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Sure, that bargain cruise fare you spotted on one of the mainstream, big-ship cruise lines might look good at first glance, but the real sticker shock doesn’t actually set in until your vacation nears its end, and a whopping itemized shipboard statement arrives in your stateroom. Those à la carte cruise fees can rack up in no time at all – factor in a round of margaritas here, some sodas and bottled water there, and a round of tips for the cruise staff, and before you know it, your $599 “bargain” 7-night cruise has suddenly doubled in price. The luxury, small-ship cruise line, Silversea, comes to the rescue, with an all-inclusive pricing policy that promises what you see is what you get when it comes to its fares – freeing up your hands to snap photos and swim laps, rather than having to dig into your pockets the whole time. Ahhh, sweet carefree Silversea!
In addition to the onboard entertainment, meals, and 24-hour room service (which come pretty standard across the cruise industry, though Silversea’s open-seating dining and no-tipping policy makes the latter two even more enjoyable), here are just a few of my favorite included amenities, as I sail aboard their Silver Cloud ship in South America this week:
• Included gratuities: All onboard tips, from housekeeping to the bartender, are bundled into the rate, so there’s no question as to whether the waitstaff are really happy to serve you that drink, or if they’re smiling because you look strikingly similar to dollar signs.
• Butler service: As of October 2009, each and every cabin is assigned a personal butler (the service was previously reserved for only the highest suite categories), who remains at your beck and call for the duration of the trip, to attend to everything from room service to serving as a concierge liaison.
• Complimentary beverages: Fine wines with dinner, poolside piña coladas, bottles of water for the beach, champagne toasts, soft drinks, and more – all are provided in unlimited quantities throughout the ship, for the duration of the cruise. Plus, they’ll even stack your in-room fridge with your preferred drinks, from beers to juices to spirits.
• In-room flowers: The lovely complimentary orchard delivered to my stateroom (pictured) was a lovely touch to come “home” to.
• Ocean views and spacious suites: No need to dole out more to enjoy an ocean-view cabin or spacious suite – each and every stateroom on Silversea ships come with a view (the majority all also come with private verandas), and even the most basic accommodations, at 240 square feet, qualify as suites.
Granted, with Silversea sailings starting at about $3,400 for 8- to 10-night cruises, it’s an expensive product on paper – but all of the included extras make it an excellent luxury value; trust us, you'll find a real golden ticket at Silversea.