What Your Cruise Is Really Going To Cost
Written by: Kuki
When it comes to money matters, it’s not cruise pricing that settles the equation of how much your cruise is going to cost you.
One might have thought, a couple of years ago, when the cruise lines put a policy of “flat pricing” in place; basically disallowing travel agents from cutting their commissions to offer discounted prices to the their clientele; that figuring the actual cost of you cruise would be simplified. But there are still many matters that muddy the waters.
On the part of the cruise lines, when setting their cruise prices, they do not simply post the bottom line. Nor do they allow travel agents selling their cruise to advertise the final price. In fact they insist advertising travel agents list only the cruise fare… and then somewhere in smaller print list “ government fees and taxes are additional”.
There are different pricing levels for the various “categories” of accommodations on-board, and of late it’s been a growing trend for the cruise lines to expand the number of categories on their ships. It’s bit like the airlines adding baggage fees and premium seat charges. Though nothing on the ship changes, the small differences in pricing based on the cabins location on the ship can suddenly turn into quite a windfall of revenue to the cruise lines.
Aside from the cost of your cruise fare + the port fees and taxes, there is an actual plethora of costs involved in the real cost of your cruise. Some are hidden costs (such as gratuity recommendations automatically charged to your shipboard account), and there are also many voluntary expenditure options, which can quickly escalate the final costs you’re paid, once your cruise is over.
It is the cruise lines job to separate you from as much of your money as possible, as far more of their profits are derived from what you spend above the cost of your fare, than from the money you spent purchasing your ticket. Onboard casinos; retail sales (even with all the sale and 50% off signs visible); sale of excursions in ports; shipboard photographers and videographers; alcohol, soft drinks, specialty coffees, and alternate dining venues, are all available and designed to attract you to spend your money. Heck they even make money by offering recommended stores in their ports of call, so they can make money via your spending on shore.
As good as their systems are for them to make money from your spending habits, that isn’t anywhere near the end of costs as you try to figure out what your total cruise spending will come to.
Your own spending habits must be taken into consideration, so there’s no “one size fits all” system to get to the answer of … What Am I Going to Spend? Some passengers will never even walk into a casino on a ship. Some people will spend $100s of dollars a day during their cruise in the casino. Some who never thought they would gamble in a casino, find themselves drawn in by friends and spend $40 for a bit of entertainment value.
Every one’s drink consumption can vary drastically from individual to individual, whether it’s alcohol consumption, soft drinks, specialty coffees, or juices. The costs of all of those purchases, in whatever quantities, adds to your total cost calculation. As does shopping patterns (on board and ashore). Some people only buy the simplest souvenirs, others shop for major purchases, while others are impulse buyers when the situation presents itself.
One area many cruisers forget to add to the equation or budget for air transportation costs. This does not refer solely to flights, if you have to fly into embarkation/disembarkation ports, but also transfer fees, taxi services or rental vehicles in ports of call.
While, “how much money” is one of the most commonly asked questions asked on cruise web message boards, unfortunately there is no set or simple answer. However, I believe I have a figure in mind that can serve as your standard if your spending habits are close to the “average” or “mean” spending of a cruise passenger.
Without budgeting “high roller casino expenses” or “major retail purchasing” in most cases I believe one should expect their final tab for their cruise to be the cost of your cruise fare (including port and tax), multiplied by 2, with an addition of somewhere between 10 -20% of the cruise fare.
So… if you look at the all in cost of your cruise fare multiplied by 2.2 you’ll at least be in range of your actual total spent. This figure wasn’t attained using any mathematical study, or using any well developed algorithm. It is solely based on my 17 years watching the industry, over 65+ cruises. I could certainly be wrong. And if your totals are much higher than that, I won’t be indemnifying you for the difference. I’m a writer, not a psychic.
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Posted: December 20th, 2011 under Kuki.