Over at Quora recently, I weighed in on the question: Why are cruises so expensive?
Here’s what I said:
Well, not all cruises are expensive. Some are quite cheap. Like hotels, cruise ships offer different standards of accommodation, so there are budget options and five- or six-star experiences.
Some offer a genuine all-inclusive experience — which means you don’t have to put your hands in your pocket while you are onboard (or even, on some cruises, during land excursions) — others do not. In the latter case, you pay a flat fee for your accommodation and basic food option, but you have to also shell out for alcohol, gambling (if you want to do it), tips, premium dining experiences and excursions.
The best advice is to understand exactly what is included and what is not. If you compare a cruise with a land-based holiday of the same quality, I think you will generally find that the cruise is less expensive.
For example, I took a [Costa] cruise in the Arabian Gulf for a week that cost me about the same as just one night in a high-end Dubai hotel. Even with the extras, staying on the ship, while still having access to the delights of Dubai, was very affordable. And the cruise also moved on to other ports.
People who cruise enjoy the experience, the facilities, the shows and activities onboard and the people they meet. It’s not for everybody, but it’s worth a try.
If you baulk at the price, just remember that you are paying upfront for a week (or two or three), and if you do it properly (for example, by buying a drinks package and internet access, and pre-paying for the excursions you want to take) you won’t have to spend another dime for the entire holiday.