Turn your typical all-inclusive cruise up a notch by tossing cost to the wind and booking with an ultra-luxury cruise line, where standards like airfare, meals and drinks are not only included, but come in the form of business-class flights, haute French cuisine from award-winning chefs and premium liquors and wines. For the well-heeled traveler, a standard all-inclusive cruise barely meets basic needs, but on a luxury liner -- where the guest-to-staff ratio is nearly 1-to-1 -- all-inclusive might feature exotic on-shore excursions, like elephant treks in a Thai jungle, or high-end fitness classes such as tai chi, and special Champagne and caviar beach parties. Here, we've selected the world's finest all-inclusive cruises.
Luxury cruise provider Crystal Cruises began offering all-inclusive packages to customers as recently as spring 2012, joining the ranks of other popular cruise lines with similar deals. Both the Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony ships offer deals to guests that include many expected all-inclusive amenities: round-trip airfare, dining in the ships' restaurants, complimentary wines and spirits (though premium brands are excluded), non-alcoholic beverages and all gratuities for housekeeping, dining and staff.
The packages also include a number of specialty perks, such as fitness classes, golf lessons with PGA pros and shuttles into port towns. Avid learners can also take advantage of onboard enrichment classes and entertainment (like the Crystal Visions lecture series featuring authors and celebrities), computer science classes, art classes and a film series. Guests staying in the ultra-luxe penthouse suites are also privy to a personal butler, as well as packing and unpacking services -- all tips included!
Seabourn handily ranks as one of the world's finest cruise lines by featuring smaller high-end ships that cater to experienced and cultured travelers. The cruise line's ships vary in size from 104 to 223 all-suite cabins, with trip features that include airfare, gourmet (and award-winning) meals, drinks and onboard enrichment lectures, which feature guest experts to add insight to your vacation experience. Because of the ships' small sizes, Seabourn is able to sail into smaller and often exotic locales, like Chile, Argentina, Mumbai and Phuket, Thailand. Popular perks on these all-inclusive trips also include a complimentary on-deck massage, a "Caviar on the Beach" beach party, wine tastings and complimentary water sports.
Ultra-sophisticated Silversea cruises prides itself on highly personalized cruising options, with all-inclusive packages that can be completely customized for guests, allowing them to include things like airfare, transfers, porterage and pre-cruise lodging in deluxe accommodations. The stylish cruise line features personal butler and concierge services, and allows guests to partake in as many (or as few) activities as they see fit, including culture appreciation classes like dance and cooking lessons, related to the ships' ports. The small ships hold only a few hundred passengers each, and visit exotic destinations like South Africa and Denmark. One of the greatest Silversea all-inclusive perks is the line's offering of unique excursions, such as watching a performance in Sydney’s famed opera house or taking a riverboat to a remote orangutan sanctuary in Borneo.
The uber-luxe SeaDream Yacht Club's 2 exclusive "mega-yachts" each hold 112 passengers, and feature an onboard staff of 95 people intent on meeting each guest's needs. The all-inclusive rates include an astonishing number of inclusions such as ocean-view staterooms, gourmet meals, open bar, daily yoga and tai chi classes, access to an onboard casino, and full use of water "toys" like WaveRunners, glass-bottom kayaks, snorkeling gear, water skis and wakeboards. Other unique SeaDream activities include outdoor movies under the stars, and a "Champagne and Caviar Splash," a 5-star beachside barbecue (where, yes, Champagne and caviar are quaffed), which is held at one of the ship's ports of call.
Not only do Regent Seven Seas Cruises offer all-inclusive rates, they actually up the ante by offering 2-for-1 fares as a special offer. Standards like airfare, gratuities, open bar and meals are all part of the deal, but Regent's inclusive fares really cover the gamut, including 24-hour room service, butler service in penthouses and unlimited excursions while in port. Excursions are often the highlight -- and on non-inclusive cruises, greatest added cost -- of a cruise. Regent truly does it right, offering unique onshore trips like trekking on the back of an elephant through a Thai jungle, taking a journey to Egypt's Karnak and Luxor temples, or watching a flamenco show in Barcelona.
About the Author
Valerie Conners is a freelance writer, editor and producer who has worked with the Travel Channel for more than 14 years, specializing in travel topics including the world's best beaches, outdoor travel and romantic getaways. Her work also appears in many online and print publications including, Aol Travel, Discovery Channel, World Hum, Frommer's Travel Guides, the Boston Globe, Baltimore Sun and Philadelphia Inquirer. She's happiest when eating spicy Thai food, snorkeling with sea turtles in Indonesia and bargaining for bangles in Indian markets. She blogs about her travels at PassengerConners.com.