Most cruisers don't mind shelling out some extra cash onboard to take advantage of certain amenities, but there are certain charges that are a bit on the exorbitant side.
Racking up an enormous bar tab can happen faster than you think. - Photo by Celebrity Cruises
City dwellers may not bat an eye at an $8 beer, but for the rest of the nation, the price of a single drink on board can be tough to swallow.
“I think the drinks were very expensive. $7.50 for every drink be it a beer or a fancy drink is excessive. Even soda cost $2.50 for each can. I think a beer should be less than a fancy drink and soda should be included. You really rack up a bill for the end of the trip. Also there is a $12 service charge for each adult at each dinner and a $8 per child. So at the end of 7 days you had 7 $32 charges on your bill for dinner tip. This was over $200 and add this into your drinks and you have a big bill on your door at the end of the trip.”janet952
Our Advice: If you plan on drinking more than a few sodas or beers, a drink package is a wise investment. Or, if you’re feeling rebellious, you can always sneak your own booze aboard and make contraband cocktails.
If you're looking for some cheap, simple fun, look elsewhere. Photo by Rob Byron
Bingo should be an easy and harmless addition to a lineup of cruise ship activities, but rarely a week goes by without one of our reviewers mentioning the high cost of bingo cards. The word “scam” has come up more than once:
“Two biggest complaints were that Bingo was $60 and the room was packed. They played three games and gave away a total of $3000 in prizes approximately. So it ended up being a "get more money out of you" scam... which is very annoying to me.”rustbrad
Our Advice: Unless you’ve got your mind set on it, it might be best to skip it. If you simply have to play, look for “special” bingo sessions like Suite Upgrade Bingo, Win-A-Cruise Bingo or the end-of-cruise Jackpot game - these still can be pricey but are a bit more fun and might give you a bigger bang for your buck and a great story to tell if you win.
3. Onboard Photos
Onboard photos are a great keepsake, but unnecessarily pricey. - Photo by Simon Duvall
Just like buying a picture of your terrified face as you plummet down an amusement park log flume, photos taken on a cruise ship come with an extreme markup.
“The only disappointment was the photo prices and poor communication of policies for purchasing multiple reprints of photos. The photos are extremely expensive and the entire process of purchasing photos is time consuming and cumbersome. The quality of the photos is not good, but you want to capture the moment with family and friends, so it's difficult to not buy the photos.”kcaldwell
Our Advice: Ask the photo staff to take photos with your camera. (They may not always be willing, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.) And don’t forget to look for package specials, particularly early on in the cruise.
4. Spa Treatments
The treatments are pleasant, the upselling is not. - Photo by Disney Cruise Line
The base spa prices are not all that egregious, but the second they have you relaxed you can expect to resist a barrage of upsells.
“The spa was a rip off. You expect to pay more because of where you are but there are so many hidden charges that it doubles the listed price.”MannySchar
Our Advice: Look for spa experiences in port at hotels and resorts that may offer a better value. Firmly but politely decline any add-on services or products sold during your treatment.
Prices are starting to go down, but they're still painful. - Photo by PureSolution
We understand that having internet in the middle of the ocean is an amazing (and expensive) feat of technology, but considering much of that bandwidth is spent posting vacation pictures on social media (aka, free marketing), you would think lines would do everything they can to keep people connected.
“My only real problem is the wifi access. The price of the wifi is absurd and the system doesn't work very well. We paid $100 for 240 minutes of wifi and found the system extremely substandard and almost unusable... This was the real negative to my trip, because in today's world there are needs to communicate... In fact, the last 100 minutes of the wifi seemed to disappear mysteriously. I would have complained, but felt the system was so poor that it was not worth getting the minutes back.”don624
Our Advice: Look for ships with upgraded WiFi and those that offer low-cost packages (as low as $5/day for social package on Carnival).
Avoid doing laundry unless it's an emergency. - Photo by rzstudio
This is a minor one since most cruisers don’t use the laundry machines on cruise ships, but if the case of a stain emergency or a longer cruise, the laundrettes are often taken when you want to use them and the concierge laundry service is awfully pricey.
“One major inconvenience: their valet laundry service was outrageously expensive, but the self-service laundry room had insufficient capacity, we had to wait 2 hours to do our laundry because there were only two washing machines and 4 dryers for 3 decks!”GeneF2
Our Advice: You can make sure your ship has self-service laundry and plan on doing laundry at odd hours, but do you really want to spend part of your limited vacation washing clothes?
7. Port Parking
Some ports have better parking than others. - Photo by Ann Vaczi
It doesn’t happen on the cruise, and you can’t blame it on the cruise lines, but paying over $100 to park a long walk from the pier in a poorly maintained lot is not the best way to start your vacation.
“Parking was uncovered, gravel and unmarked. No baggage porters. No instructions. Cost still $112.00.”ppicker43
Our Advice: Look for “off-port” parking options, particularly in Port Everglades and Port Canaveral or hotels where you can get a 1- or -2 night stay before your cruise and parking for the duration of your cruise for one price.