Hidden extras can cost up to £3,000 more on ocean cruises and additional £2,000 on river itineraries
New research by Saga has found that travellers can expect to spend an average of over £1,300 in hidden extras on a ‘pay as you go’ ocean cruise, and potentially as much as £3,000 more, while on river cruises it’s an average of £500 on top of the basic price, but with the possibility of that stretching to almost £2,000 more per person.
Whilst many people see their holidays as a time to try and forget about the stresses of everyday, those creeping prices can be a source of concern for many cruisers who may find themselves having to curb their enjoyment to stay within budget.
The potential for hidden costs is also considered by customers long before they even set sail, with nearly half (47%) of respondents saying that hidden fees are a concern when booking. A quarter (23%) of cruise guests will carefully budget and plan for the extra costs, while more than a third (35%) will set a spending limit and try to stay within it, cutting back on elements such as excursions or drinks if they need to.
According to the research, the most common add-ons on ocean cruises are gratuities (averaging £195 per person), excursions (averaging £372), drinks (averaging £266), Wi-Fi (averaging £123), and travel insurance (averaging £366). That works out at an additional spend of £1,322 per person.
For river cruises it is gratuities (£94 per person), drinks (£131), and insurance (£251) that add up to £476 per person.
There’s also the potential for more costs for flights, pre- or post-cruise hotel stays, transfers, speciality dining and entertainment and more, which, when added to the likes of gratuities, excursions, drinks and insurance could add a staggering £3,213 to an ocean cruise or £1,901 to a river cruise.
Nigel Blanks, CEO of Saga Cruises, said: “Cruising is a brilliant way to see numerous exciting destinations in one holiday, all from the comfort and convenience of a ship. There’s quite a range of options out there though so it is worth people planning their finances before setting sail. All-inclusive cruises may appear more expensive at first glance, but they represent real value for money, especially when the additional cost for ‘extras’ such as drinks, excursions, and insurance can stack up to hundreds or thousands of pounds more.”
“Of course, Saga cruises are all-inclusive so you could argue we would say that, but our advice is based on our customers’ experience. Many of them take numerous cruises every year, and they are savvy enough to know that they can better manage their budget by booking all-inclusive cruises as part of their travel plans. The fixed cost means they can relax on-board knowing everything is covered and they’re clear on how much is left over for other trips they may want to take.”
Many cruise lines also drop their prices nearer to the date of travel so it can be hard to track the best price. Bucking that trend and to provide certainty, Saga encourages people to book early by always offering a discount of up to 35% on ocean cruises and 25% off river cruises when they launch (this percentage gradually decreases as the cabins are sold). The cruise line also offers a price promise, whereby if the price of the cruise ever drops, guests who have paid the higher price will get the value difference.
The findings from Saga’s research also suggests experience plays into how people select their trips with those who cruise regularly opting to mix and match cruise lines and itineraries to maximise their budget and the locations they can visit. Booking all-inclusive cruises as part of their travel plans gives them a clear indication of their expected costs, and what budget is left for other travel opportunities.
In terms of repaying some of those additional costs, Saga’s research found that 56% are using either their savings or a credit card (28% each) to pay for their holidays and 70% say they’ll spend the coming weeks and months paying it off.
Saga is committed to offering customers more for their money and making the cruise experience truly unforgettable and offers all-inclusive sailings across its ocean and river cruise itineraries that provide much more than just dining onboard, wine with meals and drinks at the bar. All guests can take advantage of the complimentary chauffeur service up to 300 miles for 2024, and each sailing includes all onboard gratuities, selected excursions, Wi-Fi, porterage and up to £5m travel insurance.
(Hidden extras can cost up to £3,000 more on ocean cruises and additional £2,000 on river itineraries – Saga)