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Staying on a Budget

Imbibe wisely
Beverages aren't included in the price of most cruises. If you plan to order soft drinks or alcohol, ask about all-you-can-drink soda deals or cocktail specials.

Exercise caution
Spa treatments are offered at resort-price levels, and most fitness classes run about $7 to $10. (Note: Packages are often available.) Many ships now have thermal-treatment rooms and thalassotherapy (sea-water) pools, which start around $10 a day. Fitness facilities and locker-room steam rooms, however, should never cost extra. And there are often spa-treatment deals when the ship is in port.

Beware food fees
Alternative eateries can charge $10 to $30 per person for dinner. This covers a meal, but not drinks.

Don't get played
You have to pay between $5 and $20 to play bingo on board. There's no charge to enter the casinos, but gambling can wreak havoc on a wallet. Stick with free games like bridge and chess, or bring cards and play poker with your girls.

Be your own guide
Cruise lines have increased the variety of shore excursions, but only a few cruises—mostly river and barge lines—include them in your ticket price. Research port cities before your cruise and organize your own outings.

Factor in the tip
Gratuities run from $8 per person per day and will be billed to your account. They're listed as voluntary, but you really should pay them—after all, the staff has spent days tending to you. You can ask that the amount be adjusted higher or lower at the purser's desk.

Note: This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.



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