So you are going on a cruise. You have paid your airfare, and the cost of your holiday looks pretty cheap.

According to Cruise Lines International Association Australasia, the average cruiser spends $3,058 per person on a cruise including $2,272 on the cost of the voyage. This does not include the return airfare.

But wait – an unsuspecting virgin cruiser may well chalk up a heap of extra costs. If you are not careful, by the time you have paid for the hidden extras like too many shore excursions, onboard cocktails, specialty coffee, dining at the ship’s exclusive restaurants and merrily throwing a dice on the casino table, you may face a whopping big bill by the time you return to land.

According to the cruise lines, the average cruiser pays $786 for onboard costs and excursions.

But many pay more because they don’t plan carefully.

Cruise Passenger has put together five top tips on how you can save on your cruise and come home happy.

1. Don’t book too many shore excursions. While you may be excited about being on holiday, try not to pack too many activities at a new port of call. The rule of thumb is one excursion in the morning and maybe another in the afternoon, provided it is a must-do tour. Be prepared to pay anywhere from $50 to $300 for a full-day excursion. So if you are on a seven-day cruise and multiply it by four or five ports you may visit, you may well end up paying hundreds of dollars more.

2. Do not buy needless soft drink, alcoholic or bottled water packages. While water and juice (and, on some lines, table wine) served during the main meals are usually free, you will have to pay for soft drinks and cocktails. Some ships offer unlimited soft and alcoholic drink packages. but make sure you will drink enough that they represent good value. Often they are a waste of money as it is unlikely that you will be able to drink a lot of soft drinks to justify paying for a flat-rate drink packages.

3. It is now trendy for cruise lines to introduce premium specialty restaurants where you pay a surcharge of between $30 to $50 dollars per person to experience what the lines bill as a degustation dinner. Unless it is a special occasion like your wedding anniversary or your birthday, there is really no necessity to dine at these exclusive restaurants. You have already paid for a wide choice of food available at the ship‘s different eateries.

4. The joy of going on a cruise holiday is that you can unwind and unplug. Wi-Fi connection is often intermittent and expensive. Unless it is absolutely necessary to be plugged in 24 hours a day, you won’t need to buy a block of internet time as you often waste money on minutes you end up not using. Many cruisers also tend to forget to logoff from the internet portal when they finish.

5. Gambling onboard at the ship’s casinos is often a popular after dinner entertainment. But like all casinos on the sea or on land, the stakes are stacked against you. So be careful how much you spend on throwing the dice, spinning the wheel or playing the one-armed bandit. If you do enjoy trying your luck in a casino, it’s best to set a limit on the amount spent and stick to it. Better safe than sorry.