Put away your wallet and climb aboard: though every cruise line includes something in the base cost of fare—accommodations, basic meals, entertainment—a growing number offer truly all-inclusive journeys. Like many all-encompassing resorts, all-inclusive cruise packages take care of activities (in this case, shore excursions), alcoholic beverages, and gratuities. Some cruise lines go above and beyond by including airfare, a pre- and post-cruise hotel stay, and transportation to and from the boat upon arrival and departure. Travel + Leisure’s editors and contributors evaluate the best all-inclusive cruises on their itineraries, accommodations, cuisine, service, and activities.
Get ready for some sticker shock. All-inclusive cruises will be more expensive upfront, and indeed many of the cruise lines that offer such packages are luxury outfits. But the economic equation isn’t over: counting in the bill passengers receive at cruise’s end—after alcohol, specialty meals, shore activities, exercise classes—can be similarly dispiriting. The question travelers must ask themselves is when they’d like to pay for these services and what they’d like their cruise experience to be. For cruise-goers on a budget, choosing a basic flat fare and staying mindful of onboard expenses may be their best bet. But for those who’d like to take advantage of additional services—why not take care of it up front? Travelers who use the full array of amenities on a pay-what-you-will cruise often end up paying about the same as travelers on an all-inclusive luxury cruise ship (especially when you include airfare and hotel rooms).
Looking for a laidback Caribbean cruise with an alcohol included package to share with friends? Seeking out a luxurious, intimate, and all-inclusive tour of the Mediterranean? T+L has the latest news, recommendations, and guides for your search.