Cruising: Planning a Budget

October is #ChooseCruise month, so what better time for me to share some great cruising tips, port itineraries, and other cruising tidbits. I’m starting out the month with tips on how to plan your cruise budget. Are you starting to think about going on a cruise, or, perhaps, you are already in the midst of planning and booking (hopefully with me, of course)? You may need a little guidance on how to really plan a budget and determining what expenses to expect. To help point you in the right direction, I put together a little guide on planning a cruise budget. I’ve included items you’ve probably already considered and some you may not have even thought about. Let’s take a look.

Cruising: Planning a Budget

Cruise Fare, taxes and fees
Of course, you need to plan for the cruise itself—cruise fare, taxes, and government fees will all be included in the bottom line. This will cover your stateroom, meals and drinks like water, tea, and sometimes juice, and applicable onboard activities. Your cruise fare will depend on the itinerary, cruise length, and time of year. 

Gratuities/Service Fees
Gratuities and tips are not automatically included in your cruise fare. You can pay those in advance, or at the end of your cruise. A perk to planning/booking your cruise with me is I include these gratuities in your quote/booking, so you’ll already be covered and won’t need to plan for the additional expense later. Some cruise lines have service fees rather than gratuities. The gratuities/service fees cover tipping for onboard staff such as dining and housekeeping staff.

Pre/Post-Cruise Hotel/Flight
Depending on where you are cruising from, you may need a flight to get to your embarkation port. You’ll want to consider that cost when planning your budget, as well as a hotel. I always recommend flying in a day before your cruise departs—you never know if you’ll experience flight delays. Trust me, it is better to be safe than sorry! With that, you’ll also need a hotel for the night before your cruise departs. For the end of your cruise, most ships port early morning the last day giving you plenty of time to get to the airport for an early afternoon flight home.

Parking at the embarkation port (or airport) is another expense to consider. Parking is generally based per day and varies from port to port. For example, in Galveston, cruise port prepaid parking is $50 to $105 depending on your cruise length and the type of parking you select (lot or garage).

Passports are also an important expense to plan for. Though they are not technically required, they are highlyrecommended. If you find yourself in a foreign port needing to get home immediately, well, you can’t fly home without one. 

Alcoholic drinks are not included in your cruise fare, and most don’t include sodas either. This if you’re a drinker, soda or otherwise, this could be a large expense you’ll need to budget. Most cruise lines offer drink packages. Depending on how much you drink, a drink package may or may not be more economical for you. When booking with me, I help you decide if it is best for a prepaid drink package or to pay as you go on board.

Specialty Dining
Many cruises now offer specialty dining that is not included in your regular cruise fare. This could be higher end steaks, seafood such as lobster, or special adult only restaurants. Costs will vary depending on selections and the cruise line.

Though cruise ships have everything you could ever need, you won’t want to spend all of your time onboard. Your ship will port at some of the most beautiful spots in the world, and you won’t want to miss exploring them! You can set out to explore on your own or plan an excursion. I always recommend booking excursions directly with the cruise line—should anything cause you to be delayed they won’t leave the port without you!

Perhaps it’s duty free items like liquors, perfumes, or even diamonds you’re after. Maybe it is a special souvenir you can only find in a particular place. You’ll definitely want to plan for shopping. Most ships have onboard shopping, as well as shopping at each port. It’s a good idea to plan a budget for both. Onboard you may forget something you need, like shaving cream or an evening handbag. You can visit the onboard shops to purchase various items there. At port, you’ll want to bring home some sort of memento in remembrance of your cruise vacation.

As you can see, there are many budgeting factors to consider when planning your cruise vacation. Hopefully, these will give you an idea on how to better plan. If you’re ready to start planning your cruise vacation, contact me and we can get started!


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All the timelines, checklists, and answers to your burning ?s that you need to bring your dream destination wedding to life (without pulling your hair out in the process!):