Luxury lines aren’t the only ones offering all-inclusive cruise packages these days. Mainstream and upscale cruise lines, which traditionally have offered a basic fare and then charged passengers a la carte for onboard expenses, have begun to offer more inclusive fare add-ons. Cruisers are buzzing about these new options, which allow them to pay up front for popular amenities and not feel nickel-and-dimed on board.
This new pricing strategy, which goes beyond popular drinks packages, has large-ship cruise lines such as Celebrity, Holland America and Princess jockeying to compete with luxury lines and their all-inclusive fares. Small-ship cruise lines Azamara and Windstar have also hopped on the trend.
These packages are designed to make the cruise experience hassle-free by allowing passengers to pay for most of their onboard expenses — such as beverages, Wi-Fi and gratuities — before they board. However, they might not always be the best option for every cruiser.
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Here’s a look at which cruise lines are offering all-inclusive packages, what’s included, how much they cost and the factors that can make them a great deal or a potential waste of money.
Celebrity Cruises, known for having a grown-up, bar-centric ambiance on board its ships, offers an All Included cruise fare on any itinerary (excluding the Galapagos Islands). With this fare type, passengers get three included amenities: crew tips, basic Wi-Fi and Celebrity’s Classic beverage package.
What’s the cost of the All Included package? That depends on the destination, itinerary length and time of year. In general, passengers can expect to pay $80 to $100 per person, per day, above the base cruise fare, although the fee can sometimes be higher.
When browsing for cruises on Celebrity’s website, the prices you will see are the Cruise Only fares (except when noted, mostly on Retreat and AquaClass categories). During the booking process (right after stateroom selection), you can choose either the higher All Included fare or the lower-priced Cruise Only fare.
Tip: If you’d like to book a balcony cabin at the All Included price, always price out AquaClass and Concierge staterooms, as well. Those room types, which offer extra amenities, sometimes cost just a few dollars higher (or even less) than a veranda stateroom with the add-on package.
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All passengers on the reservation must select the same fare. One person can’t book All Included and the other Cruise Only. Families sailing in the same cabin must all book the same fare type, although underage passengers will only have access to non-alcoholic beverages.
Related: Best all-inclusive cruise lines
The three amenities that come with an All Included booking are typically priced as follows:
The Classic beverage package only includes drinks priced up to $10. Note that the All Included fare covers the bar gratuity normally charged to guests who purchase a beverage package independently.
Celebrity’s Basic Wi-Fi plan is its value-priced option, which offers access to basic web functions: texting on messenger services, web browsing and email.
Let’s crunch the numbers. Bought a la carte, Celebrity’s Classic beverage package, tips for a standard cabin and basic Wi-Fi will cost $126.50 per person, per day, and you will be on the hook for a 20% automatic bar gratuity on each drink ordered.
At $80 to $100 extra per person, per day, Celebrity’s All Included fares are a good value for cruisers who plan to toss back multiple basic cocktails daily — there’s no daily limit — and are content with basic Wi-Fi.
Passengers who book All Included fares can also opt to upgrade to the Premium beverage package (for drinks costing up to $17) for an additional $24 per person per day (with a 5% savings if the upgrade is booked up to two days before the sailing date). This must be done within the Cruise Planner platform after final payment is made and up to two days prior to sailing.
Alternatively, they can pay the overage ($2 on a $12 glass of wine or cocktail, for instance) plus a 20% gratuity on the overage.
That puts the total cost of the All Included package at roughly $104 to $124 per person, per day, with the upgraded drinks package. Celebrity’s Premium beverage package is regularly priced at $109 per person per day, plus there’s an automatic 20% gratuity added to each drink order (that’s $3.40 on every $17 beverage).
That means passengers already considering the Premium Beverage Package will definitely save by purchasing the All Included package.
Celebrity cruisers can also upgrade their package to Premium Wi-Fi — which allows messaging and video chat on messenger services, web browsing, email, social media posting, video chat live and watching videos and movies. The upgrade costs an additional $15 per person per day (or $13 per person per day if booked pre-cruise).
The difference between the All Included package cost with basic or premium Wi-Fi is the same as if you purchased a Wi-Fi plan a la carte.
Passengers booking a cruise on any Holland America ship now have the option to get four premium amenities included with the Have It All package. The line’s premium package makes a HAL cruise semi-inclusive when passengers upgrade their base fare.
Here’s what’s included:
Related: What’s included in your cruise fare?
