Seven Hidden Costs You Might Not Expect on a Cruise Holiday

Luxury cruise ship sailing from port on sunset

While many cruises will claim to be all-inclusive, there are often still additional charges which may be incurred during your holiday. While these additional facilities and activities are optional, being wary of them can help prevent you from getting a nasty surprise and an unexpected bill at the end of the holiday. Here are seven of the most common hidden costs of cruises and how to avoid/lower them.


Almost all cruise lines automatically add gratuities onto the bills of all passengers. Traditionally between $11 and $15 per day per person, these can be reduced or completely cancelled (or increased if you believe the service warrants additional tipping) at the guest services desks on the majority of cruise ships.

Before reducing or cancelling gratuities, it is worth considering how much the crew members warrant the additional payment for their services.

Spa Treatments

Luxurious spa treatments are part of the quintessential relaxing cruise experience but often come at an extra cost – particular on the cruise lines with specialist packages and unique treatments.

The Cruise1st team has a cunning method of lowering spa treatment costs: “It is possible to sometimes get lower prices on spa treatments when the ship is docked in a port. So if there is a port visit you are not bothered about, you can enjoy a spa treatment at a lower cost whilst the other guests are on shore.”

Speciality Dining

On-board speciality restaurants and celebrity-endorsed dining options traditionally fall outside the terms of the all-inclusive deal. Dining in the standard eateries will not cost you and the family extra, but if you are desperate to enjoy the food of celebrated chefs such as Luke Mangan and Atul Kochhar – there is a way to do so for less.

Many cruise ships will offer a lunchtime menu from the speciality restaurants with many of the dinner favourites – just at a lower cost.


Whilst soft drinks, mineral waters and hot drinks are typically all included in an all-inclusive deal – alcohol often falls outside the deal. If you fancy a tipple on your holiday, many cruise lines will offer alcohol packages which may prove to be value for money if you drink enough (that’s not a challenge). Also, don’t try and sneak alcohol aboard the ship – the line will confiscate any booze they find until the last day of the cruise when they’ll return it to you.


If you’re planning on saving a bit of room in your luggage for keepsakes and presents for the family, by taking advantages of on-board laundry services – be sure to budget for the pleasure. The majority of cruise lines will charge an additional fee for use of their laundry facilities. The only money-saving tip is to make sure you pack enough outfits for every day and night of the cruise, and to be careful not to slop any red wine down your front.


Crew members offering to take your photograph as you board or during a captain’s cocktail are not doing it simply because you looking stunning (although this may be a contributory factor), they are expecting you to buy the resulting photograph. The best way to avoid these costs whilst still receiving a commemorative memento of your holiday is to pack your own camera and kindly ask fellow cruise guests to take your family’s photo. Or invest in a selfie stick.


If you want to stay in touch with family members back on the shore or need to keep on top of work emails, you may incur additional internet-usage costs. The majority of cruise lines offer blocks of internet allowance for set prices. While these allowances may be an additional cost for your holiday, the good news is cruise ship internet is getting faster. The new ships from Royal Caribbean are benefitting from connections via O3b Networks – providing the fastest connections at sea so you can video call friends and family, stream movies and download important files for work.