Celebrity Cruises starts all-you-can-drink plan

Despite the advertised low rates for many cruises, I’ve always thought that the extra fees for alcoholic drinks would make the final price rise far above the base cost. Even for a moderate drinker – a few glasses of wine or beer with dinner, a pina colada here, a strawberry daiquiri there – the cost for a few days of booze for two people on a cruise could come out to a couple hundred dollars over the course of a week.

So when I first read Jaunted’s headline that Celebrity Cruises was now offering several all-you-can-drink beverage options, I was intrigued. But upon closer inspection, it seems like you’d pretty much have to spend your entire cruise drunk in order to justify the cost.

For unlimited liquor, you’ll pay over $50 per person per night, and wine packages (which don’t state how many bottles the package entitles you to) start at $114 per night per package. An unlimited supply of domestic and imported beers is $34.50 per night per person. Which means for two people, you’ll need to drink $70 worth of beer in a single day. Though that’s about three 12-packs at your local liquor store, it’s the equivalent of 10-12 beers at Celebrity’s on-board prices.

As CruiseCritic points out, the package only makes sense if you’ll drink 5-6 beers per day. While lots of people could do that over the course of a day at sea, it doesn’t seem likely that many would do it every day of the cruise, and since you have to buy the package for the duration of your cruise…well, it looks Celebrity will be making quite a profit – or ending up with some really drunk passengers.

The next innovation in cruise ship entertainment – real grass

Cruise companies are amongst the most creative minds in the travel world – each time a new ship is launched, passengers are treated to amenities never seen before on a ship. In recent years we’ve seen outdoor movie theaters, wave pools and a massive indoor atrium.

The next innovation is being introduced on the Celebrity Cruises Solstice. This 1425 room mammoth of the seas features a half acre of real grass on its upper deck. The grass and irrigation systems add a whopping 150 tons to the weight of the ship, which isn’t that impressive when you realize that the ship itself weighs in at 122,000 tons.

The green is called the “Lawn Club”, and passengers can play a round of golf or bocce, or simply sit down and enjoy a picnic.

If the country club style lawn does not impress you, there are also 10 restaurants, 10 bars, a hot glass blowing demonstration (really!), a theater, a comedy club, multiple pools (including an indoor lap pool) and an art gallery to keep you entertained.

The Celebrity Solstice is currently in operation, and a 7 day cruise of the Caribbean starts at $649 per person.

Cruise line trends to look out for

There are some trends in the cruise industry that might make you pleased or disgruntled, depending on if the trends tip in your favor.

Non-smokers may feel more pleased to find out that one growing trend is to restrict smoking to fewer and fewer places on a ship. Smokers, of course, may not be thrilled.

Another trend is for bigger ships. Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas is the biggest of them all. It can carry 3,634 passengers. Both Celebrity and Carnival Cruises have gone for larger ship sizes as well.

While on-board, you might be paying more fees than in the past. Even the snacks might cost you. Other fees are for on-board tours and eating at an alternative restaurant. Before you book a cruise, find out what your money will pay for and what it doesn’t so you don’t end up feeling mad, cheated or disappointed.

Because more and more people are looking to find R&R while on board, more ships are offering spa classes and areas for retreats where passengers can meditate or just hang out in peace and quiet.

Along with these cruise line trends, Jay Clarke also mentioned in his article in the Columbus Dispatch that there are half-dozen new ships in southern Florida. I imagine this means that if you’re looking for a travel bargain, consider a cruise.