Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

How Much Money Do You Spend On A Cruise


by Cally Musgrove



A cruise vacation offers a perfect blend of relaxation, exploration, and luxury on the high seas. Whether you’re dreaming of sailing through the Caribbean islands, exploring the stunning fjords in Alaska, or visiting exotic destinations in Asia, a cruise can be an exciting and memorable experience.


However, before embarking on a cruise adventure, it’s important to consider the cost implications. While cruises offer all-inclusive options that cover accommodation, meals, and onboard activities, there are several factors that can affect the overall cost of your cruise vacation.


In this article, we will explore the various expenses you may encounter while on a cruise and provide some insights on how to manage your budget effectively. From accommodation and dining costs to shore excursions and onboard activities, we will cover it all to help you understand how much money you can expect to spend on a cruise.


By understanding the different cost components and factors that can influence your spending, you can plan and budget accordingly, ensuring that your cruise vacation aligns with your financial goals.


So, let’s dive into the details and discover how much money you might spend on a cruise, allowing you to make informed decisions and maximize the value of your cruising experience.


Factors Affecting Cruise Costs

When it comes to determining the cost of a cruise, several factors can influence the overall expenses you will incur. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key factors:

  1. Destination: The location of your cruise plays a significant role in determining the cost. Popular cruise destinations like the Caribbean or Mediterranean tend to have a wider range of options at various price points. On the other hand, more remote or exclusive destinations can be pricier.
  2. Time of Year: The timing of your cruise can greatly impact the cost. Peak seasons, such as holidays and school vacations, often come with higher prices due to increased demand. Traveling during off-peak seasons, like shoulder or low season, can offer more affordable rates.
  3. Cruise Line and Ship: Different cruise lines offer varying levels of luxury, amenities, and services. From budget-friendly options to ultra-luxurious experiences, the price range can vary significantly. The age and size of the ship can also affect pricing, with newer and larger vessels generally commanding higher rates.
  4. Cabin Type: The type of cabin you choose can impact the cost of your cruise. Inside cabins are usually the most affordable, while ocean-view, balcony, and suite cabins tend to be more expensive. The amenities and views associated with each cabin category contribute to the price difference.
  5. Cruise Length: The duration of your cruise also affects the overall cost. Longer cruises typically come with higher price tags, as they offer more days of accommodation, meals, and entertainment. Shorter cruises or weekend getaways can be more cost-effective options.
  6. Extras and Upgrades: Additional services and enhancements, such as specialty dining, beverage packages, spa treatments, Wi-Fi access, and onboard activities, can add to the overall expenditure. While these extras can enhance your cruise experience, it’s important to factor in the additional costs.

By considering these factors, you can have a better understanding of the potential costs associated with your cruise vacation. It’s always wise to research different cruise options, compare prices, and assess your preferences and priorities to find the best value for your money.


Cruise Fare Breakdown

Understanding the breakdown of a cruise fare can help you get a clear picture of what is included and what additional expenses you might encounter. While different cruise lines and itineraries offer varying fare structures, here are some common components:

  1. Accommodation: The cost of your cabin is typically included in the cruise fare. The type of cabin you choose will determine the price, with inside cabins being the most affordable and suites being the most luxurious and expensive.
  2. Meals: Most cruise fares include meals at the main dining venues on the ship. You can expect to enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as snacks throughout the day. Specialty restaurants may incur an additional fee.
  3. Basic Beverages: Non-alcoholic beverages like water, coffee, tea, and select juices are generally included in the cruise fare. Alcoholic beverages, soda, and other specialty drinks may require an additional cost or a beverage package.
  4. Entertainment and Activities: Cruise fares typically cover access to various onboard entertainment options like live shows, musical performances, comedy acts, and activities such as swimming pools, fitness centers, and game rooms.
  5. Port Charges and Taxes: These charges, imposed by government authorities and port authorities, are usually included in the cruise fare. They cover the cost of docking and operating at different ports of call.

It’s important to note that while these components are typically included in the cruise fare, there may still be additional expenses to consider. Optional upgrades, specialty dining experiences, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments, Wi-Fi access, and shore excursions often come with an extra fee.


