Is Royal Caribbean All-Inclusive?

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Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas aft while departing Perfect Day at CocoCay private island in the Bahamas

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When planning a cruise vacation, one question on everyone’s mind is, “Is Royal Caribbean all-inclusive?”

Despite the extensive offering and several inclusions, Royal Caribbean is not all-inclusive.

The idea of paying one price for a complete vacation package is certainly appealing. Unfortunately, there are very few all-inclusive cruise lines – usually ultra-luxury brands with fares starting at several thousand dollars.

The good news is that Royal Caribbean provides tremendous value, with plenty of inclusions in the base cruise fare.

The cruise lines pricing model consists of a base price for the standard amenities, with guests having the option to pay for additional add-ons.

Is Royal Caribbean All-Inclusive?

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas aft while departing Perfect Day at CocoCay private island in the BahamasPin

Royal Caribbean cruises are not all-inclusive.

But you receive a lot of value for what’s included in your Royal Caribbean cruise fare. While not all-inclusive, you do get an incredible value. And you can go on an entire cruise vacation without spending anything beyond your cruise fare.

Royal Caribbean’s pricing model is similar to other mainstream cruise lines. You pay a base fare for the basic services and amenities and can purchase add-ons for additional perks.

One benefit of this pricing model is that it keeps your cruise fare relatively low.

If you want to experience everything Royal Caribbean cruise ships have to offer, you won’t want to pay an all-inclusive cruise fare at a higher price. That’s because you’ll be paying for services you won’t use.

The money you save can be put towards the addons you want to use or shore excursions on port days.

This pricing structure is not without controversy.

But it allows you to customize your cruise experience.

Your Royal Caribbean cruise fare includes the following:

Despite not being completely all-inclusive, Royal Caribbean cruises excel in providing guests with exceptional value and an unforgettable vacation experience. By including many essentials in the base price and offering optional paid add-ons, you can tailor their cruise experience to their liking, ensuring they have the best possible time while on board.

Additional Expenses on Royal Caribbean

Passengers enjoying the sun on the Serenade of the Seas pool deck while docked in Vancouver, CanadaPin

Despite not being an all-inclusive cruise line, you can purchase several add-ons to make your cruise more inclusive.

The packages can be purchased before you set sail, so you won’t need to worry about hidden fees. Some of the upsells can be bought on the ship as well.

We recommend purchasing the add-ons before your cruise. That’s because they’re usually cheaper when you buy them in advance.

Once you’re on a Royal Caribbean ship, you can expect the price of the add-ons to go up.

Specialty Dining

While Royal Caribbean includes most meals onboard in the cruise fare, dining in Specialty Restaurants such as Chops Grille, 150 Central Park, and Izumi comes at an additional cost. These restaurants offer unique culinary experiences and more comprehensive menu options. To enjoy specialty dining, guests can opt for individual reservations or purchase Royal Caribbean’s Unlimited Dining Package.

Drink Packages

Alcoholic beverages, pop, specialty coffee, and tea are not included in your cruise fare.

You can purchase the drinks individually or purchase a Royal Caribbean beverage package. The drink packages are great because you pay a daily fee and get unlimited drinks up to a specified value.

Before getting too excited, it’s essential to remember that the drink packages are usually only worth it if you plan on drinking 5-7 beverages per day. 

Royal Caribbean offers a variety of drink packages for purchase, catering to different drinking preferences. You can choose from alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink packages.

  • Deluxe Beverage Package: Includes cocktails, beers, wine (by the glass), specialty coffees, premium teas, juices, bottled water, and fountain soda
  • Refreshment Package: Includes non-alcoholic beverages such as bottled water, soda, juices, premium coffee and teas, and even mocktails.
  • Classic Soda Package: Includes unlimited soda.

If you want to purchase a beverage package, make sure you buy it before you embark on getting a discount.

It’s important to note that an 18% gratuity exists on individual drink purchases and drink package purchases.

WiFi

Staying connected at sea also comes at an additional expense on Royal Caribbean cruises. The cruise line offers its Voom internet packages for purchase, providing guests with high-speed internet access.

Royal Caribbean’s WiFi uses Starlink Internet by SpaceX for some of the fastest internet speeds at sea.

There are two WiFi plans to choose from; Voom Surf or Voom Surf & Stream.

Surf and Stream is our go-to because it provides faster internet speeds and allows us to stream movies and video chat.

Shore Excursions

Passengers at Canada Place terminal in Vancouver, CanadaPin

While the cruise fare covers transportation to various ports, tours and shore excursions in port cost extra.

You can explore new destinations by booking guided tours, adventure activities, cultural experiences, or other immersive options. But these tours are not included in Royal Caribbean’s cruise fare.

Gratuities

Royal Caribbean charges an automatic daily gratuity. The gratuity cost is typically charged to your onboard spending account each day of the cruise, but you can pay the service charge in advance.

By pre-paying the gratuities, it’s one less cost you need to worry about on your cruise.

We recommend paying the gratuities in advance because it helps create a cruise budget when you know all your expenses before setting sail.

Photos

Professional photographers roam the ship and capture special moments during the cruise. You’ll also find photo opportunities with professional backdrops, especially on Royal’s formal nights.

You can purchase these photos and photo packages at the ship’s photo gallery at an extra cost. The cruise line also occasionally offers an unlimited photo package or private photography services for special events, such as destination weddings.

We used the private photography service for our engagement shoot and highly recommend it for special occasions. The ship photographer was courteous and professional. But most importantly, the photos were incredible.

Yes, it was pricey but worth the cost for capturing our special moment.

How to Get More Inclusive Features

Serenade of the Seas Docked in Haines Alaska on a sunny dayPin

So what if you want to get an all-inclusive experience without paying for individual add-ons?

Royal Caribbean doesn’t offer an all-inclusive package, but you can watch for deals and promotions that bundle add-ons with your cruise fare. 

Additionally, you can join the Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program to receive perks and discounts on packages.

Finally, when you book a Star Class suite, you’ll receive nearly everything you can ask for in an all-inclusive Royal Caribbean cruise.

Promotions and Deals

Keep an eye out for special promotions and deals offered by Royal Caribbean.

Promotions may include discounts on drink packages, dining packages, and shore excursions. Even if you can’t find deals on Royal Caribbean vacations, you might get access to special promotions when you book through a cruise travel agent.

That’s because travel agents can access promotions not available to the public.

Loyalty Program

Joining the Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society, the cruise line’s loyalty program can provide benefits and inclusive features beyond the basic cruise fare.

As you earn points through your cruise experiences, you’ll gain access to exclusive offers, special events, and priority services. Some benefits for Crown & Anchor Society Program members include:

  • Discounts: Savings on beverage packages, specialty dining, WiFi, photo packages, and spa treatments.
  • Upgrades: Complimentary room upgrades and priority boarding.
  • Onboard Credit: Receive credits for onboard expenses.

Star Class

Consider booking a Star Class suite if you want the closest experience to an all-inclusive cruise. Royal Caribbean Star Class suites provide luxury accommodations and exclusive benefits and services, such as:

  • Ultimate Beverage Package: Unlimited drinks, including alcohol, soft drinks, and specialty coffees.
  • Reserved Seating: Access to prime seats for entertainment shows and special events.
  • Complimentary Dining: Enjoy specialty dining at no additional cost.

Star Class is available on Royal Caribbean’s newest classes of ships, including the Quantum and Oasis class.

Of course, Star Class isn’t all-inclusive, as shore excursions, spa treatments, and gratuities cost extra. But it’s the closest you’ll get to an all-inclusive experience on Royal Caribbean.

Article by

Marcello De Lio

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