feel free to leave extra cash for cabin stewards or favourite servers and talk with the front office about reducing daily fees.
Cruise line internet, bar and drink charges
Depending on the itinerary, Internet services on board are normally provided through a satellite system. Additional expense for using the Internet is understandable but often the costs are not clearly stated before embarkation. Even by bringing a personal laptop, charges for wireless service and Internet access can be exorbitant.
Check with the cruise line before packing a laptop and consider using Internet cafes when in a port, they’re often much less expensive.
Many cruise lines now charge for soft drinks and bottled water as well as alcoholic beverages. In some cases canned sodas may be brought on board, check with the cruise line before leaving. Tap water is normally offered in the dining halls and is safe to drink from fountains or taps. The latest on board coffee bar may be tempting but can add to the daily expense. Typically coffee and tea are provided at no charge throughout the day.
Consider bringing a few bottles or favourite drinks on board (check the cruise line first). Refill water bottles from inside sources.
Shore excursions & shopping
Those passengers needing physical assistance or anyone concerned about language issues will be better suited for approved cruise line shore excursions. But if time allows and for the slightly more adventurous, sharing a cab or van with others creates substantial savings. Tourist information offices provide maps and advice on visiting a destination. City bus tours and local guided tours offer both knowledge and flexibility often at lower costs.
Research destinations ahead and consider using local resources if possible.
Buying a few souvenirs is fun and definitely the place to pick up logo items. Shopping on shore, however, typically provides more selection and better prices. Save the shopping budget primarily for days on shore.
One of the many pleasures of taking a cruise is the entertainment provided in the evening. In addition to live performances, many ships are equipped with movie theatres and offer a selection of movies for viewing in staterooms at no charge. Take advantage of these freebies and avoid the extra costs of bingo, casinos and entertainment charges.
A cruise should be a relaxing experience and spending a little extra is expected. But being faced with a substantial bill (sometimes half or more of the price of the cruise) can generate regrets later on. By being aware of extra costs and watching the budget, a cruise becomes an affordable and pleasurable way to travel.
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