Cruise fares at up to 50% off with $1 deposits are not hard to find at the moment as cruise lines vie for customers in a booming market. However, those seductive deals may not tell the full story.

While it might be getting cheaper to get on a cruise, those in the know say it’s becoming more expensive to get off. 

Leading cruise agents say they’re seeing guests spend more money onboard their cruises, and while much of this can be attributed towards post-covid revenge spending, agents are also seeing prices for onboard services like drinks packages, speciality dining and Wifi on the rise. 

Sharon Summerhayes, owner of Deluxe Travel & Cruise, says she has seen costs creeping up and these days you’ll need an extra chunk of savings if you want to live lavishly on your cruise.

Prices have definitely gone up pre-covid which I guess is to be expected because everything on land has gone up too! Spa services and specialty dining have been the biggest jump in price as far as I’ve noticed.

“You have to set aside a fair bit more these days to treat yourself on cruises.”

Michelle Levins has also seen onboard spending rise due to a combination of inflated prices and cruisers being armed with more savings.

“I would say onboard spend has risen due to price increases and a feeling of wanting to really splash out on your holiday.

“There have definitely been increases in beverage packages and specialty dining charges, wifi packages.”

Ms Levin says more people are committing ahead of time to extra services on cruises where they are not included.

“ Many people are committing earlier to specialty restaurants and beverage packages where they are not included.  Or they are watching the dollar to see when might be the best time to purchase.

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Another potential reason for this spike in spending is a tendency towards experience spending rather than material spending –  for example onboard shopping.

“ We have noticed in speaking to our clients that they are less focused on coming home with an extra suitcase of shopping and would rather spend it on eating out, shore excursions or doing something they wouldn’t get to do in Australia.  As clients were at home for so long, there is certainly a lot of “YOLO” spending.”

If you’re a cruiser who travels with budget in mind, it might be wise to start considering not just who has the lowest cruise fares, but how much the cruise will actually end up costing you when everything is accounted for. 

Shore excursions can be difficult to compare between lines as many cruisers organise their shore excursions individually, but Cruise Passenger has compared the other three main sources of onboard spending, drinks packages, WiFi and speciality dining across the major cruise lines sailing in Australia.


According to the agents we spoke to, many cruisers are wanting a drinks package, WiFi access and some specialty dining meals. Cruise Passenger has compared these costs and combined them with the fares for a cruise to New Zealand with the major cruise lines. 


A 13-day cruise to New Zealand with Princess, leaving on January 23, 2024 costs $2244 for an interior cabin or $172 per night. 

Key to sailing with Princess is that they offer packages, Princess Plus and Princess Premier, that bundle together your extras, rather than making you pay for them individually. 

Princess Plus costs $65 per day and includes the Plus Beverage Package options as well as WiFi for one guest, two fitness classes, premium desserts, and unlimited access to the juice bar. This bundle is priced at US$65 (AU$97).

The Princess Premier Package, priced at US$95 (AU$142) per day includes the Premier Beverage Package as well as unlimited desserts and fitness classes, unlimited access to the juice bar, Medallion Accessory, reserved theatre seating, WiFi for four devices, two specialty dining meals per guest and a photo package.

However, Princess is now offering Princess Plus free of charge on a range of sailings, including the aforementioned New Zealand sailing. Meaning you can cruise with a drinks package and WiFi for one device but no specialty dining for the same price of $172 per day. You could then purchase further specialty meals as you choose. 

However, if you wanted to sail for the 12-nights with WiFi for four devices, a premier beverage package and two included specialty meals per guest, you would then need to purchase the Princess Premier Package for $142 per day.

This would bring your per day cost to $314 per day, or $4082 in total for a 13-day cruise. 


While their current listed fares are higher than the rest of the compared lines, all current Australian sailings on Norwegian Cruise Lines offer their free at sea promotion which includes a beverage package, specialty dining package, WiFi package, shore excursion credit and more. 

A 12-day cruise to Australia and New Zealand with NCL is currently $3454, or $287 per day. The trick to sailing with NCL at the moment is that, depending on your cruise style, you shouldn’t have to spend anything else.

On a 12-day cruise you’ll get one specialty meal if you’ve booked a studio, inside or oceanview room, or two meals for balcony category or above. You’ll have all your drinks covered (except premium drinks) and WiFi. 

Beyond this, NCL is also offering up to USD$400($589AUD) in onboard credit, meaning the $287 per day figure should be enough to get you through. 


A 10-day cruise to New Zealand with Carnival comes at the very reasonable price of just $1090 or $109 per day.

If you want to add WiFi, Carnival has a few options. You can grab just access to socials from $15.30 per day, add general internet access for $17.85 or get a premium plan with streaming from $21.25.

As far as the drinks package, the Carnival Cheers package starts at $111 per day.

This means if you want to grab at least the WiFi with general access and the drinks package this will add $128.85 extra per day.

Adding this to the base fare of $109 per day, brings the total cost out to $237.85 per day or $2378.5 for the whole cruise.

P&O Australia

An 11-day ‘Kiwi Explorer’ cruise with P&O begins from just $1299 or $118 per day.

P&O has three different internet packages you can pre-purchase, starting from $9 a day for access to socials, $12 per day for socials plus voice and video calls and $15 a day for comprehensive internet access.

P&O offers two options for drinks packages the Premium Beverage Package for $99 per day or The Lot! Beverage Package. The Premium Beverage Package will cover all alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks up to $16.

If you were to opt for the comprehensive internet access package for $15 and the Premium Beverage Package for $99 per day, you would add $114 per day to your total cost, bringing the price to $232 per day. Or $2552 in total for the 11-day cruise.