When planning a vacation, it is important to know what the extra costs are. A cruise is no different. This will answer what the extra costs on Royal Caribbean Cruise are.
When you book your cruise, you will be charged the base cruise fare, taxes and port charges (port fees). Often when you see a cruise deal advertised, these extra taxes and fees aren’t included, but will appear in the fine print.
While this list is a little long, don’t get discouraged. The good news is that these are all optional except for gratuities, necessary hotels and getting to the ship. You can have an amazing time with purchasing just a few of these cruise extras.
You technically could go on a cruise vacation and only spend extra on getting to the ship and on gratuities, but you probably won’t want to.
Read through the list and decide for yourself what you can do without to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation and what you should purchase to make it the best cruise experience for you and your family.
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29 Extra costs on Royal Caribbean Cruise
1. Royal Caribbean Gratuities
This is the most important extra cost on Royal Caribbean. The crew members work incredibly hard and are definitely deserving of these gratuities.
As a convenience, Royal Caribbean automatically assesses daily service charges of $16.00 USD per person or $18.50 pp/day if you are in a suite. This gratuity is divided between service staff including your stateroom attendants, main dining room staff, and staff at other complimentary food venues, such as the Windjammer buffet.
These daily gratuities can either be prepaid or they will be added to your onboard account.
If you are trying to decide if you should prepay your tips, 3 Reasons to Prepay Gratuities will help.
An 18% gratuity is automatically added to beverages, specialty dining charges, and spa services.
Alcohol is one of the extra costs on Royal Caribbean (for most).
You can purchase alcoholic drinks as you go by presenting your Royal Caribbean Sea Pass to charge them to your onboard account.
When we sailed on Mariner of the Seas in August 2022, the prices for a beer started at $7.99. Wine started at $10/glass and cocktails, like a pina colada was from $13. All prices are US dollars and all plus 18% gratuity. I have heard rumors that prices may be going up.
You will save a couple dollars off the cocktails if you purchase the drink of the day.
The other option is to purchase the deluxe beverage package. This drink package includes both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
The price of the drink package varies. It is cheaper to purchase it before you cruise. Check online, and check often, the beverage packages often go on sale.
Soda is another beverage that is not included on Royal Caribbean.
You can purchase soft drinks onboard for $3.50 plus gratuity (Aug 2022 price – this can change) or purchase one of the following Royal Caribbean beverage packages that include soda (pop).
- Deluxe beverage package – this is the package mentioned above that includes alcoholic drinks
- Refreshment package – this is the non-alcohol package. Includes mocktails, milkshakes, soda, water and more
- Soda package – as the name implies it includes soda
All the beverage packages come with a souvenir cup that can be refilled with fountain soda.
Select Royal Caribbean ships have a Starbucks. Starbucks costs extra. Unfortunately, none one of the Royal Caribbean drink packages include Starbucks drinks or snacks.
For cost reference, on our Aug 2022 cruise, a venti chai tea latte was $7.01 after the 18% auto gratuity.
For Royal Caribbean ships that don’t have Starbucks, they will offer other specialty coffees which also have an additional cost.
5. Specialty restaurants
As with most of the other major cruise lines, there are restaurants included in your cruise fare, then there are additional dining options that have an extra cost.
Some have a cover charge while others have individual food item pricing (a la carte).
It is completely possible to eat only the complimentary food options for your entire cruise, enjoy it, and not feel like you are missing out. However, if you are looking for additional delicious options and, in some cases, stepped up cuisine, there are a number of specialty restaurants to choose from.
You can save money and still eat at a specialty restaurant by eating there for lunch rather than dinner or by purchasing a dining package.
As an example, check out the dining options on Mariner of the Seas.
6. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream
Some Royal Caribbean ships have Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. There is an extra charge.
7. Room service (except continental breakfast)
If you order room service on Royal Caribbean you will be charged an extra fee, unless it is continental breakfast.
Continental breakfast includes things like bagels, toast, cereal, fruit, and yogurt. You can order room service for continental breakfast between 6:00am and 11:00 am for no additional fees.
Other food options are available however there is an extra fee. It is a flat service fee regardless of what you order.
8. Royal Caribbean Wi-Fi
Wifi is not included on Royal Caribbean ships. Royal Caribbean offers two different internet access packages that you can purchase. Surf or Surf & Stream.
The Royal Caribbean internet packages often go on sale prior to departure. Keep checking your “My Cruise Planner” on their website.
I purchased the Surf & Stream package on my last Mariner of the Seas cruise to Bermuda. I was really impressed with the speed and will definitely buy it again.
Be sure to put your phone in airplane mode when you get on the ship to avoid unexpected charges.
You do not need to purchase an internet package to use the Royal Caribbean App onboard.
9. App chat feature
The Royal Caribbean app has a chat feature to allow you to message other passengers on the ship.
The app itself is free and you do not need to purchase the internet package to use this feature, but you do have to pay for the chat feature. The current rate is $1.99 per person per day.
10. Shore excursions
Planned tours, activities, and excursions in ports of call are not included in your Royal Caribbean cruise fare.
It doesn’t cost anything to get off the ship and just walk around the port or town. Some ports are more suited for exploring on your own than others. It is important to research that first. Some ports don’t have much at the port itself.
