Wow! If I spent that much on each cruise, I would never be able to go
I wish I could be that extravagant on my cruises, but if it is the difference between extravagant or less cruises--I choose to go the cheap-skate route We very rarely spend over $100 extra on our cruises unless we tack on an excursion or two offered through the cruise line. We are not drinkers or gamblers, so we take full advantage of all of the 'free' activities on the ship and truly love our cruise experiences! (I have been on 10 so far, and will keep on going as long as I can afford to do so
Bottom line...you can get out of a cruise for a VERY reasonable price if you 'want' to. It just depends on what is going to make the experience the best for YOU!
Cruising is as expensive as you want it to be. It depends on the itinerary, the time of year, the cruise line itself, etc... Some longer cruises are considerably cheaper than shorter ones. RCCL is advertising an 8-day from Ft. Lauderdale to Panama for $199 (of course, then you have to consider the Spirit flight back to the states for $245 one way). Conversely, the same website has a 4-day for $999.
Be careful when you are booking shore excursion. The local people are seldom into charity work. Many of these workers are in impoverished economies and cruise ships are a major part of their local income base. That being said, make sure that you do your research on any particular excursion in which you are interested. If you are non-drinkers, you need to find out if the excursion includes an open bar. You may not partake of the libations but you are certainly paying for them in the excursion price. If you are non-snorkelers, non-swimmers, etc., make sure that the individual elements of a shore trip are consistent with your level of activity and interests.
Dave's break down is typical for us. We don't worry too much about the costs but we do try to minimize them when we can.
Be careful of the "on board" nickel and diming too. The cruise lines are big on pictures. They take your picture everywhere you turn. The cost of those pictures is high (I don't remember RCI's costs but on Carnival a 5x7 is $13). Don't get into the mode of buying every picture. We take a nice family photo on formal night when we are also dressed up and then we treat that as our yearly family portrait visit. (Makes it seem like a bargain) Note that if you really like a picture, the ships photo shop can make 8x10's or even many smaller copies if you want them.
Chops and Portifinos dinning- extra cost,
Gold by the inch, T shirts watch sales etc.. the ship is always having "a sale" of some type. Stay away if you can.
Spa treatments and Salon visits are a big expense (I have two teen girls, so between the wife and the girls...ouch...)
It's like any other vacation.. you just have to be careful about what you spend.
As far as off the ship expense goes... you CAN save money by booking things on your own. The cruise line is making a profit on those excursions, but you can book the same tour group (or at least the same tour) on line for less money. Do a little investigation as to what you might want to do at each port and then check on line to see if you can book those same things through a private tour company (most places you can). St Thomas, we save money by getting to St John on our own instead of booking a snorkeling tour through the ship. It works out to be about half the cost.
St Marteen, its not the best beach on the island but you can rent a set of beach chairs and umbrella and have use of there water toys right there in front of downtown. Last time we were there we got the chairs, a bucket of beer and use of the facilities for $20 for the four of use....
================================================== ========== Carnival Cruise Lines:
Fantasy 90, Celebration 95, Victory 05, Conquest 05, Spirit 6/06, Freedom 6/08, Holiday 7/08, Victory 6/09, Valor 9/09, Dream 6/10, Splendor 8/10,Conquest 8/11,Magic 11/11,Triumph 4/12,Spirit 7/12,Freedom 11/12, Triumph 2/13 - The fire cruise, Magic 1/14, Freedom x 2 6/14
NCL Dream October 2006, RCCL Mariner OTS June 2007, Celebrity Silhouette 2013
Cabs on ST. Thomas and Maarten charge by the person and usually don't discriminate between adults and children. This will add up. Last time we were in St. Maarten we took the water ferry from the ship's pier to the town and did a little shopping at the open air "native market" and hung out at the beach right in Marigot. The kids liked the beach, there were some shells, the water was calm on that side of the island. We were able to take the ferry back to the boat for lunch, and return to the beach for the afternoon. This was probably the most reasonable thing we have done on our cruises. It was not a post-card worthy beach, not orient beach, sorry, but we did not pay $28+tip ONE WAY to get four of us there, rather $4 each, unlimited use of the water taxi.
