Planning Your Cruise Budget – Four Extras You Might Not Have Thought About

Planning a budget for travelling is never easy, but working out how much money you need to set aside for a cruise holiday can be even trickier – especially if you’re preparing for your first cruise. So you don’t get caught short and end up trying to borrow cash off your cabin neighbours, we’ve put together a list of things you’ll probably have to pay for onboard that you might not have thought of. Here are some helpful cruise budget planning tips.

Cruise Budget Planning Tips: Dining at Sabatini - a speciality restaurant on the Coral Princess - will cost you extra
Sabatini’s Specialty Restaurant: Photo via Flickr, Jasperdo / CC 2.0

Cruise Budget Planning Tips


It’s true that most cruise ships include unlimited dining within the basic price, but this doesn’t include everything. Many cruise liners have speciality restaurants onboard which you’ll need to pay extra to dine in. Whilst skipping these restaurants isn’t a big deal for most travellers, some passionate foodies would hate to miss the chance to dine at internationally-acclaimed restaurants run by famous chefs, such as Marco Pierre White’s Ocean Grill on P&O’s Adonia.

Cruise Budget Planning Tips: Expect to pay extra for cocktails onboard
Expect to pay extra for cocktails onboard: Photo via Flickr, Ruben / CC 2.0


Some basic drinks – such as tap water, tea and coffee during meal times – are included in the cost of your cruise, but if you want anything other than that, you’ll have to pay for it. With this in mind, if you like a drink when you’re on holiday, it’s a good idea to sign up for a drinks package. It’s often much cheaper to pre-pay for a drinks package online before you sail. So try and get this aspect of your getaway organised well in advance if you want to keep your costs down.

Cruise Budget Planning Tips: A treatment at the spa onboard the Queen Mary 2 will cost you extra
A treatment at the spa onboard the Queen Mary 2: Photo via Flickr, Iglu Cruise / CC 2.0

Onboard activities

The most alluring aspect of some of the bigger cruise liners – such as Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 or Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess – is the quality and variety of their facilities onboard. And whilst spending a day being pampered in a spa or taking in a world-class show might be on the top of your to-do list, you’ll likely end up paying extra for the privilege. Even WiFi access, something you can get for free at most cafes, usually comes with an extra charge on a cruise ship. If you’re curious about whether an onboard feature or activity incurs a fee, simply pop along to the front desk and ask.

Cruise Budget Planning Tips: Save some cash by pre-paying your tips
Save some cash by pre-paying your tips: Photo via Flickr by Dave Dugdale, Learning Video / CC 2.0

More Cruise Budget Planning Tips

One aspect of cruise budget planning which catches most people out is tipping. Whilst you get to decide if and how much you tip on ordinary holidays, your tips are usually calculated for you on a cruise – expect to pay the equivalent of $12 per person per day for adults and around half for children. Just like buying a drinks package, you can sometimes pay less for your tips if you pay for them in advance online, so it’s something worth looking into. Of course, tipping is voluntary, so if you don’t agree to the proposed rate or you’re unhappy with the service you receive, you can cancel your tips or change the rate at the front desk before you leave.

The little extras you can expect to pay for on your ship can soon mount up, but there are many ways to reduce your onboard costs and keep your holiday costs down.

About Nicola Quinn


Nicola is a travel and food writer living in the Canary Islands who loves exploring far-off places, pushing herself to the limit and trying local eats wherever she goes.

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