Extra. Read all about it! When a cruise holiday bargain isn’t all that it seems.

Prices differ across cruise companies, but often the bottom line isn’t the bottom line.

When is a travel bargain not a bargain? When the initial price includes a lot of extras you forgot to factor in, or simply didn’t know about.

This can often be the case with cruise holidays, when the low “all-inclusive” price can suddenly balloon when you add the things you really want or need.

Take, for example, a typical Mediterranean cruise with a per person per day price of $100. That’s $200 a day for a couple, or $1400 for a full week’s holiday, inclusive of three (or more) meals a day, a comfortable, self-contained cabin, perhaps with an ocean view, use of certain onboard facilities, like the gym and pools.

But do you want an alcoholic beverage or two on your trip? Well, depending on the cruise company, that’ll cost you up to $10 per beverage. Or you can take a drinks package that gives you unlimited drinks from certain categories (nothing too fancy) for, say, $50 per person per day. They insist both of you have the package, so that’s another $100 a day. Total bill now $2100.

Now, do you want to be connected to the internet? Of course you do. That’ll cost you an average $150 for the trip for limited access. That’s another $300. Total $2400.

Oh, and then there’s the casino. A small flutter might cost you $100 each. Total $2600. (Yes, you might have a win, but do you really expect that?)

While meals are included in the price, certain dining options can cost you more.

Will you be going ashore? If you go it alone, you’ll only pay for what you decide to spend. If you take an excursion organised by the cruise company, you’ll be looking at about $50 per person, sometimes a lot more depending on the trip. With four excursions over the week, the price for two people is $400. Total $3000.

Want to spoil yourself in the spa? Of course you do. And maybe have a meal at one of the premium restaurants onboard? And pick up the odd duty-free bargain in one of the boutiques? Maybe you’ll want a celebratory champers that’s not included in your bar bill? Better put aside at least another $400 if you want to do some of that. Total $3400.

And on top of that is the gratuity — which you can wiggle out of, but you probably won’t since the staff have been so pleasant and you know they don’t earn very much (because at least one of them will have casually mentioned it) — of about $10 per person per day. $140 makes it $3540.

And, of course, this doesn’t include anything you spend while you’re shore-side. How could you resist a slice of pizza in Naples or a crepe in Marseilles? Or those shoes! Let’s call the total, conservatively, $4000.

Excursions can be expensive. Sometimes it’s best to find your own way around.

Oh, and I forgot the airfare, and that depends on where you started out. But let’s just say, you’re easily looking at three times the brochure price; maybe up to five.

That’s not a reason not to go, but it’s certainly something you should factor in before you decide on taking that dream holiday on the deep blue sea.

Originally published at www.brettdebritz.net on April 13, 2016.

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