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Rookie Mistakes – #3 Money Issues

This is another mistake I see people making all the time.  Here is the best advice I can give you for a cruise – bring HALF the clothes and TWICE the money.  Seriously!

I see a lot of glum faces on the last day of a cruise because that’s when the shipboard bills show up.  So many times people get suckered into thinking that everything is FREE once they step on board a ship.  If you think that you are CRAAAAAZY!

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Shipboard life can be VERY expensive indeed.  In my earlier post – How to Enjoy a Cruise Without Going Broke or Getting Fat, I talk a lot more in-depth about the money aspects of a cruise.  So I’ll just hit the highlights.  Here are some ways to spend a LOT of money on a cruise.

  • Casino – the odds are MUCH worse than you would get anywhere else because you are a captive audience
  • Bar bill – enjoy yourself, but don’t go crazy.  Cruises make most of their money on overpriced alcohol
  • Spa fees – it’s a fun way to pass the time, but figure a 100% markup from what you’re used to.
  • Champagne Art Auction – seriously?  Who buys art on a ship?  You’d be surprised.  You’d also be surprised at the prices.  They also have other shopping “opportunities” that they will advertise heavily.
  • Gym fees and fitness classes – You can walk or run on deck for FREE, so I never get this one.  Pricey!
  • Specialty Restaurants – This is fine for a one-time splurge, but these specialty restaurants have a very high markup.  So unless you are a big-time foodie, stick to the main dining room and the free buffets.
  • Tux Rental – Just don’t.  My husband rented a tux for a week from a local shop for less than he could have gotten one for just ONE of the formal nights, and had a lot better selection.
  • Shopping – You do want a few souvenirs, but don’t go CRAZY.  Anything you buy, you have to get back home in one piece.
  • Photography – This is another big ticket item.  You will feel like a movie star fending off the paparazzi – they have a whole staff of photographers taking pictures constantly.  But, it’s like $10-$15 bucks for an 8 X 10 glossy. Just say no.  Although, I usually buy a few – they are pretty nice pictures, especially on formal night.

Excursions – Honestly, I think this is the one place you SHOULD spend a lot of money on a cruise.  I’m not going to travel halfway around the world to just go and sit on a beach somewhere.

Excursions aren’t cheap, but the experiences are so WORTH IT.  Swim with the dolphins, zipline through the rain forest, visit a butterfly farm, take a catamaran or a jeep ride – to me, these are the POINT of the whole cruise.

Just be sensible – read the online reviews on the cruise boards – ask the repeat cruisers which ones are the best value.  Plan around your fitness level and the party of folks you are bringing – some things aren’t a good fit for restless kids, out-of-shape couch potatoes, or people who are older and have limited mobility.  The Excursion Desk will be more than happy to help you with any questions.  PS:  For the best availability book your excursions about a month before your cruise.  Some popular options will sell out quickly.

My rule of thumb about the money is to plan on spending about the same amount as the cruise itself.  This covers a modest bar bill, excursions, tips (which can add up, but I don’t mind – these folks work HARD), and a bit extra for shopping.

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Next up is the important stuff that can really make or break your cruise.

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