NCL All-Inclusive Cruising
I absolutely love cruising. Over the years I have been on close to a dozen different cruises, including four on Norwegian Cruise Line. (See my review of their newest ship the Getaway!) While I mean to write more about cruising on the site, for some reason the news slips through the cracks.
Today something caught my eye though. Norwegian Cruise Line is going to be launching what they call “All-Inclusive Cruising” on one of their older ships, the Norwegian Sky in January 2016. This is basically a fusion of their Freestyle Cruising concept and their Ultimate Beverage Package.
A Bit Disappointing
All guests on board these 3 or 4 night sailings from Miami will receive free beer, wine or premium spirits. Guests under 20 receive free soda and juice for the entire cruise. That is actually the extent of the change even though it is being marketed as more.
When I first read this news I was hoping that Norwegian had truly gone all-inclusive. Of course many premium lines include alcohol and very high-end food on their ships, but no mass market line has done that. What if Norwegian included alcohol and food at their premium restaurants? Maybe some day.
I do understand that Norwegian must still compete on the open market with their cruise fares and including everything may make their prices look unfavorable. They do make a ton of money on specialty restaurants and purchase on board options after all. In fact the major complaint I hear when sailing Norwegian is that people spend way too much money on dining and other purchases on board.
There is no doubt that Norwegian is going to factor all of this “complimentary” alcohol into the price. I looked at several 4 day sailings from Miami on NCL, RCCL & Carnival and the Norwegian Sky is about 40% higher in cost than Carnival and 25% higher than RCCL.
The only real way to fairly compare these is to add in the price of the alcohol package on Carnival and RCCL to see what the final cost is. My guess is that they will all be pretty close with Royal Caribbean being the most expensive. Of course the key to getting value with free alcohol is drinking a lot. (Which obviously isn’t necessarily the right thing to do.)
Either way I think this is a great way to market an older ship. 3 and 4 day sailings tend to be much more party oriented than longer ones and I can see this being very popular with certain demographics. Not necessarily the demographics I want to sail with, but popular nonetheless.
You can read the full press release here. What do you think? Is this clever marketing or slapping lipstick on a pig?