Do You Have to Pay for a Cruise Up Front?

Some fans of cruises like the all-inclusive nature of the vacation.
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Cruises offer the opportunity to do a variety of activities on board the ship, such as casino nights, karaoke, magic shows and other live performances. Many travelers choose cruises because they are all-inclusive and, if no other items are purchased on the trip, the vacation cost is a set amount. While most cruise lines offer multiple payment options, the entire balance of the cruise bill is due before the vacation starts and often several months ahead.

Payment Options

Cruise lines evolve with the times, giving passengers multiple options for payment. Many vacationers find that multiple smaller payments, similar to that of a credit card, work better in their budget. But know that the final payment for the cruise will typically be due 60 to 120 days before departure. Additionally, if the cruise is booked close to the departure date, the passenger will likely have to pay the full balance of the amount at the time of booking.

All Inclusive May Not Mean What You Think

Unexpected expenses on a cruise can increase your overall cruise bill. Although you paid for the trip up front, it does not include “extras” such as some excursions, alcohol, tips, soft drinks, spa and hair care. Include extra money in your budget if you plan to partake in any extra activities. Additionally, you will need to plan for the travel expense to and from the cruise ship. Depending upon your distance from the port, it could be either airfare or car travel to and from the cruise. Include this expense in your calculations for the trip.


The policy varies by cruise line, but at least a percentage of any deposits made usually can be refunded if you cannot take your trip. Send a letter detailing your situation -- why you can't make the trip -- to the cruise line corporate offices or work with the travel agent who booked your trip.

Tips to Save Up for Your Cruise

If the funds for a cruise are not in your savings account, it may be a good idea to postpone the cruise for a few months while you save the money needed to purchase the trip. Limit eating out or going to the movies during this time and save the money you would have spent in your cruise fund. Look for ways to cut your budget, such as reducing cable channels to lower your bill, dropping a land line if you use a cell phone, and using coupons at the grocery store. With each cut in your budget, put the funds aside for your upcoming cruise.

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