A beginner’s guide to all-inclusive cruising

All-inclusive cruising might seem like a bit of a luxury, but you may be surprised at just how good value for money this way of travelling can be. Sure, the initial cost has a tendency to be a little steep, but for many cruisers the ease of having dining and entertainment included in this payment is more than worth it. What’s more, there’s a whole array of deals on all-inclusive cruises available to make your journey just that little easier on the pocket.

Whether you’re a cruising veteran or this is your first time at sea, it can still be difficult to work out exactly what’s covered on an all-inclusive voyage. To get you started, here’s a quick look at what’s typically factored in – and what typically isn’t.

What’s included on an all-inclusive cruise?

Exactly what’s included in the price of an all-inclusive cruise holiday can vary greatly bewteen different cruise lines – and even between different ships in their fleet. It’s worth checking the small print to find out exactly what’s covered on each individual voyage but, as a general rule of thumb, all-inclusive itineraries will cover the following:

Meals at selected restaurants

The vast majroty of modern cruise ships host a selection of restaurants and dining experiences. In fact, Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas – until recently the largest ship on the seas – includes all-inclusive dining options that reach into the double figures. Speciality restaurants and a la carte dining usually incur an additional fee, but there’s normally more than enough choice in the included restaurants to keep everyone happy.

Certain on board activities

Skydiving experiences, Broadway shows and impressive waterparks are just a few of the activities you can find on board cruise ships these days. Many of these are included in the cost of an all-inclusive cruise, meaning you can sample your favourite activity time and again.

Room service

No energy to venture out of your cabin for breakfast, lunch or dinner? No problem. All-inclusive cruisers are generally treated to room service as part of the package, meaning you have even more time to spend in full relaxation mode. Ship staff are always particularly eager to improve upon the experience of their passengers, so you shouldn’t feel shy about making your requests known – particularly when travelling all-inclusive.

Tips and gratuities

More often than not, tips and gratuities will be factored into the price of an all-inclusive cruise unless you opt out before departure. This can be handy as tipping etiquette is already covered for you, however it’s worth weighing up your options if you’d prefer to tip specific members of staff that have really added to your experience.

Little extras

Drinks packages

Again, the availability of all-inclusive drinks differs by cruise line, although many do charge an additional fee for alcoholic beverages. Drinks packages are a great option if you don’t want to worry about taking any money around the ship with you. For an additional fee, these packages will give you unlimited access to just about every beverage going – from tea and coffee to fancy cocktails.

Spa treatments

More luxurious spa treatments, such as massages and specialist therapies, tend to come at an extra cost. Access to the spa and basic treatments are usually included however, so it’s worth popping in even if just to decide whether you fancy treating yourself to something more extravagent.

Shore excursions

Of course, shore excursions and port stops are the highlight of any cruise holiday and you’ll have the opportunity to explore your destination in ample measure. All-inclusive cruises don’t typically cover the additional expenses you’ll incur on-shore though, so make sure to bring along some spending money for this part of the trip.