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Beware: The Cost of Cruising

9:00 AM

Cruises seem like such a great deal on the surface, however by the end of the cruise it’s easy to feel like you’ve been short changed.  There are so many extra travel expenses and fees that are commonly overlooked when planning a cruise vacation.

I’ve cruised with Disney, Royal Caribbean and Carnival and I think everyone should go on at least one cruise, but beware of all the costs associated with cruising.  The base price of the cruise can seem like such a great deal before you begin adding tax, port fees, tips, travel, excursions and transfers. 

Below I’ve outlined expenses that could be incurred with a $149 inside cabin on a 4-night cruise.  When I’ve booked cruises I’ve always been surprised by how much more the price per person ends up being by the time you get to the payment screen.  There are many costs associated with cruising that every traveler should know. 

Some of the fees shown above are optional, however by the time you pay your taxes/port fees, tips and transpiration or parking you have virtually doubled the price of just the cruise ticket.  To find out the true cost of the cruise I recommend you call the cruise line to ask what the required expenses will be on your cruise ticket.  You'll be amazed by how quickly the cruise ticket price will double and sometimes triple from the base price.  

In terms of traveling cheap, I haven't found a way to really take a 'cheap cruise vacation' because of fixed costs that can't be discounted.  I've found the best deals by going to beach resorts and even all-incluseive resorts at a fraction of the cost of cursing.  I haven't used miles and points on a cruise because I don't feel like you get a very good value by using them on cruise tickets.  

I'd be interested in your feedback, whether you think cruises are a good deal or if cruise 'deals' even exist anymore. 

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Disclaimer: Ideas in this blog post are from my own personal experiences and actual results may vary based on offers available at the time.  This is not professional advice.

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  1. As a family with two small children, we have been on numerous cruises (just got back from one last week!) and have found them to be good value that also allow us to have a family vacation and have kid-free time. You are right about the costs, but our approach has been to put all cash from cash-back credit cards into a vacation account and then to use that money to pay for our cruise. For our recent cruise, we drove, spent a free night (Marriott points) in Myrtle Beach and then cruised out of Charleston for 5 nights on Carnival. Our cruise for 4, being in an outside cabin cost $1125 including taxes, port fees everything. This was essentially free for us as we had saved that much in our "travel" account. Between all of the other costs (we did excursions in both ports and in Myrtle Beach) we spent $800. So the total cost for us out of pocket was $800 for a family of four for 7 nights, including gas, souveneirs, excursions, food, and everything. So therefore, we find cruises to be convenient and affordable, but as with any trip a good bit of pre-planning goes a long way.


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