We’re the first to admit, cruise pricing can be confusing. There’s the base rate that will include your cabin, most meals and some activities. But then you’ll have to add an additional $15-20 per person per day for gratuities, the cost of shore excursions, alcohol, some activities and fancy restaurants.
Suddenly, that per day rate that seemed like a good deal isn’t looking so good – and it’s hard to keep track of what you’re spending.
Enter bundling, the latest trend in cruise pricing. Lines have begun to offer packages that bundle together a number of onboard extras – like drink packages, internet or gratuities – for the one price. Bundling makes the initial cost higher but it allows passengers to understand from the outset exactly how much they will spend.
Ultimately, these packages allow guests to create a fully all-inclusive cruise.
As a benchmark, luxury cruises like Ponant and Silversea are charging just over $750 a night all-inclusive. Now compare what you are getting…
Celebrity Cruises – Go Big, Go Better, Go Best Passengers can choose between three fare levels with different ‘perks’ included. The four perks are a classic beverage package ($77 per day), prepaid gratuities ($12.95 per day), unlimited internet ($199 for up to 9 days or $299 for 10 days or more) or $150 onboard credit. The base fare includes one perk, and tiered packages give guests two perks for an additional $20 per day or all four perks for an additional $60 per day.
Seven-night Eastern Caribbean onboard Celebrity Reflection in an oceanview stateroom.
From $1,633 per person. Included perk: beverage package worth $539.
From $1,870 per person. Included perks: beverage package and internet worth $738.
From $2,051 per person. Included perks: beverage package, gratuities, internet and onboard credit worth $978.65
Is it good value? If you want to use the internet, then yes. But if not you would be better taking the free beverage package (the most valuable perk) offered with the basic fare and simply paying your gratuities, an additional $90.65.
Oceania Cruises Select Oceania cruises now offer an OLife bonus package, all of which include free unlimited internet, valued at $27.99 per day. Passengers can then choose one additional perk, from a house beverage package ($39.95 per day), free shore excursions (approx. $100-150 each) or onboard credit. The number of excursions and amount of onboard credit is dependent on the length of the cruise.
14-day Barcelona to Venice onboard Sirena in an oceanview stateroom.
From $4,230 per person. Includes unlimited internet worth $391.86. Additional free perk: beverage package $559.30, shore excursions worth approx. $600 or onboard credit worth $500.
Is it good value? This is essentially a free bundle on offer, so it’s definitely a good deal. The best value depends on what you like to do with your time – drink, explore or shop!
MSC Cruises MSC’s new bundled price plan includes four tiers with different benefits – Bella, Fantastica, Aurea and the MSC Yacht Club. Bella is for budget cruisers who want a room and access to the free onboard restaurants and activities. The Aurea category (available on balcony cabins or suites) is where the extras start to kick in, including drinks packages, discounted activities and free spa treatments.
Eight-day Mediterranean onboard MSC Armonia in a balcony cabin.
From $1,319 per person
From $1,869 per person. Includes Allegrissimo drink package worth $248 and spa package worth approx. $160.
Is it worth it? For this cruise, the numbers don’t really add up. The fare is an additional $550 while the added extras are worth around $400 (with some other discounts available). It might be a better option here to pay for your own extras as you go!
Royal Caribbean Rather than a traditional bundled price structure, Royal Caribbean will introduce a Suite Class in May this year for its highest paying passengers. As well as the benefit of a nicer cabin, Suite Class passengers have a host of extras included in their fare. The top tier, Star Class, includes a complimentary Ultimate beverage package ($65 per day), internet access ($15 a day), specialty restaurants (approx. $20 per day), gratuities ($15.95 per day), fitness class (approx. $10 per day) and mini bar (approx. $20 per day), as well as round the clock butler service.
10-night Eastern Caribbean onboard Anthem of the Seas.
Oceanview stateroom from $1,861 per person. No included extras.
Grand Loft suite from $8,543 per person. Included value of at least $1,500.
Is it good value? We don’t think you can consider Suite Class in terms of value. Sure, there are a lot of additional extras included in the fare but you’re still paying more than $5,000 more for the package.
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