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It’s really great to sail on a cruise with “all-inclusive options”… Or is it?

Crystal Cruises is the most recent to join the list of high end cruise lines that include just about everything in the one fare. I have seen fellow passengers’ alcohol bills run into the thousands of dollars on the pay-for-what-you-drink cruises but on some selected luxury ships, alcoholic beverages are now included for the duration of the cruise. This is a blessing for those who like to stay merry as alcohol can be an expensive extra!

Some of the luxury cruise lines that include alcohol with meals and open bar service are Silversea, Seabourn, SeaDream Yacht Club and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Many also include gratuities for the crew as well, although some passengers still give additional tips to good staff. Crystal was giving away US$1000 onboard credit to counteract other lines all-inclusivity but they’re doing away with this when the new all-inclusive system begins.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) I do not drink alcohol, and my usual beverages on board include iced tea, American lemonade and good old H2O, which are all gratis on most ships. I occasionally splash out and have a Diet Coke, so my shipboard beverage bill may run as high as $10.

Am I being disadvantaged as a non-drinker when sailing on an “all inclusive” ship? Nothing is free, the alcohol is factored into the ship’s ticket price or in the lack of on board shipping credit, which I usually spend either having massages or buying caps and T-Shirts in the ship’s boutique.

Included alcohol will only work on 5-star ships that cater for an older, wealthier demographic, that don’t abuse the amenity. Can you imagine what would happen if this policy was introduced on 3- and 4- star ships with a younger passenger configuration? They would not be able to remember if they had sailed or not.

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