First, RCI and Princess have joined Carnival in adopting "can't bring your own liquor on board" policy, coupled with time consuming luggage searches done more to confiscate booze than for valid security reasons. Then, happy hours and open bars are getting fewer and fewer, "suggested tips" higher and sometimes automatically charged to your room, and excursion prices are inflating while becomming shorter with less content. And how about the extra charges if you want to eat in the really good dining room? Cruises, the original all-inclusive vacations, have become anything but that. I still find cruising fun and interesting, but it used to be better. Does anyone know of a line or ship that is truly (or at least nearly) all inclusive?
I think overall cruising is still the best valued vacation there is! Sure, the cruise lines are searching for new revenue sources, and some of those may not make us all happy. But pricing, even before 9/11, were already much lower than they had been, even in recent years.
Silversea, Seabourn and some of the "luxury lines" who offer a more all inclusive fare are charging substantially more money for the experience. Even though now, under current circumstances, there is considerable discounting on those lines, a cruise will still run around $2000/person for cruise only. Considerably more than the discounted cabins of the major premium brands.
To give my opinion on the "bring your own booze onboard" concerns; I think likely this policy would have never seen the light of day if there weren't a CONSIDERABLE # of passengers who's liquor and beer for "in cabin consumption" was finding it's way onto the pool decks as well.
While everyone swears their concern is for being able to have a drink in the privacy of their cabins, I think the reality is the booze went farther than that in many cases.
Fact of the matter is I dont think the price of the cruise covers more than the cost of the cruise, if that. The profits come from the additional onboard revenue sources.
The nice thing, the choices for participation in these revenue sources is optional. You can skip the Haagen Dass, and you can skip the alcoholic drinks, and you can eat in the dining rooms as opposed to choosing the alternate restaurants. You don't even have to play bingo <G>
Is it the same as it was. Certainly not! But it costs alot less now to! Is it still a GREAT vacation? ABSOLUTELY!
Thank, for your recommendation of the Paul G.In fact, we have heard much the same thing, and are booked on it for 02/02/02 (Gee, hope that's not a bad omen, never noticed it before.) We've never cruised on a ship as mall ast the 300+ passenger Paul G, but rather liked the relative smallness when we cruised 600 Passenger ships a couple of times. Ant those were not nearly in a high a rating class as the Paul G.Maybe my main problem is that I am just tired of the big ship experience. We'll see, Thanks
I have to agree with Babe Ruth. With more and more all-inclusive resorts popping up in the Caribbean, you'd think some cruiselines would jump into that market. BUT the cruises would attract the heavy drinkers if they were all-inclusive and could change the whole elegant feel of a cruise. That's the only reason I can think of for not going all-inclusive. And I'm not picking on the heavy drinkers, I'm right there with them at the swim-up bars.
I have done 8 trips to the caribbean and have just booked my 1st cruise. I've done the land only trips simply because of the high cost of cruises. After 9/11, the cruises prices have dropped dramatically. Now after all the bar tabs, snorkeling and tipping costs, I expect that the total cost of the cruise will be about the same as a the highest priced all-inclusive resort vacation. I am looking forward to visiting different ports, but that's the only advantage I see in cruising versus the all-inclusive resorts (unless you're really into that elegant thing). It's definitely not a value vacation.
Marnie: Thanks for your reply. I would never advocate anything that I really thought would diminish the elegance of the cruise experience, and I hope you enjoy your first!
Basically I think that those who advocate the lines' imposing restrictions on "brought aboard" beer and liquor and sticking with the rather high "ala carte" drink prices onboard in the name of elegance are just wrong. Here's why:
First case in point: If you want a cruise with the highest degree of quiet elegance, and I give you the choice of only Carnival or Holland American Lines (HAL), which do you chose? If you've done your homework, you'd definitely chose HAL. In so doing, you would be chosing the most inclusive of the majors, and the one with the most liberal "bring aboard" policy. Carnival, "the party ship", is the least inclusive of the majors, with the most restrictive "bring aboard" policy. Radisson, a more costly and elegant line than the majors, is almost all inclusive and eliminates the "bottle in room" question by giving you one! Seabourn, the most elegant and highest priced line, IS all inclusive.
