Types of Cruises - All Inclusive Cruises
Is there truly such a thing as an all inclusive cruise?
The answer is, probably not. The problem with the term “all inclusive” is that it means different things to different ears.
For the most part, all inclusive cruise fares are not that at all.
Cruise lines use the term “all inclusive” as a marketing tool, nothing less. To that end it serves its purpose. In their eyes an all inclusive cruise is simply a cruise where everything is included in one price. What it really means is that your fare for these types of cruises covers your stateroom accommodations, your meals, afternoon teas and entertainment, many onboard activities and of course your transport from port to port. On the whole it is a pretty good deal.
But all inclusive it is not.
There are always incidental charges, certainly the evening cocktail and that bottle of merlot at dinner will cost you an arm and a leg. Most cruise lines charge you for the soft drinks too. Put one foot in the spa and it will cost you big time. And don’t forget the price of laundry (although there are always facilities where you can do your own). Then there’s the use of the Internet, or even the price of that occasional cappuccino or name brand ice-cream.
The many alternative restaurants where you pay are now becoming an irritant. There are not many cruise lines still afloat where you are not charged a few dollars for patronizing specialist restaurants (although you don’t HAVE to dine there).
To get closer to the true mark of this type of cruise the very least cruise lines would have to add to their version of all inclusive are free liquor and soft drinks and no voyage-end gratuities.
That would be a good start.
Some of the luxury cruise lines make a good stab at meeting the all inclusive criteria. Silversea Cruises, for instance, provide an extensive selection of fine wines, champagne, spirits, bottled water and soft drinks – all courtesy of Silversea. Besides the chilled bottle of champagne that awaits you, every suite features a beverage cabinet stocked with your preferred assortment of complimentary beverages. All onboard gratuities are included – none are ever expected. A formal dinner served course-by-course, a late-night snack, or a full breakfast delivered at your request — with no charge and no tipping. It also provides roundtrip transportation from the pier to the heart of town in most ports of call.
That’s more like it.
Yachts of Seabourn have also long been offering a truly all-inclusive price structure, as has SeaDream, and for the past 4 years, Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Not "all-inclusive" but heading in the right direction, a number of cruise lines, particularly the European ones are offering drinks packages that a go a long way towards the all inclusive goal.
Photo courtesy The Yachts of Seabourn