All-inclusive cruises are wonderful in most regards. The only drawback is they are not really all-inclusive. While most food, entertainment and accommodations are included, today’s cruise lines are offering more and more items for which you must pay extra. Cruising is still a good bargain, but the term all-inclusive is not accurate any more. You pay for extra amenities, but the tastes of today’s traveler have changed, and they want more than the casino and Broadway-style shows. While no cash registers are onboard, and you cannot pay cash for anything, you might be lulled into a false sense of security. When you board, you must offer a credit card to which all onboard charges are billed. You are issued a ship’s card that is used for everything onboard — from a soda at poolside to a meal at a specialty restaurant or spa treatment.
Ship’s photographs, as well as paraphernalia for a camera, are expensive. Bring your own camera, with lots of batteries, and take your own pictures. Photographers are stationed at the entrance when you board, at the exits when you depart the ship at every port, at meals in restaurants and around the ship for various activities. Learn to “just say no.”
Beverage packages are common on cruise ships. You pay one price to be able to drink as much as you want — from bottled water to cocktails. The various packages have varying prices. This, I suppose, is only a bargain if you are going to drink significantly of any beverage. There is no refund for unused portions, and you cannot generally share your package with another person. In addition, a service charge is added to the beverage package at the end of the cruise.
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