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Need guidance: All Inclusive is not always all inclusive.

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One of the highly advertised river lines leads one to believe that their river cruises are 'all inclusive'.  But gratuities is one of the biggies that is not part of 'inclusive'.  I presume if it is not one of the things listed as included it likely is not.  That has proven true for the one with all those huge ad campaigns.  It was a challenge to find an answer.  Finally, I emailed two friends who had cruised with the line.  Gratuities were very, very high for them, as compared to an ocean cruise, where one knows in advance that there will be a gratuities fee added to onboard spending.

What river cruise lines are really all inclusive

Joseph

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Scenic is all-inclusive.   Tips, meals, chose of exclusions and drinks (unless otherwise stated). 

 

Was not expected to Tip and no extra charges for any excursions.  Most ports had a choice of 2-4 excursions which you could choose from.  Some activities were for everyone but no one was expected to pay for any excursions.

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6 minutes ago, 3urop32014 said:

Scenic is all-inclusive.   Tips, meals, chose of exclusions and drinks (unless otherwise stated). 

Agreed. On our Scenic 2 week cruise we literally could have left our wallets at home once the plane landed in Amsterdam. But we chose an upper level cabin with unlimited laundry service, otherwise we would have either done sink laundry or paid for the laundry service. Tips were most definitely covered.

 

We paid for souvenirs, and meals at the airport waiting for flights pre- and post-trip. That was it. 

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Likewise I am a Scenic fan and a veteran of eight cruises with them over nine years which means we cruised with them before they were all inclusive and now. Okay there are a very few drinks that are not free and they are up front about this a list is on the UK website. All passengers get a bag of laundry done per cruise, this is new over the past few years. You can cruise without opening your wallet, that is true. All tips are included yes you can hand out more to individuals if you want to and it’s hard not to the service is second to none. Have a great cruise. CA

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On our three Uniworld cruises, the only extras we typically paid for were for massages and other spa services. We did have a suite which had unlimited laundry service. Uniworld offers a handful of optional excursions, but there are plenty of included tours so no real need to pay extra unless there's something special that you're specifically looking for. All alcohol is included, as are tips.

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And, Uniworld also includes transportation between the airport and ship, on the cruise start and end dates, regardless if whether you book air with them, or not.

 

Crystal and Tauck are also truly inclusive, with regard to tips and drinks.

 

Robin

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Thanks to everyone.  I appreciate your information.

 

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Crystal was all inclusive except for a few excursions (none I was interested in). I had $200 OBC and had trouble spending it. I ended up giving it as extra tips. You could have spent it on a massage or spa appt.

 

There were a few tours that had an extra charge. I don't know if anyone took them as they didn't interest me compared to the free tours. One was "spend time with a Viennnese chef and make this dessert". It sounded good but I wanted to go to Salzburg instead.

 

I do have to say some of the all day excursions - I had to buy lunch. Some were included.

 

I highly recommend Crystal. I am interested in trying Tauck also as I hear great things.

Edited by Coral

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we were on Crystal last July with everything included.  I also could have left my wallet at home.

 

Gratuities on Viking seem to be in the $35/day range per room.  Booze only at meals.  If you like to have a scotch before dinner and then at the bar at night it starts to add up. 

 

Spending the kind of money that a river cruise goes for (normally higher than Ocean cruises) no one will deny themselves.  Once you are on the river cruise, you should do what you want.  Another $50/day for drinks does add up (its not hard to get there)   Add all that in and you may be pretty close to Crystal prices with the intangibles that Crystal offers (food, service, room)

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I've found Uniworld to be all inclusive.  I've taken 3 cruises with them.

 

Roz

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Tauck is also fully inclusive. They do not allow tipping and even give you money if the day’s excursion does not include lunch. The only thing we had to pay for were souvenirs! First class all the way!

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To the op if you come back.....

 

If you really want to compare costs you need to do some homework. There’s a website that makes all the comparisons for you.   We booked with Viking.  We added tips, the drink package, and a few excursions on a 2 week trip with Viking and still came out 2 k below Crystal, Scenic, Uniworld and Tauck with free airfare.  After we pay the extra up front before we leave,  ours will also be all inclusive.  (Except for laundry which I won’t let anyone touch my clothes and put them in a hot dryer anyway). We will have to pay gratuity on our excursions but that’s it.

