While Royal Caribbean cruises have dining, entertainment, and other amenities included, many travelers wonder, are Royal Caribbean cruises all-inclusive?
Cruisers are attracted to paying just one price and not having to worry about additional costs, allowing them to relax and enjoy the rest of their cruise. We discuss what is and is not included on a Royal Caribbean cruise.
In This Article…
- Are Royal Caribbean Cruises All Inclusive?
- What Cruise Is the Closest to All-Inclusive?
- What Is the Best Way to Make Things All-Inclusive?
- Other Options for an All-Inclusive Stay
- Final Thoughts
Are Royal Caribbean Cruises All Inclusive?
Unfortunately, Royal Caribbean cruise ships aren’t all-inclusive – at least not in the true sense. While they may not be fully all-inclusive, they do offer guests exceptional value. The pricing model allows cruisers to receive a base experience and pay for any add-ons they may want to enjoy.
Doing things this way allows guests to customize their experience, whether cruising to Alaska, the South Pacific, or the southern Caribbean. We recommend taking a little extra money along with you or including a bit more in your budget. You can use this extra budget to buy items at a port and for shore excursions or onboard activities.
Luxury lines may be a bit more all-inclusive. However, a mass-market cruise line generally won’t include everything.
What Does All-Inclusive Mean?
An all-inclusive cruise generally means that culinary services, drinks, gratuities, and internet are included with your purchase price. You should note that culinary services will not typically include dining at specialty restaurants or exclusive drinks.
However, if you are going on a luxury cruise, you may find these are included in the initial price. An excellent way to find out what is included in your vacation package is to ask your travel agent for cruise deals or go to the Royal Caribbean site.
Why Not Make Things All-Inclusive?
Not making things all-inclusive allows basic packages to be more affordable and doesn’t make you pay for things you don’t really want. The most affordable cruise packages still have a lot of great perks, including access to fitness centers, onboard activities, outdoor pools and other amenities, and complimentary meal service.
If you have more money to spend or want to upgrade, there are plenty of opportunities. Even if you stay in the most basic stateroom, you can still engage in extras and add-ons that cost money but can make your cruise more special.
For example, you can play in the arcade, gamble in the casino, shop for souvenirs, treat yourself to specialty dining services, or book a spa day.
Star Class is your best option if you want something close to an all-inclusive experience on a Royal Caribbean cruise. It’s not an all-inclusive package, but there are perks to staying in qualified suites.
What Cruise Is the Closest to All-Inclusive?
Star Class is for guests who stay in the higher-end suites sailing on the newest ships. Star Class suites on Quantum and Oasis Class ships have several extras that people staying in other types of staterooms would have to pay extra for, like specialty dining, beverages, access to Wi-Fi, and other extras. But it doesn’t include everything.
Even in Star Class, you will still have to pay for excursions, gratuities, spa treatments, and souvenirs. Booking Star Class may come with a lot of extras, but it tends to be the most expensive option.
What Is the Best Way to Make Things All-Inclusive?
Since there are no true ways to make a cruise into an all-inclusive resort, you can buy specific packages or use onboard credit to receive the most value while on your cruise.
Royal Caribbean provides add-ons you can purchase before you board, leaving you with lower traveling costs and even discounts. You can also purchase these packages after you have boarded the ship, but there are advantages to buying them ahead of time.
The pay-as-you-go option is excellent if you only want an occasional drink. However, many cruisers quickly find they have consumed more than just a few drinks. You may also wish for unlimited drinks at a fixed price, so you don’t have to worry about costs. This is where drink packages come in handy.
You can buy drink packages before or after you board the cruise ship. You get unlimited drinks for whatever package you purchase. The Classic Soda Package or Refreshment Package is probably enough if you only drink soft drinks and non-alcoholic drinks, like coffee, tea, bottled water, and juice.
