Julie Peasgood is a TV presenter, travel expert and Contributing Editor for Cruise International

Dining on board a cruise ship

Q. I’m trying to book my first cruise holiday, but I’m a bit confused about what is included. Please can you give me an idea of what the price generally covers, and what I may still have to pay for?

A. Cruise holidays offer fantastic value for money, but the cruise lines do vary in what they offer customers, so I’m not surprised you’re confused. Let’s start with the basics. Generally, you can expect your main expenses to be covered: your stateroom or cabin, all meals in the main dining room/buffet (some cruise lines also offer complimentary room service), entertainment, onboard activities, plus usually – but not always – flights and transfers to and from the ship, if applicable.

What won’t generally be included are alcoholic drinks (or bottled water, although river cruises tend to offer this and a choice of wine or beer with dinner), dining in the ship’s speciality restaurants (there is usually a small cover charge for this), shore excursions (generally included on river cruises), gratuities, internet charges, spa and salon treatments, certain fitness classes (such as Pilates and yoga), photos taken by the ship’s photographers, casinos, baby-sitting and laundry.

There are, however, some all-inclusive cruises, so it’s worth doing your research and checking what’s on offer before you book. You’ll also find that many cruise lines and travel agents will offer special incentives for early booking. Once you’ve found out exactly what cruise inclusions there are, you’ll be able to relax.

Whether you’re looking for a cultural holiday or relaxing break, find your perfect cruise with our Cruise Finder.