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Family Cruises | 2001

The Hidden Costs of Cruising

Before you spend the money you thought you saved on a stellar cruise deal, factor in these standard, but often surprise, expenses:

Beverages: All-inclusive rates generally leave out liquor and soft drinks. Carnival and Celebrity offer an all-you-can-drink soda card for kids ($9–$19.95, and $4.50 per day, respectively). There's a 15 percent tip included in the tab, whether it's for a single soda or a six-pack of beer.

Phone Calls and Faxes: Hold that thought—dialing within the States costs $5.95 to $9.50 per minute.

E-mail: The way to stay in touch—if you must. Most ships charge about 75 cents a minute for Internet access, plus fees for messages sent. A Royal Caribbean digital postcard goes for $4.95; a video e-mail from one of Norwegian's cyber cafés is $9.95.

Shore Outings: Pick your price, from Disney's $12 banana-boat ride to Radisson Seven Seas' $350 per person two-hour combination “glacier panorama” (by helicopter) and dog-sled Adventure in Juno, Alaska.

Spa Treatments: An 80-minute, $280 massage performed by two massage therapists?It's an option on Norwegian. Of course you could just stick with a $15 no-frills nail polish change.

Other Extras: Medical services, gambling, ice skating, baby-sitting (about $6 per hour), onboard family portrait ($5–$19.95), souvenir We Be Jammin' T-shirt.

Gratuities: You're rarely left to do the math—many cruise lines print tipping guidelines and even supply envelopes. The standard rate is $3.50 per person/per day for both the room steward and dining room waiter, and $1.50 for the busboy. Some ships factor gratuities into the bill (Carnival tacks on $9.75 per person, per day); others, such as Holland America, have a tipping-not-required policy—but just try to get off scot- and guilt-free.

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