On most cruise ships, your accommodations, standard meals, entertainment, and daytime activities are included in your fare. Then the nickel-and-diming begins.
Want a soda? Add it to your tab. Take a Pilates class? Expect a fee. Indulge at one of the fancy specialty restaurants? There’s a charge for that, too. The extras quickly add up, often sinking hearts when the bill arrives at the vacation’s end.
But there are cruises that thankfully buck this trend, with out-of-pocket expenses that are truly minimal. Alcoholic drinks, crew gratuities, and sometimes even airfare, shore excursions, and pre- or post-cruise hotel stays are included in the advertised price.
While these truly all-inclusive cruises are mostly in the luxury category, many other lines also offer all-inclusive options, too. It's possible to quantify the perks and often find real value.
Fleet: The 322-passenger Paul Gauguin and the 90-passenger Tere Moana, two upscale small ships that cruise the Caribbean and Latin America in winter and Europe in summer.
What’s Included: Select wines, spirits, and soft drinks; in-cabin refrigerator stocked with soft drinks and beer; gratuities (for dining staff and room stewards); watersports and snorkeling equipment; specialty restaurants including celebrity chef Jean-Pierre Vigato’s La Veranda; and airfare from Los Angeles on all 2013 and 2014 sailings of the Paul Gauguin.
Sample Cruise: 7-night Tahiti and the Society Islands on the Paul Gauguin. From $4,795 per person. pgcruises.com
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Fleet: With two all-suite, all-balcony, 700-passenger ships and one 490-passenger ship, Regent is the most all-inclusive of all the cruise lines. Cruising destinations include Alaska, Europe, the Caribbean, Asia/Pacific, and South America.
What’s Included: Practically everything. Round-trip air (business class for top suites); specialty dining; unlimited beverages including premium wines and spirits; in-suite mini-bar; shore excursions in every port; gratuities; pre-cruise luxury hotel package; transfers to the ship.
Sample Cruise: 7-night Rome to Monte Carlo on the Seven Seas Mariner. From $4,799 per person. rssc.com
Fleet: The two largest ships in the top luxury category, the 1,070-passenger Crystal Serenity and 922-passenger Crystal Symphony sail around Europe, New England/Canada, the Caribbean/Panama Canal, and on world cruises (also available as segments).
(See also: Bargain Alaska cruises for the summer)
What’s Included: Fine wines and premium spirits; gratuities; dining at Nobu and other specialty restaurants; in-room fridge stocked with soft drinks and beer; fitness classes (including spinning and Pilates Reformer); golf lessons with PGA pro; shuttle service in most ports; self-service laundry. In 2014, select Asia itineraries will include a two-night Beijing land package.
Sample Cruise: 7-night French Canadian Jubilee, round-trip from Montreal, embarking Sept. 26. From $2,830 per person. crystalcruises.com
Azamara Club Cruises
Fleet: Two 694-passenger ships designed to be like floating country clubs. They sail in Europe, Asia, South America, the West Indies, and Central and North America.
What’s Included: Boutique wines, international beers, and standard spirits; nonalcoholic drinks; gratuities; shuttle transportation to city centers from ports (when available); AzAmazing Evenings nighttime events; self-service laundry. Airfare credit of $500 to $1,000 per person is also offered with select sailings.
Sample Cruise: 7-night Provence and Côte d’Azur, Barcelona to Monte Carlo, on Azamara Journey. From $2,599 per person. azamaraclubcruises.com
SeaDream Yacht Club
Fleet: Two yachtlike 112-passenger ships, the SeaDream I and SeaDream II, cruise Europe, the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Asia, and Australia.
What’s Included: Open bar; gratuities; all meals; Wi-Fi; daily yoga and tai chi classes; use of water toys (including Hobie Cats) and a state-of-the-art golf simulator; use of mountain bikes onshore; shoreside activities with crew (such as shopping with a chef).
Sample Cruise: Weeklong Thailand and Malaysia, round-trip from Singapore, on SeaDream II. From $3,999 per person. seadream.com
See More Great All-Inclusive Cruises
Fleet: The newly refurbished, 350-passenger MV Minerva offers cruises with prominent guest speakers in Norway, the British Isles, Iceland, and the Mediterranean.
What’s Included: Shore excursions; gratuities; wine with dinner on two gala nights; bar credit on select cruises.
Sample Cruise: Adriatic Accolade’s 14-night cruise from Rome (Civitavecchia) to Athens (Piraeus), visiting Albania, Croatia, Italy, and Montenegro. From $3,390 per person. swanhellenic.us
Fleet: Luxury cruising and expedition cruising on seven 100- to 540-passenger, all-suite ships in destinations including Europe, South America, Canada, the Caribbean, Africa, the South Pacific, Japan, and both poles.
What’s Included: All beverages (fine wines, champagne, spirits, and beer); in-room bar setup with your choice of beverages; gratuities; shoreside events on select voyages; shore excursions on expedition cruises; aerobics, yoga, and Pilates classes; transportation to the city center in most ports.
Sample Cruise: 7-night Caribbean, round-trip from Bridgetown, Barbados, includes St. Bart’s, on the Silver Whisper. From $2,350 per person. silversea.com
Fleet: Four small all-inclusive ships ranging from 22 to 86 passengers (Safari Quest, Safari Explorer, Safari Voyager, and Safari Endeavour), offering luxurious adventure cruises in Alaska, Hawaii, the Pacific Coast, and the Sea of Cortés in Mexico, plus the 88-passenger S.S. Legacy, a Victorian-style steamer, on Heritage Adventures.
What’s Included: All from-boat adventure activities (hiking, kayaking); shore excursions; fine wine, premium spirits, and microbrew beer; use of kayaks and other sports equipment; one massage per guest; yoga classes on deck; transfers to the ship. Gratuities are not included (10 percent of fare is recommended).
Sample Cruise: 7-night Alaska on the Safari Endeavour, round-trip from Juneau. From $4,195 per person. un-cruise.com
Hebridean Island Cruises
Fleet: With a royal pedigree, the Hebridean Princess is billed as the world’s smallest luxury cruise ship (50 passengers) and cruises around the islands of Scotland and Ireland. In 2014, the ship will also cruise the Norwegian fjords.
What’s Included: All shore excursions; wines, spirits, champagne, beer, and soft drinks; use of ship bicycles and fishing tackle; all gratuities.
Sample Cruise: 4-night Hebridean Taster cruise around the Scottish Isles, round-trip from Oban. From $3,399 per person. hebrideancruises.us
Fleet: Six top-of-the-line all-suite ships carrying 208 to 450 passengers cruise around six continents, including destinations in Europe and the Caribbean.
What’s Included: Fine wines, champagne, and spirits; all dining including specialty dining; gratuities; use of watersports equipment. On select sailings, Advantage fares include airfare, one-night pre-cruise hotel stay, airport transfers, and a shore excursion credit of $500 to $1,500 per person.
Sample Cruise: 7-night St. Petersburg and the Baltic, Copenhagen to Stockholm on Seabourn Sojourn. From $3,499 per person. seabourn.com