Cruising is all-inclusive
This means that almost everything is included at a fixed price that you know in advance. Here is what's typically included in the cost of your cruise at a price that is generally lower than a comparable land-based holiday:
Transfers from airport to ship and ship to airport.
Three main meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Special children's menus are available.
Three buffet meals per day (breakfast, lunch and midnight). Some ships add a fourth buffet for late-nighters at around 1:30 a.m. Many ships also have afternoon snacks or traditional high teas.
24-hour room service on many ships. Some new ships are adding 24-hour pizzerias.
All shipboard facilities, including casino, pool, jacuzzi, sauna, gym, on-board lectures, card rooms, an unending variety of organised games and contests and more...
Supervised children's activities offered on a daily basis. Good to know if you are bringing along a child.
All entertainment, including: Broadway and Las Vegas-style shows, lounges, nightclubs, movies, dancing and more...
Visits to more ports of call (depending on length of cruise).
There are a number of expenses that are not generally included in the cost of your cruise, which you also need to be aware of. These include gratuities (a suggested amount is $7.50-$9 USD per day per person, or $52.50-$63 USD per passenger per week for a 7-day cruise, paid at the end of the cruise); port charges and government fees (approximately $125 USD per person for a typical 7-day Caribbean cruise, but varying in price depending on destination); shore excursions (discussed below); items of a personal nature such as alcoholic beverages, casino, boutiques, etc.
More on value
From a financial perspective, cruising makes good sense. But it isn't just the consideration of how to spend one's holiday dollar that is important. Cruising stretches the holiday dollar because of what you get for what you spend.
Take the dining experience, for example. Dining on a cruise ship is the equivalent of going to the best-rated restaurant in town. At every meal you will find fine China, crystal, and silver, impeccable service, and excellent cuisine. If the food is not gourmet, it will most certainly be presented and served as if it were. And there are no limits on quantity - you can have as many servings of whatever you like as often as you like. There is simply no comparison to the value one finds in the dining experience aboard a cruise ship, especially when compared to taking the family out to a typical family restaurant, or even to a restaurant at a land-based resort.
Intimacy, relaxation and fun
Although modem telecommunications never really isolates a ship at sea, there is the perception among cruise passengers that they are truly "away from it all," with no outside responsibilities to intrude on their vacation. This lends itself to an almost immediate tension-free environment.
Cruise passengers "wind down" more quickly, further encouraging an easygoing approach to new acquaintances and new situations. The abundance of fresh air, unending expanses of sea, and an infinite canopy of stars overhead each night surely helps to enhance the cruise experience.
While space on a cruise ship is ample, providing solitude and privacy to those who seek it, one tends to become more familiar more quickly with fellow passengers. The reality of "being in the same boat" means that one is likely to keep running into the same people again and again, or at least feel that they look familiar. No other form of vacation can make this claim.
The cheerful attitudes of cruise personnel are another factor in putting passengers at ease as they step on board a ship. Most cruise ships have developed guest services to a high art. Friendliness is virtually institutional aboard most vessels, giving passengers the sense that they are truly valued as welcome guests. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the modern day Cruise Director - a bundle of happiness and energy whose sole mission is to bring people together for a good time.
Destinations are another reason for the renaissance in cruise travel. Chances are that wherever you want to go in the world, there's a cruise to take you there. Whether for escape, adventure or a thirst for knowledge, visiting exotic destinations is a collective fantasy that appeals to everyone.
As demand for cruising continues to rise, new destinations and itineraries are constantly being added.