Exactly What is Included in a cruise?

Jan 6th, 2009, 08:42 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Exactly What is Included in a cruise?

First time cruiser (Serenade of the Seas, RCCL, Eastern Caribbean route) wanting to know exactly what all is "included." I can't find much detail about this on the website. For instance, I do know that if you want pop or alcohol you have to pay for "packages" or individually. But, what about bottled water or just a cup of orange juice or a cup of coffee? Can I get any of those anytime of day "included?" or is food the only thing included? I know there is a coffee shop on the ship - do I pay for a cup or is it included? I just want to know if I can go somewhere to get some coffee or juice first thing in the morning before breakfast, or is this just served in the restaurants w/meals? Also, can I pick up bottled drinks anywhere to take with me on shore excursions, or do I have to buy any of this stuff at - a convenience store? Are there convenience stores or similar on cruise ships?

Clueless here, thanks for any clues!

Stephie is offline  
Jan 6th, 2009, 11:00 AM
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The best answer is, It depends. First, ASK THE CRUISE LINE !! Second, in general, most food and routine beverages at meals are included. Mixed drinks, wine,sodas in bar are charged. Most have "drink card" that allows pre-purchase of beverages at a discount rate. The cafeteria line is open nearly full time except for a couple hours between each meal change over. Generally coffee, tea, water is available all day. Special coffee bars probably will charge. You probably have to purchase bottle drinks for take off the ship. Buy on shore and bring them back. There is shopping on the ship but it will vary.

Some of the more upscale cruise ships will include more if not everything.
fmpden is offline  
Jan 6th, 2009, 12:17 PM
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It definitely varies by cruise line. I don't know the specifics about RCCL.

Meals are always included, but you sometimes have to pay for specialty restaurant meals other than those in the main dining room or buffet. Most lines give you regular coffee and iced tea for free at all times; few give you juice free except at breakfast.

Sodas and alcohol are never free except on really expensive cruises. You generally pay for cappucino, espresso and the like at the coffee bar (but can still get regular coffee in the buffet for free). There's always someplace to get juice, coffee, and a light breakfast early for free.

Bottled water is always a charge; most lines will sell it as you leave the ship for excursions, but it will be cheaper at a convenience store on land. There are shops on all the ships, but they are really expensive. It's always cheapter to buy stuff onland.

Most cruise lines allow you to carry on sodas and bottled water but not alcohol of any kind. A lot of people pack a whole extra suitcase with drinks and snacks.
doug_stallings is offline  
Jan 6th, 2009, 12:32 PM
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Included - meals in regular restaurant on ship plus snacks in variety of places on ship (like pizza, burgers on deck).

Included - tap water at meals, coffee/tea at meals or from buffet lines. Usually something like fruit punch or iced tea also available in buffet lines - and these are open most of day and into night - think about 16 hours/day.

Room/cabin service is a mixed bag depending on cruise line and time of day and items ordered - for example, on recent Celebrity cruise one could get 24-hour pizza for "free" delivery, but they added a tip. But if one wanted sodas with the pizza, there was a charge.

There is usually a gift/convenience store on the ship that sells t-shirts, Tylenol, film, bottled water - that sort of thing. Much of what they sell is way over what it would on land - but it is a captive audience. Some cruise lines limit or prohibit what liquids you can bring back on-board, even from shore excursions.

Not included - sodas, alcohol, anything in a bottle or can(bottled water, soda, etc). Specialty coffee (and the coffee in buffet lines is often truly horrible).

Not included - specialty restaurants (these sometimes carry a surcharge).

It is possible to find something to eat 16-24 hours/day, depending on line. One could eat 2 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners and multiple snacks if they wanted. For example, on one cruise we were scheduled for late dinner. We would stop by buffet line for some veggies, cheese, etc and take these back to cabin for pre-dinner snack on balcony and then go to dinner.

gail is offline  
Jan 6th, 2009, 03:14 PM
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The answer is that it varies a lot. The more expensive lines provide more. Generally though you should not go hungry or thirsty unless you need a lot of alcohol or sodas. Drink cards are available, but when I checked out the wine card I found that I would rather do with less or none that drink what was on offer by the card.
Aristotle is offline  
Jan 6th, 2009, 04:32 PM
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We just returned from a Carnival cruise with the whole family including a 7 yr old and a 2 yr old.
They loved having room service in the morning and late at night when grandparents were babysitting. We had "sandwich parties'. We got sandwiches, chips, and lemonade, milk free. They thought it was great. also for breakfast they had bagel sandwiches with cream cheese, milk, orange juice and fruit for free.

fosterag is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 09:57 AM
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Your juice on RCI is available only in the morning at breakfast. Coffee is available all the time along with tea and usually hot cocoa packets. All these are self serve in the buffet area. You can also request beverages via room service but do tip a few dollars. Be very specific with your requests- if you take cream/ sugar packets- how many etc.

Water on the ship, purchased, is costly. But will be available for you right at the ship exit. In your ports water can easily be purchased and taken with you, and extra on the way back can be brought back on the ship.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 01:42 PM
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Regarding alcohol:

U.S. cruise lines have introduced a no-alcohol policy. This means, you are officially denied to bring alcohol on board. If you buy liquor in the ship's duty free store it will be delivered not before you have left the vessel.

These policies shall secure that you buy the expensive drinks onboard.

