After planning and booking a cruise, many people forget that there is still more money to be spent - aboard the cruise ship. Cruise ships are a fun way to travel but there are plenty of additional costs to plan for while on the ship. To make things more confusing, there are a variety of different ways to pay for things on a cruise ship. Here are the most common.
- Prepayment. When booking a cruise, most people pay a fee that includes transportation, lodging, and most food. Depending upon the travel agency or cruise line, sometimes additional things can be paid for in advance. Shore excursions, for example, can sometimes be paid for in advance, as can beverage cards.
- Credit. Most cruise lines keep passengers' credit cards on file during the cruise so that cruise passengers can easily charge retail items, shore excursions, and other expenses. This way, customers are not constantly searching for cash or credit cards, but can simply give their name or stateroom number and have expenses charged to their rooms. This is frequently used for beverage plans, since many cruise ships charge an additional fee for soft drinks and other beverages.
- U.S. currency. Many cruise ships have ATMs on board to allow passengers to obtain cash for gambling, buying retail articles, or tipping. In addition, in American ports (and some foreign ports), American currency will come in handy.
- Other currency. When going on shore excursions in other countries, cruise ship passengers will need to determine the best way to pay for transportation, food, activities, and any items bought. Some cruise ships offer currency exchange, and some foreign ports accept American dollars. This usually has to be taken on a case-by-case basis, though, and a cruise line representative or travel agent can answer these questions.
- Travelers' checks. Travelers' checks can be used on many cruise ships, but are not as common as they used to be due to the abundance of credit and debit cards. However, if large amounts of cash are to be taken on board, it is safer to convert much of the cash to travelers' checks.
- Tipping. Tipping on cruise ships can be tricky. Many cruise ships are changing to place automatic tips on passengers' credit cards. A certain amount per person per service person is charged for each day. Passengers' can change or cancel these amounts by visiting the purser's office. Some people choose to go with the preapproved amounts, while some like to have control over the amount of the tips. It is possible to cancel the preapproved tips on cruise ships, but if so, passengers should make sure to carry cash in order to adequately tip servers and other staff. Many passengers let the cruise ship charge the base tip amount, and then give additional cash to staff who have gone above and beyond.
Cruises can be highly enjoyable getaways - but don't think that once you pay for a cruise, everything else will be taken care of! Make sure that you plan for the additional costs and find ways to pay for them, in order to have a truly relaxing trip!