Everything You Need to Know About Onboard Expenses


Cruises are traditionally considered one of the best value ways of traveling between many different locations. This is largely down to the fact that the deals are often All Inclusive, or at the very least cover accommodation and travel in one package. No matter how complete a package may be, your personal tastes and preferences can still lead you to sample some of the additional luxuries available to the life of a cruiser.

Well, we’ve put together a list of all the expenses you ought to know about when you’re travelling on the high seas this year, so you can be well prepared.

Food and drink

Even if food is included in your package, there are always alternative dining options for cruisers. These are great opportunities to sample new cuisines, try guest menus from admired chefs or eat in themed restaurants.

Alcohol packages are usually a supplement to All Inclusive on cruise holidays, although often there will be deals for you to look out for – like this one from Celebrity Cruises. will have many bars, with different atmospheres and drink menus. If you want to reduce drinks costs, look for Happy Hour offers or even buy drinks on land. Make sure you check your cruise line’s alcohol policy before bringing anything back though.

Going ashore

I know we said this was solely about onboard expenses, but it’s important to note that when you’re hitting dry land, it’s all down to you to decide where you spend your money. This is a great opportunity to grab supplies so as to reduce your spending onboard. Providing you’ve read the terms and conditions of what you can bring back on to the cruise ship with you, you’ll be able to cut some corners easily in the food and drink department.

Many cruises will offer onshore excursions, which may include guided tour opportunities, historical site supplements or restaurant deals. These are a great way of learning about the places you’re visiting in a short time, but be aware that these could cost anywhere between £20 and £200. It’s not unlikely that you’ll find some activities cost even more – helicopter rides, for example.

Santorini, Greece

Leisure and activities

Many onboard activities are completely free, with opportunities to do sports, swim and play games throughout the ship. Onboard casinos may even win you money back, although that’s never a given. If you’re looking for something special like yoga, Pilates or even wine-tasting, these will generally cost a little bit extra. Babysitting services are often available at a price too, so be aware if you’re coming with little ones and want to run off to a new activity.

There will be plenty of opportunities to chill during your cruise holiday, and there’s nothing more relaxing than the full spa treatment. Onboard services alter their prices based on the time of season, but you’ll typically find massages go for around £80-£140, and treatments can range from £20 a day, all the way up to £500 for the more exotic options. A full list of prices will be available on your chosen ship.

Persian Garden, Celebrity Cruises

Amenities and extras

Here are the hidden costs, the things nobody remembers to mention. There’s nothing major here, but they do tend to add up. If you’re on a budget then pay close attention to the costs of onboard amenities. For example, laundry services can be pretty high. If you pack enough clothes you shouldn’t have to use them too regularly. Plus, there’s always the option to buy your own travel detergent and wash clothes yourself in your cabin sink.

Tipping is also worth keeping an eye on. The policy is much like anywhere else, ten percent, or so, per bill. However, because you’ll be dealing with a number of different bills for different things rather than one over all, it may be harder to keep track of how much extra it will all come to. Many cruise liners have their own tipping policies that are available from each company’s website. We recommend about £12.50 per day on average, but if you’re regularly cashing in on the free services then you won’t have to tip as much. Likewise, if you take advantage of all the additions we’ve mentioned here, you’ll get rid of that loose change in no time.

You can check out all our top cruise deals here.

Photo credit – Natalia Danchenko



About Emily Corner

Emily is our culture expert, she loves all things art and design and will share her insider knowledge of the coolest places to visit when abroad. The last place you will find her is laid by the pool or sunning on the beach, there's too much to explore! Emily is also a massive foodie, she's always checking out the hottest new restaurants and bars in search of the most delicious local dishes.