Here’s Why Cruise Ship Vacations Are Much More Expensive Than They Seem 

Veronica Walsingham
Updated August 7, 2018 49.4k views 12 items

Cruise ship vacations don’t seem expensive. Passengers get promised a dream vacation, with lodging, meals, and entertainment included in the bargain - only to discover the real cost when the vacation ends. The rising price starts with the addition of souvenirs and premium dining fees. The other secret cruise ship costs, meanwhile, sneak up on even the most frugal and aware passengers when they receive their final bill.

Cruise ships have lost some of their allure over time. As potential passengers learn about cruise ship crimes and cruise ship disappearances, they may be more hesitant to sip that piña colada while sailing into the sunset. Many employees have even spilled shocking cruise secrets (like the mandatory room for dead bodies). And now, you can get the rundown on all the hidden fees of a cruise ship vacation.

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Want To Stay Connected? Wi-Fi May Cost You $45 Per Hour

Posting fabulous vacation photos to Instagram may be part of the fun, but on a cruise, it'll cost you. While people expect complimentary Wi-Fi in everywhere from coffee shops to bars to airports, cruise ships only offer Wi-Fi at a steep cost.

Some cruise lines charge $15 to $25 per day for unlimited Wi-Fi, but it depends on the quality of their internet and how many other passengers have already purchased access. If a passenger would rather go online à la carte, access can be purchased for around $0.75 per minute, with discounts for larger blocks of time. Despite the high cost, these satellite-based internet connections are typically slower and less dependable than the connections back home.

There's An Automatic Gratuity Tacked Onto Pretty Much Everything

Hopefully, passengers enjoy the clean, animal-shaped towels left in their cabin - because they're paying for them. Many cruise lines tack on a $9 to $12 gratuity every day, which is shared among the housekeeping staff. There is also a mandatory gratuity of 15% to 18% for all alcoholic beverages. Obviously, the staff deserves the compensation, but it's best to know about these charges in advance, since they can add up by the end of a trip.

Your Coffee Is Free, But Your Latte Costs Extra

If a passenger prefers a latte instead of coffee, it'll cost extra. Generally, cruises provide tap water, juice, milk, and coffee. A bottled water can cost $5 and a can of Coke during dinner costs about half that. Some cruise lines offer “bottomless bubbles,” but it's not a champagne special. Instead, it’s a bottomless soda package for $6.50 per day. So, it’s not just those frozen piña coladas that cost passengers a little extra dough.

Expect Corkage Fees If You Bring Your Own Wine

Some cruise lines allow passengers to carry on one bottle of wine or champagne, which can be enjoyed at dinner or to toast in the privacy of their own cabin. While this seems like a frugal way to drink onboard, that bottle of wine comes with a fee of its own.

Cruise lines typically charge a corkage fee, which can be as high as $25 per bottle. Other lines allow passengers to bring an unlimited amount of wine onboard for a flat corkage fee, letting passengers save a little money on the trip.