Cruise hidden extras
active family travel,  family,  parenting,  Travel

Six Cruise Hidden Extras

Don’t get caught with cruise hidden extras!!

I consider myself an educated traveller. We research before we travel and we compare prices and we try always to get the best deal for our family budget. But I didn’t anticipate some of these cruise hidden extras, so even seasoned travel experts miss some things.

I read reviews and I read blogs and I ask friends about their travel experiences before I book. Sometimes I find the best possible travel deal and then I take that to an agent to have her double check I am not missing anything and I always use travel rewards cards to generate the reward points on these big purchases. I pay off the cards immediately and keep the rewards and that makes me happy.

Cruise Life

Cruising can be affordable and it is jam packed fun for the entire family. In fact I would definitely take another cruise next year. But, there are a few things you should really know about before you go. There are a few cruise hidden extras that you might not factor into the budget if you didn’t know about them. So, here are my Six Cruise Hidden Extras that are manageable if you remember to budget for them ahead of time.

[tweetthis]Don’t forget to factor into your budget these cruise hidden extras. #travel[/tweetthis]

Six Cruise Hidden Extras:

1. Tips

the gratuity is added into the final bill so be warned. For a family of four like ours that added $80 a day. So it’s up to you of course if you tip over and above that, but frankly remember that at the end of your stay you will receive a bill with the additional gratuities on it. Be prepared. This will be your biggest of the cruise hidden extras that you might not know about.

This will be your biggest extra aboard a cruise ship.

2. Cruise Excursions

Of course the extra sight seeing trips and adventures in ports of call are part of what makes this style of family travel so memorable. BUT, remember that you can’t possibly do everything if you are on a budget.

We did a cruise recently over the Christmas holiday and we added two big excursions to the time there. Our kids love to explore and they helped choose.

We did a Grand Cayman snorkel, swim, explore the city by bus and visit a turtle hatchery which was amazing and the grand total on that day was about $300 at most for all four of us. (children under a certain age are less expensive than adults on these excursions.) Belize was a snorkel the reef, have lunch and swim with stingrays and nurse sharks adventure which was worth every penny. That one was our most expensive adventure ringing in around $400 that day. Completely worth it because it was an amazing adventure we all did together! The kids snorkelled the reef off the coast of Belize and we all saw stingrays, sharks, tropical fish, dolphins, sea turtles, and sea urchins as well as poisonous coral! Stunning!

Budget some extra for these and then stay within your budget. You can always come back and do another cruise another year with your family.

Don’t forget to budget for a couple of memorable excursions in ports of call

3. Extra Beverages

Alcohol is extra on a lot of cruises. Plan to spend a bit more there to celebrate your vacation. Also virgin pina coladas and such are extra. But the kids need to celebrate too so let them have a speciality drink once in awhile and then watch carefully to be sure the bartender doesn’t accidentally get your drinks mixed up.

Alcohol is often extra on a cruise. Planning and budgeting makes that less of a shock on a cruise.

4. Late night after hours kid’s club.

The kid’s club is included with your cruise most of the time. It was included on ours. I paid an extra $10 on New Year’s Eve so that my younger daughter could hang out in kid’s club with friends, watch a movie, make crafts and stay up until 12:30 a.m. That money was well worth it. It was the only meal my husband and I got without children.

DYK there is a late night after hours children’s club often on a cruise ship?

5. Novelty events

Special events like a Dr. Seuss breakfast might cost a wee bit more. The Dr. Seuss breakfast was $5 each person. There was also a parade, but that part was free. Also the extra restaurants aboard will sometimes cost more money. If we had booked a dinner at David’s Steakhouse then we would have paid extra for that.

Themed events and meals can cost extra on a cruise.

6. The cruise photographer.

There will be a professional photographer popping up at random moments to shoot candid shots of you, and/or your children. You will likely tell yourself I won’t pay extra for photos, but when you see a gorgeous shot of your two kids together at dinner all dressed up and clean on New Year’s Eve, you will fork out the extra $14 for a 5 by 7 photo so that you can frame it and always remember the beautiful time you had on your cruise when they were young.

Plan ahead and the extras will be less of a shock.

If you plan ahead, your cruise can be affordable. Avoid feeling blindsided or surprised by cruise hidden extras with these simple tips. For more information about cruising, and why we loved our first family cruise, or what you need to know about family cruises you can read any of the posts I have recently shared here.

This post is also part of my Travel Tuesday link!! So share your travel posts and I will comment on each. This is a perpetual link and your link remains here for months!! Happy Travels!

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Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • Aeryn Lynne

    These are awesome tips Paula, thank you for them! <3 I'm trying to convince Jay that we need to go on a cruise sometime this year, and I'll be bookmarking this post to remind myself how much exactly we need to budget to go. Always dream about doing those extra fun things both on and off the cruise ship, but hadn't factored how much those extras could actually cost. And WOW, hope you got your dollar's worth for that automatic $80 tip! <3

    • Paula

      YES!! You have to do one Aeryn! We loved it so much. I know that the tipping seems really high BUT the service was outstanding! That takes in the people who do your room, the servers, the cleanup and all the staff who interact with you. In all honesty I wasn’t overwhelmed by the cost of that because I have rarely had service as good as it was on Carnival Cruise lines. Totally worth it. They cleaned our room twice a day. Left the kids super adorable towel animals every day and did turn down service and greeted you by name and dropped off tiny chocolates. It was nearly perfect.

  • Jennifer (momvstheboys)

    yep, this is why we tend to stick to all inclusive resorts, the alcohol, fancy restaurants and some of the excursions are all included in the price and almost no tipping required depending on where you go. I would love love love to take a cruise, because the idea of seeing more than one destination at a time is intriguing, but I don’t love the idea of stressing over what the final bill is going to be.

  • Jenn

    WOW! THose are some crazy hidden costs! I can’t believe the gratuity one! That is crazy! $80 a day!!! that’s like $800 for a 10 day cruise for TIPS only!! ahh!! Great post and very important points to keep in mind!

  • Kungphoo

    I just went on a cruise during the Christmas Holiday! I wish I knew about all of this but it will be helpful if i ever go on another 🙂 Thank you!

  • Jonathon

    When we go on a cruise, we put cash on our onboard account to avoid any big surprises. We can always put more cash on the account if needed, but it really makes us aware of our spending so when we get offered all those things like photos or drinks of the day, we’re quite aware of how much is left on our account. Once, my wife woke up with dry eyes and a quick trip down to the ship’s store to buy some Visine = $12 charge on our account. Ouch. It’s just too easy to swipe the card! We cruise because we find it an affordable way to see a lot, but we watch our dollars pretty closely. On our last cruise, one of those unforseen expenses was the ATM fees. $6 on the ship, and then $12 at one of our ports.

  • Amanda

    I have never been on a cruise before but I would certainly love to. Who knew there were so many hidden costs. Thanks for the heads up these are good to know just in case!

  • Judy Cowan

    I have never been on a cruise but would love to take one, thanks for the tips, Better to know in advance what might be extra!