How much should I plan on spending, other than the cruise fare?
While your cruise vacation is all inclusive (about 85% is covered in your cruise fare) for the most part, there are other activities to participate in off the ship, things to buy on the ship and just basic miscellaneous expenses that you'll want to plan on...or not. You can indeed go on a cruise and spend absolutely nothing extra other than what you paid for your cruise fare except for tips for the crew. But if you want alcoholic beverages, gift shop items, spa treatments, group shore excursions or money to play a slot machine or gamble with, you'll need to bring it along in some form or another.
For an adult who drinks booze moderately, will want to go on a shore excursion, gambles a little bit and wants to basically take advantage of some of the other premium services onboard I would budget $100 per day.
Heavy drinkers, Spa fanatics, heavy internet users, etc should budget more.
Those who do not drink, like to spend the day relaxing on deck or on a beach within walking distance of the pier when in port, don't have a lot of need for refrigerator magnets (you are sick if you don't- just my opinion as a magnaholic) those people could plan on $50 per day.
Ok lets look at this on a daily basis
We'll start with a Day at Sea, no Port of Call
Figure $10 per day for gratuities that will automatically be added to your account. If you drink booze figure $5.00 for every drink so say you have 3 drinks, that $15 and that brings us up to $25. Lets check your email and play on the internet for a few minutes, it's 35 cents a minute until you've achieved Princess' Platinum status in the Captains Circle repeaters club (after your 5th cruise). Say you're online 20 minutes checking in withus here or looking at email, that's $7 which brings our days total to $32. How about a spa treatment, lets get our nails done $20. Thats $52. A souvenier from the gift shop $10. Thats $62. Play slots for a little while and you're lousy at it like me an your lucky $20 in play makes it $82. Room service comes with a late night snack and you tip them a couple bucks bringing it to $84.
Add a few bucks for something else and I think its fair to say $100 per person per day.
My point is that it really depends on what you do. You could not do any of that stuff and have just the tips to pay at the end of the cruise.
I wouldn't though
At least a nice stop by the gift shop for some Princess t-shirts, coffee mugs or the like..something that you can look at when you get back home besides the pics that make you look heavier that you'd like (and of course it IS the camera's fault..not mine) Port days are a different story if you book tours through the ship. That can cost a lot depending on the tour and how many of you there are.
For me, its real easy to charge up a shipboard account bill. I forget that the "all-inclusive" thing does not include everything.....which is good! That helps hold down the cost of cruise fare for everyone, charging the people that use the "extras" for them. In a way I could say that I subsidize the people that use the exercise equipment in the spa, I dont but I pay the same as they do. I have no problem with that because I know what a great vacation value a cruise.
TIP: Go to the gift shop the first day with whoever you are traveling with. Buy everything you want and be determined that you have made all your gift shop purchases on that day and will make no more for the rest of the cruise. When they run out of stuff at sea they don't have it Fedx'd in via Coast Guard Cutter, they're out till the next sailing. Go the first day, get first pick of all the sizes in stuff you wear and select from everything available in other items.
If you email me I can help you figure thot out much closer by asking a few questions and I'd love to, it's fun to hear when people come back just how close (or not) I was.
I heard that we can't spend cash on the ship, is that true?
Pretty much, yes. You will be given a ship credit card with which to charge most all of your purchases. They'll still take your cash in the casino and for bingo but otherwise its the card that does it for you. It may also be your room and/or in-cabin safe key. The ship will require your to "guarantee" the purchases made on your account with a major credit card, debit card or cash. They will then put a temporary "hold" on a certain amount of your available funds, usually equal to what they think you'll be spending, converting it to an actual charge at the end of your voyage. This account is probably the only reason you will need to see the Purser. The Pursers desk is like the business office of the ship. They handle all the money stuff. They're also like the front desk in a hotel so that's the place you call when your neighbors in the next cabin are annoying you.
If they put a 'hold' on my credit card for my shipboard account. does this mean that i cant use the same card in the ports to buy things?
Oh yes be careful about that- I learned the hard way
It can count towards what your daily cash advance limit is thus reducing the amount of cash you can get. It will be counted against your credit limit by whoever issued your card, debit or credit.
Call your credit card company or bank and find out for sure. I use a debit visa check-card and had my bank issue me a "Platinum" card. The only difference is that it allows for much larger daily usage.
Also- its a good idea to let your card issuer know you will be away if you don't travel much. Otherwise they might shut your card down thinking somebody might have stolen it and you just don't know it yet.
It's very UN-relaxing to return from the pool and find a note in your cabin from the Pursers desk that your credit card had been declined when you are in the middle of the ocean and you KNOW you've got the money/credit.
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We always use a debit card, never had a problem. Do be sure to review your onboard account statement either from the Purser prior to the last day. If there are any disputed charges its a lot easier to get them taken off that it is to get credit back on your debit card.
We use what is called a dedicated Visa check card which does indeed have all the rights of dispute associated with a charge card. The pursers desk ALWAYS puts a hold on your funds equal to the day's charges which may reduce or cancel out the amount of cash you can get. Ours does not because we told the bank thats what we were doing and they treat the draws (holds) from the ship as purchases (which they eventually will be) which does not affect the cash withdrawal daily limit (there to protect you by the way)
If you want to cash a check you can if you have the American Express card, otherwise you're pretty much out of luck.