Second case in point. At the all inclusive land resorts you (and I) also enjoy, I have seen only one brief incedent of "inelegant" behavior due to intoxication. This was quickly resolved by resort personnel and, I might add, without resorting to limiting accessibility of beverages to the hundreds of other guests who were apparently able to "know their limit" and stay within it on their own.
So, I just cannot accept the arguement that limiting access of guests to such beverages, and/or requiring guests to purchase them only at the pricey "ala carte" rate in any way promotes elegance of cruising. If there is any relationship between these two factors, it appears to be the opposite.
Let me clarify a point, if I may. There is nothing wrong, in itself, with Carnival's beginning to charge for its physical fitness classes and its "better" restaurants, or with NCL's newer ships making extra charges for 7 out of 10 dining rooms, or with RCI's forcing guests to buy more beverages in the bars at ala carte price by restricting the "carry on board" practices of the past, SO LONG AS these companies fully disclose this at time of booking to those of us who cruised in the past and don't expect these extra charges. But the lines are not making disclosure. Instead, they are changing their policies on a cruise by cruise basis, so that the customer does not know what he or she is getting untill after boarding --- and then it is too late for the customer to make an informed decission. The way it is, even good TA's can't tell us fully what the deal will be on any cruise with the majors. According to my research, one major line that has not changed in any was from, say, a year ago, is HAL. I hope I'm not wrong, or that they don't jump on the "extra charge" bandwagon. In the case of my next cruise, I actually found Radisson to be a bargain, after I did my math, adding in to (for example) the price of an RCI cruise the fact that Radisson provides a 200 sq.ft.plus outside cabin, air, most bevrages, and some shore activities in their base price. By the time I adjusted RCI's advertised low price (which was for a closet sized cabin in the bowels of the ship) for these factors, I found it actually would cost me more than Radisson. But we shouldn't have to all do as much research as that to make this determination. ALL lines should just lay it all out on the table!
And this too shall pass. As consumers, we "vote" with our $. If we do not knuckle under to all this fluff and all sorts of extra charges eventually the cruise lines should get the idea. Dont't book line excursions. Stop drinking anything not provided for free, ie. water, coffee, ice tea & lemonade. Go to the pursars office the first day and insist tips be excluded form the S&S card. After all tips= to insure prompt service and you have no idea if thats true until you experience it. Am sailing 12/13 on the Spirit and will do about 1/3 of what I am suggesting since these are new ports without a large built up tourist base program. I will however drink a lot of lemonade and visit the pursar very early on the first full day about tips due to my 12/99 experience with this cruise line. I will get a manicure/pedicure before I leave home for about $30, less than on the cruise and I get to participate in another activity (probably free) during that 1 1/2-2 hours. I am not a total curmudgeon. I WILL tip for service. I WILL NOT pay extra for routine, otherwise and better items. I also shop at Wal-mart and Aldi.
LETS GET REAL HERE,$3.75 TO $5.25 FOR A DRINK. THE CRUISE LINES BUY ALL OF THERE BOOZE AT ST.THOMAS, AND HAVE YOU EVER BOUGHT BOOZE IN ST.THOMAS? IT IS SO CHEAP.A $3.75 DRINK COST THEM ABOUT FORTY FIVE CENTS TO MAKE. WE ARE PAYING FOR ALL OF THERE HELP. $2.00 TO $2.50 A DRINK AND I WOULD DRINK MORE.
This is one of the weirdest topics I have seen. Why would anyone want an all-inclusive cruise price just so they wouldn't have to pay a so-called 'high price' for booze or shore excursions? What about the people who don't drink? What about the people that don't excurse? ( I know; that's not a word) The cruise lines have to please a very broad spectrum; seniors citizens, baby boomers, generation X,Y and soon, Z; not to mention different religions, beliefs, races, creeds, and strange diets. I think,possibly, that is why there are options. Some people never leave the ship. Some people book their own shore excursions, bypassing the cruise line. Some people get off the ship and just walk around. Are they supposed to pay extra for stuff they don't want? And really, what is the big deal about alcohol? I just got back from two weeks on Celebrity. The brochure said "Celebrity reserves the right, blah, blah blah". I brought a bottle of Beefeater in my luggage. I figured if they confiscated it, oh well! They didn't. I bought bottles of Drambuie and Irish Mist in St Thomas. I went through security. They saw them, they said "go through". Now I had three bottles in my room. I bought Appleton rum in Jamaica; four bottles in the room. Two bottles of Bacardi in Puerto Rico; six bottles in the room. OK now I'm thinking, I have to get this stuff home! St Maarten, so hot. Gee, this Guavaberry drink is so refreshing. Seven bottles. Mexico, damn, Kaluha for eight bucks. Nine bottles now . So what this boils down to is that I did not have to go on an incredibly expensive line just to get incredibly drunk if I wished to.I did not walk around the ship drinking this stuff. Except for the gin, it all got home unopened. If I wanted a drink at a lounge or dinner or by the pool, I bought one. I have read many e-mails on this site and I am really tired of the *****ing and moaning about cruise costs; and especially about tipping. I think that cruising is the bargain of the new millenium and if you are going to complain incessantly, do something else.
