As an experienced cruiser, I know what I am getting when it comes to doing business with one of the so called “mass market” lines. You get your room, you get meals in the dining room and the buffet, and you get coffee, tea, and water to drink. Beyond that, there’s usually a charge. Notably, sodas are included with Disney, and perhaps others. When I’m preparing for a cruise, I plan on expenses above and beyond what are paid in advance. That’s just the way it is with the mass-market lines. The up market lines vary with some being what I’d safely consider “semi-inclusive” and others being “all inclusive.”

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Courtesy of NCL

NCL recently introduced a short term offer that really has me intrigued. Essentially, it’s an “all inclusive” package that you can buy in addition to your normal cruise fare. It will include most alcohol (up to $10 per drink), dining in one of the up charge restaurants each night, and more. The all-inclusive packages are available for all cruises in 2015 and all categories of staterooms for sailings of 3 nights up to 14 nights. According to NCL’s press release,

The All-Inclusive package is available for 2015 sailings from three to 14 days in length, is priced by the number of days, and is available for all stateroom categories, including the Haven by Norwegian. When adding the All-Inclusive to a selected cruise, guests receive 10 percent off the cruise fare. For a seven-day cruise, the $899 package includes the Ultimate Dining package; the Ultimate Beverage package; shore excursion credit of $200 per person, pre-paid daily service charges; a 250-minute Internet package per person; 20 photos of any size; chocolate-covered strawberries; a bottle of wine; one bingo session and six bottles of water. For cruises from three to five days, the shore excursion credit is $100 per person; and for sailings from 9-14 days, the package includes 12 bottles of water.

As part of the All-Inclusive offer, Norwegian’s Ultimate Dining package provides complimentary access to one of the line’s specialty restaurants every night of the cruise, including Cagney’s, the popular steakhouse; French bistro, Italian restaurant, Moderno Churrascaria, Asian-Fusion restaurant and more. The Ultimate Beverage package includes a variety of spirits, cocktails, draft beer, bottled beer and glasses of wine up to $10 and unlimited fountain soda and juices at all bars, lounges, restaurants and on Norwegian’s private island, Great Stirrup Cay.

On certain sailings, I’m a big fan of all inclusive drink packages, and this is pushing things to the next level. I like the idea of an “all in” price. Those who know how to maximize the already included offerings may not be interested. But for those of us that like to push their cruise vacation to the max, this may be a very attractive option. I’ll be watching with interest to see if this spreads to the other big cruise lines. It’s also an acknowledgement IMHO that the price differential between the big lines and up market lines like Crystal (which is mostly inclusive) is not as big as one might think at first blush. Would you be interested in booking one of these all inclusive packages?

-MJ, August 9, 2014