Hidden Costs of Cruising: 2008 Update by Paul Motter, CruiseMates Editor September 8, 2008
What is included in your cruise fare depends on what type of cruise you are considering. How to know how much your cruise will really cost.
Back in the days when every component of a typical family vacation; transportation (airfare or car fuel), hotels, meals and entertainment were all priced and paid for separately, cruising was considered an all-inclusive vacation.
But a new category of resorts has redefined the term "all-inclusive" in the travel industry. Known in the trade as "AI" an all-inclusive resort, such as Sandals, means a vacation destination where alcohol and gratuities are also included. Similarly, there are still true all inclusive cruise lines; Silversea, Regent and Seabourn among others.
But, it is time to re-visit the topic of "hidden costs of cruising" in the contemporary cruise industry because things have changed a great deal in the last few years. It isn't that you get less included with your cruise these days -- you still get everything on today's cruise that was included ten years ago. The difference is that there are now so many more options available on every cruise, and some of them carry an additional cost.
There are two components to examining hidden costs. Part one explains what is included in the quoted price. Part two is what is included at no extra charge onboard the cruise ship and, more importantly, what new options are available to cruisers onboard ships which carry an additional surcharge.
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What's Included in Cruise Pricing?
Getting right to the point, the single most significant change in cruise pricing in the last two years is the new fuel surcharge. Every major cruise line now charges passengers an additional fee, due with your final payment, to cover the extra cost of energy. More on that below.
The Basic Cruise Fare: All cruise fares are based upon "double occupancy" because the stateroom is built with two berths; made to accommodate two people. In other words, the cruise fare quoted in an ad or booking engine is for one passenger sharing a cabin with another adult paying the same fare. The assumption is that you will sail with your significant other, although sometimes people pre-arrange to sail with cruise mates.
The significant thing about double occupancy is that the cruise line expects to sell that stateroom to two people. If you are a single person sailing alone and want a cabin to yourself, you have to pay a single supplement fee.
Single Supplement Fees: Cruise lines describe the single cruise fare as 200% of the basic fare. In other words, a single sailing in a stateroom alone will pay the same as two people would pay for the same stateroom. It sounds expensive and it can be. The good news is that there are options for single cruisers where some lines do not charge this fee, or they reduce it to 125%, 150% or 175% of the cruise fare. While many lines used to do so, Holland America is the only major cruise line that will still attempt to match you up with a roommate if you request it. If they can't find a suitable roommate they will give you that entire cabin for the price of one berth.