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Reflect on this: The infinity pool at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort, with Mount Otemanu in the background, is part of your Paul Gauguin cruise.

Courtesy of Paul Gauguin Cruises

Reflect on this: The infinity pool at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort, with Mount Otemanu in the background, is part of your Paul Gauguin cruise.

Guide to all-inclusive pricing on cruise ships

What your fare covers and doesn't cover on an all-inclusive cruise

You may be considering taking a cruise and, of course, price matters. So when you see the words “all inclusive,” you likely believe that everything is covered in the cruise fare — but that isn’t always the case. In fact, it’s usually not the case.

Money saving tips for cruises

If you're looking for all-inclusive that really covers all the bases, your best bets are Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Silversea, CrystalSeaDream and Paul Gauguin

What's really included in 'all-inclusive' pricing?

At resort hotels — the concept of the “all-inclusive” resort got its start on Jamaica — it means your accommodations, meals, drinks, non-motorized water sports and entertainment are included in the price.

Indulge in a facial at the Deep Nature Spa by Algotherm, an award-winning luxury spa, aboard your Paul Gauguin cruise.
Roger Paperno / Courtesy of Paul Gauguin CruisesWhat's included with all-inclusive? Spirits and wines, yes. Spa treatments, no, as in this facial at the Deep Nature Spa by Algotherm on a Paul Gauguin cruise.

It's more complicated at sea. In general, “all-inclusive” in the cruise sector usually means that tips, wines, Champagne, spirits, soft drinks and specialty coffees come with the fare. What’s not covered are spa treatments, shore excursions (with exceptions), Internet (with exceptions), transportation to and from airports to pier (again with exceptions).

When you tally up your choices, you'll sometimes find that it's less expensive to book an all-inclusive cruise than one where those extras eventually start to add up

So when you're doing the math on how much your cruise will cost, you'll need to tally: the base fare, the port fees and taxes, and any extras you intend to purchase that aren't included in an all-inclusive price quote.

And when you tally up your choices, you'll sometimes find that it's less expensive to book an all-inclusive cruise than one where those extras eventually start to add up.

On most cruises, entertainment (with some exceptions), meals (except for specialty restaurants) and most onboard activities are all included with your base fare. After all, you're paying for a cruise experience, not just a room on a ship. 

But many first-time cruisers and even a few veteran seafarers are often confused about what’s included in their fares. That’s understandable. After all, when booking a voyage we're told that meals, entertainment and “lots of extras” are built in to the ticket price. But in many cases there are hidden or surprise fees. (See what's included — and a long list of what's not included — in a standard Norwegian fare.) 

Sticker shock on mass-market ships

Kids get a giggle out of being served tea in the Palm Court on Crystal Serenity.
Courtesy of Crystal CruisesTea, madam? It's free for kids (and grownups) on all-inclusive Crystal Serenity, but sodas and ice cream often cost extra on the mass market ships.

Many unsuspecting passengers discover that quite often — especially on the big mass-market ships — soft drinks, bottled water (some costing as much as $7), alternative dining venues, shore excursions, ground transportation to and from the ship, certain exercise classes like yoga and Pilates, Internet service, tips, ship-to-shore phone calls, and in some cases even ice cream that is dished out on deck, all come with an added fee. Some lines charge fees for use of certain areas of the spas — treatments are always extra unless you purchase a special package.

I've seen parents suffer final bill shock when discovering their little tykes spent a small fortune at the ice cream parlor on one ship. Another couple argued vehemently with the purser about a $400 phone bill for calls made from their stateroom. Many passengers think juices and sodas are courtesy, but on some ships they are not.

So before plunking down that credit card for your cruise deposit, ask your travel agent, call the cruise line or go to the website to see what you get for what you pay, even when you’re told it’s all-inclusive. While the mass market cruise lines sometimes roll out all-inclusive specials, generally all-inclusive pricing refers to sailings on luxury or boutique ships. (Boutique lines like Windstar Cruises — where gratuities and drinks cost extra — don't claim to be all-inclusive.)

All-inclusive fares on the luxury cruise lines

As a general rule, use of the spa facilities (steam room, whirlpool, gym) is free but spa treatments always cost extra. Here's the current way the luxury lines handle all-inclusive pricing:

Regent Seven Seas

Passengers pretty much get it all on Regent Seven Seas, a super high-end cruise line that comes with a wealth of amenities, which when added up can make the overall cost cheaper than on other lines.