If your cruise itinerary has a stop at Perfect Day at Coco Cay, their private island, you are in for a treat. There are beautiful beaches with lots of lounge chairs and an incredible Oasis Lagoon pool that are free to use. Although, if you want to snorkel or visit the water park, there is a charge for that.
Check the cruise line’s website for shore excursions to get an idea what there is to do at the different destinations and what the cost is. 5 Reasons to book cruise line shore excursions might be of interest.
More extra costs on Royal Caribbean cruise
11. Pre and post cruise transfers
Airport transfers are not included in your cruise fare. Royal Caribbean does sell transfers which are convenient, but they are often more expensive than other options.
Remember – you should always fly in the day before your cruise departs.
Unless you are staying at an airport hotel, the cruise line pre cruise transfers may not work as you’d have to make your way back to the airport for pick up.
12. Pre and post cruise hotel
Arriving in your cruise departure city the day before your cruise is as mentioned very highly recommended.
It is one of the 15 Top Tips for First Time Cruisers.
The cost of the hotel is an additional cost and should be factored in when creating your cruise budget.
13. Travel insurance
Travel insurance is additional. It is optional but recommended.
14. The spa
The Royal Caribbean Vitality Spa does have an additional charge. You do pay extra for spa treatments.
Some ships, such as Mariner of the Seas does have a steam room and sauna that you can use free of charge. That’s a good little bonus.
Here are some cruise essentials including Royal Caribbean luggage tag holders.
As probably expected, the salon costs extra on Royal Caribbean, as it does on other cruise lines too.
16. Some fitness classes cost extra on Royal Caribbean
The use of the Royal Caribbean gym is free to use and there are some fitness classes that are complimentary, however some fitness center classes do have a charge.
On our last cruise these were $20. That of course can change.
Laundry services are an extra cost on Royal Caribbean ships, as it is with most, if not all other cruise lines.
You are not allowed to bring an iron onboard a cruise ship. How to keep clothes wrinkle free on a cruise has some great tips.
Photos taken by cruise ship photographers have an additional cost. You are only charged if you purchase a photo, not to have them taken.
When you have your photo taken by one of the ship’s photographers, you are not obligated to purchase it.
19. Onboard shops
This is another one that is expected. Purchases made in the Royal shops are charge to your Royal Caribbean Sea Pass.
20. Casino play
No surprise here. It costs extra to play the slot machines, table games, or other games in the cruise ship’s casino.
If you are interested in seeing what a cruise ship casino has to offer check out Mariner of the Seas Casino.
More Extra Cost on Royal Caribbean
21. Casino tournaments
The blackjack, Texas hold’em, and slot tournaments have an entry fee to play.
Bingo is a popular activity on cruise ships, there is a cost to play.
There is a cost to play the games in the Royal Caribbean arcade. Games usually cost between $1.50 – $2.00, with a few higher and a few lower.
24. The Key
The Key is Royal Caribbean’s pay for perks program.
Benefits of The Key include such things as embarkation day carry on bag drop off, a welcome lunch, private time at select activities, to name a few. Surf and stream internet is also included for one device. You can see the full list of Royal Caribbean Key benefits here.
The prices vary depending on the ship and date. The cost is per person per day and must be purchased for everyone in the stateroom. Keep checking online as it may go on sale.
Royal Caribbean no longer offers in-room babysitting; however, they do offer group sitting as part of the Adventure Ocean program.
They call it the “Late Night Party Zone”. It is available for kids aged 3-11 and is offered from 10:00pm to 2:00am. The current cost is $7.00 USD per hour. This of course can change but gives you an idea of what to expect.
26. All access ship tour
Royal Caribbean offers a 2 hour All Access Ship Tour on select days. The cost is approximately $97 dollars (can change). It may be cheaper if you purchase it ahead of time. This tour takes you behind the scenes of the cruise ship.
Onboard activities with extra costs on Royal Caribbean cruise
While most of the activities onboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships are included in your cruise fare, there are a few activities that do have an extra cost. These activities are not available on all ships. Be sure to research your cruise ship carefully before booking.
These extra charge activities include:
27. Escape room
A few Royal Caribbean ships, such as Mariner of the Seas has an escape room.
The cost when we sailed is included in the Best Things to do on Mariner of the Seas.
28. Ripcord by iFly
Ripcord by iFly is a cool skydiving simulator. This can be found on the Royal Caribbean Quantum class cruise ships. This is one of the few activities that have an additional cost.
29. North Star ride while at sea
The North Star is a ride that takes you up 350 feet above sea level in a glass capsule offering amazing views. You can find the Royal Caribbean North Star on Quantum class ships.
There is currently a cost to ride the North Star while you are at sea, but not while you are in port.
More on extra costs on Royal Caribbean cruise
Royal Caribbean International is not unique with these additional cost items. Most cruise lines including Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line charge for these too when offered.
Some people feel it is nickel and diming, however others recognize that if all of these items were included the initial cost of the cruise would be higher.
As you cruise more often with Royal Caribbean cruises, you move up Crown & Anchor levels. This is their frequent cruiser rewards program.
Crown and Anchor benefits increase with each level and some of these extra costs become discounted or even free.
I hope this list of extra costs on Royal Caribbean will help you have a better understanding of your total cruise cost, especially if this is your first cruise.
Important cruise accessories people forget to pack is a great article for new cruisers. If you want to add a little extra fun to your next cruise, get youself one of these Awesome Cruise Shirts.