Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Are ocean cruises all-inclusive?


ocean cruises have been marketed as all-inclusive by many travel suppliers, but are they really? The answer depends on what you think is required to be included to qualify as all-inclusive. Let’s start by looking at what is included with your cruise fare when you book a cruise vacation.

The cost of your cruise fare for an ocean cruise includes your stateroom accommodations, main dining, on-board entertainment, and visits to foreign ports of call. That appears all-inclusive, but let’s look a little deeper at the details.

Your stateroom is your private room on the ship; it’s like your hotel room only smaller than rooms you have on land. Space is a premium on a ship, and you may be surprised at the more compact quarters. You also get a stateroom attendant who cleans daily and makes your bed. There are many options for stateroom accommodations including suites, balconies, ocean view, interior and more.

Main dining includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks throughout the day. There are many restaurants, cafes and snack shacks to choose from. Beverages included are typically only tea, coffee, juice, milk, and water. You will not go hungry on an ocean cruise; many people gain five pounds!

Entertainment is available every day. You will enjoy stage shows, comedy, live music, games, water activities, movies, kid’s clubs and more. And your itinerary will take you to exciting ports of call to explore.

So, you could say it’s all-inclusive; but what’s not included that most travelers want and pay extra to add on? The most popular add-ons for ocean cruisers include shore excursions, beverage packages, Wi-Fi, spa treatments, travel protection, prepaid gratuities, specialty dining, photo packages and casino gaming.

Most travelers will add a shore excursion at each port of call. For example, in Alaska many choose to buy whale watching, dogsledding, train tours, crab fishing, salmon bake party, glacier experiences and more! In the Caribbean you can swim with dolphins, snorkel, scuba, jet ski, Mayan Ruins tours, ATV in the jungle, etc.

Beverage packages can save you money on the cost of sodas, specialty coffees, and bartender beverages. These beverages are not included in the base cruise fare. And please remember to tip your bartender!

There are some dining venues that are not included in your base cruise fare. These specialty dining venues are a fun experience. Sushi bar, hibachi grill, steakhouse, crab shack are all examples of upcharge dining. There is no need to eat at these venues as there is plenty of dining included already, but these extra opportunities can be amazing.

Cruise ships have incredible spas, and their treatments and massages are wonderful.

As your travel advisor I encourage you to buy the travel protection and add the prepaid gratuities. Travel protection is more than just cancellation coverage for a nonrefundable cruise. The emergency evacuation and medical coverage is important, especially in remote destinations like Skagway, Alaska or Grand Cayman. Prepaying gratuities for your stateroom attendant and dining staff is a great way to make the experience more hassle free and relaxing.

There is truly something for everyone on an ocean cruise, and your fundamental needs are all included: room, dining and entertainment. But the full cruise experience will cost more than the base cruise fare. Be sure to budget for shore excursions, beverage package, specialty dining, spa, tips, photos, and more. I 817-559-7150