I see where you're coming from. But not knowing what the true cost up-front makes it very difficult to plan. Looking at the price of a cruise makes a lot of people think they can afford it. But add on the port charges, air, tipping, excursions and a bar tab. Who knows? That's a lot of added costs. This may seem like a silly topic, but it's important for planning and has helped me tremendously. I just planned my 1st cruise; I have a month to go and I know what I need to save. Without this discussion, I'd be lost.
The all-inclusive option would be great. One price includes air, transfers to and from the airport, all food, drinks, entertainment, water sports including snorkeling. I recommend everyone try it once. There's no guessing and no lingering credit card bills. The simplicity has spoiled me. No waiting for the check at dinner. No disputing the accuracy of the tab at the end of the trip. That's only happened once to me and they corrected it, but not without a fight.
Thanks to everyone for their input. I'm sure it will be worth every penny.
To Judy L. Yes, I have bought drinks at higher prices than on cruise ships. But I don't live in those places for a week or two! We all like beverages (hard and soft) in ship's bars and restaurants. I like to drink these there at times (just not all the time) and know I'm paying for the atmosphere. But sometimes I just like to sit down, watch TV, rest, and drink a beer or coke at little cost. And, this thread is not just about drinks. These are just one element in the ever-shrinking list of what's included in the cruise price. And in the middle of all this, one line (Carnival, of course) has the gall to run TV ads stating they are "just like an all inclusive land resort toat goes places. Very untrue.
Virginia: I wish this were only about alcholic beverages! But many other things that used to be included are now at additional cost. Aerobics on Carnival. Dining on 7 out of 10 restaurants on NCL's new ships. Ice tea on RCI. And that's just what popped up on the boards this week.
Ok, I have to agree the ice tea thing is cheesy. Now everyone will be sneaking powdered instant aboard and ordering ice water. When will it end? I think charging for aerobics is silly too. I guess in order to keep rates down, they are going to find other areas to make up for it. But it will have to get pretty drastic for me to stop cruising. So now I will drink water, walk for exercise, and shun NCL.
Virginia: The thing we've got to remember is this board is called "Cruise Gripes", not "Reasons Why I'm Never Going to Cruise Again". What's going on here is just like what is complained about in Consumer Reports, when the cerial maker keeps the box the same size, but cuts the contents. But, in that case, the consumer can at least read the print on the box to see the actual content weight. The cruise lines have been reducing included content in the past six months very gradually and charging extra for little things gradually, hoping nobody notices. And, they certainly aren't revealing these things in their catalogs, and certainly not in their ads. But we know as frequent cruisers that $10 here and $5 there has a way of adding up to one heck of a bill at cruise end. Why gripe? I've got a theory that the cruise lines check these boards to "see how they are doing". They'd be fools not to do so. Also, these boards are a way consumers can get information that the cruise lines are concealing. And as we used to say when I was in the Air Force, "if you throw up enough flack, you're bound to hit something".
Cruise again. Oh, yes. Our next is in about six weeks. But because of boards like this, I either had or got info as to exactly what was included and what was extra, and how much, before booking. I think we all can agree that suprises aren't a good thing when they happen at embarkation!
What would be really nice is if the cruiselines would offer an all-inclusive option. There are some resorts in Mexico that offer the choice. I know that's probably inconceivable, but many cruiselines are already offering for tips to be prepaid, why not drinks?