Cruise Ship Tips

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What is included in the price of a cruise

So, what exactly comes with the “all inclusive” price when you book a cruise?


This basically means that when you pay for your cruise, you are paying for your stateroom, your basic meals, most entertainment, and most amenities offered on your ship. Let’s break this down and look further and see what is included in the price of a cruise!


This is your hotel room at sea and comes in many types and sizes.  You can book a solo traveler stateroom on some cruise lines such as Norwegian.  Next comes inside cabins. These are generally quite small and do not have outside views, as they’re on the inside of the ship. There are oceanview cabins, with some sort of window, and these vary by ship and style. Then comes balcony cabins, and these have, you guessed it – a balcony. From there you can book suites in all sorts of shapes and sizes and locations on the ship.

Oceanview Stateroom on the Carnival Conquest

Every stateroom you book will come with its own bathroom consisting of a sink, shower and toilet. Layouts and sizes vary but all your basic needs can be taken care of in any one of these room options.

You will have a bed (or beds) in your stateroom as well, and this is generally two twins or one larger size, such as a queen or king. Most rooms have options for conversion of the sofa to be turned into another bed if needed, and some rooms have pull-down loft type beds. Each room will have a maximum capacity limit, so when you book be sure to consider that.

should you cruise with friends
Balcony Stateroom on the Norwegian Dawn

Besides the bed, you’ll likely have a small vanity/desk area and perhaps a chair. Some rooms have a small couch and table, some have lots of furniture, like in a 3 bedroom suite. Some of the higher end luxury staterooms can be larger than average size apartments and will have multiple rooms, beautiful views, and some even come with a personal concierge and a butler!


 Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are all included in your cruise fare. You will have many options, and it always depends on the cruise line and ship (they’re all different, but you will notice similarities between ships in the same fleet). Generally speaking though, you will have access to the buffet, main dining room(s), and a few random restaurants on board for no extra fees. Room service is usually an option as well, though many lines are starting to charge a small delivery fee. The food itself is considered free but some are tacking on a service charge to bring it to your room.

Buffets will be open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night snacks. Every ship is different, but generally you will be provided with a selection of breakfast items, soups, salads, meats, cheeses, breads, main courses, fruit, and desserts, even self serve ice cream. Juice, coffee and tea will be available. Selection will likely vary throughout your cruise and some days may even be themed, so watch for that!

Main Dining Room – ships will usually have two of these, depending on their size of course. They will go by two different names, but usually offer identical menus. The main dining room hours will vary, but usually one or more of them are open for breakfast and lunch and they will both be open for dinner.

what is included in the price of a cruise
The Aqua Main Dining Room on The Norwegian Dawn

Some ships have a set dining time- an early sitting or a late sitting. You indicate pre-sailing a specific time, say 6:30pm or 8:00pm for your daily dinner. You will be assigned a table, and every day at that time you select will be your sit down dinner. You don’t have to eat in the MDR (main dining room) every night, but if you do, your table will be waiting for you. Other ships offer “anytime” dining, and you can eat wherever, whenever, without the need to decide if you want early or late, as each day can lend itself its own schedule. That is entirely up to you when you decide which cruise to book.

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chop in the Aqua Main Dining room on the Norwegian Dawn

Menu selections here are wide and varied. You will get a full 3 course meal and be waited on by the same server every night. One side of the menu will likely stay the same throughout the cruise, the other side changes daily.  There is something for everyone, different proteins, vegetarian dishes, and all types of worldly cuisine. Check out the posted menu for the day outside the dining room and see if you want to dine there that night.

You will choose from appetizers, entrees and dessert. Something I find cool about cruising is that you can get multiples of each course if you wish. Say you have never tried something before that you’ve always been shy to order at a restaurant where you pay for each course.. on a cruise, you can try it without consequence. Want the steak AND the fish dish? Order them both, your server will bring you both without hesitation.

Guy’s Burger and fries on Carnival

Random restaurants on board will give you more options. Think pizza stands, burger and fry snack shacks, deli sandwiches, burritos, noodles, etc. Most ships offer a few of these type places at no extra cost to you. If you’re not in the mood for the buffet or a lengthy sit-down meal in the main dining room, check out another free option and grab a burrito or piece of pizza from one of these places.


Every cruise line will offer some sort of entertainment. This varies quite a bit, but rest assured, every ship is packed full of things to keep you entertained. The newer the ship, the more options there tends to be. Most of the time there will be shows in the theaters on board. Shows can range from comedy, magic, song and dance, acrobatics, game shows, and some ships even have water shows! They tend to be quite good, and are definitely worth checking out.

DJ on the Carnival Conquest

Parties! Ship staff will likely throw parties throughout your cruise. Each line has their own type of parties. Norwegian is known for their “white hot party” where everyone dresses in white and dances under neon lights. Crew members love to get everyone up and dancing at any moment, especially in the afternoon sun on the lido (pool) deck on a sea day!

Pools and hot tubs are always included in your fare. Generally there will be 1-2 pools, perhaps an adults-only pool and maybe a kids pool as well as the main pool on the lido deck. There are multiple hot tubs around the ships as well. Some ships have waterslides- some have entire water parks on board!

Sports. Cruise ships have gyms with cardio equipment and weights, basketball courts, ping pong tables, golf driving nets or a putt-putt golf course, rock climbing walls, surf simulators, even sky rides!

Punchliner Comedy Club on Carnival

Lounges and clubs. Cruise ships have many different places to relax and hang out while on board. Likely a nightclub with DJs playing every night. You’ll find piano bars, jazz lounges, cigar bars, the list goes on. there will likely be events held in these venues all day and night long. Lots of live music on board to sing along with and dance to. Speaking of singing, likely you’ll find some sort of karaoke as well!

Demonstrations and Classes. All kinds of fun and informative seminars and classes are scheduled during your cruise. Think towel folding, cake decorating, origami, photography instruction, workout bootcamps, dance classes, etc. Some of the classes may be for a fee (like some of the exercise classes such as yoga), but there are always free options as well.

As you can see, you get quite a lot for your money when you book a cruise. It’s an all inclusive, well rounded and exciting way to vacation. Once you board the ship, you simply unpack and relax. Or don’t unpack, that’s up to you. There is always something to see, participate in, eat, etc. You will not get bored on a cruise ship, and all your basic needs are met. Of course there are plenty of ways to spend money and upgrade your experiences.. and we’ll get into that another day.

Mini-Golf on The Carnival Conquest

Comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts on your favorite included cruise activity.. is there a specific restaurant on a specific ship that is a must try? Who has the best buffet? Entertainment- what show is not to be missed? Share with us! Thanks guys! Happy cruising! -Kate

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