I suggest this article here: http://cruisemates.com/articles/cons...latpricing.cfm
Which is all about understanding what you are seeing in a cruise line ad.
First of all - understand that most prices you see that say "from $...." are giving what is called the "lead" (or lead-in") price; the cheapest price on the ship for the smallest inside cabin.
However, it is important to remember that every cabin gets essentially the same access to everything on the ship as anyone else. The days of first-class, second-class, etc cruising are pretty much gone. There are exceptions to this rule, but this is accurate 99% of the time.
The average cruise (everything but the top luxury lines) quotes a price that includes the cruise and basic additional fees (formerly called port-fees, but now just known as non-commissionable fees or NCFs). The only thing NOT included in the quoted and/or advertised price is the taxes, which are usually under 10% of the fare.
Every cruise includes your stateroom, all meals (unless you choose to go to an alternative special restaurant on any given night), access to all entertainment venues on the ship, swimming pools, movie theaters, lounges, the fitness center, etc.
Things that will cost additional on a ship include: drinks (alcohol and sodas, but not coffee, tea or juices in most cases). Shore excursions are extra, spa services (massage) are extra. And on most ships everyone will have to pay about $10+ per day in tips (charged to your account at the end of the cruise).
Airfare to the ship, and transfers from the airport to the ship are extras, not included.
Keep everything I said above in mind as the average cruise. And then you will start to see ads that say things like:
These cruise lines: Silversea, Regent, Seabourn are "all-inclusive" in that you do NOT pay extra for alcohol or gratuities on the ship.
River cruises usually include the shore excursions in the price of the cruise, and the prices are often quoted with airfare and transfers from the airport to the riverboat.
So, bottom line - when reading a cruise ad, understand the price shown is for the basic cruise but without tax added. Airfare & transfers are additional.
If the price shown deviates from that, the ad will "usually" say so, but not necessarily because most luxury lines (above) already assume you know what they include.
There are also near-luxury cruise lines: Crystal, Windstar, Oceania where the food quality and amenities are of the quality of luxury lines, but the price is not all-inclusive.
See, wasn't that easy?
One thing I do not like to see is cruise agencies that give you a price quote, and then include the additional fees (NCFs) in small print. It looks like this
7-day Cruise $349
(port fees of $251 per person and taxes of $29 per person add.)
That cruise should be quoted as simply "$600 per person plus tax"
I know of one agency that does this all the time, and unfortunately I have seen a few well-known "travel specialists" recommend this agency as having the lowest prices when in fact they are usually higher when everything is added together.