Hidden fees and other things to know before booking a cruise

When planning to book a cruise, it can be difficult to assess which journey is right for you and your family. 

With so many different types of cruises, it’s important to do your research before you book, says Toronto-based travel expert Natalie Preddie. 

Cruises have become increasingly popular globally. The number of cruise passengers increased 20 per cent between 2011 and 2016, jumping to more than 24.7 million passengers, according to a study by Cruise Lines International Association. 

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But with the sheer number of cruising destinations at various price points, you’ll want to know in advance exactly which ports your ship will be docking at, along with the type of ship itself, Preddie told hosts on Global News’ The Morning Show

“Look at your specific ship. Is there entertainment…is it an adults-only cruise? Is it for retirees?” she said. “You want to know what’s on the ship and is it going to be suitable for your family.”

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Along with the type of ship you’ll be cruising on, do some research about which ports you’ll be visiting and for how long. That way, you’ll know whether to book on-land activities, said Preddie.

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“Know what experiences are available for you at each port and book them ahead of time,” she said. 

If a certain port day isn’t compelling to you, it might be beneficial to stay on the ship and enjoy its amenities without the big crowds. That’s especially true if that destination is a port-only visit without a chance to see the actual country in which you’re docking, she said. 

“This is the time to really check out the ship … the pool will be empty, get there first to the lunch buffet,” she said. “If you don’t love what’s on land, enjoy the ship.”

Avoid hidden costs

A big mistake Canadians can make when taking a cruise is not being aware of the added costs that can rack up if you’re not paying attention. 

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“If you’re looking at the price online … that may or may not include your flight down there and the flight back,” Preddie said, adding you will likely need a hotel on either side of your trip.

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Meals can cost extra if you opt for add-ons like prime rib or alcohol if you don’t buy a drinks package in advance.

“Just double-check those things so you don’t get a bill at the end and wonder what happened,” she said. 

And while it’s important to tip employees on your cruise ship, be aware of built-in service costs so you don’t pay more than you have to, she said.

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“There is already 15 per cent added on all of your drinks, and there is a service charge added every day for you and whoever else you’re with, including your children,” she said. 

Along with tips, it’s important to be wary of your phone bill while on a cruise, she said. Wi-Fi is often not included on most ships.

“A lot of people don’t know this,” she said. “Putting your phone away is never a bad thing when you’re on vacation.”

For more information on what to know when booking a cruise, watch Natalie Preddie in the video above.



© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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