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by Elzette Smith (ReviewA)
on March 20th, 2019
In a previous blog we established that an ocean cruise ship vacation out at sea in the open waters, other happy vacationers like yourself, and of course, delicious food in abundance, is the vacation that almost everyone would like to experience at some time or other.  Depending on your package, this floating holiday resort will often include stopping in several ports for the day, a variety of restaurants, dining rooms, bars and a range of on-board attractions and entertainment.

Cruises are usually great value for money, with many things included for free in your package but there will most likely be extra costs to consider.  Here are a few extra costs you may incur:

1.         Cash on Board?
Because most cruises to work on cashless systems, with all (or most) onboard purchases charged to the guest's account, you will most likely not need cash.  At the end of your cruise, you will most likely be provided with an itemized bill that lists all the charged expenses you incurred. This is a great way for you to confirm or dispute any inaccurate charges. Once you are happy with the final bill, the total amount will be charged to the credit card you have provided.

2.         Buy Travel Insurance
Nobody plans for bad things to happen when you are on your dream vacation, but we all know that we need to be prepared and covered for the unexpected. By taking out travel insurance you are essentially covering yourself against travel risks. In case of sickness, injury, delays, lost baggage, or other unfortunate mishaps, travel insurance will cover any losses or costs incurred.

3.         Alcohol Policy
For some, alcohol is a big draw on cruises which get quite a bit of their revenue from alcohol and policies regarding taking alcohol on board are inclined to be quite strict. Some cruise lines will allow you to bring at least one bottle of your favourite wine and/or Champagne on board. Other cruise lines state that alcohol bought at ports or at duty free will be kept by the cruise line and given back to you at the end of the cruise.  You may also want to check how much the corkage fee is for each bottle of wine or Champagne you take on board.

To avoid disappointment, it is good to know in advance the alcohol policy of your cruise line on their website or contacting their customer service contact centre.

4.         Have Cash on Hand for Tipping
Our suggestion is to always check the fine print of your cruise agreement: Tips may be charged automatically to your account. Most gratuities on the ship are included, especially for your meals. Some cruises allow guests who don't want to use credit cards to make cash deposits at the beginning of the trip. Find out if gratuities are automatically added to your account and whether it's possible to have them cancelled if you prefer discretionary cash tipping. If in doubt, the friendly Guest Relations desk or services should be able to assist you. Even guests who opt to have gratuities charged to their accounts may want to reward extraordinary service by handing over a little cash at the end of the cruise. Porters are often on hand to carry your bags, room service is available around the clock, and a waiter may give you extra good service.  Having extra cash on hand will give you the opportunity to show your appreciation for the individuals on the ship who go out of their way to make your cruise vacation an unforgettable experience.

5.         Spend on Shore Excursions
Did you know that there are more than 500 different ports of call worldwide, and when the ship arrives most passengers will want to visit the tourist attractions?  Most cruise lines offer a variety of organised shore excursions that are sold either when booking your cruise, or on board prior to arriving at the ports.  You can book a shore excursion on board the ship, but we recommend booking as early as possible to take advantage of any promotional discounts and to avoid spots being filled up.  

Shore excursion tours are not mandatory, and you are welcome explore on your own for nothing. You can choose to walk, hail a cab, rent a car or pre-arrange a private tour guide to meet you on the pier.  Whilst you can book an excursion with a tour company that specializes in shore excursions for passengers, we recommend rather booking through the cruise line so that they will not leave without your tour group in the event of a delay.

Many passengers make the mistake of totally avoiding shore excursions because of the extra expense. While many shore excursions that run for just a few hours can be a bit costly, they are worth it.  And remember, you can choose excursions that you can afford.  It is after all, YOUR vacation.

Shore excursions are a great opportunity for you to explore the new destination you are visiting. Prior to docking at the port, enquire about the local must-see landmarks, food tours, or take a trip to a renowned village nearby to see how the locals live.

Our aim at The ReviewA is to assist you in being able to enjoy your cruise experience without the frustration of hidden and unexpected costs you did not budget for.  After reading through a few of the most common costs you may incur, if you are still unsure, it may be a good idea to connect with someone who can help you to responsibly plan a cruise catered to your specific needs. Travel agencies can assist you book cheap flights, find the right ship and cabin location, and help you get great promotions and perks once you’re on board. Most travel agents are experts when it comes to cruises, and assisting you is just one of the many ways they can save you the stress of unexpected costs.

And don’t forget to read all the “fine print” and ask questions if you are unsure of anything.  

Have you been on an ocean cruise and incurred extra unexpected costs?  Or, were you well informed? Tell us about your experience and what you would advise others in planning their budget expenses on their ocean cruise.  We look forward to hearing about your cruise budgets.

P.S. Be sure to tell us all about your awesome experience at www.thereviewa.com.