By understanding the breakdown of the cruise fare, you can plan ahead and budget accordingly. Take the time to review the specific inclusions of your chosen cruise line and itinerary to get a comprehensive understanding of what is covered and what may require an additional cost.


Accommodation Expenses

Accommodation expenses make up a significant portion of the overall cost of a cruise. The type of cabin you choose will determine the price range and comfort level of your stay onboard. Here are some common cabin options and their corresponding costs:

  1. Inside Cabin: Inside cabins are the most affordable option and usually located on the lower decks of the ship. They typically feature a cozy interior without any windows or balcony. While they may be smaller in size, they provide a comfortable and budget-friendly option for those who plan to spend most of their time exploring the ship and ports of call.
  2. Ocean-View Cabin: Ocean-view cabins offer the advantage of having a window or porthole, allowing you to enjoy natural light and glimpse the ocean. The price of an ocean-view cabin is typically higher than that of an inside cabin, but it provides a bit more space and the ability to enjoy the view from your room.
  3. Balcony Cabin: Balcony cabins provide the luxury of a private balcony, where you can enjoy the ocean breeze and stunning views throughout your cruise. These cabins tend to be more spacious and come at a higher price point compared to inside and ocean-view cabins. Having your own outdoor space is perfect for relaxing, taking in the scenery, or enjoying a private meal.
  4. Suite: Suites are the most luxurious and spacious accommodations onboard. They often include a separate living area, a larger balcony, enhanced amenities, and additional perks like priority boarding and access to exclusive spaces. Suites come with a higher price tag, but they offer a lavish and indulgent experience for those seeking the ultimate in comfort and luxury.

It’s important to consider your preferences, needs, and budget when choosing your cabin type. While a suite may provide the utmost luxury, it may not be necessary if you plan to spend most of your time exploring the ship and ports of call. On the other hand, if you value privacy and a balcony to enjoy the views, investing in a balcony cabin may be worth it for you.


Keep in mind that prices for accommodation can vary not only based on the cabin type but also on factors such as the cruise line, ship, destination, and time of year. Research different options, compare prices, and read reviews to find the best value for your money.


Dining and Beverage Costs

When it comes to dining on a cruise, there are typically a variety of options available, each with its own cost considerations. Here are some factors to keep in mind when budgeting for dining and beverages on a cruise:

  1. Main Dining Room: Most cruise lines include meals in the main dining room as part of the cruise fare. These dining venues offer a range of dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and they often provide a formal dining experience with assigned seating. It’s important to note that while the main dining room meals are typically included, certain menu items like premium cuts of meat or special dishes may incur an additional fee.
  2. Specialty Restaurants: Many cruise ships offer specialty restaurants that provide unique dining experiences and a broader range of culinary options. Specialty restaurants may serve cuisines such as Italian, steakhouse, seafood, or Asian fusion. These restaurants often require a reservation and charge an additional fee per person. Prices can vary depending on the restaurant and the level of exclusivity.
  3. Beverage Packages: Cruise lines often offer beverage packages that allow you to enjoy a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for a fixed price per day. These packages can be a cost-effective option if you plan to consume a significant amount of beverages during your cruise. However, it’s important to consider your drinking habits and preferences to determine if a beverage package is worth it for you.
  4. Specialty Coffees and Drinks: Onboard cafes and bars may offer specialty coffees, teas, and other specialty drinks that are not included in the cruise fare. These drinks, such as lattes, cappuccinos, smoothies, and cocktails, typically have an additional charge. If you have specific preferences for these beverages, it’s important to factor them into your budget.
  5. Room Service: While many cruise lines offer complimentary room service, certain items or 24-hour room service may come with an additional fee. It’s a convenient option for enjoying a meal or snack in the comfort of your cabin, but make sure to check if there are any charges associated with the items you order.

By considering these dining and beverage costs, you can plan your budget accordingly and prioritize which dining experiences and drinks are most important to you. It’s worth noting that some cruise lines may offer dining packages that include specialty restaurants or beverage packages as part of their promotions. It’s always beneficial to explore these options and see if they align with your preferences and budget.


