The Eight Hidden Costs of Cruising

Every so often, you have probably heard the term "all-inclusive" applied to cruises. A voyage is one of the best values around since all major expenses (lodging, meals, snacks, activities and entertainment) are indeed included in the fare. But there are some items -- mostly of a personal nature -- that are out-of-pocket expenses. So set aside some cash to cover these expenditures to truly make your next sailing the cruise of your dreams. To make sure the incidentals don't break the bank, here are some tips from Cruise Critic for saving on the "seven seas":

Shore Excursions: Read the line's shore tour booklet and attend the port lectures given aboard the ship that provide you with more details about the organized tours available for sale on the ship. Prices for these excursions range from about $25 - $45 (£15 - £40) for a half-day city tour, to more than $200 (£150) for some all-day tours, overland programs including meals and snacks, and such exciting offerings as helicopter flight-seeing and hot-air ballooning.

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Savings Tip: While you may wish to sign up for some of the ship's tours (particularly if you are not familiar with the port and do not speak the language), you also have the option to tour independently at a fraction of the cost -- or even for free, if you go on a self-guided walking tour. Before setting sail, request free planners with maps, calendars of events and attraction brochures for the ports of call on your itinerary from tourist boards.

Check out books on your destination from the public library, and visit Web sites such as Cruise Critic , particularly the Ports of Call, to give you ideas for touring in the ports. Look over the calendars from the tourist offices for festivals or crafts displays which are sources of good, free entertainment during your visit. Art galleries showcasing local work, parks and beaches are . Other free or nominal charge attractions to check ou includes museums and native crafts exhibits. Hiring a car and driver to take you on a private tour, or just into the center of town, can often be less expensive that the shipboard excursions. But always agree on the price, and in the case of a tour, what specific points of interest will be covered, before you board the car.

Cruise Ships Drinks and Alcohol

Alcohol and other Beverages: Alcoholic beverages and wine are not included in the cruise fare on most lines, with the exception of some ultra-deluxe lines. And your tab can add up: hard liquor, cocktails and wine range from $3.50 - $8 apiece, or even more, depending on the cruise line; soft drinks run $1.50 - $2.

Savings Tip: Most vessels advertise "daily drink specials" you may want to try. At meals, iced tea, milk, coffee and juices are complimentary. If you are traveling with children, find out if your ship offers "soda packages" that feature unlimited sodas during the cruise for about $15 - $20. Or bring-your-own. We pick up soda six-packs in port. Be forewarned, though: cruise line have highly restrictive policies about bringing alcohol onboard.

Casino Gaming: Shipboard casinos keep getting bigger and bigger, so it is safe to say that the lines are doing well at their tables and slots.

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