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What Your Cruise Is Really Going To Cost

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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.

– A View From the Kuki Side of Cruising –

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Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time December 21, 2011 at 7:11 am

One may also wish to compare the cruise, whatever ship, line or length of days, to staying in a hotel or motel.

Prices run all over the place from cheap to outrageous, as they can with any cruise ship or line. The lowly hotel, say, $79.00 per night per room (I dared not go lower less I vomit at the thought of such a dump), offers a bed, bath, so so toiletries and tv, maybe an iron, maybe a fridge, maybe a microwave oven. You don’t get an iron, micro on a ship. Bare bones, no frills.SOME cruise lines are actually charging a great discount close and lower than $79.00 per person per day. What is the greater deal? The cruise, one that incldes three square meals and soap and TP. I won’t even mention the lines that charge for TP and towel use as well as other non-gratis items.

But, you pay for meals, drinks, entertainment, whatever you want to fullfill your stay. These same frills are paid for on board as well. Sure, the all inclusives, ship or resort, you don’t pay for much else once on board, but, you pay for it up front. Then there is the flight or parking or train or bus or taxi or transfers – not everyone can drag their bags from their house to the pier.

So I think that if you can’t afford the hotel and get the frills, you should not be on a cruise. There is also the dressy factor on a cruise too, or lack of.

Kukis percentage seems true for many, and should serve as a guide for some. One thing for sure, the on board credits being offered are very welcome indeed..

Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time December 23, 2011 at 10:28 am

This sort of goes hand in hand with pricing, since the pricing of the cruise or its total package with air, was past of this deal.

Way back in the late 1980’s, last rescession, some cruise lines were actually financing their future passengers cruises, with their own in house financing deals.

SOME of the real big players offered it with lower percentage rates, and even had their own credit cards issued through major financial houses. I can not say whether this was good or bad, but, it was out there, printed in their brocures.

What was proably not so good, were the upstart lines, new ones, sailing old tonnage, that went belly up, and probably got stuck with either owed debt, or people that owed for cruises on defunct lines.

Comment from Paul Motter
Time December 24, 2011 at 9:48 am

One thing that gets me is the service charges. Most cruise lines are adding service charges to the tabs these days, for drinks and meals, but then they also include a line for you to add an “additional gratuity” – there is no reason to tip twice, just ignore those lines.

Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time December 28, 2011 at 6:35 am

I am fortunate to have taken cruises since the late 1960’s, and at a young age at that.

One thing that I see from those earlier decades to today, and the years through and through, is the pricing for a cruise.

Sure, back then there were ships, old liners on their last hurrah, with upper and lower berth cabins, many inside ones, and believe it or not, cabins without en suite baths. In fact, I sailed the QE2 with upper/lower berths, the Stella Solaris, Rotterdam, all u/l berthed cabins, and SS France with shared bath! I do not consider these to be old liners on their last hurrah, the old ones I did avoid from advice from my T/A. These were el cheapo accommodations, but, the passenger still had run of the ship, as they do – mostly – today. As I could afford nicer digs on my cruises, I moved to lower bedded cabins, then outside with tiny-teeny porthole , then – well, you get the picture.

Today passengers pay extra for concierge suites, and spa suites, and whatever the cruise lines feel the traffic can bear, at extra prices and extra ammentities, but that is not what I want to point out here.

Okay, exclude the el cheapo old liner cabins and the concierge etc cabins, lets look only at the basic minimum cabin, inside on nearly all cruise ships with the outside cabins without a balcony – the basic cabins.

These cabin “types” have been the mainstay for decades, and are the ones that book first. BUT This is not the point here. These cabins and the minimum rates have virtually not changed in two, three even four decades.

That is the bargain, the basics of the cruise, the rates, and all that goes with it. Over and over the bargain that is a cruise can not be beat, I don’t care what other vacation can compare with it. And with the selection and choices today, is even a better choice than ever, and should be for years to come.

In these stressed out times with tight money, offering on board credits has become a very acceptable tool to secure bookings. Who does not like a ship board credit? Rather than lower the price and lowwer on board quality, the credit is a nice gesture. But, beware, read reviews and see what some people think of the “you get what you pay for” cruise, the one that is really discounted. That is not a nice way to sail.

Pingback from Cruisemates Blog » Cruising Is Easier Than Ever – Kuki
Time February 29, 2012 at 5:07 am

[…] Perhaps the only area that can still remain complicated is budgeting. Budgeting is a very personal issue, and that is why it remains complicated. Several weeks ago I wrote a blog, whose topic was budgeting. Cruise Budgetting. […]

Comment from Susan
Time October 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Just want to know WHAT are the taxes and fees that are added to the list price. How do I find this? Am saving very penny and do NOT want surprises.

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