A handful of luxury cruise lines bill themselves as ‘‘all-inclusive.’’ But are they? Not really.
Certainly, you do often get more bang for your buck than on mainstream lines because if you drink a fair amount of wine, spirits, bottled water and specialty coffees, you do save a bundle -- there's no charge for them on a luxury cruise. On the larger ships, guests often pay a premium for alcoholic beverages, soft drinks and even coffee drinks.
You'll save with a luxury cruise in other ways, too. Each of the cruise lines below provides free 24-hour room service plus free self-service laundries with washers, dryers and detergent.
When ‘all inclusives’ don’t include everything
Here’s the skinny on what you get and don’t get for free on the five top luxury lines.
Included: On the high-end ocean ships Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, your fares includes tips and all the beverages mentioned above. Passengers also receive unlimited Wi- Fi. In some ports Crystal provides free shuttle service to town.
Not included: Crystal charges a surcharge to use its alternative restaurants. Also not included are tour excursions, transfers from the airport to the ship unless you buy your air from Crystal, spa treatments, caviar (many luxury passengers want their roe) and premium label wines.
Regent Seven Seas
Regent Seven Seas has earned its stripes as the only truly all-inclusive cruise line, for all its ships: Regent Seven Seas Explorer, Navigator, Mariner and the soon-to-sail Splendor.
Included: Tips, all drinkables, a huge selection of shore excursions, Wi-Fi (limited to one device per cabin unless you're booked in a concierge suite or higher and then you get it for four devices), airport transfers with air purchase which in some cases upgrades to first or business class.
Not included: Spa treatments, premium label wines and caviar except during Sunday breakfasts in La Veranda.
This fine uptown cruise lines gives you caviar and Champagne wherever and whenever you want it — no kidding — aboard Seabourn Ovation, Encore, Quest and Odyssey.
Included: Your fare includes tips and all potables except premium labels. Limited Wi-Fi is free. In some ports the cruise line offers free shuttles to town.
Not included: Seabourn would rank alongside Regent as being truly all-inclusive but for the shore excursions, which are not part of your fare. Spa treatments also cost extra. Airport to ship transfers come when you buy your air through the cruise line.
Silversea offers luxury cruises aboard Silver Spirit, Silver Muse, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper, Silver Wind and the soon-to-debut Silver Moon.
Included: The ever-expanding cruise line that keeps on redefining luxury doles out caviar liberally for no charge along with all drinks of every type. Tips are also included in fares. Unlimited Wi-Fi is free, too, as well as steam baths and saunas.
Not included: Shore excursions are not included with the exception of a special event often put on in an exotic port. (On the line's expedition ships, shore excursions are included.) Spa treatments are not free on any Silversea ship but can be if you score onboard credits, which can be used for the spa, shopping special wines and shore excursions. Personal trainers also cost extra, natch. And don't forget to tip tour bus drivers and tour guides and others who helped you out on shore.
Viking Ocean Cruises
Viking is not considered a luxury line per se (although its ships are quite attractive) but rather a premium line. The Cruiseable team has sailed on several of its ocean ships, which include Viking Sky, Sea, Star, Sun, Quest, Jupiter and Orion. Although there are a few fees here and there to shell out, Viking represents a relative bargain over others that nickel and dime you to death.
Included: Viking fares come with beer and wine at lunch and dinner, one shore excursion in every port, and ship to airport transfers when you purchase air through them.
Not included: Some shore excursions are extra, spa treatments are not free and drinks outside of lunch and dinner cost extra.