Cruises are one of the best value ways to travel between multiple destinations. This is largely down to the fact that cruises are often All Inclusive, or at the very least cover accommodation and travel in one deal. That said, even the most comprehensive package can be spiced up to make your cruise truly memorable.

With our guide to onboard prices for your little luxuries – as well as advice on hidden costs on cruise ships – you’ll have a grasp on cruise ship costs altogether as well as more of an idea on how much money to bring on a cruise.

Specialist dining options

Cruise lines offer more variety for your meals today than ever before. Menus are expanding all the time, while ships such as those of Royal Caribbean® offer a huge range of cuisine from across the globe. As a general rule, the main dining rooms of cruise ships host meals that are included in your package, while other restaurants charge in the same way as a restaurant does on dry land. A cruise ship such as the stunning Symphony of the Seas℠ has both complimentary dining options as well as themed venues with a charge, such as American diner Johnny Rockets, Japanese Izumi and Jamie’s Italian.

Elsewhere, a delicious steak onboard Holland America Line can be had for an extra outlay at Pinnacle’s Grill, or you could try the Brazilian dishes of Moderno Churrascaria onboard Norwegian Cruise Line. A good tip to keep in mind is that ordering food to your cabin via room service is a money saver on many cruise ships.

Tips and gratuities

This can be a pretty mixed bag depending on which line you choose to cruise with, but there are two considerations to keep in mind. Firstly, luxury liners are more likely to have gratuities included as part of your booking price. Secondly, if in doubt, check the fine print or consult with the staff onboard your cruise ship.

Many cruise liners have their own tipping policies that are available from each company’s website. We recommend keeping aside about £12.50 per day on average, but if you’re regularly cashing in on free services then you won’t have to tip as much. As a general rule, additional tips for room service and laundry services are often appreciated by cruise ship staff.

Enjoying some downtime

Many onboard activities are completely free, with opportunities to enjoy sports, swim and play games throughout the ship. If you’re looking for something special like yoga or wine-tasting however, these activities will generally cost a little bit extra. Child minding services are often available at a price too, so be aware if you’re coming with little ones and want to run off to a new activity.

There’ll be plenty of opportunities to unwind during your cruise holiday, and there’s nothing more relaxing than a full spa treatment. Onboard services alter their prices based on the time of season, but you’ll typically find massages go for around £80-£140, while treatments can range from £20 all the way up to £500 for the more exotic options. A full list of prices will be available on your chosen ship.

Another aspect to think about in terms of budget planning is that of spending time at the destinations you’re cruising to. Many cruises offer onshore excursions, which may include guided tour opportunities, historical site supplements or restaurant deals. These are a great way of learning about the places you’re visiting in a short time, but be aware that these could cost anywhere between £20 and £200. It’s not unlikely that you’ll find some activities cost even more – such as helicopter rides, for example.

Coffee, tea and tipples

The great news here is that all your basics are covered. Cruises will give you some complimentary filter coffees, decent teas and a fair few soft drinks with your meals. Water is also easily accessed without charge, of course. The two occasions you’ll have to get your wallet out for are drinking in the bar and enjoying coffees a cut above the norm. Royal Caribbean boasts Starbucks At Sea onboard cruise ships such as Allure of the Seas®, where costs are much the same as they’d be at your local branch. On the other hand, Azamara Club Cruises feature the Mosaic Cafe, where coffees, teas and a selection of liqueurs are free, yet high-end Nespresso flavours come at a charge.

In terms of wines, spirits and cool beers, many cruise lovers opt to prepay their way as far as drinks are concerned via a drinks package. Many lines offer various grades of drinks packages to suit a range of palates, so you can measure how much you plan to put away and pay upfront accordingly. Drinks packages are available either to book ahead of departure or to purchase from staff onboard your cruise ship within the first day or two of your voyage.

Life’s little extras

Sometimes the extra costs of cruising come from the most unexpected places, so it quite literally pays to do your research. For example, if you’re meeting your cruise far from home, you’ll likely be flying out to find your ship and your budget would do well to include the cost of getting to the airport, the cost of the flight itself and transfer fees waiting for you at the other side. Similarly, elements such as customs fees and taxes for the various destinations your cruise will visit could also play a big role in your budget planning, so it’s wise to consult with your cruise line ahead of time to see if those are included in your voyage price or not.

Also keep in mind that extras for cameras, including memory cards, or other technological concerns such as internet use, can also incur charges. Some WiFi lounges charge by the minute, while others charge for an allotted slot of time.

Altogether, the smartest way to cruise is to ensure you’ve a little extra in the budget to take care of any unexpected expenses that arise. The memories you’ll make at sea make it all tremendously worthwhile – plus with our pointers in mind, you’ve got some advanced knowledge that should let you plan your next big cruise to the finest detail.

* Terms & Conditions apply

We are acting as an agent on behalf of travel suppliers and your booking will be subject to the supplier’s terms and conditions. Prices may be subject to very limited availability and are correct as at the date and time of writing. Prices may go up or down from time to time. Prices quoted are for the dates, accommodation, board basis, departure points and number of persons sharing specified only and cannot be combined with any other offer. We reserve the right to amend any quotes given if there is a genuine error as soon as we become aware of it. We reserve the right to withdraw any offers without notice.