Shore Excursion Expenses

One of the highlights of a cruise vacation is the opportunity to explore different ports of call and immerse yourself in exciting shore excursions. However, it’s important to budget for these activities, as they can significantly impact your overall cruise expenses. Here’s what you need to know about shore excursion expenses:

  1. Ship-Sponsored Excursions: Cruise lines typically offer a range of curated shore excursions that can be booked through them. These excursions are led by knowledgeable guides and provide organized transportation to and from the ship. While convenient, these excursions can be more expensive compared to independent options.
  2. Independent Excursions: If you prefer more flexibility and potentially lower costs, you may consider booking excursions independently. Local tour operators and guides often offer a variety of experiences, allowing you to customize your itinerary and explore the destination at your own pace. It’s important to research and book reputable operators in advance to ensure a smooth experience.
  3. Free or Self-Guided Explorations: In some ports of call, you may find that certain attractions or landmarks are within walking distance from the ship, and you can explore them on your own for free. This can be a budget-friendly option if you prefer a more leisurely and independent exploration of the destination.
  4. Adventure and Water Activities: Depending on the port and destination, you may have the opportunity to participate in thrilling activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, ziplining, or jet skiing. These activities often come with additional fees, but they can provide unforgettable experiences and memories.
  5. Cultural Experiences and Sightseeing: Cultural tours, visits to historical landmarks, or guided sightseeing tours are popular shore excursions that offer insights into the local culture and history of the destination. Depending on the location and the itinerary, prices may vary.

When budgeting for shore excursions, consider your interests, preferences, and activity level. It’s essential to research the activities available at each port of call, identify the ones that align with your interests, and plan accordingly. Keep in mind that some excursions may have limited availability, so booking in advance is recommended to secure your spot.


Remember to factor in additional costs such as transportation to and from the excursion, entrance fees, and any necessary equipment rental. By budgeting wisely and selecting the excursions that truly interest you, you can make the most of your time on land while staying within your desired spending range.


Onboard Activities and Entertainment Expenses

When you’re not exploring ports of call, a cruise ship offers a plethora of onboard activities and entertainment options to keep you entertained throughout your voyage. From live performances to recreational activities, here’s what you need to know about onboard activities and their potential expenses:

  1. Live Shows and Performances: Cruise ships often feature engaging live entertainment, including Broadway-style shows, musical performances, comedy acts, magic shows, and more. While these shows are typically included in the cruise fare, it’s essential to arrive early or make reservations as some venues have limited seating capacity.
  2. Casino and Gambling: If you enjoy games of chance, cruise ships usually have onboard casinos where you can try your luck. However, it’s important to note that gambling expenses are not included in the cruise fare, and you should set a budget beforehand to ensure responsible gaming.
  3. Sports and Fitness Activities: Cruise ships offer a range of sports and fitness facilities, including gyms, jogging tracks, basketball courts, rock climbing walls, and more. Access to these facilities is typically included in the cruise fare. However, some specialty classes or personal training sessions may come with an additional fee.
  4. Spa and Wellness: Cruise ships often have luxurious spas that offer various treatments, including massages, facials, and body wraps. These spa services typically come at an additional cost, and it’s recommended to book them in advance to secure your desired treatment time.
  5. Art Auctions and Galleries: Some cruise lines host art auctions or have onboard art galleries showcasing a variety of artworks. If you’re interested in purchasing art, be aware that it comes with a price tag, and participating in auctions may involve additional expenses.
  6. Workshops and Enrichment Programs: Many cruise lines offer workshops and enrichment programs on topics such as cooking, photography, dance, and more. While some of these activities may be included in the cruise fare, others may require a separate fee or reservation.

It’s important to review the daily cruise itinerary and activity schedule to plan your participation in onboard activities and entertainment. Some activities may have limited availability or require early registration, so it’s recommended to plan ahead to secure your spot.


By budgeting for onboard activities and entertainment, you can make the most of your cruise experience and enjoy a wide range of engaging and entertaining options that cater to your interests.


