What’s Included in the Cost of Your Cruise?

If you’re a first-time cruiser, you probably have a lot of questions on your mind:

Should I go scuba diving when we’re in Cuba, or in Cozumel?

Should I sign up for on-board salsa lessons, or a salsa making class?

Did I already pay for these unlimited margaritas?

One of the biggest perks of taking to the sea on an all-inclusive cruise vacation is knowing that all the details are taken care of, leaving you with the stress-free trip you deserve.

At CloudBlue Travel, we’re proud to partner with the world’s best cruise companies, offering everything from Caribbean getaways to Egyptian river adventures.

But “all inclusive” doesn’t always mean the same thing across all cruise lines. That’s why it’s important to understand what you can expect your trip to include with the initial price tag — and what expenses you may still need to cover.

You can almost always count on the price of your ticket giving you access to delicious meals and exciting entertainment. Many all-inclusive cruises offer different ways you can elevate your trip at an extra cost.

Knowing the extra offerings that may be provided on your cruise can help you decide if you want to budget a little extra for an even more indulgent experience.

Here’s our guide to what most cruises do and don’t include, so you can kick back and relax knowing exactly what to expect for your upcoming getaway.

What’s Typically Included in Your Cruise

In almost every case, you can expect all your meals and your room to be covered in your trip’s initial price tag.

And while most cruises have services and offerings that aren’t included with your booking cost, most of these are entirely optional. That means you can still enjoy an unforgettable trip while sticking to your budget.

Though each cruise company is a bit different, here are some basics that you can expect your trip to include:


The size of your room and the amenities therein are typically reflected by the price of the booking. Most rooms are comfortably set up for double occupancy some can accommodate up to 4 guests.

Most rooms also include a basic TV package and free use of the phone (for on-ship calls only). There are also most likely a selection of on-demand movies at additional cost.


One of the best parts of cruising is indulging in incredible new cuisines, both on and off the boat. You can expect 3 meals a day, usually with a variety of options for dining. Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages, such as iced tea and coffee, are often included throughout the day, too.

Room Service

Many cruises offer complimentary room service, though there may be a small fee for late-night orders. But what tastes better on vacation than ordering a pizza after midnight?


Your booking will likely include transportation to all the ports listed in your trip’s itinerary.

Access to Facilities

From the gym and mini-golf course to the casino or piano bar, most public spaces on board should be open to all ticket-holders. So grab that put-put club and show your kids who’s the master.

Activities & Entertainment

If you’ve never cruised before, you may not realize that many cruise lines are notorious for hiring some of the best entertainers in the business to make sure there’s never a dull moment onboard. You can enjoy arrays like magic shows, aerial dancers, musicians, parties, games and more, and it’s typically all included with the price of your ticket.

What’s Might Not Be Included in Your Booking

Although necessary costs like a flight and ground transportation to and from your ship can’t really be avoided, many of the following extra amenities are completely optional.

Even if the offerings below aren’t included in the initial cost of your trip, you can decide which activities or upgrades you’re in the mood for once you’re aboard.


Unless you live within driving distance of your departure port, you’ll likely need to plan on booking your own flights to get to your ship and back home again.

Hotel stays

If you’re flying to a port of departure, it’s unlikely you’ll fly in on the same day your cruise departs. Even if you can schedule your trip this way, you probably wouldn’t want to in order to avoid the possibility of a travel delay forcing you to miss your ship!

Ground transportation to/from ship

Don’t forget that airports usually aren’t right next to ports, so you’ll need to take a shuttle or cab to and from your hotel. The cruise company or your hotel may offer free shuttles, so be sure to ask your travel agent about this option.

Shore excursions

Most cruises stop at different ports throughout the trip. You can get off the ship and explore for free, but your cruise will likely offer Special Excursions, which could cost extra. You may want to budget a little extra so you don’t miss out on a day of scuba diving, rainforest zip lining, or a world-class winery tour.

Specialty food and drinks

While you can eat your fill at no extra charge on a cruise, most ships have for-fee items on their menus, as well as more exclusive restaurants that may not be included in your fare. If you’re a foodie, you may want to plan in advance the types of meals or menu items you’ll want to splurge on.

Alcoholic beverages

Many cruises offer an all-you-can drink upgrade, so you can feel free to relax without worrying about paying for each drink as you go.

Exclusive entertainment

Certain types entertainment, like a dinner show or an IMAX movie, might require you to purchase a ticket.

Spa & salon treatments

Most cruises offer many ways for you to pamper yourself through things like complimentary steam rooms and saunas. Massages, pedicures and other spa treatments will likely cost extra.

Personal trainers & space-limited fitness classes

If your idea of a great vacation means getting the chance to work up a good sweat, look no further than a cruise. Most cruises offer plenty of ways to stay active, with free access to gyms and certain fitness classes. Specialty fitness services like one-on-one training could cost extra.

Limited access areas

On the other hand, if your favorite part of vacation is lounging by the pool with a great book, most cruises offer roomy decks and ample pool space for you to get your relaxation on. But there are typically some exclusive areas available to you depending on your reservation level, such as an adults-only sun deck or a private hot tub and Spa.


Your cruise likely includes plenty of free classes and entertainment for kids 3-17. Childcare may be a bit extra.

On-demand movies

Just like in a hotel, on-demand movies are available for a fee.


Depending on your cruise, you might pay a price for internet access while on board. An easy way to skip this expense? Tell yourself the email can wait — you’re on a cruise, enjoy yourself!

Ship-to-shore phone calls

Call the new friends you made at the casino in their room down the hall all you like. On the other hand, a call to your mom in Pennsylvania will cost extra (likely by the minute).

Medical Services

Any trip to the on-board doctor will cost you extra, along with any medication you may need. Your health insurance may cover this, but you may need to pay up-front and file for reimbursement when you get home. You should also purchase travel protection in advance to help cover anything your insurance doesn’t.


Didn’t have room to pack enough outfits for the whole trip? Need that button-up ironed before a fancy dinner? On-board laundry services will take care of you, likely for an additional cost.


While access to on-board casinos is free, gambling isn’t. It’s all pay to play — but maybe you’ll hit it big and come out on top!


Many cruise lines have charge daily gratuities of around $14 per person per day.

Some cruises have a no-tipping policy. However, most of the major cruise lines, have automatic gratuity in place for things such as alcohol, specialty services, and specialty restaurants.

This means you don’t have to worry about tipping each time you receive service — it’ll be added to your bill for you. The details vary from cruise to cruise. Check out our travel guide for some tips on tipping »

Hidden Costs? Not with CloudBlue Travel

One of the bonuses of booking your next cruise vacation with CloudBlue Travel is that we know the fine print. We can fill you in on the details of what your cruise does and doesn’t include, so you can head to sea ready for some proper R&R — with no surprises.

Avoid hidden costs by booking your trip with CloudBlue Travel.

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