I Took A £99 Cunard Cruise – Here’s What It Actually Cost Me

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The price you see advertised for a cruise is never what you actually pay. There are always extras, some are mandatory, some are optional, but they all add up.

I found an absolute bargain – a 2-night Southampton to Hamburg cruise for £99. I also booked the back-to-back return trip, two nights from Hamburg to Southampton for another £99.

So, did my four-night Cunard cruise cost £198? The short answer is no. Far from it! Here’s how much I actually spent (including my VERY surprising bank statement!)

Cruise Mummy smiles while holding a glass of white wine on a Cunard cruise ship, seated on a deck chair with a navy cushion featuring a gold embroidered emblem.

Single supplements – £160

As I opted to travel solo on this trip, I had to pay a single supplement of £80 for each segment.

Yes, I could have just paid £38 more and brought a friend along for the four nights. But, I planned to spend the vast majority of this trip working so I wouldn’t have been much fun. Plus, I like to spend some time alone, I find it invigorating.

A Cunard cruise ship stateroom featuring a neatly made bed with navy blue bedding and Cunard branding, flanked by two nightstands with lamps, a comfortable chair, and a table with cruise brochures.

Gratuities – $64

Cunard charges $16 per person per day for gratuities. So for the four nights, I was billed $64.

That money goes to the crew members to help supplement their wages.

I did meet one person who said that she would be removing the gratuities as she didn’t think that the service was very good. While you can do that by visiting guest services, I wouldn’t advise it.

Crew members work very hard and don’t get paid a lot. And many of them work behind the scenes doing the jobs that you don’t see.

Suggested read: Can You Refuse To Pay Gratuities On A Cruise?

A spacious dining room on a Cunard cruise ship, featuring elegantly set tables with white tablecloths, flower centerpieces, and large windows offering an ocean view.

Extra tips – $24

Tipping extra on top of the gratuities is completely optional. However, each time you order a drink or room service, you’ll be asked to sign for it and there’s a box where you can add an extra tip.

I tipped cash to my cabin stewards and added a small tip for the servers who brought me room service. You don’t need to do that, but if it makes you happy, and it makes them happy too, then why not?

Suggested read: How Much Extra People Usually Tip Cruise Crew

A room service tray on a Cunard cruise ship, featuring covered plates with food, a bowl of sauce, salt and pepper shakers, and neatly arranged napkins and cutlery on a small table.

Drinks – $47

The included drinks with Cunard are very good. As well as the standard tea, coffee, water and fruit juices with breakfast, you do get some drinks included that I didn’t expect.

You can get fruit juice in the buffet at any time of the day, not just at breakfast as on most cruise ships. You can also get cranberry juice and lemonade. The lemonade is particularly delicious and I drank lots of that.

Cunard allows you to bring a bottle of wine on embarkation to drink in your cabin. There’s also a half bottle of sparkling wine in the fridge which was a very nice and unexpected touch.

With so many included drinks, I didn’t buy many. Just two pints of lager, a mojito, a glass of wine and a diet Coke. These five drinks added up to $47 (including the 15% service charge).

A Mojito cocktail with lime and ice sits on a wooden bar counter on a Cunard cruise ship, with a background of various liquor bottles and glassware.

Wifi – $72

As I spent much of this cruise working, I did buy the wifi package for the two sea days. That cost $36 per day for the fast wifi.

It’s powered by Starlink and was fast enough to do anything I wanted to do, including video calls with clients.

On the port day, I stayed on the ship but used my 5G connection. This didn’t work in my inside cabin, but was fine to use outside or in the public areas near a window.

Cunard does give you one hour of free internet access per cruise, so if you don’t have work to do you could just use that as well as your 5G when the ship is docked.

A work area on a Cunard cruise ship, featuring a cubicle with a computer, a laptop, hand sanitizer, a sign reminding guests to sanitize equipment, and a comfortable office chair.

My Total Spend

My initial cruise fare was £198 plus an extra £160 for single supplements. I then spent $207 (£163) on board on tips, wifi and drinks. ($20 of this was paid in cash to the room stewards)

In total, over the four days, I spent £521.

I don’t think this is a bad price for a four-night solo cruise. Especially as the next night I stayed at a Premier Inn in London for the Sailawaze Excellence Awards and paid £230 for a basic room!

My Surprise Bill!

When I returned home from my cruise and checked my online banking statement, I had a bit of a shock!

My card had been charged six times while I was on board, totalling £288.48.

I would have expected to be charged about £150 based on my spending, so I was really shocked to see the actual amount billed was almost double this.

Bank statement showing transactions on Queen Mary 2

I have contacted Cunard via their website to ask for a breakdown of the charges and will update this here once I hear back from them.


I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Cunard includes some extras that you don’t get with sister lines like P&O Cruise and Princess Cruises.

In my cabin, there was a bottle of sparkling wine in the fridge. There were also some slippers in the wardrobe that I took home with me after the cruise. I also took the notepad and pencil as a souvenir. In fact, I have a full list of things you can ‘steal’ from cruise ships.

A hand holding a bottle of Pol Acker sparkling wine inside a stateroom on a Cunard cruise ship, with a glimpse of the balcony and outdoor furniture in the background.

When I went to the buffet I was impressed to see that fruit juices were available all day. This definitely saved me money on on soft drinks, which were particularly pricey at $4.50 each, plus a 15% gratuity.

A beverage station on a Cunard cruise ship, featuring coffee, juice, and water dispensers, with signs instructing passengers to use provided cups for hygiene purposes.

Wine was also expensive to buy on board, at $12, plus 15% gratuity for a glass of house rose.

Being able to bring a bottle on board with me saved me some money there. And as my cruise was technically two back-to-back cruises, I could have brought on another bottle in Hamburg if I wished.

The complimentary hour of wifi was also a nice touch that I wish more cruise lines would offer.

The nightly chocolates on the bed were welcomed too. And I love that room service was free!

Cruise Mummy smiles beside a room service tray on a Cunard cruise ship, featuring a bowl of tomato soup, a slice of bread, croutons, a bowl of mixed fruit, and a pitcher of water.

On the first of my back-to-back cruises, I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that the inside cabin I had booked had been upgraded to an obstructed view balcony! I’ve never had a free upgrade in over 40 cruises, so well done Cunard for being the first!

A Cunard cruise ship stateroom with an obstructed view balcony, featuring two neatly made twin beds with navy blue bedding, a desk with a lamp, and a small seating area near the balcony door.

Many other cruise lines like MSC, Princess and Celebrity make guests ‘bid’ how much they will pay for the upgrades.

It’s great that Cunard give these for free. I wasn’t the only one, I spoke to other cruisers on board who had the same thing happen to them too.

What I didn’t buy

I do sometimes like to use the thermal suite of the spa on a cruise. But at $59, I felt that this was a little expensive for a sauna and soak in a hot tub. Instead, I used the hot tubs by the pool. It wasn’t busy so I had them to myself most of the time.

I also brought my own snacks with me. I spotted some M&Ms in the ship for $11.25 so I was glad I did that! 

Bags of family-size Salted Caramel M&M's on display aboard a Cunard cruise ship, with the front and back of the packaging visible, including nutritional information and a colorful M&M character illustration.

To conclude

Although my cruise cost considerably more than £99, I still felt that it offered good value for money. Short cruises like this are perfect when you want to decide if a cruise line is right for you or not.

I’m hoping that the overcharging was indeed a mistake and that I will be refunded for it soon. I’ll let you know.

If you’re interested to see whether I would cruise with Cunard again, you can read my next article which is coming soon for you! You can sign up to my email newsletter to be notified about that one.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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