Right now, the Have It All package costs $50 per person per day (reduced from $99 per day as of April 21, 2023). This price reduction is a temporary promotion and an end date is not specified. When it does change, other perks may be added to the promotion.
Passengers sharing a stateroom must both select Have It All at the time of booking. Unlike most cruise all-inclusive packages, however, HAL’s Have It All doesn’t include crew gratuities, which will be added to passengers’ onboard accounts at $16 per person per day for guests in staterooms and $17.50 per days for guests in suites.
Here’s how the numbers break down for a seven-night cruise.
Right now, the Have It All package costs $350 per person for a seven-night cruise, which is actually less than the $384.65 Holland America charges for its Signature beverage package for a cruise of this length. Plus, passengers get an extra $230–$245 in shore excursion, specialty dining and Wi-Fi perks. So, at the $50 per person per day rate, the Have It All Package is a terrific value, even for moderate drinkers.
However, when the price reverts to $99 per person per day, or $693 per person for a seven-night cruise, the Signature beverage package ($384.65) and shore excursion, specialty dining and Wi-Fi perks ($245) only add up to $629.65. That’s $63.95 less than Have It All pricing —although with Have It All, service charges of 18% per beverage (or $1.98 per $11 beverage) are included.
So, if you drink around 33 beverages costing $11 on a seven-night cruise (or about five a day) you can break even. And remember, you’ll still need to pay daily crew gratuities.
According to Holland America, other/additional perks may become available with the Have It All package when the price changes.
Princess Cruises recently upped its all-inclusive game by adding three new amenities to its Princess Plus package, which the cruise line says offers a 54% savings over a la carte costs (based on a seven-night cruise). Passengers can also book the Princess Premier package for additional included perks said to offer a 66% savings.
Princess Plus is priced at $60 per person per day. What’s included?
Princess Premier costs $80 per person per day. It features the following perks:
For either plan, each beverage package also includes bar gratuities (which are 18% per beverage when ordered without the Plus or Premier packages). Passengers who are under 21 will automatically receive the Zero Alcohol package, which includes fountain sodas, juice bar, fresh juices, bottled water, specialty coffees and teas, frappes, milkshakes and Red Bull energy drinks.
Both packages are capacity controlled and if sold out may not be available for all cabin categories at the time of booking; if available, they can also be purchased on the first day of a cruise.
The first and second guests in a cabin must each book the same Plus or Premier package, but the third and fourth guests are not obligated to do so, meaning a family doesn’t have to pay for amenities that kids won’t use.
Plus, Wi-Fi, specialty dining and the photo package are shareable, so a family of four with two parents on the Princess Premier plan can have their children’s devices on Wi-Fi, take home great family photos and enjoy one specialty dining experience with the entire family.
It might take a while to add up the cost of all the amenities, but you don’t have to. For couples, the Princess Plus package is a no-brainer.
Wi-Fi and crew appreciation (totaling $31-$33 per person, per day) alone account for more than 50% of the $60 per person per day (or $420 per person for a seven-night cruise) package charge. With less than $30 per day left to break even and with drinks up to $15 included, you don’t have to overindulge to get your money’s worth. Those premium desserts, fitness classes and unlimited juice bar beverages are the icing on the cake.
For $80 per person per day, or $540 per person for a seven-night cruise, Princess Premier offers additional savings — mostly if you already planned on purchasing a beverage package and think you’ll use at least some of the other perks.
Related: Are cruise line drinks packages worth the price? What to know before you buy
Here’s what you’ll get: the Premier Beverage Package, which at $84.99 per person per day actually costs more than Princess Premier, so it more than pays for itself if you prefer premium wines and spirits. Two specialty dining meals with a value of at least $74 per person per cruise. Wi-Fi for up to four devices, which normally costs $40 per day, or $280 per seven-night cruise.
You’ll also get a photo package, unlimited premium desserts, unlimited fitness classes and juice bar drinks, and a wearable Medallion accessory, all of which cost extra without the package.
The bottom line: At $80 per day, Princess Premier can be a good value — especially in comparison to other cruise-line all-inclusive packages costing the same or even more.
While Azamara’s basic cruise fares already include crew gratuities and standard spirits, beers and select wines (a choice of two whites, two reds and a rosé daily), the cruise line’s Experience More packages bundle additional onboard amenities at savings of 26-31%.
There are four options priced per couple/cabin and one designed for solo travelers. All are available on cruises of eight days or longer, with the exception of one package specific to shorter sailings (seven days or less).
