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  #1 (permalink)  
Old February 10th, 2009, 10:26 PM
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Default So what is really "included"???

What is REALLY included in the cruise. I am reading about soda, ice cream, internet, etc. all being extra. Are we talking about soda and ice cream outside of meals being an extra charge? What about coffee, tea, hot chocolate?? Extra or included with a meal? I would think and Alaskan cruise would offer some warms drinks throughout the day. What else is not included?
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old February 11th, 2009, 02:04 PM
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Generally speaking, any type of soda (canned or fountain) costs extra. Ice cream on the dinner menu as desert after dinner is free but you will pay for sundaes, cones, etc. during the day if purchased on deck. If you want coffee outside of the dining rooms or special option dining venues, you will be charged. It's free with room service but the coffee you pay for is generally fresh brewed. The stuff you get in the dining room is mass produced and can be hit or miss as far as flavor is concerned. I've had good and I've had AWFUL. We took a Princess cruise to Alaska in 2007 the there WAS a charge for hot chocolate.
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Old February 11th, 2009, 02:34 PM
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Tips, liquor, bottled water, BINGO, shore excursions, and specialty restaurants are all an extra charge.

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Old February 11th, 2009, 08:44 PM
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Pictures are not included, and they are a major revenue for the cruise lines. You will know this when you see the high prices. Be selective in your choices, and, you will not have buyers remorse.

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Old February 25th, 2009, 08:30 PM
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Do you have to pay for food at the International Cafe?
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 02:58 PM
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The International Cafe was my favorite for a quick Lunch. Many items were free including sandwiches and salads, some cookies and cakes. Some of the dessert items such as fondue and chocolate strawberries they charged for.
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Old March 3rd, 2009, 06:45 PM
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Thanks for the info. How do you know which items they charge for? Do you have to ask or is it posted? I do not want to be nit picky but things can add up fast.
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Old March 7th, 2009, 02:03 AM
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my fiance was very annoyed that conveniently all the free coffee in the dining rooms magically disappeared the day we were in glacier bay... only to discover they were selling coffee mixed with various liquors in the viewing areas...

on a brighter note hot chocolate with baileys is worth the extra couple bucks it is so yummy and hits the spot perfectly as you watch the icebergs float by!

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Old March 7th, 2009, 03:55 AM
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What about charges for the Sushi Bar and Tapas I hear mentioned in the new Piazza areas of some of the ships?

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Old March 9th, 2009, 07:25 PM
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Be prepared to be "nickled and dimed" as the cliche goes. If you pay attention to what is & isn't included (it's getting harder to do just that) you won't get final bill shock.
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Old March 9th, 2009, 07:41 PM
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I am sure they do not tell you when there is a charge for something so my question is: Is it o.k to ask? Since we are first time cruisers I don't want to look like a doof.
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Old March 9th, 2009, 10:10 PM
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My best answer would be...If you sign a receipt, you own it. (?)

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  #13 (permalink)  
Old March 13th, 2009, 11:40 AM
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This article appeared on Frommer's board the other day. If you are a first time cruiser you will find it enlightning.

What Does it Really Cost to Take a Cruise?

By Heidi Sarna

March 11, 2009

There's no denying there's never been a better time to cruise if you can spare the cash. Prices are low and the incentives are aplenty, from free on-board spending credits to cabin upgrades. But of course there's the proverbial fine print. Once you're on board, the many extras add up faster than you can say "$499 per person for a 7-night Caribbean cruise." You can double or triple that amount depending on your drinking, spa, and touring habits (if you're a gambler, then add that much more on to the tab). If you think cruises are all-inclusive, think again. The most inclusive are the luxury lines (Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, and SeaDream Yacht Club), as they throw booze, tips, and typically these days a shore excursion or two into the fare. Otherwise, the upfront cruise price includes meals and entertainment, but little else.

It seems the mass-market lines with the lowest prices (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, and NCL) are also the ones who go overboard pushing extras.

"We get our greatest number of complaints about these lines nickel and diming passengers to death and hustling something all the time, even over the PA system," says Charlie Funk, co-owner of Just Cruisin' Plus (tel. 800/888-0922; www.justcruisinplus.com)

Of course you can always just say no. Ways to save include cutting down on the consumption of beer, wine, cocktails, and soda (at meal times, coffee, tea, milk and juices are free and typically ice water and tea are offered 24 hours a day). If you're addicted to the stuff, many lines offer soda discount cards, but be sure to understand the fine print, sometimes the deal isn't as good as it seems.

"As for spa treatments, I have found massages to be terribly overpriced and the quality oft times inferior to shore side. Plus, on some ships the massage therapists are very assertive about a gratuity," says Funk.