If you want a package that includes alcohol, you’ll need to spring for the Deluxe Beverage Package, which gets you beer, cocktails, and wine by the glass in addition to soda and other non-alcoholic beverages. The Deluxe package also includes a 40% discount on bottles of wines priced up to $100 and a 20% discount on wine around $100.
These packages are very attractive since they work as advertised with no exceptions or hidden costs. All you need to do is pay a flat fee and partake in unlimited drinks. However, there may be some exceptions as to what packages may include.
Exceptions include Starbucks drinks on the Oasis Class cruise ships. While they may be available on other ships, the locations on the Oasis Class of cruise ships are considered standalone. Therefore, they are not included in drink packages. The only other option is to buy a prepaid card for Starbucks.
Beverages obtained through room service are not included in your drink package. Anything delivered to your room will come at an additional cost. Furthermore, drinks provided in the mini-fridge are not included in your package. Anything consumed will be charged to your SeaPass card.
Some beers are excluded from the package as well. These come with a higher cost due to their large size. Beers like Chimay Blue in 750 ml aren’t included.
Gratuities cover stateroom attendants and dining staff services. It’s an obligatory charge that accrues daily and gets charged per individual. You can either pre-pay gratuities before embarkation or pay while aboard the ship. The advantage of prepaying is that you can cover costs before sailing and not worry about budgeting for them while on your trip.
If you want to engage in social media, use the internet, message, or check in with emails, this comes at a cost. Voom, Royal Caribbean’s fastest internet, can be purchased on every ship. It is six times quicker than other onboard Wi-Fi, making it very attractive.
While it works well on a cruise, it is not as good as on land. However, it will do the trick. How much you spend is determined by the number of people and devices using the service. It is also important to know that Royal Caribbean has already started rolling out the even faster Starlink internet, provided by SpaceX.
There are always opportunities to document the moment when you are traveling on a cruise ship. Ship photographers can set up a spot where you and your family can pose for photos. These can include backdrops or natural scenery.
These photos come at an extra charge depending on the size you want. However, you have the option to purchase a photo package.
Specialty Dining Options
There are numerous specialty restaurants onboard Royal Caribbean ships. They are exceptionally popular, and many require pre-booking before boarding the ship or purchasing a dining package.
The Unlimited Dining Package is the closest option to an all-inclusive package. It includes daily dinners and lunch when you are at sea. The only caveat is that you must wait until after boarding the ship to make reservations. However, if reservations are booked on your first day, there generally isn’t an issue with making them.
You can make individual reservations before the cruise so you can pre-pay them. However, dining packages are the most reliable option if you plan to dine at more than two specialty restaurants.
Other Options for an All-Inclusive Stay
As mentioned, Royal Caribbean offers onboard credit. There are several ways to receive this credit, each determining how much you will receive. While you may think that this “free money” can be spent anywhere (and it can), there are ways to make your money go further.
Overall, it is advisable to put most of it toward gratuities since they are charged anyway. That way, you won’t have to worry about them at the end of the day. Other options are using onboard credit for specialty dining, drink packages, and internet packages, which are the best ways to use the credit.
Unfortunately, if you don’t use up your onboard credit while on your cruise, you will not be able to cash it out. The unused portion is returned to the card initially charged if you loaded your SeaPass. It is returned to your travel agency if you obtained it through a promotion.
If you want to know if Royal Caribbean cruise ships are all-inclusive, the answer will depend on your definition of “all-inclusive.” If you want to enjoy excursions, activities, specialty dining, drinks, etc., then the answer is no. Including these options in the initial price would increase the cost of traveling on a cruise ship, and many guests would pay for things they don’t want or won’t use.
Therefore, in the cruise industry, all-inclusive encompasses things cruisers will generally like. The “extras” usually come at an additional cost. If you want to create an all-inclusive experience, you can either use onboard credit or purchase packages.
This will enable you to pay upfront and avoid unexpected costs from the cruise line, whether you’re departing from New Orleans or Fort Lauderdale or heading to the South Pacific or the western Mediterranean.