Just make sure your bank knows you're going on a cruise and what's likely to be charged on your debit card and it should be no problem. Of course it is suggested that you always carry at least one alternative form of payment, another debit card or credit card works. Just to be safe.
We always split up this stuff, and cash too, Lisa takes some and I take some in case somebody bonks me over the head we can still continue. We take 3 credit cards, one that only I have, one that only Lisa has and one we both have, that way if one of us gets robbed the other one has at least one form of payment
Now American Express has come out with their "Travel Funds" Card. It's a prepaid, reloadable card that isnt linked to your bank account. If it is lost or stolen your balance is refunded usually within 24 hours. It can even help you replace stolen passports and major credit cards. Best of all it's accepted at millions of places worldwide as well as thousands of ATM's...just like the American Express card. See more on their web site.
First couple of cruises we carried all the cash we thought we would need. Last few we went in with about half, split it between us, and got cash advances for the rest.
Don't rely on the ship's ATM though, it could run out of money. This was moreso when people were needing tons of cash at the end of the cruise for tips under the old tipping system. Since the new automatic tip system went into effect I have yet to see one of the ship's ATM's run out.
I think travelers checks are a thing of the past, like telegrams
I'm not sure I want to take a lot of cash with me but I want to be able to tip people on the ship extra if they do a good job, what should I do?
On many cruise lines the tipping program was designed with just that in mind as they automatically add suggested tips to your shipboard account. You always have the option to adjust them up or down. If you'd like to adjust them up just stop by the Pursers desk and do so. (I'd suggest doing it later in the cruise and early in the morning or late at night to avoid standing in a long line)
As far as the dollar bills are concerned, if you don't want to take them, don't. You'll need some cash to give the porters on the pier, a buck a bag and something to give the room service people if you order from them (and you should its such fun!).
We used the dollar gold coins for both and they were gladly accepted. A few ones stashed here and there in your carryons though shouldnt take up much space.
I would indeed think about what you're going to do for cash otherwise. In port or in the casino you'll need some.
Travelers checks maybe?
But there are other sources of cash. Your debit card can get cash (for transaction fee) on board unless the machine runs out. If you happen to have Grand Cayman on your itinerary you'll find plenty of good ATM's to get cash from (the Canadian ones didn't charge us a service charge at all), in Mexico good luck. You can charge slot tokens, coins and casino chips on your sign shipboard account for a service charge. I know one family that did just that as thier cash source. Bought $100 worth of chips and a roll of quarters. Played the slots for a half hour off that roll of quarters then cashed in the chips. It was cheaper than using the ATM and the casino NEVER runs out of cash, believe me
| What about my credit card? |
Wouldn't it be easier to put your purchases on your credit card and the last day go pay it off in cash?
Your shipboard account card has several purposes.
First, it's your boarding card. Before you first get on the ship the cruise line matches you and your card by taking the verified person who made it through the embarkation process (you) and matching it with a photo they'll take as you board. You'll insert that card in a machine that pops up your photo on a screen for a security guard to verify every time you get back on board. You have to "punch out " too but they always seem more interested in keeping the line moving off the ship than in verifying that it is really you getting off.
Next, that card is the key to your cabin door. The magnetic strip on it, just like on a credit card, carries information that will open your door. Inside the cabin some people use it to open the safe in their closet. This is not recommended and stupid to do but I do it anyway. Security of your card is important for those two reasons alone. Many visit the purser and have them punch a hole in it then carry it around their necks on a lanyard. I am too cool for that so I put it in my pocket.
The most talked about use of the card, however, is to make onboard purchases. That card represents your guarantee to pay for stuff you buy on board. The ship's monetary system is cashless. The only place cash is good is in the laundry, the casino or in the palm of a crew member. You can guarantee your purchases on the card with a credit card, debit card, travelers checks or cash. If you use cash and have any leftover at the end of the cruise (unlikely) they'll cut you a check on the last day. If you used any other form of payment its's kind of like express check-out at a hotel, you'll get a statement and you're done.
But the most important use, by far, is to stick it in your slot machine to rack up points in machines that offer the option. You get one point for every buck you lose or could have won if you cashed out every time you won. It doesn't add up to all that much but it's better than nothing...my default winnings amount.
As we talk about this the cruise lines are busy installing devices on the slot machines fleetwide that will allow you to charge slot credits on your card. Now if they just sent somebody around with snacks and let me take my machine with me to the restroom I'd never have to leave.
So as you can see, using your credit card would be far too easy.
Your credit card is associated with fiscal responsibility, budgeting, credit limits, monthly bills and the like. That notion has no business on your fabulous cruise vacation.
Royal Caribbean MBNA VISA Card
A great way to save up money to spend on your cruise is to get one of the cruise lines credit cards that accumulate points to use toward buying your cruise or to buy onboard credit. I like the Royal Caribbrean card for one. Carnival and Celebrity also have thier versions. Here is a link to the rules for Royal Caribbean's card