To Eric Maryanov, president of All-Travel (tel. 866/565-3214; www.all-travel.com), the most offensive supplemental charges are those levied to use spa pools and special relaxation areas, public spaces that should be free for everyone to use. One of tackiest product-pushing moments I've had of late was on a Royal Caribbean cruise in Europe, when staff members hawked cruise videos (the ships' photo crews take a video of the cruise and ports all week) by parading up and down the aisles of the show lounge before curtain call...it was like the they were selling peanuts and Cracker Jacks at Shea Stadium. It was a new all time low.

"Onboard spending is a far greater revenue component for cruise lines than 20 years ago. Then, the ticket price represented perhaps 80% of the money the cruise line collected for the cruise, today it's as little as 40%," says Funk.

Big surprise then that the cruise lines are coming up with more and more ways for you to spend your money once on board. Hey, no one is forcing you to buy stuff, but just be aware of what you'll really spend for that 7-night bargain cruise of your dreams.

To illustrate my point, I did a little case study. Here's what my family of four typically spends on a week-long cruise once we walk up that gang way and join the conga line.


I usually sign up for one or two treatments -- my little (err, big) indulgence of the week, considering cruise ship spa prices are obscenely high (and this coming from a New Yorker).

$149 ($119 massage + $30 tip) $119 ($89 discount combo treatment + $20 tip)


If there's an alternative restaurant, my husband and I will definitely try it at least one evening if not two to enjoy the more intimate surroundings and usually better cuisine than the main venues.

$120 ($30 per person per night)


We're water drinkers. While we drink the free tap water in the restaurants whenever possible, we avoid it in the cabins (even though water from the cabin bathroom tap is the same as what's offered in the restaurants, it just doesn't seem as palatable!).

$40 ($4 per bottle of Evian times 10) $50 ($5 per coffee -- 7 specialty coffees for hubby and 3 for me)


If you like your drink, ca-ching ca-ching, you'll pay the price at the end of your cruise when the bill comes!

$466 ($200 for 4 bottles of wine + $224 for a cocktail or two each before and/or after dinner at about $8 a pop on average Â…plus the 10% service charge added on to the bills)

Shore Excursions

We prefer touring solo in port whenever possible for the flexibility and usually cheaper cost. However, in some cases it does make more sense to go with the organized tour, for example in Alaska or when you really want the services of a guide narrating what you're seeing)

$600 (8 tours at $75 each. This is a cheap tour, by the way; if you spring for pricey tours in say 4 ports, expect a family of four to spend more than $2,000!)

Gift Shop Purchases

I don't know about you, but I'm not a big shopper. Still, since I never seem to have the time or inclination to do it at home, when I'm on a cruise lulling about on a long, slow sea day, well I do find myself hitting the shops to pick up things for Christmas, birthdays and well, just for plain 'ole me.

$175 ($100 for t-shirts and caps for friends back home; $75 for impulse buys -- flip flops, souvenir shot glasses and earrings)


They're not mandatory, but considering the hard-working waiters and cabin stewards rely on tips for the vast majority of their salary, ethically, you gotta fork over the dough if you were satisfied with the service.

$280 ($10 a day times 4 people; note: on some lines kids under 12 can tip half)

Total: $1,999 for extras + $1,996 for a bargain-basement $499 a person cruise ticket for four.

Grand total: $3,995
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Old March 14th, 2009, 09:57 PM
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on our cruise on the Diamond...we didnt have to spend a cent if we didnt wish to..

there was decent coffee, tea and iced tea all day along with water.

there was an ice cream bar set up at 3.30pm every day for one hour if you really missed the icecream. Yes there is a soda fountain and at 17.50 for 10 i didnt think it a bad deal - but didnt miss it that much to purchase one in 25 days of cruising.

we did purchase soda cards, but I dont think we would again. Whilst the value is not bad, the drinks are not good, watered down and not what they are supose to taste like so I think next time we will drink water.

IF you buy canned soft drinks you will pay alot of money - so not an option for me.

there were 5 totally free restaurants on board plus a pizza and hamburger place as well

so my experience is that if you dont wish to spend another cent you dont have to. except the added graturity - which the staff earn!

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Old March 15th, 2009, 07:59 PM
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Just so you know the coffee generally available for free on Princess is actually made from syrup (or at least it was on my last trip). They do offer free ice cream outside of meal times once a day, usually 3PM or so in the buffet area. Ask what time they will be serving it. The ice cream is home made, which is why it melts so quickly.

If you prefer brewed coffee or fancier coffee drinks they offer a card, though they don't really push it like the soda cards.

Internet is extra and is expensive. Unless you need it, your best bet will be ashore where Internet cafés are plenty and offer some inexpensive access.

If you go to the art auction they sometimes offer free chumpaign. (I call it that because it's really sparkling wine made in the methode Coca-Cola instead of the methode Champaignois.) Most of the activities are included, they often write if there is an extra charge, but no harm in asking. Most of the arts and crafts are included except some of the pottery stuff. Bingo is definitely extra. Room service is free, but you are expected to tip. Alcohol is extra. Fancy coffee drinks, flowers and photos are also extra. I may have missed something, if I remember, I'll come back. Hope this helps.
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