Here's what's included:

Start your morning with Canyon Ranch SpaClub's energizing yoga class during your cruise on Regent Seven Seas.
Courtesy of Regent Seven Seas CruisesStart your morning with Canyon Ranch SpaClub's energizing yoga class during your cruise on Regent Seven Seas.
  • 2-for-1 all-inclusive fares
  • Roundtrip air* (Applies to coach, roundtrip flights only from the following airports: ATL, BOS, CLT, DEN, DFW, DTW, EWR, FLL, IAD, IAH, JFK, LAX, LGA, MCO, MDW, MIA, MSP, ORD, PBI, PHL, PHX, SAN, SEA, SFO, TPA, YUL, YVR, YYZ. Air fare is available from all other U.S. and Canadian gateways for an additional charge.)
  • Roundtrip business class air* on 2016 European Voyages
  • Business class air on all intercontinental flights* on 2017-2018 Voyage Collection Cruises 
  • Ground transfers between airport and ship
  • Unlimited shore excursions
  • Luxury Hotel Package and more in Concierge Suites and higher (pre-cruise hotel)
  • Specialty restaurants
  • Unlimited beverages, including unlimited premium beverages such as fine wines and spirits, throughout the ship
  • Open bars, lounges and in-suite mini-bar is replenished daily
  • Pre-paid gratuities
  • Wi-fi throughout the ship (free for certain suites; free for up to 200 minutes on 7-night sailings)
  • 24-hour room service
  • World-famous Canyon Ranch SpaClub
  • Enrichment program that includes Broadway-style shows, virtuoso performances, culinary demonstrations, wine tastings and Canyon Ranch SpaClub wellness programs.

Not included:

  • Spa treatments


One of the features that sets Seabourn apart is its open bars throughout the ship. Meet, mingle and make friends with people in an environment where no one has to pick up the tab.
Courtesy of Seabourn Cruise LineOne feature that sets Seabourn apart from mainstream cruise lines is its open bars throughout the ship. 


On super-swank Seabourn, all-inclusive pricing includes:

  • Air fare from major gateways (this varies)
  • Gourmet dining on board, including the specialty restaurants
  • Gratuities
  • All drinks, including wines and spirits (except for the really high-end stuff — Dom Pérignon 1996, anyone?), with open bars throughout the ship
  • In-suite bar and refrigerator stocked with your preferences
  • Onboard entertainment 
  • Marina with in-sea pool and complimentary watersports Caviar in the Surf during beach barbecues ashore 
  • Immersive shore excursions, such as Thai cooking classes and Caribbean beach parties
  • Use of Molton Brown and L'Occitane bath amenities​

Not included:

  • Ground transfers 
  • Wi-fi
  • Shore excursions  
  • Spa treatments


Sometimes all-inclusive translates to somewhat inclusive. For Silversea's six luxury vessels (its three expedition ships have different criteria), the cruise line covers these charges:

Get a complimentary drink, listen to elegant music and mingle with friends in the Panorama Lounge onboard Silver Whisper.
Courtesy of Silversea CruisesEnjoy a complimentary drink, listen to elegant music and mingle with friends in the Panorama Lounge on Silver Whisper.
  • Butler service in every suite
  • Gratuities  
  • Beverages (select wines, premium spirits, specialty coffees, soft drinks) are complimentary in-suite and throughout the ship 
  • Gourmet dining in every restaurant (exception: per guest reservation fee for Le Champagne on six ships and for Seishin on Silver Spirit and during special promos)
  • 24-hour room service
  • Wellness and enrichment programs
  • Transportation in port to town when available
  • Limited wi-fi is included with the exception of top suites, which get it free)

Not included:

  • Air fare
  • Ground transfers
  • Shore excursions
  • Wi-fi (select sailings offer complimentary Internet access)
  • Spa treatments


Teatime Waiters provide light treats on Crystal Serenity.
Courtesy of Crystal CruisesTeatime Waiters provide light treats on Crystal Serenity.

