Counting the cost of a cruise (Part 5 of 5)

Wherein we add up the figures and hit ‘total’ 

As we have been examining all week, the total cost of a cruise on many, if not most, cruise lines serving North America will certainly be more than the price of passage and, depending on personal choices, could be considerably more. In our final installment, TheTravelPro looks at the all-in numbers.

Adding it all up

Mini-suites on our ship were $2,019 per person, based on double occupancy. Taxes, fees and port charges are $219, so the fare itself was $2,238 per passenger.

Celebrity Infinity at Seattle's Pier 66

With that as a baseline, here's what the cruise might actually cost for two people who do not live in their departure city:

Mini-suite stateroom - $4,038

Taxes, fees and port expenses - $438

Airport transfers - $96

Cruise insurance - $380.60

All-inclusive beverage package for two - $788.90 ($56.35 per person for seven days)

Internet connectivity - $72.95 (120 minutes that can be shared)

Shore excursions - $375 (assuming an excursion at half the ports of call)

Gratuities - $195.30

TOTAL: $6,385.75

Put another way, that $2,238 cruise ticket could wind up costing $3,192. For us, that was an additional 43 percent above the fare and taxes. Importantly, passengers in smaller, less expensive cabins will not see their ancillary costs decrease, with the possible exception of gratuities, which are $1 per person per day higher for passengers in suites or mini-suites than those in interior, ocean view or balcony staterooms. Finally, air fare will be in addition to that figure and varies depending upon point of departure, airline and class of travel.

While many cruise lines offer similar services and levy similar charges, not all do.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises, a luxury line that features smaller ships with fewer than 1,000 passengers, offers “The all-inclusive Regent experience.” Gratuities, unlimited shore excursions, dining at its specialty restaurants, unlimited beverages including fine wines and premium spirits, free air fare and other amenities are included.

Seabourn Cruise Lines, a luxury line owned by the same parent company as Princess Cruises, also includes many amenities for which others levy separate charges. Its webpage says “[V]irtually everything is included, from the luxury of our all-suite accommodations to the complimentary fine wines and spirits served on board.” Seabourn has a no-tipping policy; its website says simply, “Tipping is neither required nor expected.” Seabourn does charge for Internet access and shore excursions.

Silversea Cruises, yet another luxury line, offers a fare that includes room service, some champagne, wines and spirits and gratuities, items its web site notes, “Can really add up.” Silversea’s fares, however, do not include transfers, shore excursions or dining at two of its specialty venues.

Norwegian Cruise Lines charges separately for shore excursions, Wi-Fi, beverages and specialty dining, though a recent special offered guests the option of choosing two of those four items at an inclusive price for sailings of five days or longer. With regard to gratuities, its policy states that, “There is no required or recommended tipping on our ships for service that is generally rendered to all guests. While you should not feel obligated to offer a gratuity, all of our staff are encouraged to ‘go the extra mile,’ so they are permitted to accept cash gratuities for exceptional or outstanding service if you care to offer them.”

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises calculates gratuities into its fares for its four upmarket small cruise ships, a spokesperson for the line told TheTravelPro in an email. Accordingly, its policy reads, “Tips are not mandatory on board. Acknowledgement of particularly good service is at the discretion of each guest.” The line’s staterooms include mini-fridges stocked with soft drinks and beer, and spirits in higher category cabins.

Royal Caribbean adds gratuities to guests’ folios automatically in the amount of $13.50 per person per day for standard staterooms and $16.50 per day for Suite guests. Separate charges apply for shore excursions.

Viking Ocean Cruises, the newest entry into the ocean cruise space, offers what it calls Viking Inclusive Cruising. Under that pricing plan, every cruise fare includes a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all onboard meals, all port charges and government taxes in addition to many other complimentary amenities including beer and wine with lunch and dinner service, premium dining reservations, Wi-Fi, self-service laundry, access to the Thermal Suite in the onboard spa and 24-hour room service.

Further, while Viking literature notes that “Gratuities on board and on land are not included in your full fare,” Viking’s stated policy leaves tipping entirely at the guests’ discretion. “It is customary to give cruise gratuities, subject to your satisfaction of services rendered,” the policy reads and, although it suggests daily amounts based on the location of the cruise, it does not bill the guests directly.

What price convenience?

While convenient, all-inclusive fares can come at a cost. For example, a seven-day Alaska cruise in a Deluxe Veranda suite aboard Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which is comparable in size to our mini-suite, is listed at $6,199 per person or $12,398 for a couple – nearly double the example of costs illustrated above.

Make your decision based on your travel preferences, your taste and your budget. Then weigh anchor and go.

Bon voyage!

Visit my main page at for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.

Photos by Carl Dombek
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