 

 

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7 hours ago, cruiselvr04 said:

To the op if you come back.....

 

If you really want to compare costs you need to do some homework. There’s a website that makes all the comparisons for you.   We booked with Viking.  We added tips, the drink package, and a few excursions on a 2 week trip with Viking and still came out 2 k below Crystal, Scenic, Uniworld and Tauck with free airfare.  After we pay the extra up front before we leave,  ours will also be all inclusive.  (Except for laundry which I won’t let anyone touch my clothes and put them in a hot dryer anyway). We will have to pay gratuity on our excursions but that’s it.

 

 

 

BUT - there are some tangible intangibles with the luxury lines (my river cruise experience is with Crystal) - including, the quality of the food, the quality of the alcohol, the size and finish of the cabins, the space on the boat (how many passengers on what size boat), the quality and number of included excursions. I could go on. Just pointing out that with Viking and Crystal, there is no way to compare apples to apples.

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1 hour ago, Texas Tillie said:

 

BUT - there are some tangible intangibles with the luxury lines (my river cruise experience is with Crystal) - including, the quality of the food, the quality of the alcohol, the size and finish of the cabins, the space on the boat (how many passengers on what size boat), the quality and number of included excursions. I could go on. Just pointing out that with Viking and Crystal, there is no way to compare apples to apples.

I've never been on Crystal. It's on my radar. Seems like a really nice line. I do have to say food is subjective. Our food on our one Viking cruise was fantastic. We had a french chef. The quality of our excursions were great as well with very knowlegable and entertaining tour guides. Viking is known to have great tour guides on the river. We don't drink much so whatever was included in the price was fine with us. Also better itineraries on the river. 

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As with all things it’s horses for courses. Do your research, cabins, excursions, inclusions, exclusions and what you want to see. I haven’t seen a spread sheet yet that covers everything, mind you that’s no surprise as prices change from month to month and season to season across the various fleets. A friend decided to make a list of what they wanted included and what they didn’t want included, eventually narrowed down the options, changed their minds went on a completely different cruise and loved it, so hey ho go with your gut and set out to love every minute. River cruising is addictive, expensive and really enjoyable. Happy cruising CA

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To correct some of the above Uniworld is inclusive of tips on most of their sailings. We did Vietnam and Cambodia and they are not included there. I believe the Portugal cruise wasn't covered that we took years ago. The Danube and Rhine have gratuities included. The terms will always be listed in the information on the brochures and website.

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I agree with the others that it's best to make a chart (spreadsheet or simple pen and paper matrix) of what you wnat included.

 

There's little point paying for things you don't want.

 

For instance some lines offer butlers, in room drinks cupboards that are topped up every day, drinks anytime, whatever.

 

As we don't want any of them, it makes no sense to us in paying extra for them.

 

But there are a great number of river cruise lines offering everything from the basic cruise and you pay for everything on top, drinks, excursions etc, to those that include everything.

 

We go somewhere in the middle with Viking who include wine with meals (which we want) an excursion at every stop and now gratuities.

 

I have sympathy with the OP: If a tour is advertised as 'fully inclusive' then I would be very miffed if it didn't include gratuities and premium drinks at the bar. Indeed everything.

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I have never seen a cruise line – river or ocean – that was 'fully inclusive.'  There are always top-shelf drinks that are extra [although some lines consider as 'top-shelf' brands that are included on more luxurious lines], spas are never included [except for some special 'spa' suites], casinos [on ocean ships].

 

What a spreadsheet won't tell you is the quality of the inclusions.  All river cruises include meals, but the quality of the cuisine varies from low-cost ingredients to much higher budgets and membership in the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.  Similarly with excursions:  one per day with large groups, or several choices per day with smaller groups.

 

And when someone says "well, food is so subjective" – that's a cop-out that makes it impossible to judge the differences between lines.  Please describe the menu offerings and your detailed reactions ['food porn' pictures are also useful] – or at least tell me that you only want steak and potatoes, so when you say that the Chateaubriand was 'ruined' by the Bearnaise sauce I know how to weigh the report.

 

And there is one objective measure of food quality when comparing cruise lines:  the cost of ingredients.  The Berlitz guide reports this.

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On 2/15/2019 at 8:19 AM, tfred said:

we were on Crystal last July with everything included.  I also could have left my wallet at home.

