Sure, cruises can be a cost-effective way to travel, with no need to pay for hotels, meals, or flights between cities. Even so, your cruise fare doesn’t cover a lot of extras once you board (that is, unless you’re on an all-inclusive cruise). Here, seven outrageous charges on cruise ships that may just leave you feeling nickel-and-dimed.
Transfers into the city
It may say Rome on your itinerary, but news flash: you’re docking an hour outside in a town called Civitavecchia — and you’ll be the one paying for transportation into the city.
The cost: When you sail with Carnival, you can buy an excursion for $89 to get there via train in order to explore on your own. Or, it’s around $75 per person to book a shuttle through the port.
If the price of fuel increases during your cruise, beware. A few cruise lines, such as Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Cunard, reserve the right to charge you to help pay for it — without notice — when oil creeps above $65 per barrel.
The cost: Usually no more than $10 per person per day.
Port taxes and fees
Government authorities charge cruise ships big bucks to dock in their port, and it doesn’t come cheap for passengers, who have to pay anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of their cruise fare to cover them.
The cost: On a 13-day Carnival cruise to the Panama Canal that’s $919 per person, you’re charged an extra $327 charge per person for taxes and fees. We’ve even seen a 4-day Caribbean cruise at $179 that charged an extra $102 per person — almost the price of the cruise fare itself.
You probably know alcohol isn’t included on most cruise ships, but it may come as a shock that such a minuscule thing as soda isn’t either. The exception: Disney Cruise Line has free-flowing soda machines by the pool.
The cost: At $2 a pop (plus an automatic gratuity charge of 15 to 18 percent) they can add up over the course of a cruise.
When you shell out a couple hundred bucks (or more) for a cruise, you expect to enjoy some of the features on board. While some things are free — skydiving and surfing on Royal Caribbean, for example — others come with an additional fee.
The cost: Activities vary from line to line: catching a show at the IMAX theater on Carnival Vista costs $12.95 for adults, while bowling on MSC Cruises costs $7 per person, per game, and now even theater shows on P&O Cruises’ Pacific Explorer ($15 with a complimentary cocktail). One of the most expensive activities? A ride in Crystal Esprit’s submarine, at $595 per person.
You can avoid paying for meals on board if you stick to the buffet and main dining room, but the best food options — say, a celebrity chef-helmed restaurant or a chef’s table experience — will cost you.
The cost: Most specialty restaurants charge around $20 to $30 but they can reach $95, as is the case at Disney’s elegant adults-only restaurant, Remy.
Crazy Expensive Spa Treatments
It’s not that we think spa treatments should be free of charge; it’s just that cruise ship prices are ridiculously inflated. A mani-pedi can cost double what you’d normally pay at home.
The cost: Want a facial? That’ll be $305 at the Canyon Ranch Spa on lines like Celebrity Cruises — more than the price of an inside cabin on some sailings.