Thursday, March 31, 2011
Cruise 'extras' can sink your travel budget
Let me be clear, by 'deal' I don't mean booking some crammed inside room with no view, next to an elevator on an old bucket of bolts. What I am talking about is an unobstructed balcony room with a view that we nailed at a price far below the published one on a fabulous ship heading to some exciting destination.
One of the reasons that good 'ticket' price is important is that we've learned it is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the total cost of a cruise. That payment pays for that room and for as many meals and snacks as you can shovel in, (oink!) a day - pretty darn nice digs and good eats, to say the least. (For our upcoming cruise, it also pays for port fees and taxes, but that isn't always the case, so check that out before booking as we are talking a chunk of change if it is added on top of the bargain price.)
Once on board, the real spending begins: set-amount tips added to your bill at the end of the trip, beverages - (including soft drinks and specialty coffees), specialty restaurant surcharges, ship-sponsored shore excursions, spa visits, cooking classes. . .you name it and you'll probably be able to buy it or sign up for it.
The temptations and dollar-signs that go with them, can and do add up to hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars more, if you aren't keeping track of your on-board spending. And when you take a repositioning cruise like we are this spring -- the kind that that moves a ship from one part of the world to another -- the temptation to spend is hard to resist because during those six blissful days of sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, we will be on the ship 24/7, eating, drinking and entertaining ourselves. (Thankfully, on longer cruises like these you usually get a 'mid-cruise' invoice to let you see how high you've stacked the dollar signs.)
Even world events can come tapping on your cruise budget. Cruise lines clearly state that if a certain cost threshold for barrel oil is hit in the world market it will likely result in them adding an additional per day, per passenger charge for fuel. (On our upcoming cruise is is $10 per person, per day if levied = $260)
Yesterday we received an email from Cruise Critic featuring an article on ways to curb at least those tempting discretionary cruise costs. It's worth a read if taking a cruise is on your travel 'to do' list.