Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"All-Inclusive" Cruises- What Is Really Included?

More and more these days we hear about all-inclusive cruising. This has become a particularly hot topic since so many of the large cruise lines have begun charging for all sorts of extras, from sodas to cappuccinos to specialty restaurants.
But as more and more of the upscale lines advertise themselves as being “all-inclusive” consumers find themselves having to read the fine print to know what is actually included and what is not.
The key items that passengers are typically interested in are alcoholic drinks, shore excursions and gratuities…but there are lots of other little “extras” that consumers may not have considered, like airport transfers, pre- or post-trip hotel stays and 24-hour cabin service.
The editors at AllThingsCruise thought it was important that you have somewhere to go to know exactly what you are – or aren’t – going to get on your next cruise. They contacted each and every cruise line with a list of 13 cruise amenities and asked them to detail which are included on their ships.
The result is a chart  that we believe will be invaluable to cruisers who want to get the most from their cruise dollar.
Thirty-three cruise lines, including small luxury lines line Silversea, Seabourn and Regent and river lines like Uniworld, Viking and Scenic, are included. And the large companies are there as well – Carnival, MSC, Princess, Royal Caribbean, NCL and more.
Studying the chart reveals a trend to including more amenities on smaller ships and fewer on large ships. For example, the only amenity included on Carnival ships is 24-hour room service and the only amenity on NCL ships are butlers (and only in a very few suites.)
“I frequently sail on smaller ships that include some, but not all, amenities and I am often confused by what I will be paying for and what not,” explains Cynthia Boal Janssens, editor of AllThingsCruise. “So it was obvious that this kind of reference was needed, both for consumers and for travel agents.”
The chart is also annotated with special information about specific lines. For example, Cunard – “Stocked in-cabin mini-bar and butler service for Queens Grill guests only. Liquor and wine from mini-bar will be replenished with a charge to guest’s accounts at their request. All standard items replenished daily. QG butler service includes in-room party coordination.” Disney – “Specialty drinks limited to complimentary soft drinks in dining rooms and 24/7 drink station. Specialty coffees available to concierge guests on Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. Butler service is included for Concierge guests on all ships.”
 This chart is a service to all cruisers, whether on ships large or small. Please reference the All-Inclusive Chart before planning your next cruise. The chart will be constantly revised as cruise lines change and/or upgrade their amenities programs.

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