My personal experience is, however, that the cruise ships do not screen your baggage for hidden alcohol when you board. We always smuggeld several bottles on board. And some forum discussions confirm these experiences.

traveller1959 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 03:25 PM
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You will love the Serenade OTS. I have been on her through the Panama Canal and have booked a back to back Caribbean cruise on her for next fall.

The coffee shop is really just a counter with coffee and pastries. I think they sell Seattle's Best coffee. You do have to pay for the "premium" coffee, but get a free pastry with it. When I board the ship, I always bring my own Diet Coke and bottled water. I just carry it on, no problems. Keep in mind that the soda card is to get soda that is from the fountain, not a can.

Serenade has two alternative restaurants...Chops Grille (steaks) and Portafino (Italian). Both have a surcharge of $20 per person per meal. They are well worth the surcharge, especially if you are celebrating something.

Bon Voyage!
BarbAnn is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 04:29 AM
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Serenade is a pretty ship and a good choice for first time cruise.

These days on RCI, we run up quite a bit of extra charges. Brewed coffee is only available in the formal restaurant or concierge lounge for free, the buffet coffee is made with a syrup base.

Bottled water, fitness classes, tips, specialty dining (which we do most all nights on RCI)are all extra.

I have read that they are now charging extra for fresh squeeze orange juice in the dining room and also a surcharge for steaks.

You will get a lot more info by going to cruisecritic.com.
kfusto is offline  
Jan 19th, 2009, 12:46 PM
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On RCCLs Radiance of the Seas this December we had hot chocolate, REAL coffee, tea, lemonade, water and fruit punch available to us 24 hours a day just outside the windjammer at no charge. We also took 12 - 1 liter bottles of Diet Coke onboard with us on day 1. Since they don't offer Coke in bottles we found this a non-confusing way to go.
ToddPBrown is offline  
Jan 19th, 2009, 01:15 PM
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Just came back from Vision of the Seas RCCL.

Drinks included (unlimited):
breakfast: apple, orange juices, iced water, teas, coffees, hot chocolate.
lunch and dinner: lemonade, water, iced tea, coffees, teas, hot chocolate.

Coffee, tea and water free 24 hrs outside of the buffet.

Bottled water, sodas and snacks in your room with the list of prices.

Bring your own plastic bottle(s) and fill up with water on the ship. Pay them for cocktails instead

Yes, there is a "convenience" store on the ship, opened only when the ship is at sea.

There is also Starbucks if you want some fancy coffee.

I did not buy "soda package" but heard from others, cans are not included in the package, only fountain drinks.
FainaAgain is offline  
Jan 20th, 2009, 08:11 AM
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I recently returned from a RCCL Cruise. Water is always available in the buffet area on the pool deck - BUT you cannot re-fill water bottles directly from it or any other area on the ship as supposedly this spreads disease. If you bring wide-mouth water bottles, you could easily re-fill from the cups of water that are always available.
2) OJ was at breakfast only and there was no additional fee.
3) Sodas are NOT included - you must purchase.
4) Coffee/tea were in the buffet area almost all day.
5)I was told by a RCCL guy when I was checking in that they will allow you to bring on cases of water or soda AS LONG AS IT IS NOT THE BRAND THEY SELL ON THE SHIP!! If it is the same, they will confiscate it - or so he said. I did see people bringing on cases of bottled water and I intend to do the same as I can't pay $2 a bottle when I drink about 2 gallons of water a day. ;-)
explorefamily is offline  
Jan 20th, 2009, 12:35 PM
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"you cannot re-fill water bottles directly from it or any other area on the ship" - I did, and so probably half the ship.

Just fill up a glass, and poor water over the special tray so you don't splash on the floor, nobody said anything - just came back 2 days ago!
FainaAgain is offline  
Jan 21st, 2009, 09:53 AM
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You should check with your ship. The last time we sailed, I believe that we could get soda and cappucino for free with dinner in the dining rooms (we didn't use the specialty dining areas).
GBelle is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2009, 04:43 AM
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Soda is never free on mid-range ships like Royal Caribbean. Cappucino is free after dinner (in the dining room only) on some ships, but I don't know specifically about Royal Caribbean.
doug_stallings is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2009, 07:39 PM
Original Poster
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THanks, everybody! Sounds like I'll get my morning coffee fix "included." And, I like the idea of bringing empty bottles on board as well as my own pop - an off brand from theirs anyway.

Sailing soon, can't wait!
Stephie is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2009, 07:11 AM
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Stephie, you can use their free hot chocolate packages to add to your coffee if you like "mocha"
FainaAgain is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2009, 07:48 AM
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You shouldn't have to bring an "off" brand. Bring the brand of sodas that you prefer. I've never heard of a cruise line refusing to allow you to bring either water or soda aboard. Now alcohol is a completely different story.
doug_stallings is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2009, 10:21 AM
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I sail RCCL and bring my own bottled water since I believe the water on board is desalinated, but they cant get all the salt out and sometimes I bring crystal lite peach tea powder to add (plus I am not going to pay $5 for a small bottle of water offered to you as you leave the ship in ports) - I also bring several bottles of the big liter size diet coke and have never had a problem as I go through RCL's security line - a a matter of fact I told one officer at the x ray machine that I had packed diet coke - and he said " yes, I saw that" - no problem.

You can buy a soda card for $80. or it used to be, but I think - not sure- they add the 15% tip every time you would go to the bars to use it. You would have to really be a coca cola or pepsi addict to use up $80 worth in a 4 or 7 day cruise or even longer though !!

Bring your own bottled water and bottled soda aboard and dont worry about it. Enjoy your cruise.
Mahya2 is offline  

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