En español | Cruise ships aren't as all-inclusive as you might believe. So, how much does a cruise cost? It depends. Yes, your accommodations, meals, entertainment and most daytime activities are included in a fare, but there are many pricy onboard temptations that can affect the bottom line. Read on to learn more about hidden cruise costs and how to avoid them.
On most ships, alcohol, soda and bottled water aren't free, and the barrage to indulge starts as soon as you board, with offers like the Drink of the Day. Although cruise lines ban you from bringing your own booze, most let you pack soda and bottled water. You might also save money with an unlimited drinks package. For free booze, grab a cocktail at the captain's parties, and, if you buy a bottle of wine, drink half and have it corked for the next night.
Tips for the crew who keep your accommodations spiffy and make sure you're well fed are now typically automatically added to your shipboard bill at a rate of $10 to $12 per passenger, per day, depending on the line. Bar bills might also include an automatic 15 percent gratuity. That's a substantial addition to your cruise costs. Although you probably won't want to scrimp here — the crew is trained to impress — you can adjust the amounts up or down at the purser's desk.