While on our recent Mexican Riviera cruise with Carnival, we were able to meet up with a family member who lives in Cabo San Lucas six months out of the year. She mentioned that she would never do another cruise because there are too many hidden costs. This got me thinking…
It seems to me that there is confusion when it comes to the gratuities, purchasing beverages, and any other extras on board a cruise, so I just wanted to list out some “hidden” fees you can expect to see on your end-of-cruise bill.
Some Things You Have to Pay for on the Carnival Miracle
- Casino (if charged to your Sail and Sign card)
- Gratuities (per person in your cabin) – Ours were $90.65 per person; total: $362.60)
- Alcoholic Beverages, Sodas and Specialty Coffees
- Build-A-Bear At Sea Products (Bears are around $26, clothes around $12)
- Cat in the Hat Breakfast Party ($5 per person)
- Arcade Games (if charged to your Sail and Sign card)
- Excursions (if booked through the cruise line)
- Specialty Dining (Nick & Noras Steakhouse,$35 per person; Chef’s Table, $75 per person)
- Internet Access (I paid for the $119 package for the week)
- 15% Bar Gratuity each time you buy a drink
- Camp Ocean, 10pm and later (Camp Ocean is free until 10pm)
- Extra Games (ex. BINGO, Beer Pong Tournament, etc.)
Having been on a handful of cruises, I knew to expect the “hidden” fees. Plus, we always tip our room steward extra and tip our favorite bar tenders extra on top of the 15% bar gratuities that are included in our bill. We typically budget around $800 for our end-of-cruise bill for our family of 4, but we don’t usually spend this much.
Way to Get Around “Hidden” Fees on a Cruise Ship
I have discovered a few ways to get around some of the “hidden” fees on cruise ship:
Onboard Credit When Booking
Taking advantage of Carnival’s sales and check with your travel agent to see if they are offering any onboard credit. This is a great way to rack up some credit to spend onboard on things like beverages. My favorite travel agency is AvoyaTravel.com because they are always offering great bonuses.
Purchase the Beverage Packages
Depending on the types of beverages you plan to be drinking, Carnival offers great beverage packages for the entire family. You can pre-purchase drinks to keep in your room, like waters, sodas and beer, you can purchase the wine package or the bottomless bubbles package. Learn more here.
Cruise Loyalty Program Rewards
Carnival has a great program that they call the VIFP program. If you sail more than once with Carnival, you have the potential to earn lots of great rewards including cabin upgrades, complimentary water bottles, arcade credits and more.
This option allows you to purchase credits in increments of $25, $50, $75 and $100 to be applied to your Sail & Sign account so you don’t have to worry about paying after the cruise. This is a great option for budgeting and is something I recommend you do.
Bring Your Own Drinks (limited)
- Bringing Liquor and Beverages Onboard – Embarkation
- Guests are prohibited from bringing water, sodas and other non-alcoholic beverages onboard that are packaged in bottles.
- A small quantity of non-alcoholic beverages (i.e., sparkling water, sodas, juice, and milk) packaged in cans or cartons may be brought onboard on embarkation day and must be in the guest’s carry-on luggage. A small quantity is considered a maximum of 12 sealed, unopened cans/cartons of 12 ounces each or less per person.
- Guests are prohibited from bringing alcoholic beverages on board with the following exception – At the beginning of the cruise during embarkation day only, guests (21 years of age and older) may bring one 750 ml bottle of sealed/unopened wine or champagne per person in their carry-on luggage. All liquor, beer, other forms of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages outside of this exception are strictly prohibited in both carry-on and checked luggage and such items will be confiscated and discarded and no compensation will be provided.
- A $15 USD corkage fee, per 750 ml bottle, will be charged should guests wish to consume their wine or champagne in the main dining room, steakhouse or bar. A corkage fee is a charge exacted at a restaurant for every bottle served that was not bought on the premises.
- Bottled Water
- We know some of our guests are accustomed to bringing on their own supply of bottled water so as part of this policy we have significantly reduced the pricing for (purified) bottled water which will be conveniently delivered directly to your stateroom. Once onboard, the purchase is non-refundable; guests may take home any unopened bottles.
- Pricing is as follows:
- $4.50 USD for a 12-pack of bottled water (16.9 fluid ounce per bottle) for pre-cruise purchase. Please visit The Fun Shops at www.carnival.com/FunShops/in-stateroom-beverages/water to place your order before your cruise to ensure we have an ample supply onboard.
- $4.50 USD (plus gratuity) for a 12-pack of bottled water (16.9 fluid ounce per bottle) for purchase onboard by contacting Room Service.
- Distilled Water
- Guests may bring on board distilled water for use with a CPAP machine or nursery water for families with babies and packed in carry-on luggage.Distilled water may also be purchased onboard at $3.00 USD per gallon by contacting Room Service. The CPAP machine must be packed in carry-on luggage.
- Guests are prohibited from bringing large coolers onboard since screening and movement of large coolers through embarkation is an impediment to the boarding and security process. However small, personal-sized coolers, no larger than 12” x 12” x 12” for the purpose of housing small quantities of non-alcoholic beverages and/or medications are permitted as carry-on luggage.