Luxury Cruise Line to Feature Open Bar, All-Inclusive Fares
Luxury cruise line Crystal Cruises is going all-inclusive beginning in spring 2012. An open bar and crew gratuities will be included in cruise fares on the 922-passenger Crystal Symphony and 1,070-passenger Crystal Serenity.
"We're looking to ease the [financial] transaction with guests," spokeswoman Mimi Weisband tells AOL Travel News. "By adding open bars and complimentary wines at dinner and the ability to order (alcohol) in your staterooms as well, there's an ease with that. And by adding the gratuity, it's just a seamless experience. People can literally go on a cruise and not pay an additional charge."
Suggested gratuities of $13 or more per passenger, per day, are currently recommended by the line, so combined with a few drinks and wine at dinner the savings are substantial.
The all-inclusive fare will also cover the current $7 service charge to eat at specialty restaurants on the ships – Silk Road, which features the Japanese cuisine of Nobu, and the Italian eatery Prego.
The move puts Crystal more in line with its top-end competitors including Seabourn, Silversea and Regent Seven Seas, which all include drinks and gratuities in their cruise fares.
Crystal actually experimented with a more or less all-inclusive offering by adding $500 to $1,000 in shipboard credits to fares this year. Passengers can use those credits to cover expenses including drinks and shore excursions.
The line already offers soda and bottled water for free and includes extras like fitness classes in the cruise fare. Crystal also offers free round-trip air to its ships from two dozen North American gateways, a program that will continue when the line goes all-inclusive shipboard, Weisband says.
She notes the all-inclusive move by the luxury line – which will debut on transatlantic cruises next March – comes at a time when mass-market cruise lines are charging for more a la carte services.
"We wanted to separate ourselves even more," Weisband says.