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Cruise Vacations:

Ten Hidden Costs of a Cruise Ship Vacation

By Marianne Schwab | Best Travel Deals Tips Blog

Cruise vacations are a great value for a vacation, but make sure you know the hidden costs of cruising that can cost you big bucks so that you can plan your vacation budget. But while a cruise voyage is one of the best values around since all major expenses (lodging, meals, snacks, activities and entertainment) are indeed included in the fare, there many items and incidentals that could break the bank for you. First, you do need to determine one of two things when you choose a cruise vacation:

1. Do you just want to stay on the ship for your entire cruise? Many people who take cruise vacations just want to stay on the ship for the entire cruise. I think this is a great idea for a short weekend cruise that can give you some much need rest and relaxation, but I wouldn't waste a great cruise itinerary with fantastic ports of call if my goal was to stay on the ship, but that's just me.

If you just want to stay on the ship for your entire cruise vacation, there is always so much to do on board that you do not have to get off the ship. Since cruise ships are floating resorts, you have plenty of activities available to you if you never set foot in a port (which many people do not) on cruise vacations.

Depending on the cruise line and the cruise ship, at the least you will be able to sunbathe or sip pina coladas poolside all day, visit the spa or salons for complete pampering and beauty/spa treatments, work out in the on board fitness center, art auctions, or just relax in your stateroom. If you've booked your cruise on one of the larger mega cruise ships with Royal Caribbean and Carnival, you can look forward to many more activities from rock climbing walls to miniature golf to ice skating and much, much more. Do be aware that if you've planned on shopping for your day or at the casino, that most ships do close their stores and casinos during the day when the ship is in port and don't open them again until the ship is at sea in international waters. So if you stay on board, here are some additional expenses that are not included that you must plan into your budget.

2. Do you want to visit every port on the cruise itinerary? In general, the travel itinerary is the main reason that I choose a cruise in addition to the price. Although many travel experts may encourage you to explore ports on your own and save a bundle on excursions, I don't necessarily recommend it and must say it depends on the port. Many ports are no where near the destinations that are advertised, for example Rome is an hour by train to get to the city from the port. In certain ports there is much you can do on your own, but I have found that depending on where you port, you're better off booking excursions to get the most out of your trip. If you feel confident to conquer the port town on your own, I've recently discovered two great online resources for ports if you're a more experienced traveler and want to plan your day ashore independently.

I've recently discovered two great line resources for ports if you're a more experienced traveler and want to plan you day ashore on your own. If you're taking a Mediterranean cruise, has fantastic port information compiled by my colleague, Martina, who is a former port lecturer for cruise lines so she knows her stuff. I wish I'd discovered her site BEFORE I had a stop prior to a cruise in Venice last year.

If your cruise takes you to the Caribbean Islands, then check out my colleague, Eddy's, site at as he has info on Caribbean cruise vacation port towns. He lived in the Caribbean most of his life and he has some insider tips to make sure you hit the highlights on each location where your ship ports. For many people, the cruise they take may very well be a once in a lifetime trips so plan the extra budget you will need to experience the locations you will be visiting.

So now that you've answered those two important questions, let's discuss the Ten Hidden Costs of a Cruise Ship Vacation.

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About Marianne Schwab
TV Travel Show Producer

For over twenty years, TV Travel Show Producer, Marianne Schwab, has been collecting money saving travel tips as a travel producer for high profile television programs. She has flown all over the world and produced live television productions on location from Caesar's Palace on the Vegas Strip to the beautiful island of Oahu. Read more