Spa and Wellness Expenses

One of the key aspects of a cruise vacation is relaxation and rejuvenation, and cruise ships often provide comprehensive spa and wellness facilities to cater to this need. However, it’s important to budget for these services, as they typically come at an additional cost. Here’s what you need to know about spa and wellness expenses on a cruise:

  1. Spa Treatments: Cruise ship spas offer a wide range of treatments and therapies, including massages, facials, body wraps, and beauty treatments. These services offer a luxurious and pampering experience but come with an additional price. Prices can vary depending on the type of treatment, duration, and complexity.
  2. Salon Services: Cruise ship salons provide hairstyling, nail care, and beauty services. If you want to get a haircut, manicure, pedicure, or any other salon service, you can expect to incur an extra cost. It’s recommended to book these services in advance to secure your desired appointment time.
  3. Fitness Classes and Personal Training: Many cruise ships have fitness centers equipped with modern exercise equipment. Additionally, they offer fitness classes like yoga, Pilates, spin classes, and more. While usage of the fitness center may be included in the cruise fare, participating in specialized classes or hiring a personal trainer may come with an additional fee.
  4. Thermal Suites and Relaxation Areas: Some cruise ship spas feature thermal suites, saunas, steam rooms, and relaxation areas for you to unwind and rejuvenate. Access to these spaces may require an additional fee or be included in a spa package.
  5. Wellness Programs: Many cruise lines offer wellness programs that include activities like meditation sessions, fitness workshops, nutrition seminars, and more. While some aspects of these programs may be complimentary, certain specialized workshops or seminars may have an additional cost.

When budgeting for spa and wellness expenses, consider the type of treatments or services you are interested in and their associated costs. It may be beneficial to review the spa menu or package options in advance to get an idea of the prices and select the services that align with your preferences and budget.


It’s worth noting that spa and wellness facilities on cruise ships tend to be in high demand, especially during peak times. To secure your preferred appointment time, it’s advisable to book spa treatments and salon services well in advance.


By planning and budgeting for spa and wellness expenses, you can indulge in a pampering experience, relax your body and mind, and enhance your overall cruise vacation.


Souvenirs and Shopping Expenses

Exploring different ports of call during a cruise offers a fantastic opportunity to indulge in some souvenir shopping and bring back mementos of your trip. However, it’s important to allocate a budget for souvenirs and shopping expenses, as it can be easy to overspend in the excitement of discovering unique items. Here’s what you need to know about souvenirs and shopping expenses on a cruise:

  1. Ports of Call Shopping: Each port of call you visit will likely have its own shopping opportunities, ranging from local markets and shops to upscale boutiques. Take the time to browse and explore the local offerings, and keep in mind that prices can vary from one location to another.
  2. Local Crafts and Artwork: Many destinations are known for their unique handicrafts, artwork, and locally-made products. These authentic souvenirs can make for meaningful and cherished keepsakes. However, it’s important to consider the cost of these items, especially if they are handcrafted or made using traditional methods.
  3. Duty-Free Shopping: Cruise ship onboard shops often provide duty-free shopping opportunities, including luxury jewelry, watches, cosmetics, fragrances, and more. These duty-free items can offer savings compared to retail prices on land, but it’s still important to compare prices and exercise caution when making purchases.
  4. Excursion-Specific Shopping: Some shore excursions may include visits to local markets, shops, or factory outlets. These excursions can offer a unique shopping experience and an opportunity to find specialty items or exclusive discounts. However, it’s essential to consider the prices and quality of the items before making a purchase.
  5. Budgeting for Souvenirs: To avoid overspending on souvenirs, it’s helpful to set a budget for your shopping activities. Determine an amount that you are comfortable spending on souvenirs and stick to it. Prioritize the items that have the most significance to you or that you genuinely love.

Remember to also consider any customs regulations and restrictions that may be applicable when purchasing items abroad, especially when it comes to certain goods like alcohol, tobacco, and wildlife products.


By planning and budgeting for souvenirs and shopping expenses, you can enjoy the pleasure of bringing back meaningful keepsakes from your cruise vacation without breaking the bank.