Crystal Cruises

For Crystal Cruises' two mid-size ship and new yacht, here's what's included in all-inclusive pricing:

  • Gourmet dining on board, including the specialty restaurants
  • Drinks, including wines and premium spirits (open bar throughout the ship)
  • All non-alcoholic beverages, including bottled water, specialty coffee drinks, soft drinks, fresh juices and Afternoon Tea 
  • Gratuities
  • 24-hour room service
  • Enrichment classes
  • Shuttle service to your ports (when available)
  • Extras: For guests in Penthouse Deck suites, butlers, shore excursions and other items are rolled into the vacation price.

Not included:

  • Air fare
  • Ground transfer before and after your cruise 
  • Wi-fi (though it's free in Penthouse Deck suites and limited in other staterooms)
  • Spa treatments
  • Shore excursions for non-suite guests 


Take part in the Champagne Caviar Splash during a shore excursion on your SeaDream cruise.
Courtesy of SeaDream Yacht ClubTake part in the Champagne Caviar Splash during a shore excursion on your SeaDream cruise.


For SeaDream's two luxury ships, all-inclusive pricing includes:

  • Gourmet dining on board
  • Drinks, including wines and spirits at four open bars
  • Gratuities
  • Water toys (eg, Waverunners, paddleboards, water skis, kayaks, banana boats), high-tech golf simulators, mountain bikes, activities at port with the crew (such as shopping with the chef) and catered beachside parties, complete with caviar and Champagne
  • Caviar: 10 pounds on board for a 7-night voyage
  • Bulgari toiletries and pajamas embroidered with guests’ names

Not included:

  • Air fare
  • Ground transfers
  • Wi-fi 
  • Spa treatments
  • Shore excursions


Paul Gauguin guests wade over to a
Roger Paperno / © Pacific Beachcomber/Paul Gauguin CruisesPaul Gauguin guests wade over to a "water waiter" along the beach at Motu Mahana.

Paul Gauguin

For Paul Gauguin, all-inclusive pricing includes: 

  • All onboard dining
  • Complimentary beverages including select fine wines and premium spirits, soft drinks, bottled water, coffee, and tea served throughout the ship
  • Gratuities
  • Complimentary 24-hour room service or in-room dining
  • Butler service in categories B and above
  • Complimentary use of an exclusive, private white-sand beach in Bora Bora with bar service, volleyball and snorkeling
  • Complimentary day on a private islet, Motu Mahana, off the coast of Taha'a, featuring snorkeling, water sports, lunch barbecue with full bar service and floating bar
  • Guests booking Paul Gauguin's Air Sea program get a pre- or post-cruise stay for 3 nights at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa (pictured at top).
  • Complimentary use of snorkeling equipment  

Not included:

  • Wi-fi
  • Spa treatments
  • Shore excursions


Actually, Oceania does not bill itself as all-inclusive. Cruise fares include:

  • Air fare (if purchased as part of a package)
  • Gourmet dining on board
  • Wi-fi (guests in Concierge Verandas and Penthouse Suites get free Internet package; guests in Oceania, Vista and Owner's Suites get free unlimited Internet)

Not included:

  • Drinks, including wines and spirits
  • Gratuities
  • Spa treatments
  • Shore excursions


A Viking Star tour guide leads a shore excursion at the Acropolis in Athens.
JD Lasica / Special to CruiseableA Viking Star tour guide leads a no-extra-charge shore excursion at the Acropolis in Athens.

Mass market cruise lines

Mass market cruise lines (they prefer the term "contemporary lines") such as Princess, Holland America, Celebrity, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Disney, MSC Cruises and Costa generally charge for alcoholic drinks, sodas, specialty coffees, tips and all but the basics — meals, entertainment, onboard activities — except during special promotions. Most offer drink packages so you can save money if you imbibe. 

It's worth mentioning that Viking Ocean Cruises includes shore excursions at every port on its itineraries, and the river cruise lines also include shore excursions at no extra cost. 

Carnival, Holland America, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean sometimes offer all-inclusive rates that include alcoholic drinks and sometimes shore excursions and spa treatments. And Disney's fares include children's activities (though not babysitting). One downside of all-inclusive cruises on the big ships is the feeling of being on an inflexible regimented schedule, which can put a damper on a relaxing getaway. 

How about you? What has been your experience with all-inclusive pricing on cruises?

In our series Smart Money on a Cruise

Patti Pietschmann
I'm the LA Travel Diva and spend time cruising with first mate Richard, traveling the world, reviewing fine restaurants, going to plays, movies and events. It's the good life.