Hate paying individually for drinks on a mainstream cruise ship -- or perhaps you've been known to run up a huge bar tab onboard? You might be the ideal candidate for an alcohol-inclusive drinks package, offered by the majority of mainstream cruise lines. Found somewhere between the ubiquitous soda packages and the included-in-your-fare booze of most luxury lines, these programs let cruisers pay one base price that covers most -- if not all -- of their nonalcoholic and alcoholic drinks onboard. Of course, while high prices and annoying fine print may persuade some travelers to go it a la carte, for others, the freedom to sample brightly colored cocktails and wines of unknown provenance can be too appealing to ignore. See below for a line-by-line guide to available drink packages, followed by some Cruise Critic reader reactions to the programs.
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As you lie on a massage table, legs tucked into a soft sheet, hot stones soothing the tired muscles of your back and arms, you will most certainly not be thinking about cruise ship spa ratings. And while you relax on a heated tile lounger or in a steamy sauna, eyes drooping, thoughts of work and bills scurrying far away, you're probably not wondering about your cruise line's philosophy on its spa product. But when you sit down at your computer to research your next cruise vacation, you might very well want to know where to find the best spas at sea -- and we'll be there to help.
Though [MSC Cruises](/reviews/cruiseline.cfm?CruiseLineID=80) may not be on your radar when it comes to sailing with your family, it's actually a great option for people traveling with children. One of MSC's newest and largest ships, MSC Seaside, is especially ideal. It was built with the
Cruise ship water parks are a top-deck jumble of cascading tubes in Crayola colors, cartoon characters playfully spraying into kiddie pools, and delighted screams that splash out of slides and from behind water cannons. These water playgrounds are an especially attractive diversion on the warm-weather itineraries offered year-round by most cruise lines. Cruise ship water parks are being quickly one-upped as cruise lines get creative with their brand-new ships. Innovative slides that thrill riders with drop-out floors, two-person floats and spiraling funnels now include dazzling light effects, and expansive top-deck areas have added even more square footage and water features as cruise lines roll out their largest water parks to date. In today's world of water parks at sea, five cruise lines stand out because of their impressive aquatic chops. Here are our favorites.
Even with accommodations, meals and entertainment wrapped up in its fares, cruising can still be pricy if you're taking the entire family on an oceangoing getaway. Just when you thought that bringing the brood would break the bank, we've come up with a list of lines that let kids sail free. If the idea of free cruises for kids gets your heart racing with excitement, be aware of a few caveats: With most lines, free kids fares are only available as limited-time promotions, require applicable taxes and fees to be paid for each passenger and necessitate sharing a cabin with the junior travelers as the third and/or fourth passengers in the room. (Contact a travel agent or your cruise line for specific information before booking any cruise.)
Food is to cruising as water is to the ocean. It's essential; a cruise just wouldn't be a cruise without vast amounts of delicious goodies. Although some cruise lines are jumping aboard the health food craze bandwagon, there are still plenty of sinful options available, not the least of which are
No, "cruises for millennials" is not an oxymoron. The emergence of smart-ship technology, Broadway-quality entertainment, designer stores and an emphasis on current culinary trends means that cruising has caught up to many other forms of travel, in terms of hipness. And what other type of vacation can guarantee you'll have just as good of a time getting to your destination(s) as actually being there? If you were born between 1982 and 2004, face it: You're more or less an M-word. Some traits we arguably share include addiction to our phones, high expectations, the need for constant stimulation and the desire to travel and acquire experiences. Luckily, all of these things --and more -- can be sated on a cruise. Finding the single, perfect cruise for everyone born over the course of two decades -- it's a tall order. The millennial generation is often lumped together as one group, but in fact, these children of the '80s, '90s and early '00s are all at different points in their lives, and looking for different things from a cruise and from a vacation. Someone in their late-30s with a six-figure salary is going to want something different from someone in their mid-20s with kids, than someone who is still in college. That's why we are counting down nine different cruise options for the millennial with a young family, the millennial couple looking to spend their hard-earned money on a getaway and the millennial scraping together tips to just leave it all behind with a group of friends.
Cruise travelers with disabilities have concerns that others might never consider. Can they open their stateroom door and smoothly roll in on a wheelchair? Can they easily take a shower? Is it possible to get off the ship in port or hear the evening show? The best cruise lines have already thought through these questions. They aim to give these passengers extra peace of mind and a relaxing vacation. While all cruise ships (even foreign-flagged ones) sailing in U.S. waters should be compliant with the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there aren't standards specifically addressing cruise ships, which means that some lines do more than others. To help you find the best ship for your needs, we're highlighting the vessels that excel in physical accessibility and also accommodate passengers with hearing and visual impairments. In most cases, we recommend the cruise lines' newest ships, which have the most cabins for disabled users and incorporate the latest designs that take into account limitations faced by those traveling with handicaps. We also call out a few fleetmates, older ships that get consistently positive reviews from travelers with disabilities.
The total price of a cruise is rarely just the ticket price and some government fees. While accommodations, most meals and tons of activities are included in your fare, you will have to pay extra for an array of tempting amenities and activities, like spa treatments, shore excursions and cocktails. If you're on a budget, it can be tricky to figure out just what your total vacation cost will be and what kind of extra charges to anticipate. While a $7 pina colada likely won't break the bank, you might be surprised to discover how quickly an exercise class here and a round of bingo there can add up. To help you figure out how much you might actually spend on a cruise vacation, we've culled and tallied the prices of common extra charges found on weeklong Caribbean cruises and listed them for eight popular -- and amenity-laden -- cruise ships. We've also added in the daily gratuities for each passenger in a standard cabin. (Tips for suite passengers might be higher.) Use these numbers as a guide to help you calculate the total price of a cruise. Editor's Note: Prices may vary by ships within the same cruise line, as well as by itinerary, and they're subject to change at any time, without notice; these prices were accurate as of July 2018. We realize that travelers will not rack up every one of these charges every day, but we have presented both the prices and a sample a la carte cost for one day to make the point that onboard charges can accumulate rapidly.
In just 10 years, MSC Cruises has gone from operating one ship in North America -- mostly targeted to Europeans sailing in the Caribbean -- to a line sailing five ships in and around the Caribbean, including several marketed to North Americans departing from U.S. homeports. If you don't know a
If you're like me, your inbox is flooded daily with cruise line emails advertising amazing sales that will save you money. Free this, free that, BOGO (Buy One Get One) half off, discounts of 50, no 60, no 75 percent off prevailing rates. Your inner bargain hunter starts itching to snag that deal, while the killjoy skeptic on your other shoulder is whispering, "This sale is too good to be true." Which is it? If the offer is coming from the cruise line or a travel agent, it's not a scam -- you will be able to book a cruise. But the deal, as advertised, might be misleading. Promises of huge discounts might not actually result in the cheapest cruise fare you've ever seen, and fees hidden in the fine print can bump up the price you pay. To cut through the confusion, we take a look at some of the most common cruise line offers to uncover what's really on offer. Scam or deal -- the only thing that matters is what price the cruise line or travel agency is asking, and whether you're willing to pay it.