Not that long ago only the idle rich and lottery winners could afford to indulge in all-inclusive six-star luxury at sea, but increasingly luxe is worth the bucks. When many devotees of holidays afloat compare the value of an all-inclusive cruise with one where they pay for extras, it’s a no-brainer.

The first ever all-inclusive land-based resort was a Club Med which opened in Majorca in 1950. With its stress-free ethos, it is no wonder all-inclusive holidays caught on. When Sea Goddess I was launched in a whirl of glamour in Monte Carlo back in 1984, it was the precursor of all-inclusive, ultra-luxury cruising.

Silversea passengers holding glasses of wine as they look out over the side of their cruise ship

When you opt for a cruise where everything is included it makes for a more relaxing experience, one where you can relax and order as many refreshing tipples by the pool as you desire, plus enjoy tempting cocktails and fine wines at dinner in an alternative restaurant where there is no surcharge.

As a rule of thumb the price of an all-inclusive cruise might be 20 per cent more, but the mark-up represents at least 40 per cent additional value. Nearly all ships use the US Dollar as their on-board currency and since the plunge in the value of Sterling following the EU Referendum; all-inclusive cruises are undeniably win-win options.

Once bitten, forever smitten is the usual credo of passengers who have enjoyed the benefits of all-inclusive cruising. Budgeting for a holiday afloat is easy as this concept takes away any nagging doubts about extras that appear on your on-board account. For those still not convinced, was your on-board account at the end of your dream voyage easy on the pocket?  The chances are it left a bit of a bad taste in your mouth: did you really need to host cocktails for all those nice new friends? Was it absolutely necessary to book the speciality restaurants so often?  How did you justify a bottle of nice wine and liqueur coffees every night?

All-inclusive dining on-board Regent Seven Seas cruise ships

The moment we mention the word ‘tip’ Brits get embarrassed – nowhere is this more acute than when thinking about a cruise and wondering how much those pesky gratuities will add to the cost of the trip. Even the well-worn cliché ‘voyage of a lifetime’ loses some of its lustre when notification of automatic gratuities is placed on your bed on the penultimate night. Just imagine if this fickle process was consigned to the deep? Well, you guessed it; on all-inclusive cruises gratuities are included. This also has an intangible benefit – passengers who conspicuously dole out largesse don’t get any better service than anyone else.

Boasting they offer ‘the most inclusive luxury experience’, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the undisputed pacesetter. The award-winning company goes as far as claiming that with their all-inclusive promise the difference between cruising in a suite on their luxurious vessels compared to one on a big mainstream ship is marginal.

The Regent Seven Seas Navigator cruise ship in Alaska

Comprehensive inclusions have been fine-tuned by several other deluxe cruise companies. Silversea Cruises’ ‘all-inclusive – always exclusive’ mantra is no fallacy; renowned for delivering impeccable levels of service, Seabourn Cruise Line’s vision of an all-inclusive ambience pervades all decks; and Crystal Cruises offers a wealth of all-inclusive amenities on its two award-winning ocean ships, chic expedition yacht and superb river cruisers.

Have you experienced all-inclusive luxury on-board your cruise ship? Tell us all about your favourite part of the experience using the comment box, below.

Gary Buchanan
Gary Buchanan has been an influential cruise writer for almost 30 years. Based in Scotland, he writes for Britain’s leading national newspapers and respected consumer magazines on a variety of cruise topics. Recipient of several awards for his creative writing, he has also written five books about cruising. His other skills include being an expert lecturer on maritime history aboard Cunard ships during transatlantic voyages. His favourite cruise destinations include the Greek Isles, Thailand and the Norwegian fjords. When it comes to river cruises he rates the Irrawaddy, Mekong and Seine as real gems.

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