You might get a lot but everything isn’t always included
by Patti Pietschmann Pavlus BlogMaster/PostMistress
‘All-inclusive’ fares sound great when booking a cruise. However many unsuspecting consumers are confused when it comes to the bottom line.
When booking voyages we are told that meals, entertainment and “lots of extras” are built-in to the ticket price. Not always true.
For sure passengers are fed three squares a day and more. But, many cruise lines offer alternative dining venue available for a sur-charge. And, Holland America is toying with charging diners for second helpings. The extra entrée fee is also pending on one or two other lines. By the way spa and salon treatments are always extra (and pricey at that).
Mass marketing fares
Big mass market ships, alas have a rep for nicking and dime-ing passengers, They charge for soft drinks, bottled water (some as much as $7), shore excursions, ground transportation to and from the ship, certain exercises classes like Yoga and Pilates, Internet, tips, ATM machines, and more. And, in some cases even ice cream that is dished with an added fee.
This is why you need to book your voyage with a Pavlus travel (800-528-9300) specialist who can spell out exactly what you get for your buck.
Cruise lines that are all or quasi-inclusive
As of now the only truly inclusive cruise line fares are on Regent Seven Seas where tips, tours, WiFi, all restaurants and wines, spirits, soft drinks are covered. Many itineraries include air and transfers. Just ask a Pavlus specialist about this.
Close seconds are Silversea, Seabourn and Crystal Cruises on which all beverages (booze, wine, champagne) and gratuities are included. Those luxury lines also offer either free limited or unlimited WiFi, but not shore excursions and alternative dining venues (except during special promotions. The same is true for super swank cruises or on SeaDream yachts.
Mass Market Cruise Lines where fares are not all inclusive:
Avoiding Sticker Shock at the End
To avoid sticker shock at the end of a cruise, make sure you know what you will be billed for before you leave home. Otherwise you could well max out your credit card in 10 to 14 days. Watch those minutes on the shipboard Internet- as you are billed by the minutes for Internet use—this can really add up for heavy users. If your cell phone isn’t programmed for international calling or roaming, wait until you get to port to call the mainland.
If you’re on a budget and sailing on a ship that charges for soft drinks, booze and wines drink prudently or buy a beverage package. Also watch out for the casino. Those slot machines are addictive and gobble up money fast.