I remember when I first cruised and pretty much everything was included. (Not alcohol I don't believe.) Cruising these days brings a myriad of options. In the past you chose the itinerary and the ship. You chose what type of cabin you wanted. Now, the options on the cruise itself is stupefying.
Do you want to save money and eat in the included restaurants like the buffet or the main dining room or do you want to pay a stipend for a more intimate dining experience with attentive service? (Although, I love the servers in the main dining room, they have been more than attentive to me in the past.) You can choose from Teppanyaki on NCL where they chop and serve you at your table from the built-in grill. Or Chops on RCCL cruise line where you get melt in your mouth steaks. There is the Bayou Cafe & Steakhouse on Princess that gives you true "N'orleans" cuisine. See what I mean?
Perhaps you want to buy a drink package prior to your cruise? There are many offered, so what would you choose?
Photo packages are now offered as well as WiFi packages. Many options available.
The spa...oh the spa. Would you like to whiten your teeth, or a touch of botox or a massage or facial?
Do you want to order the Barbie package for a young lady in your party or champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries for your significant other.
What about the dolphin adventure or Dunn's River Falls? Shore excursions can cost a few dollars but are so often worth it. If you think otherwise, enjoy a stroll through the town or take a low fee walking tour.
No matter what, you have so many choices it can make your head swim. My advice? Start small. Do you want to save money to spend elsewhere? Dine in the included restaurants on the ship. Want to splurge? Choose a dining package where you can try all the (for a fee) restaurants on the ship.
Are you someone who has a mimosa or bloody mary at breakfast, a beer or two at lunch, three or four drinks by the pool, one at dinner and then more at night? Buy the drink package for goodness sake! You will save in the long run.
Remember, if it is something you would enjoy and you can afford, then book that spa visit, eat at a specialty restaurant, book a shore excursion and enjoy every minute. I know I do!