I’ve only done the one cruise line, Norwegian, four or five times, so my answers reflect that. I don’t know how other cruise lines work
Neither me or my husband drink much, so we don’t get some awful bill at the end reflecting $6 beers, all day long. Make no mistake, they make a lot of money off of booze, and they do not allow you to bring your own, don’t even try to smuggle it on. You can buy a bottle of booze from the bar, instead of individual drinks, at least at the beginning of the cruise, but that isn’t cheap, either.
There is a daily charge of ten or twelve bucks a day per person for all gratuities that is paid at the end. I don’t really mind but Idon’t tip at all then, unless it was something extraordinary.
There are shore excursions the cruise line arranges, and a lot of people do those. I think they’re a little overpriced, but you are paying for reputable firms, and they will hold the boat for them if they’re late. If you go off on your own, there are no guarantees.
If you go to their private island you can rent snorkeling gear or parasailing, kayaks, etc. Again, tourist pricing. We’ll rent two or three snorkeling packages, share them all day.
I own my own business, and typically take employees once or twice a year on vacations. I like cruises for the company because I provide the airfare and the cruise, and they pay anything else extra. I feel like they can have a fantastic time with no required out of pocket costs.
Also, I am a cheap bastard, and am not overly sensitive to sales pitches to spend more money, so I haven’t really noticed any pleas to spend more money, other than the drink waiters, but they are polite and low key. No pressure that I’ve noticed. My kids also have been trained that they’ll get nothing and like it, so they don’t pester us for any extras. I’m not sure there are any extras they can even have, other than pop. Pop is another $3 per day give or take, but my kids are thrilled at that, and drink their weight.
All the ships I’ve been on have had at least two pools, four hot tubs, basketball courts, etc. All free, but I’m not getting in that hot tub, no way.