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How 5 Cruise Lines Are Redefining the All-Inclusive Experience

You'll find more than lodging, meals and entertainment rolled into one price on these lines.

U.S. News & World Report

How 5 Cruise Lines Are Redefining the All-Inclusive Experience

Stock image of a cruise ship deck.

From complimentary shore excursions to golf lessons with PGA pros, these cruise lines are reshaping the personalized, all-inclusive experience.FloridaStock/Shutterstock

Consistently dismissed by skeptical travelers for their bland food options, overpriced (and watered-down) drinks, screaming kids and kitschy entertainment, all-inclusive cruises have received a bit of a bad rap over the years. However, the all-inclusive concept is evolving, and so are the cheap buffets, nickel-and-diming, steep Wi-Fi charges and cramped staterooms. For many luxury cruise lines, millions of dollars have gone into renovating dining rooms and staterooms, partnering with celebrity chefs and upscale designers and offering state-of-the-art entertainment and immersive shore excursions.

So, for those who have stuck their nose up at all-inclusive cruises in the past, it's time to give them another try. These cruise lines won't just surprise you with their exemplary service and amenities; they might just change your mind on the all-inclusive experience entirely.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

You won't find many splashing kids in the luxurious pools on Regent Seven Seas' high-end ships. With two all-suite, all-balcony passenger ships, every room is guaranteed an ocean view. In addition to a stunning stateroom, practically everything else is included on Regent, from airfare to specialty dining to unlimited premium beverages to shore excursions. Plus, Regent takes the stress out of planning activities ashore by including a variety of excursions suited for different ages and interests.

Aqua Expeditions

One of the newer companies on the list, Aqua Expeditions, a small-ship luxury line, is making waves. With smaller vessels carrying up to 32 passengers, Aqua Expeditions offers an intimate and immersive cruise experience. In addition to premium South American wines with every meal, top-notch local cuisine, airport transfers and shore excursions (complete with photography guides) are also included in the cruise price. Another bonus: Aqua Expeditions' boats cruise through some of the world's most remote waterways, giving you access to isolated communities in the Peruvian Amazon.

Crystal Cruises

Lauded as one of the best cruise lines in the business, Crystal Cruises has long been luring travelers to its upscale, all-inclusive ships, Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony. Although the ships are large (sleeping up to 1,070 passengers on Crystal Serenity and 922 guests on Crystal Symphony), you'll never feel like you're on a floating resort thanks to a low passenger-to-crew ratio, which grants more personalized service. Their all-inclusive packages include standard amenities, like fine wines, premium spirits and gourmet dining, along with extras like fitness classes, golf lessons with PGO pros, shuttle service to your ports, laundry service and more. Plus, for many staying in suites, butlers, shore excursions and more are rolled into the vacation price.

Seabourn Cruise Line

As soon as you board one of Seabourn's intimate, all-suite ships, you're greeted with a glass of champagne and taken to your well-appointed stateroom (complete with lavish Molton Brown and L'Occitane bath amenities, a flat-screen TV and beds draped in Egyptian cotton linens). And that's not all you should expect on these high-end ships. Apart from decadent gourmet dining options, Seabourn's all-inclusive rates also include gratuities, airfare, premium wines and beers, onboard entertainment and immersive shore excursions, such as Thai cooking classes and Caribbean beach parties. And thanks to the small size of the ships (the largest boat features 223 cabins), travelers can count on a high crew-to-guest ratio, which enables more personalized service. Plus, the small vessels can sail on waterways not accessible on larger ships, like rivers in Chile and small islets off Phuket, Thailand.

SeaDream Yacht Club

If you've always wondered what it would be like to cruise along the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean in your own private yacht, SeaDream's mega-yachts can fit the bill. The luxury ships sleep only 112 passengers and carry 95 crew members, offering more personalized service that you would expect to find on larger ocean-going ships. Plus, the all-inclusive price covers the cost of your stateroom, gratuities, use of any and all water toys (like wave runners and kayaks), high-tech golf simulators, activities at port with the crew (like shopping with the chef) and catered beachside parties, complete with caviar and champagne. 

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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