 

Gratuities on Viking seem to be in the $35/day range per room.  Booze only at meals.  If you like to have a scotch before dinner and then at the bar at night it starts to add up. 

 

Spending the kind of money that a river cruise goes for (normally higher than Ocean cruises) no one will deny themselves.  Once you are on the river cruise, you should do what you want.  Another $50/day for drinks does add up (its not hard to get there)   Add all that in and you may be pretty close to Crystal prices with the intangibles that Crystal offers (food, service, room)

If you are spending $50 a day on cocktails, then you should definitely look at the alcohol package.  We considered it on our Viking River Cruise, but given the relatively low price for drinks (6 euros for a G&T) and the lack of onboard drinking time (it's not like an ocean cruise where you are laying by the pool all afternoon) we elected to not pay the $20 per person per day as we didn't think we would both average drinking 3 drinks each day.  Since we ended up buying cocktails on the last night for everyone at the bar rather than leaving OBC on the table, I think we chose correctly.

Have a great cruise!

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All comparisons are subjective especially the perceived quality of food and beverages when you consider the range of nationalities,  upbringing, personal likes and dislikes it’s amazing that so many return again and again. To coin a French’ish phrase ‘vive la difference’. 

Has anyone ever had truly disgusting food on a river cruise, now there’s a question. Some people don’t touch alcohol, that’s fine but I have not heard of a cruise line that is ‘all inclusive’ on non-alcohol drinks, is there any? Some companies have different groups on the same excursion which makes the group sizes smaller another thing to check out. 

So called top shelf drinks are another bone of contention one drink in particular on Scenics list I wouldn’t consider as top shelf but one that isn’t I most certainly was surprised and I must say delighted wasn’t. On top of everything it would be wonderful to be able to try all of the cruise companies and do a hands on comparison oh for the time and the cash, in my dreams. Happy cruising CA

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Canal archive said:

 

Has anyone ever had truly disgusting food on a river cruise, now there’s a question. Some people don’t touch alcohol, that’s fine but I have not heard of a cruise line that is ‘all inclusive’ on non-alcohol drinks, is there any?

 

Yes - my Russian River cruise had awful food. My college cafeteria seemed like dream food compared to it.

 

I don't touch alcohol but very much enjoyed my Crystal cruise and did enjoy the "all inclusive non-alcoholic drinks". 

Edited by Coral

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2 hours ago, Canal archive said:

All comparisons are subjective especially the perceived quality of food and beverages when you consider the range of nationalities,  upbringing, personal likes and dislikes it’s amazing that so many return again and again. To coin a French’ish phrase ‘vive la difference’. 

Has anyone ever had truly disgusting food on a river cruise, now there’s a question. Some people don’t touch alcohol, that’s fine but I have not heard of a cruise line that is ‘all inclusive’ on non-alcohol drinks, is there any? Some companies have different groups on the same excursion which makes the group sizes smaller another thing to check out. 

So called top shelf drinks are another bone of contention one drink in particular on Scenics list I wouldn’t consider as top shelf but one that isn’t I most certainly was surprised and I must say delighted wasn’t. On top of everything it would be wonderful to be able to try all of the cruise companies and do a hands on comparison oh for the time and the cash, in my dreams. Happy cruising CA

 

That's what the Berlitz guide is for :classic_smile:

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19 hours ago, Coral said:

 

Yes - my Russian River cruise had awful food. My college cafeteria seemed like dream food compared to it.

 

And yet our Russian cruise - with Uniworld - had some of the best food we have ever had on a river cruise...

 

Food quite dependant on the chef, and his cruise IMHO.

 

Fran

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On 2/17/2019 at 5:29 PM, cruiselvr04 said:

To the op if you come back.....

 

If you really want to compare costs you need to do some homework. There’s a website that makes all the comparisons for you.   We booked with Viking.  We added tips, the drink package, and a few excursions on a 2 week trip with Viking and still came out 2 k below Crystal, Scenic, Uniworld and Tauck with free airfare.  After we pay the extra up front before we leave,  ours will also be all inclusive.  (Except for laundry which I won’t let anyone touch my clothes and put them in a hot dryer anyway). We will have to pay gratuity on our excursions but that’s it.

 

 

 

When we were planning our first river cruise I compared costs and found that Scenic was actually the least cost. Bearing in mind that I had decided that I wanted a balcony, the Viking price went way up when I looked at their balcony cabin. 

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