The True Cost of Cruising – Tips & Tipping, Tours, Drinks, Fine Dining

You can go on a cruise and enjoy just what was in the ticket price, and why not, it is a great full-board holiday. You can still dine in the main restaurants, dress up and enjoy black tie nights and see the great acts all in your holiday cost. You may be able to, in some cases argue that the tip added to your bill is removed, but that is changing.


P&O, one of the few to allow tips to be optional, has to date fallen in line with UK law because they still bill in pounds despite being registered in Bermuda and being an American company. The sister companies Cunard and Princess bill in dollars and tips are added on to every purchase. But there has been an outcry from passengers that only some pay and some walk away conscience free at not tipping, and staff have been leaving to ships where tips and pay is better. With more and more ships it is not just a fight to get cruisers on board, but good staff. So, P&O CRUISES are to end the optional daily service charge. They will make changes to the pricing of cruises, however their deal is still likely to be one of the best because that is how they trade. But expect holiday prices to rise a little.

There are still some with optional tipping, but many not include it in the price. Despite that, on many ships you will see many cruisers tip regularly on top and extra to that to ensure good tables and good service. It is an American way. Tips are included in the cruise price on Marella, so no tipping is required but …

Marella Cruises to the Baltics, Fjords, Iceland & Arctic – click here for Marella Cruise’s own web site – Baltics, Fjords, Iceland & Arctic Cruise deals pageMarella Cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean – click here for Marella Cruise’s own web site – Eastern Mediterranean Cruise deals pageMarella Cruises to the Western Mediterranean – click here for Marella Cruise’s own web site page for – Western Mediterranean Cruise deals pageMarella Cruises to the Canary Islands – click here for Marella Cruise’s own web site page for – Canary Islands Cruise deals pageMarella Cruises to the Caribbean – click here to view Marella Cruise’s own web site page for –  Caribbean Cruise deals page Marella Cruises to USA / Central America – click here to view Marella Cruise’s own web site page for –  Central America Cruise deals pageMarella Cruises ALL INCLUSIVE DEALS – click here  – to view all the inclusive deals, direct to that page on their web site


Drinks are charged for at the table or the bar for what you consume, including water. Can you take your own drinks on board? With most cruise ships no, with P&O there is a slight waiver, best dealt with in this blog. Taking your own Drinks on Board


There is so much food and choice on board, and for special diets, so the answer is often ‘no’ although we know guests who take their own type of tea bags and biscuits. The simple answer is most operators say no food is necessary to be taken on board and they don’t allow perishables.

DRESS CODE – Suits and Dresses.

To be clear, on most ships it is about making the effort, and a dark suit or jacket with a dark tie may work on many ships, ladies with a nice dress, children no jeans etc. Dress code is strict, it is upheld, and the reason all cruise ship shops do sell dinner suits and dresses – and they do – is because people realise they want to do what the others do and not be restricted to the buffet and pub if they only have jeans. We have a separate detailed blogs on Dress Code because some ships are very much more strict that others, and it is different for different areas of the ship. We suggest, join in, avoid the restrictions.Dress Code Fred Olsen Dress Code P&O  Dress Code Marella SAGA do not enforce a dress code but suggest most people do dress up and that you should pack your ‘glad rags’.

Shops and Shopping

Most ships have shops, stalls and or a market place. Some have a shopping centre to rival a small village. The stock is rotated in many shops almost daily, so every day is a different shopping experience. If you like to shop, you may well end up buying another bag, a rotating world-globe, a dress or a fridge magnet of the ship. The big sellers are flip flops,  diamond spangled beach shoes. Shopping will be a holiday cost, but it might cost what you might spend at home. There are also general shops for headache remedies and sick bands. We always carry sea sickness bands, they have been used a few times, they are cheaper to buy before you go. Click picture for details. Some ships have art galleries and sell lots!


