Cruise vacations are such a fun way to enjoy a week or more away with your family. They allow you to see many different parts of the world on a budget and keep you from having to worry about driving, cooking, and cleaning. Cruise vacations come with a price though. If you just budget for the cruise fare and nothing else you will be over budget and stressed about finances immediately. As you plan for your next cruise vacation, make sure you include all of the following expenses in your cruise vacation budget. You can also sign up to get my free cruise vacation budget planner below.
The first cost you will encounter is the cost of your cruise fare. This is based on the type of cabin you choose, when you book, where you depart and arrive at as well as who is traveling with you. This can easily cost you several thousand dollars.
Gratuities and Insurance
Many cruise lines also add on daily gratuities for each passenger which will raise the cost of your cruise. On top of those gratuities be prepared to tip at the spa, kid’s club and many other places on board.
My family also opted for the vacation insurance protection plan when we cruised in case we had to cancel or had an emergency while on board. While we didn’t use it, I think that in the end the money was well spent. We had the peace of mind of knowing we wouldn’t lose our money if we couldn’t go.
Passport and Passport Photos
If you have never left the country and decide you want to go on a cruise you will probably have to invest in a passport or renew your passport. Most cruise lines must visit a foreign port during your cruise per US law. So more than likely you will need a passport. You should plan for the cost of the passport as well as the photos. This will run you about $150 per person.
If you don’t live close to a major US cruise port, most likely you will fly there. You can always drive, but it may not really be a good option.
When you leave home and you have to board your pets or hire a sitter, this can get expensive. This is often an overlooked part of vacation planning, but if you will be away and your pets need care put this in your budget.
When we planned our cruise I didn’t really think about putting clothes in our vacation budget. When our cruise got closer I realized we didn’t have certain items we would need for the ship. My kids needed some new shorts and t-shirts. I needed a new formal dress and my husband needed a new shirt and swim trunks. After all was said and I done I had spent a few hundred dollars on clothes. So definitely put this in your budget.
If you are going to go to an exotic destination you have never been to before and may never go to again you will probably want to see as much as you can. Shore excursions through the cruise line or an independent contractor are not cheap. While you can always try to sight see on your own. Shore excursions are a great way to go. Plan to spend a minimum of $200 per excursion for a family of four.
The cost of this will really depend on your family’s drink preferences. If your family loves gourmet coffee, soda, alcohol and even bottled water this part of your cruise can really add up quickly. The best way to purchase beverages if your family will be having alcohol or soda regularly is to buy a beverage package. These are not cheap, but they will save you money in the long run.
Bingo and Gambling are probably the most popular and most expensive onboard activities. If you or anyone in your family likes to spend their days doing either of these activities, make sure you set aside room in your budget for them.
If you buy nothing else on your cruise vacation you will probably want at least one souvenir photo from the photo gallery. How often does your family get dressed up for formal photos? If they are anything like my family, not very often. I think my husband wears a suit about once every 5 years. These photos are not cheap. A minimum of one photo will cost you about $25. If you plan ahead you can sometimes buy photo packages but it is rare. Photo are in a must in a cruise vacation budget.
I was so glad that our ship had laundry facilities onboard even though it was not cheap. I think it cost almost $10 to do one load of laundry. Even if you don’t think you will use the laundry room, you may want to plan for the expense anyway.
You may not think you will buy anything onboard your cruise, but you might surprise yourself and purchase more items than you think you will. The last day of our cruise they had a big sale in the dining room and my husband and I quickly spent $30 on odds and ends that we had not expected.
Meals in Port
When you are in port you may get hungry or just decide to try the local cuisine. If you plan to do that during your cruise you should be prepared for the cost ahead of time.
Most ports are overloaded with stores if you stay near the ship. Some of them open up just for the season that the ships are docking there. They want your money and they are very good at getting it. If you are not into the cruise jewelry scene, chances are you will still spend a few dollars on souvenirs. Everyone loves a good souvenir t-shirt to show off where they have been so put it in your budget.
Pre and Post Cruise Accommodations
If you live far from your cruise destination or want to spend a few days exploring the city your ship arrived in you will probably need a hotel for at least a night or two.
Disembarkation Day Activities
If you have a late post cruise flight you will probably have to find a way to the pass the time between when you disembark the ship and when your plane departs. It can be difficult to check your bags if you get to the airport too early and who wants to be stuck in the airport all day? That leaves you with a few choices for how to spend the day. You can either go on a cruise shore excursion in your disembarkation port, rent a car and sight see or get a hotel room for the day and relax. None of these options are cheap, so consider this when booking your post cruise journey home.
We took our most recent cruise as a family this past summer and we can’t wait to go again. It has been a few years since our last cruise and I had forgotten about many of the expenses involved in it. I would still go again in a heartbeat as cruising is a wonderful way to be together as a family. I would also say once you get there it is pretty stress free. As long as you plan a realistic cruise vacation budget.
Have you cruised lately? Where did you go? What do you wish you had budgeted for? Share with us in the comments!
Need more tips on planning for planning your next vacation? Check out these posts.