We regularly talk about ‘All Inclusive’ in Cyprus as being a bad thing affecting local bars and restaurants and encouraging people to stay in their hotels for the duration of their holidays and never go out to explore the local area. However on most cruise ships, your accommodations, standard meals, entertainment, and daytime activities are included in your fare and we have come to expect this as the norm. Want a latte? Add it to your tab. Take a Pilates class? Expect a fee. Indulge at one of the fancy specialty restaurants? There’s a charge for that, too. The extras quickly add up, often sinking hearts when the bill arrives at the end of your holiday.
But there are cruises that thankfully buck this trend, with out-of-pocket expenses that are truly minimal. More and more cruise lines are turning to the All Inclusive concept with alcoholic drinks, soft drinks, crew gratuities, and sometimes even shore excursions included in the advertised price.
While these truly all-inclusive cruises used to mostly be in the luxury category, many other lines also offer all-inclusive options, too. It’s possible to quantify the benefits and often find real value. The most all-inclusive of the cruise lines, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, did a price comparison showing that when you add in the included hotel stay, alcohol, excursions, and gratuities, the difference between cruising in a suite on the more luxurious Regent compared to one on a big mainstream ship was only a few dollars a day. If you are looking lots of extras during your holiday, it may well be worth the upgrade.
Consumers need to carefully note what’s included and compare apples to apples. In the case of Regent, people might get panic at, say 20 percent more, but they are including 40 percent more. You can literally step on your ship with no money in your pocket. But on a lot of “all-inclusive” ships, it’s not that you have no bill but rather a lesser bill.
Marella Cruises (formally Thomson Cruises) are moving to an All Inclusive drinks concept this summer due to demand, but there is still a Premium drinks upgrade package available for those that want it. They include crew gratuities already. This summer, P&O Cruises will also include crew gratuities in their fares but have not moved to All Inclusive drinks for now. Most of the mainstream cruiselines like Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Holland America etc have drinks packages and offer some of them free of charge for early booking. Of course, you have to ask ‘is it worth it?’ The only person who can answer that is you! If you like a few drinks on holiday, then maybe, but a lot of the time, it’s taking away the ‘worry factor’ of no bill at the end of the holiday and that can be worth more than the cost of the upgrade!
For advice, speak to the experts Century Travel on 70 000 970 or visit their website www.centurycyprus.com