NCL All Inclusive Plan Stacks Up Nicely

Moving beyond the already good value represented by the inclusive nature of a cruise vacation, Norwegian Cruise Lines is offering an all-inclusive package for most 2015 sailings.  Without verifying the plan’s claim of offering “a value of over $2,400”,  this could still be just what many cruise travelers have in mind, if only for the convenience.  If the numbers add up, the NCL All Inclusive Plan could certainly be the way to go.  Taking you inside cruise vacations, we took a good look at the plan.

Already A Good Value
Comparing to land tour options, the value of a big ship cruise vacation is undeniable; a hands-down winner.  Rather than paying for meals and lodging at every stop along the way, cruise travelers have that included in the price.  Stop right there and a cruise stacks up favorably.  Enjoy any entertainment and/or activities onboard for icing on the cake.

Still, there are some expenses, critical to enabling a great travel experience,  that are not included. Normally.
Buying into the NCL All Inclusive Plan eliminates the lions share of extra expense that most cruise travelers will indeed incur.  It looks to be the right plan, at the right time, for the right cruise line.

The huge advantage of the Norwegian Cruise Lines All-Inclusive program is the ability to fully enjoy travel, worry-free with nearly everything included in the price.

“Based on the popularity of our Fly, Cruise and Stay vacations, along with our onboard dining and beverage packages, we are now offering the first All-Inclusive package for our guests who want to experience all that the freedom and flexibility of Freestyle Cruising has to offer,”  said Kevin Sheehan, CEO Norwegian Cruise Lines in a statement.

Easy To Lose Control
Adding a few shore excursions or spa treatments, a few (or many) alcoholic beverages, internet time and some casino action to the base cruise fare and it is unbelievably easy to spend as much or more on the ‘extras’ as on the cruise fare itself.  Add those options in the usual and customary order;  shore excursion, spa treatment,  drinks then off to the casino, and insanity can ensue.

Norwegian’s plan aims to eliminate many of the extra charges, in turn giving cruise travelers a very good idea of what their total vacation will cost, up front.  Budgeting freaks: I should have your attention by this point.

The NCL All Inclusive Plan deal is simple; make a new reservation between August 4 and 29 and receive a package that includes signature dining, alcoholic beverages, unlimited soda, shore excursions, internet access, service charges and more.  Priced per day, Norwegian says that adds up to $899 for a 7- day sailing, on top of the cruise fare; which is discounted 10%. The mechanics of booking it are yet to be seen; more on that later.

The Math Adds Up Nicely
The $899 package includes the Ultimate Dining package ($119 value); the Ultimate Beverage package ($413 value); shore excursion credit of $200 per person, pre-paid daily service charges ($84 value); a 250-minute Internet package per person ($100 value); 20 photos of any size ($200 value); chocolate-covered strawberries ($12 value); a bottle of wine ($35 value); one bingo session ($20 value) and six bottles of water ($18 value).  Do the math and those benefits alone add up to about $1200 per person.  Add in the 10% discount off cruise fare and someone booking a balcony or better stateroom on a 7 day Caribbean cruise would probably come out ahead.  The numbers support the claim of $2,400 savings, based on double-occupancy,

But that’s really not the point.

Don’t Overthink The NCL All Inclusive Plan
We can nit pick this to death with thoughts like “I need WAY more than 250 minutes internet time” or “I never use the Internet or go on shore excursions” but those thoughts too bring another advantage of having everything included: you might.

Take away the price point objection, and all of the sudden those who never did shore excursions; do.
Those who would have never experimented with a different cocktail, strayed from their go-to beer or wine or tried specialty restaurants; do.
Great things can happen when we step outside of our comfort zone to try new things; this makes it easy.

But Think About It Beyond The $
Extend that thought just a bit and all of the sudden we are totally buying into the entire experience, allowing cruise lines to have their way with us…and in a good way too.  While we may have had a wonderful time cruising before, working the system to fit our financial situation, take away the worry about going over budget and our head is in the right place for good things to come in, mull around in there and produce a wonderful, refreshing, renewing travel experience.

Is the NCL All Inclusive Plan plan perfect?  No.  We wish we could trade photos for Internet time and wonder why bottled water is listed as a benefit when the Ultimate Beverage Package brings all you can drink anything.  Obviously,  10% cruise fare discount means less if applied to an inside cabin as opposed to a balcony.  How we go about buying it is yet to be seen, and we’ll take another look at that next week; testing the value and ease of booking. Will that $899 be on top of the best available fare we qualify for or a special price code that does the math for us?  Stay tuned for results.

Preliminary thought:  Surely worth a look.

Flickr photo peddhapati