Family Cruise Vacations – Eight Hidden Costs!

Beware! Cruises are not "all-inclusive"! While family cruise vacations can be the perfect family vacation, most of the cruise lines have policies that, if you are not aware of them, will shatter your vacation budget.

As a general rule, most all of theses policies regarding charges or prices for merchandise and services. You need to be conscious of them to keep your family cruise vacations budget from blowing up.

Here are eight that I bring to your attention:

In-Cabin Child Care

Do you want to go out as a couple and leave your kids in the room? Nearly all of the cruise companies do offer in-cabin babysitting, but generally on a restricted basis and for a charge, usually in the vicinity around $ 8 per hour with a two child maximum. Also, there are only a limited amount of babysitters, so it is important that you make reservations for these sitters as soon as possible.

Programs for Kids Under 3

Generally speaking, there are no formal kid's activities for children under 3 years of age and they are generally prohibited from entering the Kid's Program areas. Much of this has to do with health rules and hygiene, but be aware that you will have to pay for sitters.


Almost all of the cruise companies charge for sodas. Most have an "unlimited sodas" card or program available for purchase for those under 18. The cost is generally somewhere around $ 4.50 to $ 5.00 per day plus a 15 percent tip. By itself, this alone could blow family cruise vacations budget if you do not know about it.

Children's Activities While the Ship Is In Port

Most of the family cruise vacations companies make you pay for any children's activities services when they are in port. And in many cases, the kids prefer the activities on ship more than what is planned in the ports of call. Yes, the cruise lines know you will get out your wallet to make your kids happy, but it is an added expense that you need to budget for.

Slumber Parties and Afternoon Socials

Many of the cruise lines ask you to pay for afternoon parties and such. For instance, Celebrity charges $ 6.00 per hour per child for the evening Slumber Party from 10:00 PM – 1:00 AM daily. The same company charges the same rate for children ages 3-12 years old to participate in their Afternoon Party from 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM on days in port.

Excursion Tours and Trips

For the parents and adults on board, it is important to know that excursion trips generally have large extra fees to pay if you want to participate. Understand also that most of these tours or trips are very good and worth the price. But use this rule for your family cruise vacations budget: If you get off the ship, be prepared to pay. In some cases, there is a possibility that you could save money if you plan your own journey through a travel agent or a third party tour company while in a port rather than the cruise companies have arranged.

Port Fees and Additional Fees

Also, when booking family cruise vacations, make sure that the total that you are quoted includes all port fees and any additional taxes or fees. Many of these could run as much as the cost of the cruise itself.


Be prepared to add a 15% tip to just about everything that you eat, drink, or do. Remember that many employees of the cruise lines work for tips, so reward good service with god tips. And budget for that, too.

While these nine items are not terrible, good vacationers need to be aware of these costs associated with a cruise so that they can be managed.

The bottom line is this: If you know about the costs ahead of time, you can budget for them early. You want the memories of your trip to last a lifetime, not the bills paying for it.

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