The Best All-Inclusive Perks at Sea

by Donna Heiderstadt

The Best All-Inclusive Perks at Sea

by Donna Heiderstadt

All-inclusive pricing makes cruising a breeze since it folds most — if not all — onboard expenses into the base fare. Cruise lines (mostly small luxury ones) that offer these packages create a seamless experience for guests. Some larger cruise lines also mimic this concept via “bonus inclusions” deals. Want to learn more? Read on for the top ten perks that come with all-inclusive cruising.

All-inclusive pricing makes cruising a breeze since it folds most — if not all — onboard expenses into the base fare. Cruise lines (mostly small luxury ones) that offer these packages create a seamless experience for guests. Some larger cruise lines also mimic this concept via “bonus inclusions” deals. Want to learn more? Read on for the top ten perks that come with all-inclusive cruising.

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Complimentary Wine, Beer, & Cocktails

Indulging in fine wines, craft beers, and specialty cocktails while on vacation is pretty common, which is why almost every all-inclusive fare at sea offers a complimentary beverage program. Many larger cruise lines typically offer free open bars as part of their wave season promotions, as well.

Indulging in fine wines, craft beers, and specialty cocktails while on vacation is pretty common, which is why almost every all-inclusive fare at sea offers a complimentary beverage program. Many larger cruise lines typically offer free open bars as part of their wave season promotions, as well.

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Included Gratuities

Crew members work hard to make passengers’ onboard experiences as enjoyable as possible. Their efforts are typically rewarded with a per-day gratuity charge added to a stateroom bill, along with service fees on bar and restaurant beverage orders. All-inclusive fares fold these charges into the base price, so you won't need to sign for drinks or worry about a hefty service bill. 

Crew members work hard to make passengers’ onboard experiences as enjoyable as possible. Their efforts are typically rewarded with a per-day gratuity charge added to a stateroom bill, along with service fees on bar and restaurant beverage orders. All-inclusive fares fold these charges into the base price, so you won't need to sign for drinks or worry about a hefty service bill. 

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Unlimited Wifi

Staying connected with family, friends, or even the office via email or social media can turn into a major expense. All cruise lines offer onboard wifi; however, since service is satellite-based, connectivity can become costly when purchased in packages of minutes or megabytes. Fortunately, many all-inclusive cruise fares now include unlimited wifi so that you can surf the web freely.

Staying connected with family, friends, or even the office via email or social media can turn into a major expense. All cruise lines offer onboard wifi; however, since service is satellite-based, connectivity can become costly when purchased in packages of minutes or megabytes. Fortunately, many all-inclusive cruise fares now include unlimited wifi so that you can surf the web freely.

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No-Fee Specialty Dining

Cruise ships offer a veritable smorgasbord of dining experiences, but not all of them are free. On most cruise lines, specialty dining venues — which typically include steakhouses, seafood restaurants, French or Italian eateries, and sushi bars — cost anywhere from $30 to $60 per person. (À la carte pricing is often available, too.) However, cruise lines with all-inclusive fares don’t charge extra for specialty dining.

Cruise ships offer a veritable smorgasbord of dining experiences, but not all of them are free. On most cruise lines, specialty dining venues — which typically include steakhouses, seafood restaurants, French or Italian eateries, and sushi bars — cost anywhere from $30 to $60 per person. (À la carte pricing is often available, too.) However, cruise lines with all-inclusive fares don’t charge extra for specialty dining.

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Complimentary Shore Excursions

This perk isn't offered by every cruise line with all-inclusive fares, but it is a great bonus feature. Enjoying a day exploring ancient Greek or Roman ruins in the Mediterranean or visiting a rum distillery in the Caribbean will enhance your cruise experience — and you won't even have to spend an extra dime. 

This perk isn't offered by every cruise line with all-inclusive fares, but it is a great bonus feature. Enjoying a day exploring ancient Greek or Roman ruins in the Mediterranean or visiting a rum distillery in the Caribbean will enhance your cruise experience — and you won't even have to spend an extra dime. 

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Free or Discounted Airfare

Only a select few all-inclusive luxury cruise lines include airfare in the base fare, but those that do make booking an international cruise a seamless and stress-free experience. With a single online booking or call to the company’s customer service line, passengers can secure their stateroom and flights (either business class or economy class with the chance to upgrade for an extra fee).

Only a select few all-inclusive luxury cruise lines include airfare in the base fare, but those that do make booking an international cruise a seamless and stress-free experience. With a single online booking or call to the company’s customer service line, passengers can secure their stateroom and flights (either business class or economy class with the chance to upgrade for an extra fee).

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Pre-Cruise Hotel Stays or Tours

Combining a pre-cruise hotel stay or land tour with a luxury sailing offers the best of both worlds, and several all-inclusive cruise lines do just that. It's always a good idea to arrive in your city of embarkation at least one day early, especially if the trip involves a long international flight — which is why some cruise lines offer a complimentary hotel night (or even a two- or three-night land programs). 

Combining a pre-cruise hotel stay or land tour with a luxury sailing offers the best of both worlds, and several all-inclusive cruise lines do just that. It's always a good idea to arrive in your city of embarkation at least one day early, especially if the trip involves a long international flight — which is why some cruise lines offer a complimentary hotel night (or even a two- or three-night land programs). 

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Butler Service

The perks of luxury cruising extend to the high level of service passengers enjoy, and, for some all-inclusive cruise lines, this service standard includes a butler. A step above a stateroom attendant, cruise ship butlers are schooled in personal service such as making dinner reservations, ensuring unpacked clothing is freshly pressed, and delivering evening cocktails and canapes. 

The perks of luxury cruising extend to the high level of service passengers enjoy, and, for some all-inclusive cruise lines, this service standard includes a butler. A step above a stateroom attendant, cruise ship butlers are schooled in personal service such as making dinner reservations, ensuring unpacked clothing is freshly pressed, and delivering evening cocktails and canapes. 

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Airport and Port Transfers

Since most cruise terminals are located outside of the city center, it can be a hassle to get from the airport or pre-cruise hotel to the ship. But, when you book an all-inclusive fare, the cruise line will arrange all of your transfers. Plus, some of them even provide complimentary city tours along the way.

Since most cruise terminals are located outside of the city center, it can be a hassle to get from the airport or pre-cruise hotel to the ship. But, when you book an all-inclusive fare, the cruise line will arrange all of your transfers. Plus, some of them even provide complimentary city tours along the way.

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Free Laundry Service

Packing for a cruise that's nine nights or longer can be a challenge, and overweight luggage can strain backs and/or incur added airline charges. The final perk of all-inclusive cruising, free laundry service, can alleviate some of the burden. Several luxury lines offer a daily valet service with laundry picked up, washed, folded, and delivered, while others have a self-service launderette on each deck.

Packing for a cruise that's nine nights or longer can be a challenge, and overweight luggage can strain backs and/or incur added airline charges. The final perk of all-inclusive cruising, free laundry service, can alleviate some of the burden. Several luxury lines offer a daily valet service with laundry picked up, washed, folded, and delivered, while others have a self-service launderette on each deck.

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