While no one would argue that an Alaskan cruise is a cheap vacation, considering what you get, rates are surprisingly low.
So while a cruise offers incredible value, it’s still a considerable chunk of change. What’s more is that the headline price you see when you shop around on websites is just a portion of what you’ll actually have to pay to get on the ship.
If you head over to Carnival.com, or NCL.com, or any other cruise line’s website and do a search for a cruise, here is the sort of pricing you’ll see:
It’s a big headline number that offers a great price. But what you don’t see are the cruise taxes and fees that can’t be avoided, yet aren’t included in the headline price.
I don’t mean to pick on Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line. Most lines don’t show these taxes and fees right away. Royal Caribbean is one of the only lines that does show them right on your search, even though they are in much smaller print than the large headline price. That said, you will see the taxes and fees for your cruise on any line clearly broken out before you purchase. Here are a couple of examples:
A Major Increase to Your Cruise Fare
While these charges are somewhat hidden at first, they are a major factor in how much you’ll pay for your cruise. In fact, for the typical 7-day Seattle/Alaska cruise, taxes and fees can range from between $150-$250 per person. So a couple traveling together can expect somewhere in the range of $300-$500 in fees and taxes!
So what exactly are these costs anyway?
Port fees and taxes can cover all sorts of expenses that the cruise line is charged. For example, the Port of Seattle charges cruise ships $16.37 for each passenger each way (boarding and deboarding) to use the port, so that’s nearly $33 per person. Meanwhile, other ports that the cruise ships stop at charge fees as well to cover the costs of providing a port and its facilities. This is why taxes are different for nearly every cruise since they often have slightly different ports of call, which charge differing rates.
The bad news is that you can’t avoid these extra expenses or even minimize them. Instead, you simply have to budget for them and know that even the cheapest cruise will likely have $150 per person in taxes tacked on.