Of all the vacation options to choose from, cruises are by far the best option for any individual or family looking to have fun and get the best value for their hard earned cash. Not only do you get a unique feel of the sea and a chance to visit various destinations all in one vacation, but also you are set to experience fine dining, great entertainment and tons of fun filled activities for everyone.
What scares people off cruises may be the unfamiliarity with cruising or the daunting task of planning for a cruise. Of course, nowadays there is the option of an all-inclusive cruise that offers everything from accommodation and meal plans to flights and transfers in the same package.
Still, selecting the right all inclusive cruise from the myriad of options can be pretty challenging, especially to a newbie. Luckily, this article will take you through the fundamentals of an all inclusive cruise to guide you in your pursuit for the perfect vacation.
So, what exactly IS an All Inclusive Cruise?
Just for the sake of clarity, an all-inclusive cruise is a cruise where a one off payment for a particular package that mostly includes accommodation, dining, entertainment and even beverages for some cruise lines. The definition of all inclusive cruises differs with the cruise lines. Most cruise lines like the Viking Ocean Cruises and the Oceania Cruises offer luxurious all inclusive packages that include unlimited drinks which make them an attractive sell. Other perks of luxurious all inclusive packages include business class flights to the ships destination, spa treatments and gourmet cuisine.
The other category of all inclusive cruises are more budget conscious but offer a slightly limited package compared to the luxury all inclusive cruises. The basic package includes accommodation, food and entertainment. Some may also include additional non-alcoholic drinks and snacks packages. The Royal Caribbean International cruise line and the Norwegian Cruise Line are excellent examples of cruise lines that offer all inclusive cruises at pocket-friendly prices. Though the packages may seem limited, the cruising experience is still pretty much the same as the premium all inclusive packages. The lavish options are something most people can cope without.
Although we have established a fine distinction between the two primary types of all inclusive cruises, there exist both vast and subtle differences among both categories. The disparity arises from the types of cruise lines, the selected cabin, duration of the trip among other factors. Before booking an all inclusive cruise for yourself or your family you should take the following factors into consideration.
1. Just How Inclusive is ‘Inclusive.’
I wish there would be a universal constant for cruise lines to define inclusive accurately. It would save us lots of time consulting travel agents and rummaging through travel magazines and web pages. However, since no such definition exists, it is important to get sufficient information about the package offered by the cruise line by consulting you travel agent first instead of sticking to the old dictionary definition of ‘all inclusive’. This will also help you find the best deal for your money’s worth and avoid unnecessary altercations with the ship crew. So before you accuse anyone of racial profiling, please check the cruise brochure to ascertain whether the free snacks are included in the ‘all inclusive’ package.
2. Types of Packages Offered
All inclusive cruises offer various packages to meet specific client demands. The broad array of packages may range from the basic food and accommodation bundle to the bundle that even includes baby sitting services. Before booking an all inclusive package make sure the package is tailored to the needs of you and your family. The Disney Cruise Line, for example, offers great packages for the family at different prices and gets a thumbs up for me. Celebrity Cruises also offers an excellent all inclusive package that is more centered on the busy individual looking to relax and have a good time.
3. Type and Location of the cabin
Prices of all inclusive trips on the same cruise line tend to vary according to the type and location of the cabin. Inside cabins which are typically located in the interior of the ship tend to be the cheapest option but lack the natural lighting and quaint ocean view since they have no windows. Ocean view cabins, on the other hand, tend to be windowed sometimes from top to bottom to allow seamless, natural light and an obstructed ocean view but fetch a heftier price compared to inside cabins.Balcony cabins have extended cantilevers that overlook the sea typically at 100 to 150$ more than the ocean view cabins. The more stately cabins are the suites and mini suites that include multiple rooms in one cabin. Any average Joe might have to dig deep into his pockets to book an all inclusive suite or mini suite, but it is definitely worth the pricing. Apart from inside cabins which are limited to the interior of the vessel and the balcony cabin which must face the ocean, all other cabins can be located anywhere on the ship.
4. Duration of the cruise
I cannot sufficiently stress the importance of confirming the length of the cruise before booking your all inclusive cruise vacation. You don’t want to be that guy who missed out on the fun activities on the cruise simply because you were saving them for the last days that never were. All inclusive cruise rates typically are offered at nightly rates or for the whole cruise in general. The choice is dependent on your preference. Most cruises, however, will be more expensive if paid per night than merely a one-time payment for the entire trip.
These pointers will go a long way in ensuring the best all inclusive cruise for your summer vacation. It is worth noting that though all inclusive cruises seem more expensive initially, they often tend to be cheaper than the normal cruise that requires frequent payments during the cruise. This is also convenient for most travelers who hate carrying their money or credit cards around. The downside to all inclusive cruises is the rigidity of the schedules. A timely program is followed to prevent confusion, and this may compromise on your freedom.
Next time you plan to take a cruise consider an all-inclusive cruise for a cheaper and well-suited cruise for your liking.