Cruise fees can quickly (and too conveniently) accumulate. Enjoying the amenities can bring on fees you may assume are included in the ticket price you already paid.
Like many other investments, research and preparation are key to avoiding unpleasant surprises. Research the taxes, surcharges, tipping policy, activities, meals, and what is included/excluded. The “all-inclusive” package usually comes with limitations too.
And while in your cabin think twice before opening that bag of chips and bottled water. If you’re expecting top shelf liquor and a Surf & Turf dinner, plan to expand your budget.
Cruises are mostly cashless venues and similar to casinos, people are more apt to spend money if they don’t use cash. Fees are accumulated on cards and even the kids can get their own cards. It’s easy, convenient, lower risk, and almost thoughtless to keep the fees piling up.
Some common fees are: Tips, Service Gratuities, Taxes, Surcharges, Transfers, Room Service, Gaming Rooms, Premium Food/Drinks, Babysitting, Corkage, Room Snacks, Pictures, Massage, Spa/Sauna, Activities, Exercise Classes, Private Areas.
This fee is designed for the service workers on the vessels. Usually these tips go in a kitty and are shared among the crew. This includes the workers you see to those working behind the scenes. The cruise tickets usually don’t cover service gratuities when you see an introductory price. You can often pre-pay these fees to avoid the sticker shock later.
These fees can vary from $10/day/person to $20/day/person (very young children likely excluded). The rate of this fees depends on the cruise line, destination(s), and type of cabin.
Furthermore to avoid cash on the cruise, gratuities are probably added to drinks, meals, and other services automatically and tallied on your final bill.
Family of four for a five day cruise with Service Gratuity rate of $15/day equates to ($15 * 4 people * 5 days) at total of = $300. This doesn’t include tips for drinks, meals, extras such as massage, and so forth.
Lights, Camera, Action
It’s nearly an irresistible purchase, from the moment you embark their cameras are trying to capture the magic of that special moment. Throughout the cruise, you’ll probably run into more photo ops. Near the end of the cruise they’ll be hundreds of pictures on display with options to purchase various sizes, amounts, on a disk, or electronically.
Kids will make this temptation more difficult to resist. There will be a themed background on each picture and the kids will be excited to buy their family pictures just like most everyone else is doing. The obvious way to avoid this is to take your own pictures but may help to steer clear of this area if it’s possible.
There’s considerable profit margin in drinks. To meet each others competition most cruise lines will offer some drinks within your package but the good stuff is may be an additional fee. You can offer purchase a drink package to control these costs as well. Usually milk, orange juice, lemonade, regular coffee, non-bottled water, iced tea are a few drinks included but the following are an extra fee.
- Premium coffee $3-$5
- Alcohol/Wine: Varies
- Soda: $3-$5
- Bottled Water: $3-$5
Check with your cruise line to see if you’re allowed to bring your own drinks, how much and which kinds. This can add a weight to your luggage or carrying bags but may be worth it to reduce your fees on the cruise. If your cruise makes a couple stops you can probably find these cheaper at that destination.
Some cruise lines options are group daycare, in-room sitting, and/or a nursery. In some cases you can purchase a package or pay by the hour. In any case its probably not included in your standard ticketing package.
These spaces can provide parents a break but it probably comes at a cost.
Your cruise may have private spaces for adults only. These could be a private viewing area or just an area for relaxing. These areas are known for pampering, plush towels, comfortable seating, and excellent service. Snacks are usually free but food service may be additional. Seating is often first come first serve. People may try to “reserve” their seat by placing personal items on a seat, take off for a couple hours and expect their seat when they return.
Depending on the cruise line and/or area of the ship, these may be included or have an additional fee. As would be expected, areas with fees have more amenities such as larger personal spaces, waterfalls, bars, ice cream, hot tubs, spas, cots, more lounging options, larger umbrellas, etc. Expected fee is $10-$20/person.
You have complete control of this expense. That’s the good thing about this cost. However, it can be tough to keep kids out of the arcade room and yourself from the onboard casino or Bingo event when every else seems to be doing it and having a good time.
There’s not much you can do to get your money back once it’s spent on gaming. Just be aware that kids with their own cards can swipe away and rack up fees quickly in the arcade room. And the prizes or points are relatively lower than on a non-cruise line for those aspiring kids that want a prize off the top shelf.
They’ll be activities throughout the ship day and night. The Hairiest Chest competition, dance lessons, chess tournament, miniature golf may be free to enjoy but others may have a cost.
Ask for list of the activities along with the prices and schedule. There may be waterslides, bowling, Blackjack tournaments, basketball, wine-tasting, go-karts, zip lines, and even a roller coaster. Some of these probable grabbed your interest during the screening process; some will be included in the package and others can be approach $25/person. If you (and of course the kids) want to enjoy the mega waterslide that was in your brochure, that may be an additional fee over standard water slide.
If your cruise has a gym its use may be included but fitness classes are likely an extra fee. If you plan on going beyond the standard stretching and attending yoga or Pilates then plan on stretching your budget too from $10-$30 each.
There are another set of different activities at destinations or off-board activities. If you’re cruise makes stops they’ll be a variety of activities offered to suit just about anyone. Or you can choose to do nothing…but that’s not likely given the amount of time to spare. Prepare to shop and have fun but research the activities in advance of booking early often earns a discount.
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If there are issues regarding your cruise (post-cruise inquires): (800) 929-6400
Questions about your current reservation: (800) 764-7419
Before reaching out, review the section on ‘Effective Complaining‘ to further prepare your complaint and negotiate a favorable outcome.
Norwegian Cruise Lines®
If there are issues regarding your cruise (post-cruise inquires):
- Phone +27 21 200 6586. Call Guest Relations – After your cruise.
- Postal Address: Norwegian Cruise Line Guest Relations, 7665 Corporate Centre Drive Miami, Florida 33126.
- Hours of Operation. Mon-Sat: 9am – 5:30pm ET.
Royal Carribean International®
If there are issues regarding your cruise (post-cruise inquires): 800-256-6649 or 514-285-9723 (outside the U.S.)
Wrtten complaints should be addressed to: Guest Relations | 1050 Caribbean Way, Miami, FL 33132.
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