Tips and Gratuities

When going on a cruise, it’s important to be mindful of the tipping and gratuity expectations. Many cruise lines have specific guidelines regarding gratuities to ensure that the onboard staff is adequately compensated for their exceptional service. Here’s what you need to know about tips and gratuities on a cruise:

  1. Automatic Gratuities: Most cruise lines have a mandatory automatic gratuity policy where a set amount is added to your onboard account each day. This amount is distributed among the various staff members who provide services, such as your cabin steward, dining room staff, and housekeeping. The automatic gratuities are often added to your final bill at the end of the cruise.
  2. Additional Tips: While the automatic gratuities cover the essential service staff, it’s customary to provide additional tips for exceptional service. If a specific crew member goes above and beyond to make your cruise experience memorable, you may choose to offer them an additional tip as a token of appreciation.
  3. Specialty Services and Crew Members: Some cruise ship services, such as spa treatments, specialty dining, or bar service, may have a gratuity automatically added to the bill. If you receive exceptional service from a crew member in these areas, it’s still appreciated to provide additional tips to show your gratitude.
  4. Cash or Onboard Account: You have the option to provide tips in cash or charge them to your onboard account. If you choose to use cash, it’s advisable to have small denominations available for easy distribution. Charging tips to your onboard account allows for a streamlined process and the convenience of settling your final bill at the end of the cruise.
  5. Prepaid Gratuities: Some cruise lines offer the option to prepay your gratuities before the cruise. This ensures that the gratuity amount is taken care of in advance, and you don’t have to worry about it during your vacation.

It’s important to review the specific gratuity policies of your chosen cruise line and familiarize yourself with their guidelines. This will help you plan and budget accordingly for tipping and gratuities, ensuring that you can show appreciation for the hard work and exceptional service provided by the onboard staff.


By tipping generously and acknowledging exceptional service, you not only support the hardworking crew members but also contribute to maintaining a positive cruise experience for yourself and fellow passengers.


Additional Costs to Consider

While a cruise vacation often includes many amenities and services, there are some additional costs to keep in mind when planning and budgeting for your trip. Being aware of these potential expenses allows you to better prepare and avoid any surprises during your cruise. Here are some additional costs to consider:

  1. Gratuities: While we discussed tips and gratuities in a separate section, it’s important to keep in mind that gratuities can be an additional cost and are often automatically added to your final bill. Make sure to factor in these charges when budgeting for your cruise.
  2. Transportation Costs: Getting to and from the port of embarkation can involve additional expenses such as flights, ground transportation, and parking fees. Research transportation options in advance and budget accordingly.
  3. Travel Insurance: It is highly recommended to purchase travel insurance to protect yourself against unexpected events such as trip cancellations, medical emergencies, or lost luggage. The cost of travel insurance depends on factors like trip duration, coverage, and your age, so be sure to include it in your budget.
  4. Wi-Fi and Internet Access: While cruise ships offer internet access, it usually comes at an additional cost. If you plan on staying connected during your cruise, consider purchasing an internet package or budgeting for Wi-Fi expenses.
  5. Photography: Cruise ships often have professional photographers onboard who capture memorable moments during your vacation. While these photographs can be a great keepsake, they come at an extra cost. Consider if purchasing professional photos is a priority for you.
  6. Casino and Gambling Activities: If you enjoy gambling, it’s important to budget for casino expenses. Whether it’s slot machines, poker, or table games, set a limit on how much money you’re willing to spend and stick to it to avoid overspending.
  7. Laundry Services: While many cruise ships offer laundry facilities, they often come with a fee. If you prefer not to do your laundry onboard, budget for the cost of using the ship’s laundry services.
  8. Medical Services: In case of medical emergencies or the need for medical attention onboard, there may be charges associated with medical services. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the onboard medical facilities and their associated costs.

By considering these additional costs in your budget, you can ensure that you are financially prepared for your cruise vacation. Planning ahead and being aware of potential expenses will help you make informed decisions and enjoy a worry-free vacation experience.


