What’s It Really Like to Be on a Five-Star Luxury Ocean Cruise?  

Wondering if it’s worth it to upgrade your cruise experience? Are those five-star cruise ships all they’re said to be? In a word, yes. In more words, it depends on what you’re looking for and what you value. If you’d like to know the final price before the end of your vacation, an all-inclusive line might be a good choice. Don’t immediately balk at the price tag – once you consider all the included perks like gratuities, beverages, sometimes even airfare and shore excursions, it will be more appealing. Let’s take a closer look at what upgrading to a luxury cruise ship will really get you. 

Not All Luxury Cruise Lines Are All-Inclusive.

While what is actually included may vary, when it comes to the best of the best all-inclusive cruise lines – Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea, Seabourn and Crystal, for example – you can expect most amenities to be included. Take Regent – your fare will include roundtrip airfare, transfers, gratuities, open bar (and your suite’s minibar), all restaurant dining, 24-hour room service, shore excursions (this is a biggie!), fitness classes and unlimited Wi-Fi. Other lines, such as Crystal, may include all meals, but limit the specialty dining to one or two evenings. Be sure to ask questions about what’s included – no cruise lines include spa treatments and very few do include shore excursions. 

So what about the others? Those lower-price-point (but still super posh!) cruise lines like Azamara, Windstar, Viking Ocean and Oceania are great for an a la cart experience, where you can pick and choose what you’d like to include. On these ships there may be alcoholic beverages available at lunch and dinner (included in your fare), but not at other times. Or, they simply may not include alcoholic beverages in the all-inclusive plan. 

What About Dining? 

A lot of the enjoyment of a luxury cruise comes from the decadent dining experiences that can be had onboard. For some ultra-luxe lines (Seabourn, Oceania, Windstar), you can dine at any specialty restaurant you choose, any time. Some, like Silversea and Azamara, charge an additional fee for specialty restaurants. 

Are Shore Excursions Included? 

Not across the board. Regent Seven Seas and Viking Ocean do provide a limited number of free shore excursions. If you’re looking for a more unique or niche experience, you’ll likely pay extra for that. Many of the upscale cruise lines will arrange for at least one complimentary event onshore just for their passengers, such as a cocktail reception in a special setting. 

Is the Atmosphere Better on a Luxury Cruise Ship?

Let’s say different instead of better. There’s generally a more elegant ambience aboard a five-star ocean cruise chip, with detailed architecture and pleasing interior design. There’s artwork and flowers everywhere. The staff to guest ratio is high, ensuring that you’ll want for nothing. Butler service is often available. And, your ship won’t ever feel crowded, giving your entire voyage a decidedly more exclusive feel. 

Why Should I Pay for All-Inclusive?

With the myriad benefits described above – and the lack of nickel and diming throughout your cruise – an all-inclusive luxury ocean cruise is a fantastic choice, if within your budget. Keep in mind, though, that you don’t only have the choice of the highest-end, priciest ships. The a la carte option feels just as carefree because not only do you have the elegance atmosphere of a five-star ship, but you’ve already chosen what you’d like to include. There’s no surprise bill at the end of your trip and you can simply relax and enjoy every moment. 

You deserve an all-inclusive ocean cruise! Let’s chat to find the best cruise experience for you. 


August 4, 2023

  1. Jim says:

    Could not agree more. We went on a Seabourn cruise a number of years ago and it was fantastic. No nickel and diming, the only extras we paid for onboard were cuban cigars and very premium wine, which is completely understandable. Each room was very good sized. When we arrived they asked us for our favorite drink and before we got to the room it was already there. Food was fantastic and we never felt herded. Excellent personal service and it never felt crowded – I think there were 200 passengers and 300 staff on board. If you’re going to cruise, this is the way to do it.

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