There’s nothing in life that’s truly free. And yes, that applies to a cruise as well. Passengers pay plenty of cash to board the ship and take their vacation. But unlike many vacations, there are quite a few things that don’t cost extra once you are on the cruise ship.
In a world that seems to constantly nickel and dime you, finding that little freebies can make your day… or your vacation… so much better.
And yes, while there is plenty for you to spend extra on when you are on the ship — everything from alcohol to specialty restaurants — there is still plenty that’s included with your fare. From beverages to fun on board, here’s a list of items that you can expect to get for free while cruising.
A pack of seasickness remedy is only a few bucks on Amazon, so it’s a smart idea to always pack a bottle in your luggage. But what if you forget or you simply need some more? We’ve noticed that anytime the ship gets a little rocky, you can find a bowl of relief pills on the ship. Typically these are at Guest Services in a big bowl to be picked up by passengers. However, we strongly suggest still bringing your own, just in case.
There’s something magical about an ice cream cone at the beach. It’s even better when that ice cream is free. The major lines all have soft-serve machines (usually by the pool) so you can have your treat while you hang out by the pool, soaking up the sun. The best news? You can get as much as you want. It’s also a good way to bribe the kids into being well-behaved.
Try to head to a waterpark on land and you’re going to pay a fortune in entrance fees. The parks on cruise ships, however, are free with your paid cruise fare. Whether you just want to hang out with kids in the splash zone or tackle some of the biggest waterslides at sea, you can do so without having to open up your wallet.
Nightly Shows & Entertainment
Gone are the days of having a quaint chorus show on a ship. These days there are major productions, and they are worth your time to attend. In addition to the shows, there are also lots of other entertainment options from contests to late-night comedians. And yes, these programs are all available without a penny of extra charge. When you want to attend an event, simply show up and find your seat.
Buffet & Main Dining Room Eats
Hungry? Everyone knows the reputation that cruises have for serving tons of food. In fact, you should never go hungry. But there has been a trend on many cruise lines toward offering “specialty” restaurants. These are dining options that aren’t included in your cruise fare and instead cost extra to eat at for a meal. The good news is that the buffet and main dining room (the classic options on cruise ships) are always free with your cruise. Go in, eat as much as you want, and don’t worry about a bill at the end of your meal.
To make things clear right off the bat, beach towels are free to use… but not to keep. Still, while most hotels in beach resorts charge you a resort fee to use their towels at the beach, there’s no such thing on cruise ships. Simply head to the pool deck and check out a towel (they are sometimes already in your room). These towels can go everywhere with you — including on shore when you are in port. Just make sure that you return them before the cruise is over or you will be charged.
Water, Tea, Lemonade, and Coffee
Cruise lines make a small fortune off of charging for drinks — alcoholic or otherwise. It’s par for the course to pay $12 (including gratuity) for a cocktail and about $3 for a soda. But if you don’t want to pay for drinks, you can still have some beverages for free. Water, tea, lemonade, and coffee are all available in the ship’s restaurants for no charge. Just keep in mind that the specialty drinks like fancy coffee are an extra charge.
For mass-market cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean, there is a big push to appeal to families. That said, the lines also understand that not everyone wants to relax with kids running around. That’s why most ships have adults-only areas where kids aren’t allowed. While there’s no doubt that many people would gladly pay extra to enjoy a kid-free space during their vacation, they don’t have to. Access to these spaces are included in your cruise fare, and you don’t have to pay an extra dime to enjoy your peace and quiet.
Wondering if there is a charge for something on a cruise ship? Let us know in the comments. You can also read more about how to save cash during your cruise.