The least expensive option for two people sharing a cabin is the Experience More Essentials package. It includes a Premium Beverage Package for two (with additional beer and spirits selections), unlimited Wi-Fi for one device and a $300 shore excursions credit. It’s priced at $599 per cabin.
The Experience More on Short Cruises package is the only one available on sailings of seven days or less. It includes the Ultimate Beverage Package for two, unlimited Wi-Fi for one device, a $200 shore excursions credit, a $100 onboard spa credit, Chef’s Table (a multi-course tasting menu) or Three Table Tour (one night at Aqualina, one night at Prime C and one night at your choice of restaurant) and one bag of laundry per voyage. It’s priced at $699 for two people in the same cabin.
Related: Why you should splurge on a cruise ship specialty restaurant
The Experience More Enjoyment package includes the Premium Beverage Package for two, unlimited Wi-Fi for two devices, a $500 shore excursions credit and a $200 onboard spa credit. It’s priced at $999 for two people.
The most comprehensive option for two people is the Experience More Indulgence package. It includes the Ultimate Beverage Package for two, unlimited Wi-Fi for two devices, $700 shore excursion credit, $250 onboard spa credit, Chef’s Table or Three Table Tour and five bags of laundry during the voyage. It’s priced at $1,499 for two people.
Singles can get in on the savings, too, with the Experience More for Solo Travelers package. It features the Ultimate Beverage Package for one, unlimited Wi-Fi for one device, a $350 shore excursions credit, a $150 onboard spa credit, Chef’s Table or Three Table Tour and three bags of laundry during the voyage. It’s priced at $799 per person.
What’s the difference between the Premium and Ultimate beverage packages in these offers? The Premium package includes a larger selection of beer than the included list, plus name-brand spirits such as Absolut, Captain Morgan and Bombay Sapphire. The Ultimate package includes all The Premium offerings plus a selection of wine and Champagne by the glass, Evian and Perrier water, and more top-shelf spirits.
If bought separately, the Premium package costs $16.95 per person per day and the Ultimate package costs $23.95 per person per day.
Azamara has done the math for passengers.
If you already plan on booking shore excursions and specialty dining reservations, enjoying wine and spirits beyond those included in the cruise fare, using Wi-Fi and paying for amenities such as specialty dining or spa treatments, the all-inclusive upgrades offer good value.
However, if you don’t plan to take advantage of all the extra-fee services on board, you’ll need to do the math around the amenities you would use to determine whether a package is right for you.
Windstar Cruises offers an All-Inclusive Fare option for a set daily fee. For Windstar, all-inclusive means unlimited beverages, unlimited Wi-Fi and all gratuities, as well as the cruise fare. Passengers can also still opt to book a base cruise-only fare and pay for onboard expenses on an a la carte basis.
Passengers who choose the All-Inclusive Fare pre-pay $89 per person per day; the package must be booked within five days of the sail date. Those who book a cruise-only fare can also purchase the All-In Package for $99 per person per day once they are on board.
Both the inclusive fares and onboard package cover unlimited Wi-Fi, crew gratuities and wine, beer and cocktails ordered on board (as well as the 18% beverage service charge usually tacked onto bar bills).
We took a look at the a la carte items included in the inclusive package to determine the value of Windstar’s offering (based on a weeklong sailing).
Wi-Fi and tips account for $51 of the $89 daily charge before factoring in bar charges. That leaves $38 for beverages, so, the value is there with the All-Inclusive Fare if you plan to enjoy at least three or four alcoholic beverages daily throughout your cruise — and you’ll avoid the added service charges.
However, guests who only indulge in the occasional glass of wine or cocktail will not see the full value of the package. Similarly, passengers who prefer to buy one of Windstar’s cheaper, more limited usage Wi-Fi plans (200 megabytes or 500 megabytes of data) or intend to share the cost of the Unlimited Wi-Fi plan by logging in one device at a time, might find the $89 or $99 daily charge is not worth it.
Should you upgrade to one of these packages? While convenience is certainly a motivating factor, whether a plan has value depends in most cases on what you think your bar tab will be.
If vacation mode means you’ll be tossing back tropical cocktails at the pool all day or enjoying multiple glasses of wine at both lunch and dinner, booking an all-inclusive package is a smart option. If you’re not a big drinker or enthusiastic social-media user, the better deal is sometimes to stick with the basic fare and pay as you go for what you use.
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