Your Ultimate Guide to Budgeting for a Cruise: How Much Money Do You Really Need?

Planning a cruise vacation can be an exciting endeavor, but it can also be a bit daunting when it comes to budgeting. How much money do you really need for a cruise? The answer to this question can vary greatly depending on several factors such as the cruise line, the length of the cruise, the destination, and your personal spending habits. In this guide, we will break down the various costs associated with a cruise vacation to help you budget effectively.

Cost of the Cruise Ticket

The first and most obvious cost is the cruise ticket itself. This can range from a few hundred dollars for a short, off-peak cruise to several thousand for a luxury cruise during peak season. The ticket price usually includes your accommodation, meals in the main dining areas, and basic entertainment and activities.


Most cruise lines automatically add gratuities to your onboard account, which can range from to per person per day. Some cruise lines include gratuities in the ticket price, so it’s important to check this beforehand.


While some cruise lines offer all-inclusive drink packages, others charge for alcoholic beverages, specialty coffees, and even bottled water. If you enjoy a drink or two, this can add up quickly. Consider purchasing a drink package if it’s not included in your ticket price.

Specialty Dining

While meals in the main dining areas are included in your ticket price, most cruise ships also offer specialty restaurants for an additional fee. If you’re a foodie who enjoys fine dining, you may want to budget for this.


Shore excursions can be one of the biggest additional costs on a cruise. These can range from for a simple beach day to several hundred dollars for more elaborate tours or adventures. You can save money by booking independently, but make sure to do your research to ensure the company is reputable.

Onboard Spending

From spa treatments to shopping, there are plenty of opportunities to spend money on board. Set a daily budget for these extras and stick to it to avoid a shock at the end of your cruise.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a must for any vacation, including cruises. The cost will depend on the coverage level you choose, but expect to pay between 4% and 10% of your total trip cost.

In conclusion, the cost of a cruise vacation can vary greatly depending on your personal preferences and spending habits. However, with careful planning and budgeting, you can ensure a memorable vacation without breaking the bank.