Celebrity Cruises (just like many other cruise lines) have started in mid-2021 to sell their sailings with a basic package that they named “Drinks, Tips & Wifi Included” and which applies to most bookings on Celebrity these days.
The advantage is obvious – it includes a BASIC version of wifi, all gratuities that are normally auto-added (although you could theoretically have them removed and tip individuals cash) and most importantly the Classic version of the drink package.
Cruise lines have established these “all-inclusive” schemes to better market their sailings as the sentiment among cruisers has shifted and the sentiment of being nickeled and dimed with all these extra charges started to bug the hell out of people.
Time will tell if these packages are here to stay but for now, they’re being sold and since you can book cruises as much as two years in advance they will be with us for a long time to come at the very least.
You can access Celebrity’s website here where they explain their “Always Included” system.
Vacations should be effortless from the start. So, when it comes to your precious vacations, we’ve made your experience more convenient and relaxing by always including our most popular amenities. Now, every Celebrity cruise always includes drinks, Wi-Fi, and tips* on every sailing, in every room, every time. It’s that simple.
- Choose from an incredible array of beers, spirits, cocktails, liqueurs, frozen drinks, wines by the glass, sodas, juices, specialty coffees and bottled water from our Classic Drinks Package.
- We know staying in touch is important, so we’ve included Basic Wi-Fi access for all guests. Browse the web, check email, and text using messaging apps.
- We’ve got you covered. Just sit back and relax while we make your vacation as memorable as possible.
Is it really that simple? Well, that depends on the perspective.
The gratuities are a big ticket inclusion. The amount depends on your cabin type:
- $15.50 per person per day in regular Staterooms
- $16.00 per person per day in Concierge Class and AquaClass Staterooms
- $19.00 per person per day in Suites
Now scale that up to the number of days your cruise has and the total number of guests in the cabin. This is worthwhile!
But let’s keep in mind that the drink package and the wifi are both the basic versions. The wifi is pretty much unusable for any practical purpose unless you upgrade to the Premium “Stream Quality” version which is also anything but stream quality but in many cases it at least allows you to do some work during your sailing and if you’re lucky Skype works as well. Definitely upgrade to Premium xCelerate wifi or expect it to be completely useless.
On my current Solstice sailing their “high speed” stream quality wifi was completely useless on four out of six days. This is something you have to anticipate when going on a cruise but don’t feel bad to ask for a refund should you have paid for the internet service as I certainly did.
My cruise bookings are made through the Casino which is either Blue Chip Club or MGM. The upside: They are free, I only pay the port tax. However they don’t come with these inclusions so I have to pay separately for gratuities, the drink package of my choice and premium Wifi.
These are the two different menu choices, CLASSIC & PREMIUM:
I think the value to upgrade to the premium package depends vastly on what you usually drink.
At the Martini Bar (my favorite outlet) usually, all drinks are made with Gray Goose or Ketel One which are both on the Premium menu. Even if it was offered I really wouldn’t want to drink a Martini made with Smirnoff or Stolichnaya. – wow!
The Premium list also includes Hendricks Gin, DiSaronno Amaretto, and Baileys.
There isn’t much on the Classic menu I’d like to drink in terms of alcoholic beverages. Maybe Malibu and Bacardi for a tropical cocktail but that’s about it.
Wine lovers should almost certainly upgrade to the premium list for the nominal $10/day upcharge. The quality of wines though depends on the sailing. Some sailing apparently don’t have great wines on board that come with these packages. I’m not qualified to comment on this as I’m not a wine drinker.
However, if these $10 per day are the difference it takes to make the inclusions actually consumable then I’m all for it. I say it’s worthwhile.
Personally, since I have to pay my drink package separately, I can use the Captains Club Happy Hours each evening, and rarely drink these days I usually book the Premium Non-Alcoholic package for $22/day minus casino discount. The best value and it includes Pellegrino sparkling water as well as specialty coffees.
All of these “Always Included” packaging deals are marketing plays and the price differential is somehow reflected in the initial price you pay for the base fare. This isn’t charity, the cruise lines have a business to run and bills to pay.
As always one should approach this with open eyes and common sense. What do I like to consume, what do I need to consume and what does actually make sense. Lots of folks overspend on cruises and are then surprised when the bill arrives on the last day. It doesn’t have to be like this. Buy what you need and what makes sense, and avoid all the nonsense that is being offered. These package upgrades likely improve the quality of your cruise experience by a lot but think about it or talk to your cruise companion what you like to do on the ship.