I was browsing the net today and I saw a scathing review of Carnival Cruise cruise line. The poster said that he couldn’t believe that he would be charged an extra $50 for dining room service and room cleaning. He felt that is was an exorbitant charge, especially since he was not going to use the main dining room. He also decided to put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on his door so that the attendant would not clean his room during the cruise and thus free him from the tipping obligation. As an experienced cruiser, this made me chuckle, but I thought it might be a good idea to put up a reminder about what is included and what isn’t included in your up front cruise costs.
First, a cruise is only a “mostly inclusive” vacation experience. Tipping, excursions, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks are usually not included.
Though you can pre-pay your tipping and have it included in your upfront costs, tipping is expected on most cruise lines. Tips make up the majority of the pay for the service crew members. While in most cases if you never use the formal dining room, you could probably have that portion of the tip removed, you are still obligated to tip your cabin steward even if you put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door. The steward still cleans your room before and after your cruise, and it would be a bit harder to clean if it had not been cleaned all week. If you are new to cruising and unfamiliar with the tipping policies visit our tipping policies page in order to familiarize yourself with the whole process for many of the cruise lines.
In port excursions are also extra. The prices for excursions can range from around $25 per person to over $300 per person depending on the activity. Passengers are also free to explore the visited ports independently.
Your alcoholic beverages are not included on most cruises, though a few luxury lines do include them. Most soft drinks are not included either, but usually iced or hot tea, regular coffee, juice or punch are available for free. Auto tipping is applied to most beverage purchases, usually about 15%. The disappointed cruiser that I mentioned earlier also complained about the beverage auto tipping, even when he got the drink directly from the bartender. In the cashless society that is today’s cruise ships, the auto-tipping ensures that the bar waiters and bar tenders receive a fair gratuity for their services. These gratuities make up the majority of their wages.
Even with these added expenses, cruise vacations are still exceptional values. Just remember to add in the expected extra expenses when you are comparing total vacation costs.