Cruises will provide you the best bang for your buck out of any vacation. However, one of the biggest misconceptions of first time cruisers is that when they see a cruise advertised for $699, they assume that is the amount that the cruise will cost them. While that $699 might be the base cost of the cruise, there are many add-ons like taxes, port fees, tips, some beverages, excursions, and specialty restaurants.
Your cruise fare covers your lodging, all your meals, room service, entertainment, and transportation from one port to another. You can order 2 or 3 steaks and have 5 meals a day if you like at no extra cost, although you may regret it when your vacation is over. Most ships have workout rooms, rock climbing walls, several pools and hot tubs, basketball and shuffleboard courts that are all free for you to use.
When you book your cruise, you will be charged port fees and taxes. They average around $100-150 a person, depending on how many ports your ship stops at. Tips are also not included in your cruise fare. Most cruiselines will charge your room $10-$12 a person per day for tips. These tips cover your waiters/waitresses for all your meals, your room steward, and the kitchen staff. Any drink you order will automatically be charged 15% gratuity.
Soft drinks are not included in your fare (they are included on Disney). You can get an unlimited soda card for usually around $7 a day. Many cruiselines only offer juice for breakfast, you will be charged if you order one later in the day. Most cruise ships have specialty restaurants where you can dine for a surcharge. This can range from $10-$35 a person. Many ships also offer specialty coffee shops such as Starbucks, if you don’t like the free coffee at the buffet.
When crude is above $65 a barrel, the cruiselines have the right to add on a fuel surcharge, this is written in your agreement when you book. The fuel surchage is no more than $10 a day per person. Currently, no cruiselines are charging the fuel surcharge although oil is hovering around $100 a barrel. However, if one starts, the others will follow behind.
You can go on a cruise without having a $2,000 room bill at the end of it. It is best to find deals that include room credit, that way it will cover part or most of your tips.