We save some $$ on the cruise as we are not that into shopping. Also we are not big drinkers or gamblers. I probably have a couple sodas in a whole week as well--I can have a coke at home and save my consumption for something I can only get on my trip! There is lots of entertainment, game shows, dancing, etc. that ARE included. Also we work out every day, most exercise classes and all the fitness equipment are included, with extra fees for spinning classes and specialty training. We eat in the dining room and restaurants that are included and never go hungry or feel like we are missing out. Most everything on the sports deck is included, like mini golf which kids like.
Gratuities are extra and once you experience the service and meet the fantastic people who are trying to make your trip special you will not want to economize there.
We probably spend about $300 + gratuities on a 7 day cruise. We do generally do expensive things on shore 2 days which we book on our own (get references in advance whenever possible), and then try to have the other two days be low expense/low key--especially easy if one of your days will be in Labadee!
Decide in advance what sounds like a fun splurge--a spa treatment for each of you? A babysitter for a night on the ship? A specialty restaurant? If you have an idea of what you would really consider a treat in advance it will help you decide when the choices are all in front of you later.
RCCL Nordic Empress 1993
RCCL Nordic Prince 1994
RCCL Explorer 2003, 2005
RCCL Navigator, 2004, 2007
RCCL Mariner 2006
RCCL Liberty 2008
RCCL Adventure 2009 Read and post cruise reviews
When we first started cruising we went mostly with tours booked on ship but as we have repeated the islands, we began to enjoy the island in a different way by really studying the island and finding things to do on our own. We have also taken advantage of the ship and the great days at the pool and on deck with so many others being on shore. Hearing what others have done in chats has also been very helpful. We don't gamble much and in fact, we did not spend one dollar on our last cruise in the casino. Like many have stated before, we tend to think of the ship as our destination and the islands as an extra.
Hi Freedom, welcome to Cruise-Chat. Everyone has given you some great suggestions. Mine is to check out the Caribbean Port Chat section a little further down the main page. Type in your ports in the "Find" feature, upper left hand corner, and it will pull up all the posts made about those ports. There may be something there that interests you, and may have some good tips for saving money, too. If you allow it, cruising can be as expensive as going to Disney, but it doesn't have to be. Some of the best excursions we've done is a visit of the island from a cab driver for a negotiated price. They won't always take you to tourist traps, although they will take you by to visit their "friends" who just happen to be selling something. Don't short change yourself from visiting an island, just because it will cost some money to do an activity. Best wishes and hope you enjoy your cruise!
Hi Freedom and welcome ! Your cruise itinerary looks great, I love St Maarten, one of my favorite ports. Don't forget CoCo Cay, that's an all-inclusive day ! They feed you and most of what you do is included, I love the beach stops. I am not a shopper, so that is not my cost problem. I do like a cocktail, wine for sure. I like a nice wine, so I bought a white and a red at dinner and they bring it back to you each night. I also open a bottle or two at the Champagne Bar and stop by to chat and grab a glass of wine. My bill including all, drinks, spa and misc equals about $125 a day. I budget for that and enjoy !
Monarch of the Seas-1993
Song of America-1994
Majesty of the Seas-1995
Splendour of the Seas-1996
Empress of the Seas-1998
Rhapsody of the Seas-1998
Legend of the Seas-1999
Monarch of the Seas-2000
Grandeur of the Seas-2006
Enchantment of the Seas-2006
Adventure of the Seas-2007
Enchantment of the Seas-2007
Grandeur of the Seas-2009
Radiance of the Seas-2009
each time we come off of the ship I am under the impression that it's going to cost me money
It doesn't cost you anything to get on or off the ship. If you want to do an activity in port, then it will cost you money just as it does to do activities when you leave home.
You can also stay on board when the ship is in port and partake in the no-extra-cost cruise activities.
I do get tired of all the hands out (guides, street vendors, drivers, cruise lines, etc.). The ships have tons of opportunities on board to make money so you don't even have to leave your ship to be hit up! However, you are not under obligation to buy anything.
If you were staying at a hotel and went to do things, it'd cost you so I don't really understand the negativity. Frankly, wife sounds like a buzzkill. I'd leave her at home.