Cruise advertisements often feature pictures of a variety of drinks, food, and entertainment. Does that mean all cruises are all inclusive? Although food, drinks and entertainment are included in the package, there are usually additional costs once you get onboard.

Certain cruise lines advertise their all-inclusive status, so you might not find many add-on options on these ships. You can expect to pay more for other cruises than the basic.

Are cruise ships all-inclusive or not? Below is a breakdown of the most common cruises and the likely costs once you get onboard.

What’s included in a cruise?

You’ll be able to see that many cruise lines offer a wide range of hospitality services. In most cases they will deliver. To keep your expectations and budget in check, it is important to fully understand what they offer.


Onboard accommodation is included in the cruise, but the cost will vary depending on which cabin you select. You can choose from an interior cabin without windows, a balcony cabin with an ocean view, or a multi-room suite. Each option has its own price and offers different benefits.

Foods and beverages

You can expect delicious food on cruises, and plenty of it. This could be in the form large dining rooms, buffets or snack stations near the pool. You will always receive complimentary food, of all types and tastes, as part of your cruise price. Tap water, some juices, and iced tea are included on most cruises; anything else is usually extra. You will need to pay extra for specialty coffee drinks.


Cruises generally offer free entertainment such as crew performances, live music and musical revues. While some cruises might charge an extra for certain shows or crew performances, most cruises include entertainment in their tickets.

Child Care

Many cruise lines offer children’s clubs that provide supervised activities for children. These are often included in the cruise price. However, in-room babysitting will be more expensive.

Recreational facilities

All passengers are welcome to use the swimming pools, jogging trails, and fitness centers. Some cruise lines also offer free health and wellness consultations or workout classes.

Room service

Some cruise lines offer complimentary room service, but not all. Celebrity Cruises offers free room service, as do Cunard, Holland America and Princess Cruises.

What’s not included on a cruise?

Cruise lines make money by charging passengers extra services onboard. Depending on the type of experience you desire, some may be worth paying more for. These are the most common items that you will have to pay more for on your cruise.

Specialty Restaurants

All cruises offer complimentary food. However, some ships also allow passengers to dine in specialty restaurants. These include specialty ice cream shops, steakhouses, Mexican, Mexican, and Mediterranean restaurants, as well as hibachi grills. These restaurants might not include the cost of your meal — you may have to pay an additional fee.

Some beverages

Cruise lines make a lot of money from alcohol and soft drinks. You can purchase a beverage package which allows you to buy multiple drinks at one price. If you are planning on drinking many drinks per day, this is a good option. You won’t find specialty coffees, teas or other beverages at onboard restaurants.

Entertainment and Casino

This is not surprising, but playing at the casino will be more expensive. Some attractions, such as race tracks or surf experiences, are extra-expensive while others are completely free. Simulator games and arcades are also often extra expensive.


It is usually more expensive to go off-ship on an organized excursion. You can still explore the area on your own, but it is more expensive and you could miss the boat if you leave late. If you’re on a shore excursion ship, the ship will hold you until you return. )

Free excursions are offered by some cruise lines. These include both river cruises and Viking’s ocean cruises.


The majority of cruise lines don’t include tips in their base fare. These are usually paid separately to servers, stateroom attendants, and other staff. The cruise line will usually provide a suggested tip amount. Some cruise lines also include gratuities in their prices. These include Azamara and Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn Silversea, Virgin Voyages, and Regent Seven Seas.

Medical Care

Passengers who require medical attention while onboard a ship will be charged an additional fee. However, if they have paid for travel or Cruise Insurance , any costs incurred may be covered by that policy.


Some cruise lines, such as Azamara, offer laundry facilities free of charge. However, many do not include it in their rates. You may need to pay a fee for detergent and/or the use of the machine. Laundry sent away for professional cleaning can also be charged.

Spa services

You will need to pay extra for a spa treatment or massage. Every cruise line offers a different menu, so even the most comprehensive cruises will require additional payments.

Wireless internet

It is important to stay in touch with loved ones, friends, or colleagues when you travel. Cruise lines are well aware of this fact. Most cruise lines offer it at an extra cost. Some cruise lines like Silversea and Seabourn offer Wi-Fi at no additional cost.

How can you get cruise elite status?

Like airlines and hotels, cruise lines offer elite status programs that reward repeat customers for their loyalty. You can enjoy cabin upgrades, priority boarding and disembarkation, complimentary drinks, Wi-Fi access at the concierge lounge, discounted Wi-Fi or free laundry.

All-inclusive cruises don’t tell the whole story

There are many differences between cruise lines. Some offer strong packages, while others allow you to pay what you want. Luxury lines such as Silversea and Seabourn offer all-inclusive cruises. Even all-inclusive cruises like these can still be expensive for specialty excursions and spa treatments.

Wi-Fi, alcoholic beverages, room service, and excursion options are some of the most important inclusions. These are often included on all-inclusive cruise lines, as well as many river cruises. Royal Caribbean and Carnival are two examples of mainstream cruise lines that include less upfront but instead charge as you go.

You may be eligible to save money if you are an elite member of a cruise line, or if you hold one of its cobranded credit cards. You can also choose a cruise line that is truly all-inclusive to avoid extra surprises while on the high seas.

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