We have all heard the term all-inclusive when it comes to cruising, and yes, that term could apply to cruise vacations. Cruises do include food, beverages, accommodations, even activities, and shows. And yes you could enjoy your cruise with just the basic all-inclusive amenities that come with your cruise fare and not spend another cent during your cruise.
What is not included in the cruise price is Alcohol, soda, specialty coffee, specialty restaurants, spa, some activities/classes, photo's, gratuities, port taxes, excursions, casino, shopping, and wifi. Other than gratuities and port taxes, everything is optional. Even though you can request the gratuities be changed, they are very minimal, and the crew is worth every cent and more. You might be thinking. Is that all? I assure you there is much more in value then there is in extras.
cruise lines have made it easy for you and your pocketbook when it comes to enjoying and partaking in those extras with packages.
1) Packages for drinks. Sold by the length of your cruise broken down per day. You must purchase the drink package for every day of your cruise, and each person in your cabin must buy the package as well.
Generally, if you have four drinks or more each day, they are worth it. That's four sodas, coffee, non-alcoholic beverages, (sometimes water) in a day for the soda packages. ( confirm each cruise line as they have different packages) There are also two levels for alcohol drinks; one is regular and one premium. Some cruise lines have water packages separate. Packages do not include specialty places like Starbucks, Milkshakes, and smoothies bars.
2) Dining packages are sold by the number of specialty restaurant/meals you want to partake of during your cruise.
3) Spa packages can be purchased in advance or when on board. There are many treatments and amenities to choose from. They do have specials often the day you board and on port days.
4) Activities and classes are sold per basis, fitness, and yoga, laser tag or escape room are some you might find yourself paying extra for none are usually high priced a fraction to what you will pay on land.
5) If you have ever been on a cruise, you know there are photo opportunities everywhere. Formal nights and special occasions offer you the chance for a professional photography session. Being on a ship allows you to get creative, when will you ever get the opportunity for a photo session on the deck of a ship with the sun setting behind you and spinning on the dance floor like a professional dancer your photographer will work with you and give you a photo to remember the rest of your life.
6) Excursions are one of those things that are not necessary, as you can self-tour any port. But ship excursions are experiences you might never be able to do because of location or opportunity.
7) Casino and onboard shopping can have you opening up your wallet, and with everything charged to your shipboard account can the spending can quickly get out of control. Talk to your ship stewards to see about putting a spending cap on your account.
8) Wifi onboard can get expensive, try to unplug from your internet fixation turn your roaming off and to avoid unexpected high phone bills be sure your airplane mode is on, or buy a cruise phone package from your carrier. What we do is use wifi in each port(ask crew where the best wifi is) to check in with home other than that we hang up a sign that says we are on vacation.
9) Gratuities and port taxes are not included and are added automatically to your shipboard account. The crew works hard to make your experience onboard exceptional. I encourage the extra tipping of those who stand out and excels. I have often tipped extra to the dining server we had every night and our cabin steward. I have never had an experience where I requested to lower my gratuities. Just because my drink took a little longer or the chicken was overcooked, or my stateroom wasn't just like I like it one day does not mean I should punish the entire crew by reducing the tips.
So recapping yes you can enjoy the cruise without all the extra charges and still have a 5-star vacation. I always buy the soda drink package I ( love a latte/cappuccino in the morning and mocktails and soda throughout the day and chai latte at night) Holland America has water included in their package so we had water for our stateroom and to take on shore. We skip everything else. Although I will be trying the specialty restaurants sometime, you can decide what your budget will allow or what you want on your cruise.
Check out New To Cruising https://www.cruise-capt.com/post/new-to-cruising