More indulgences aboard ship...Out of pocket expenses beyond the cruise fare...



A wall hanging in the casino.
Based on our positioning out at sea, we're unable to post any additional photos today as we discovered after trying for the past several hours.  Rather than spending the entire day trying to load photos, we've decided to complete our story about extras and indulgences available on most cruise ships.  We'll add photos to future posts once were within range of a better signal.

Another out of pocket expense passengers may incur aboard ship is the cost of excursions sponsored by the cruise line.  With their intent to make substantial profits from these excursions we've noticed that prices include a considerable markup, often as much as 50% for the convenience.

What are the conveniences?  They arrange every detail, from payment for the event on the passenger's Sea Pass card, to transportation, entry fees to venues, tour guides and an assurance of a prompt return in time for the ship to set sail. 

If for some reason the bus or van doesn't return in time for sailing, the ship will wait for passengers on a cruise line sponsored tour.  This can be a big deal in some countries where vehicle breakdowns and delays can be the norm.  Its under these circumstances where we're may be inclined to partake in a ship sponsored tour.

For those passengers, often like us, who prefer to go off the ship on their own. arranging their own transportation one can only imagine the horror and frustration of missing the ship's departure.

The options are to give up on the remainder of the cruise, losing the balance of the fare and leaving all of their belongings behind in their cabin, arranging to collect them at a future date by expensive transfer. 

Most often, from what we've heard, passengers usually choose to fly to the next port of call to get back on board.  This can be quite an ordeal especially if that port of call is located in another country requiring a visa.  Add the cost of airfare, interim hotels, transportation and meals, missing a ship's departure time is not something a passenger wants to experience.

More than once on our 13 cruises in the past 42 months, we've heard nightmarish stories of such incidences occurring.  No thank you.  Instead, we proceed with caution in planning how we'll spend time off of the ship on our own, leaving early in the day and returning several hours before sail time.

Another big expense for many passengers is for spa services.  These may cost hundreds of dollars each and may appeal to many passengers, both women and men including facials, Botox injections, massages, acupuncture and a wide variety of face, hair and body treatments.  Its not uncommon to rack up a $1000 or more in spa services on a cruise bill. 

For avid diners and "foodies" its easy to find the appeal of the specialty restaurants, most of which incur additional charges.  In many cases, the set prices (some do not include beverages, wine or cocktails) are under US $40, AU $51 per person for a multi-course meal. 

On several occasions, we've opted to indulge in a few specialty restaurants during promotions with discounted prices, at times as low as US $15, AU $19 per person. However, on this and our past Aussie cruise, we've had such fun during dinner in the main dining room, dining at another venue holds little appeal.

Laundry services including ironing, wash and dry and dry cleaning are available on most cruises usually completed within 24 hours or sooner for pressing.  With many cruise passengers bringing formal wear for dress up nights, this service is particularly useful for those occasions. 

On most cruises, we usually incur about US $50, AU $64 in "wash and dry" services when we receive small discounts as members (in this case) of Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society.  After this cruise, we'll be considered "Emerald" members, still a long way from the highest category.  Every cruise line's rewards programs is different. More on this later. 

Often, there are a few activities aboard a ship that may require payment for supplies (for arts and crafts), tickets, raffles, bingo, on-demand movies on the TV or other such activities.  The daily program guide will list the activities and the costs or they may be listed on the interactive TVs.

Another of the two final areas where passengers may chose to spend outside the scope of the cruise fare itself is for tips for favorite service providers.  This particular cruise fare included US $12.95 AU $17 per person per day tips that are distributed to all service staff.  We paid these fees at the time we paid the final payment for the cruise, usually 75 days before sailing date.

Once onboard the ship, the passenger has the option to have these tips reversed from their bill and pay tips out of pocket or...not at all.  We'd never do this.  The staff work hard for little pay and have left their homes for extended periods of time.  We feel they are entitled to the tips.  

On most cruises, we pay additional tips for special assistance from our cabin steward and head waiter in the dining room who oversees my special diet.  We've yet to experience less than exemplary service in these two areas.

Finally, a big expense for us is use of the ship's wifi service.  For this cruise, it's US $255, AU $328 for unlimited data for two devices which includes both of our laptops. The service is slow and unreliable as mentioned above but we do what we can to upload our daily posts.

We received a US $300, AU $386 cabin credit from Vacations to Go and the cruise line.  So far, our bill is US $168, AU $216 after having used the credits.  I must admit I purchased US $78, AU $100 in Lancôme mascaras in the duty free shop, enough to last me for a year which was 1/2 the cost I'd paid last year.  A girl's got to have some of her favorite products from time to time!

Our other expenses thus far are the wifi, a few glasses of wine and cocktails and a few toiletry items in the store all at below chemist store prices in NZ.  Most likely by the end of the cruise, our final bill will be around US $800, AU $1029, a typical amount for us on most two week cruise for which we've budgeted slightly more. 

Of course, at the end of the cruise we'll post our final bill, cruise fare, hotel and airfare for this leg of our journey.  Tomorrow, we'll share cruise "freebies" that are included in the fare and how to get the "most bang for the buck."  Stay tuned for more!
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Photo from one year ago today, April 19, 2015:
We are unable to post a photo from one year ago today due to poor connectivity aboard the ship.  We'll catch up as we go along.
 

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