Your Cruise Coach: how to budget for onboard spending

06-05-2017 
Your Cruise Coach: how to budget for onboard spending

Unless your clients have booked an all-inclusive cruise, they will need to budget for onboard spending. On a mass market and premium cruise, about 85 per cent of the trip cost is paid for upfront - airfare, transfers, accommodations, meals, entertainment, activities, taxes and fees.

Not included are alcoholic beverages, sodas, specialty restaurants, excursions, gratuities, and personal expenditures such as salon/spa treatments, internet, and gift shop purchases.

These expenditures will vary, depending on the client's spending habits. Those who take advantage of the included restaurants and beverages, explore ports on their own, and resist the temptation of onboard purchases, can disembark with minimal charges. But those who like to indulge can sometimes spend more onboard than on their cruise ticket!

Luckily, the cost of these extras can all be predetermined, and clients can budget for them. Here's a look at how to do it:

For drinks, I generally advise clients that it is the same price as what they would pay in a coffee shop, restaurant or bar at home. Every cruise line also has a beverage package, averaging US$50-60 per person per day (and less for non-alcoholic package). If a client likes to have at least 6-7 drinks per day - the beverage package is worth buying and it takes the guesswork out of the bar bill equation. Just be mindful of the small print as most have limits on the quantity and the price of drinks.

Prices for excursions, specialty restaurants and spa services are all available in advance of sailing, and some can be prebooked and prepaid. Internet plans are only sold onboard, but you can ask about pricing at time of booking. Each cruise line has their own tipping guidelines - count on about US$15 per person per day, and some can be prepaid at time of booking.

Most cruise lines run promotions that may include complimentary beverage package, prepaid gratuities, internet, shipboard or excursion credits, or specialty dining. These are great added value features to help offset onboard costs.

The only thing to keep in mind is that all pricing onboard is in U.S. dollars, so it's another 35 per cent for us Canadians. But, with advance planning, your clients can have a very good estimate of the final figure. Lastly, for those who do not want any surprises, recommend a luxury cruise where everything is included and paid upfront at time of booking.