I have a thing about the all inclusive package. If you drink moderately it is not worth having unless you get it as an early booking incentive. If you don't then everyone on the booking has to have it so if there is a non drinker it costs a lot. I have been on one Island Escape Cruise where I got it "free" and several Thomson cruises where either it was not available e.g. the Baltic or where I had to pay for it or got it "free". I like my drinks - cocktails on deck mid morning, a couple of glasses of wine on deck for an al fresco lunch, another cocktail or two during the afternoon and a G&T or two before dinner, wine with dinner and another G&T or two in the late evening. That is a heck of a lot more than I would consider drinking at home or on any other sort of holiday.
Now my "thing" about the all inclusive. If you have it free and have done most of the ports of call before and will be on the ship a lot of the time it is a bargain. If you have to pay for it and will be off the ship for most of every day and don't really drink that much then I would not go for it. Some drinks (including bottled water) have a supplement. My experience has been that there are people who book the all inclusive in order to have a lot of the costs paid before they go. Then there are people who get the all inclusive and are determined to drink their own body weight in alcohol. As I said I tend to drink more on cruises than I do on "normal" holidays. But I have never once been drunk (not that I would want to be) and this is where my issue is - I firmly believe that when a passenger is on the all inclusive the staff don't serve the proper measures & branded drinks and if a passenger shows any signs of being worse for wear the drinks are diluted further. Unless you are on one of the ships which charge 15% gratuity for every drink then a drink on a cruise ship is about the same price as at home (but not at the same strength no matter what the cruise ships say). So passengers who drink "normally" will find that their bills are not excessive.
One night a couple of years ago I was on the Emerald. It was after dinner and a few of us were sitting around in the Yacht Club chatting and smoking (those were the days when one could smoke on board Thomson ships). We ordered our drinks and none of us were in the least bit drunk but we were all on the all inclusive. When the drinks arrived everyone believed that their standard G&T or vodka&T was less than half the strength of the ones we had been served earlier in the evening in the same bar.
Cruise ships make a hell of a lot of money from alcohol. The first cocktail of the day may be full strength with all the fruit, the next one is in a slightly smaller glass and the next one is in that same smaller glass, without the fruit and noticeably weaker.
One tip - if you do go for the all inclusive and really like a drink then tip the bar tender at your preferred bar early in the cruise. Then you will get the brand you want, the drink will be full strength and the hangover will be all yours to deal with.
I have been on the Calypso twice and will be on her twice next year (this will be her final year with Thomsons) and I have been given (what are supposed to be double G&Ts) by Francis and Fletcher in the bar on the upper deck and no way were these what I am used to in Dublin.
Another thing is some cruise ships are very snooty about passengers bringing drinks on board after a day out. I never heard any of the passengers on the Calypso complain that their drinks had been taken from them. So if you decide against that AI then pack a bottle of your preferred tipple or buy one at one of the ports of call.
Its a tough call. If you want the alcohol paid up front then find but be aware that things like water will still have a supplement. If you want to go mad then realise that the cruise ships have their own ways of monitoring the alcohol intake of passengers. If you are on a budget and have not been able to avail of the early booking all inclusive upgrade then consider taking a bottle of your favourite tipple on board.
Sorry for the lengthy reply
It really depends how much you intend to drink!!! The drinks are not expensive on Thomson ships 2.25 for a glass of house white which was very drinkable...same for cocktail of the day. Cokes and 7up type cans are £1.00 ...we were lucky and had free all inclusive but I think it is quite pricey to buy and only worth it if you drink alot. By the way it doesn't cover bottled water!
We got a free all inclusive deal for the Thomson Spirit, which would have cost our family (3 adults 1 child) about £1k for 2 weeks if we'd bought it. On our return, my (sad) husband priced up our final account to compare what it would have cost us if we were paying for it (you still get a bill, it just has zeros on it!) All in all it would have cost us about £ 600 - we're not big drinkers, but we didn't go without pop, shorts, coffees and cocktails. I certainly wouldn't buy the package for us, but it all depends on how much you drink usually.
We tried to book a cruise on Thomson Destiny last year,brochure stated free all inclusive drinks package.However,we were told that the offer was unavailable,but we booked anyway,went on
the cruise and had a great time.We have just tried to book the deal again for 2009,again been
told it's unavailable!!!When exactly is it available,or is this just a brochure con,to reel people in???
Im going on a cruise next Month the Thomson Spirit and will probable by the all inclusive drinks package but I need to know what drinks you get on this and what drinks you need to pay for ... For example I like a budwiser/coors or miller beer dring the day and would probably drink a smirnoff ice at nights so I want to make sure that these are included ..
Any info woud be appreciated
thanks a million.