Cruises are known to be “all-inclusive,” but what does that mean?

Yes, your stateroom is included, as are meals in the complimentary venues, and most entertainment on board, but what are some of those hidden fees that may cause you that heart attack when you get your final bill?

Gratuities are added to your final bill, unless you prepaid them. Some luxury lines include these in the fare, and at times you’ll see a special on other cruise lines that include gratuities. Each cruise line can have a different amount per person/per day. Main stream cruise lines will typically charge $14 to $15 per person per day.

Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are not included (some luxury lines are all-inclusive, though). Nor is bottled water. Some beverage packages, if you purchase them, also don’t include bottled water. Beverages typically included are water (not from a bottle), lemonade (usually a mix, not real lemonade), tea, and coffee (not specialty coffees, though). Disney Cruise Line does include soft drinks at the restaurants and at the soft drink dispenser on the pool deck.

Drink packages are high in price, so be careful to make sure it is worth the extra cost to you. Remember, gratuity will be added to the package you purchase, too, but same thing if you purchase drinks individually. Also, every person in the cabin must purchase a drink package if one person does. If a package with alcohol is purchased, all adults must purchase the same package if they drink alcohol or not. Some exceptions can be made on a case by case basis (pregnancy of one of the passengers is one).

Specialty restaurants also cost extra, plus gratuity. If you have a free perk offer (drink package or specialty dining), you will be charged gratuity for the package. This is typically added on when you purchase your cruise. So if your “free” package is worth $100 per person per day, an additional $20 per day (20% gratuity) would be added to the cost of your cruise. Be sure it is cost effective for you.

Port charges and taxes and fees are not typically shown up front when booking your cruise. It won’t show up until later on in the booking process. A Travel Advisor will typically include those in the quote they give you, so if the cost of the cruise may look higher than you expect, remember that what you had seen may not include these extra fees.

Some of the newer ships have go carts, water slides, laser tag, bowling, classes, etc. While some of these exciting choices are free, some come with an added fee. If there is something you enjoy and plan to do a lot of, check to see if there are discounts for a package.

Airfare, hotel the night before, and transportation to the port are not included, either. If driving, you’ll need to pay for parking at the port, too.

Free room service is disappearing. Even if you have free room service, gratuities may be charged.

Yes, a cruise can be a great value, after all, you get to travel while you sleep to a new place! Just be aware of the possible extra costs – including shopping.

We strive to find you the best value for your vacation. On cruises, we like to give you a ship board credit to help you cover those “have to have” extras.