Budgeting Tips for a Cruise Vacation

Proper budgeting is key to ensuring a stress-free and enjoyable cruise vacation. Here are some budgeting tips to help you make the most of your cruise experience without breaking the bank:

  1. Research and Compare: Before booking your cruise, research different cruise lines, itineraries, and cabin options. Compare prices and amenities to find the best value for your money. Be sure to consider the overall package, including inclusions and add-on costs.
  2. Set a Realistic Budget: Determine a budget for your cruise vacation and stick to it. Consider all possible expenses, including accommodation, dining, excursions, onboard activities, and additional costs. Allocate funds for each category to avoid overspending in any particular area.
  3. Book in Advance: Many cruise lines offer early booking discounts or promotions. By booking your cruise well in advance, you can take advantage of these deals and secure lower fares. Additionally, booking early allows you more time to save and plan your expenses accordingly.
  4. Track Your Expenses: Keep a record of your spending during the cruise to ensure you stay within your budget. Many cruise lines provide online platforms or mobile apps where you can track your onboard expenses in real-time. Regularly reviewing your expenditures can help you make adjustments if necessary.
  5. Prioritize Your Must-Do’s: Identify the activities, shore excursions, or experiences that are most important to you. Allocate a larger portion of your budget for these must-do’s and adjust your spending in other areas accordingly. This ensures that you don’t miss out on the things that matter most to you.
  6. Plan for Meals: While most main dining room meals are included in the cruise fare, consider budgeting for specialty dining experiences or additional food and beverages. If you plan to dine at specialty restaurants, factor in those costs and decide which meals you would like to enjoy there.
  7. Consider DIY Shore Excursions: While cruise line-sponsored shore excursions can be convenient, they often come with a higher price tag. Research and consider independent options or create your own self-guided tours. This can give you more flexibility and potentially save you money.
  8. Monitor Onboard Spending: Be mindful of onboard expenses such as drinks, spa treatments, shopping, and casino activities. Set limits for yourself and consider if these extras are essential to your cruise experience. Prioritize what truly matters to you and allocate a specific amount to spend on these extras.
  9. Avoid Overpacking: Pack wisely and avoid overpacking. Check the baggage policy of your chosen cruise line to avoid any excess baggage fees. Bringing fewer unnecessary items can save you money and also make your travel experience more convenient.
  10. Keep an Eye on Currency: If your cruise involves international destinations, be mindful of exchange rates and currency conversion fees. It’s advisable to plan ahead and convert a small amount of local currency for any immediate needs or small purchases.

By following these budgeting tips, you can ensure that you make the most of your cruise vacation without stretching your finances. Planning ahead, prioritizing your expenses, and tracking your spending will allow you to focus on creating lasting memories and enjoying all that your cruise has to offer.



A cruise vacation offers a unique and memorable experience, allowing you to explore stunning destinations while enjoying luxury and relaxation on the high seas. However, understanding the potential costs associated with a cruise is essential for effective budgeting and maximizing your overall experience.


In this article, we have explored the various factors that can affect cruise costs, from destination and cruise line choice to cabin type and cruise length. By considering these factors, you can make informed decisions and select a cruise that aligns with your preferences and budgetary constraints.


We have also discussed the breakdown of cruise fares, including accommodation, dining, and basic beverage costs that are typically included. However, it’s important to be aware of additional expenses, such as specialty dining, beverage packages, and onboard activities that may incur additional charges.


When budgeting for a cruise vacation, it’s important to consider other factors like shore excursion expenses, spa and wellness costs, souvenirs and shopping, as well as tips and gratuities. By accounting for these expenses in your budget, you can avoid any financial surprises and fully enjoy all aspects of your cruise.


Furthermore, we have provided budgeting tips to help you make the most of your cruise experience without overspending. Planning ahead, setting realistic budgets, and prioritizing your must-do activities can ensure that you have a memorable and enjoyable cruise vacation while staying within your financial means.


Remember that each cruise line and itinerary may have its own pricing structure and policies, so it’s important to research and compare options to find the best fit for your preferences and budget.


By being mindful of costs, planning ahead, and making informed decisions, you can embark on a cruise vacation that not only fulfills your travel dreams but also aligns with your financial goals. So, set sail with confidence and enjoy all the wonders that a cruise has to offer!