If you want to get off the ship in St Petersburg Russia, a tour is as good as compulsory, but almost everywhere else they are an option. Two mentions – 1. If you were a non UK cruiser landing at Tilbury or Hull would you just walk round the docks? Unlikely! – 2. If you do your own tour the ship does not have to wait for you if you are late, do not be late. It does wait for ship arranged cruises. We, like many guests do a mixture of ship excursions and public buses as you will see from our blogs. Sometimes public buses are better than private taxis, like in much of the Caribbean, because taxis want to get you back way too early. A family with children may find a public bus allows them to see more, especially in places like Barbados and St Maarten, or a trip to the beach in Antigua. Or the best Free Walking tour on the planet in Copenhagen.


For many guests communication is compulsory, and it is rarely free and rarely cheap and works via shared satellite so can be slow with data limitations. The rush to find free wifi abroad is like a stampede so the secret, if the port has free wi fi, go there first as soon as you dock, then go back for breakfast when it gets busy.


There is no need to eat anywhere other than the restaurants available in your holiday cost. If you do not frequent restaurants at home, you may not want to while on board. But there are options and if you want a special night out, then there are small premiums for this. Depending on the cruise operator, you may be offered Jamie’s Italian, Ollie’s Wine Bar or The Beach House which are walk-in premium restaurants. Or, you might want to book a table at the Epicurean or the Sindhu.


There is so much entertainment in your tick price, you may not need to go to the Casino, a premium speakeasy type entertainment venue like the Limelight Club, or bathe in the private exclusive area. You might not want a massage, hair or nails done or a personal trainer, but these all cost a little more. As might golf lessons or private dance lessons depending on the ship. However, the football and golf nets will be free, as will the disco if the ship has them.


We hope the above has helped, the dress code, the tours. But we have other blogs that might be useful. Choosing a First Cruise. What to Pack. Coach to Southampton.


We always hope you book via a Doris Visits link direct with the site, any of our links work. We also appreciate you telling us you have done that so we check we have been credited. You get the best deal the cruise line is offering and not a room someone is selling off above the engine room and below the football pitch. Here is a Deals Page which saves you time looking for all the deal pages. 

Drinks Packages and All Inclusive

There are both all inclusive offers with limitations and without limitations, as well as drinks packages. These can be offered free or sold at a premium. Coffee packages and much more, too many to list and they change so often. The secret is to understand what you are booking.

TIPS and TIPPING and Cruise Operators Differences

The different deals and what is offered, the strictness of dress code and atmosphere changes from ship to ship and operator to operator. Here is a very brief description of how the differences work. More details to follow.

  • P&O £6 per person per night over the age of 12, on bill. P&O page on tipping.
  • Fred Olsen £4 per person per night over the age of 12, can be paid on booking and balance corrected on bill.  Fred Olsen page on tipping
  • SAGA spend a page suggesting we should tip, but never mention how it is done and say just look at your booking, this is probably because you can book many cruise operators through them and they are all different. The Daily Mail claims it is £8 a day.
  • Azamara Club Cruises offer a more all inclusive cruise deal, many of their cruises can be booked via SAGA on our deals page, all tips are included in the cruise fare. 
  • Marella say  – All tips and service charges are included in the price of your cruise. You’re not expected to tip any of our crew – unless you want to, of course. Here is where we found that. 

We hope you can now see what a cruise might cost – and book with Doris Visits via our Deals Page.

Planning a cruise will make the experience so much better. So, if you are off to the Canaries, we have films on every Canary Island, the same for the Baltic, for Norway, for the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. We have even filmed the Pacific!

Please subscribe to the Doris Visits YouTube Cruise Destination Guide channel here


The Limelight club normally rotates four menus, it is a three-course menu because you are there to watch an act, it is like a speakeasy. As we are official affiliates of P&O, you can book your holiday here now, or if you have booked already and have your details which will all come via the internet, you will be sent tickets and plans, you can book a table at the Limelight Club as well as excursions via your cruise planner below. The internet is a wonderful thing!

P&O EARLY DEALS   Menu 1  Menu 2  Menu 3  Menu 4   P&O LATE DEALS



But here are examples of how to research your destination, you might not book a private tour, but these and the Doris Visits films and guides might help you choose which stops are tours and which are more relaxing. See what are the hot offers. Really enjoy your holiday before and afterward by sharing Doris Visits.


The Doris Visits page on dress code, why, how and should I?


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