:::: MENU ::::

Let’s talk about hidden cruise costs…


My husband went on one of those cheap cruises to Mexico for my brother’s bachelor party. It seemed like a really good deal – $99 for the three day trip.

‘SEEMED’ being the operative word here.

Would you like a towel to use at the pool? Sure, that will be $22.99 – and he didn’t get to keep the towel. He didn’t realize the towels had to be returned by 9:30 at night and was fined the full $22.99.

Endless soda with your meal? $4.99

Oh, and let’s not forget the mandatory gratuity of $150 per cabin.

What started as a ‘cheap’ bachelor party turned out to be quite a zinger to the pocket book… a $230 zinger to be specific.

Be very careful when cruising and be aware of any rental fees and times. You can check your tab at any time to see what you are being charged for, so it’s a good idea to check it daily.


  • Reply Gay B |

    Thank you so much for this post. I am going on my first cruise next month and have no idea how all this works. I’ll be sure to pay attention.

  • Reply Honey |

    I think that the cost of a cruise is pretty fixed…either you will pay for it up front and not have to worry about it again, or you will go on a “cheap” cruise and this happens. Le sigh.

  • Reply MM |

    $230 for 3 days is only $77/day. You paid more than twice that daily rate for dinner and a club in one night in Vegas. So while I understand it was more than you’re anticipating, it still is a relatively small amount per day for a trip + food + drinks.

    Also, I have cruised several times and find that the gratuities, etc. are listed in the information you get with your tickets. The gratuities, in fact, can be taken off your account entirely or modified to be higher or lower, depending on your happiness with the service (or frugality). Just an FYI for next time.

  • Reply L Wilson |

    I’m with MM. I’ve gone on several cruises – about 17 total. All that information is sent out with your tickets. Your meals and regular juices are included. You do not have to get soda, you can choose to drink water or juice. Also, I’ve found cruises to be of great value. Unlimited food and juice and entertainment for whatever you pay to get on. $230 for 3 days was a great bargain!!!

  • Reply Will |

    Wow, those charges seem pretty steep for any vacation. I guess since your on the boat there’s no where else for you to go, they have you at the mercy of the Cruise company. However their business model of cheap travel make money on the incidentals will back fire when they don’t have anymore first time travelers. That model won’t get repeat business. But good idea on checking the tab daily.

  • Reply David@DINKS Finance |

    That still seems pretty cheap. I have never been on a cruise, but really want to go on one. I was warned by Money Ning about the steep internet access fees, so that’s one thing I will watch out for.

    Could your husband have brought his own towels to use to avoid the fee??

    Thanks for the warnings, though. I will be super cautious if I ever go on one of these cheap cruises.

  • Reply Margot |

    Better yet, don’t take luxury trips (and just about any trip is a luxury) when you’re in debt and the stated goal is to pay it off. “Bargain” travel almost always has “gotcha” things built in. And it’s not a bargain if it comes out of money one doesn’t really have.

  • Reply Matt |

    I have been on a few cruises and have to say even with the extra charges, I believe they are the best value around. The 150 gratuity for 3 days is extreme. That is about what Princess charges for me and my wife for an entire week. Repeat cruising is the best because now I know to bring my own case of soda, etc. Saves a bundle.

So, what do you think ?