14 Things That Are Not Included in the Price of a Cruise

  • 14 Things That Are Not Included in the Price of a Cruise

    Don’t get caught off guard by these things that usually cost extra.

    One of the biggest benefits of taking a cruise vacation is the sheer volume of amenities that are included for free. While a lot of the fun and food on a cruise is complimentary, there are some things that you will likely have to pay extra for. Here’s a look at 14 things that are not (usually) included on a cruise.


  • Gratuities

    Gratuities are usually not factored into those low, low cruise vacation prices you see advertised, and they can add a significant bump to the total cost of the trip. Prepaid gratuities on most non-luxury cruise ships can add upwards of $20 per person per day. This amount covers the servers, bartenders, housekeeping stewards, and more. Many cruisers will often give an additional cash tip to their cabin steward for the twice-daily cleaning, fresh towels, etc.




  • Drinks

    Aside from coffee, tea, juice, and tap water, drinks are where cruising can get expensive. If you fancy a glass or two of wine with dinner or a few beers by the pool, you will either pay as you go or opt to buy a beverage package. As of April 2022, Royal Caribbean’s Deluxe Beverage Package, for example, ranges from $63 to $89 per person per day. No matter how you handle your bar bill, drinking alcohol, soda, fresh-squeezed juices, or premium teas and coffees will boost the total cost of your cruise vacation significantly.


  • Excursions

    It costs nothing extra to disembark in gorgeous ports like La Spezia, Italy (one of the gateways to Florence), and Cozumel, Mexico. But, if you want a guided experience with transportation that puts you in the heart of a city, shows off the local culture, educates you about the history, takes you on a snorkeling adventure, or lets you unwind on a catamaran, that’s called an excursion, and it could cost you anywhere from $79 to $199 per person, or more!


  • Wi-Fi

    Internet access is an extra charge on most cruise ships. Of course, you can choose to fully disconnect during your cruise, but if you want to post photos on Instagram, check email, and work remotely, you will need to buy a Wi-Fi package. Set your connectivity speed expectations low as Wi-Fi on ships at sea is famously not as strong as it is back at home.




  • Spa Treatments

    Many cruisers use their vacations at sea to truly unwind from the day-to-day pressures of life back at home. To accomplish this, some opt for treatments in the ship’s spa. Most cruise ships have a resplendent spa offering an array of treatments, from massages to facials, manicures to hair salon services.



  • Photo Packages

    It can be nice to have a professional photo of you and your family to frame and remember your cruise vacation. Many ships have photographers roaming the decks and/or decorative backdrops you can step into for a glamorous photo. While there is no obligation to buy (and it can be fun just to pose all over the ship, especially on formal night), if you wish to take home some photographs, those are not included and will cost you extra.

    Jaume Juncadella/Dreamstime

  • Babysitting

    Most ships have children’s camps separated by age and usually included for free. However, childcare for your tiniest cruisers will likely see a charge added to your account. Infants are cared for by trained crew members, and your precious bundles need more attention, diaper changes, feedings, and TLC than your toddlers and teens. The nominal babysitting fee takes care of all of this, allowing you to relax and enjoy the more adult aspects of your cruise vacation.

    Brett Critchley/Dreamstime

  • Cabanas

    Deck chairs are never in short supply on a cruise ship, but if you want to spend a day in a more private outdoor hideaway while at sea, there may be special cabanas available to rent for an extra charge.

    Robyn Mackenzie/Dreamstime

  • Bingo

    Playing bingo is a longtime staple of cruising and a good chance to win hundreds of dollars in cash! But you have to pay to play and be in it to win it, so if you want a few bingo cards and a blotter, that will cost you since bingo is not included in the cruise package.

    Alessia Pierdomenico/Shutterstock

  • Special Entertainment and Activities

    There’s a plethora of free entertainment and activities onboard cruise ships, from live musical theater to ice skating and Flowrider surf simulators to go-karting. There are, however, other ways to have fun that are not included for free. Things like an hour in an escape room, indoor skydiving, and Royal Caribbean’s North Star experience (to name just a few special activities) will come with surcharges.


  • Fitness Classes

    The ship’s gym is open for all, for free, as is the onboard running track. Participating in a spin class, group yoga session, Zumba, or other scheduled fitness classes will likely cost you since those group classes are not included in the overall cost.


  • Specialty Restaurants

    Eating for free is one of the best reasons to take a cruise vacation over any other type of trip. From the robust buffet serving everything from burgers and fries to chicken tikka and roti to the main dining room and pizza parlor—cruising will always be all-inclusive when it comes to dining. That said, almost every ship will have a selection of specialty restaurants that are not included in the cost of your cruise. These higher-end dining destinations may include a steakhouse, teppanyaki, sushi restaurant, or an upscale seafood joint that will cost you anywhere from $35 to $60 per person to enjoy an extra special meal.

    EWY Media/Shutterstock

  • Room Service

    Once a free benefit of cruising, perfect for those late-night hunger pains, ordering room service on most ships will now come complete with a modest fee that’ll be charged to your cabin. A limited room service menu is still complimentary during the day on many ships, but if you just have to have a plate of chicken fingers at midnight, that’ll cost you extra.


  • Port Transfers

    Cruise lines will generally operate and offer shuttles to and from the closest airport(s) to the cruise terminal, but this transportation is usually not included. Before opting for the per-person cost of booking a roundtrip journey on the cruise line’s shuttle bus, check the typical cost of a Lyft or Uber to and from the airport. You may save a good amount of money that you can use to buy bingo cards, a drink package, or have dinner in the ship’s steakhouse instead.

    Leszek Wrona/Dreamstime

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