For years, some cruise passengers have complained about the “nickel and diming” that takes place on a ship. Between gratuities, drinks, specialty restaurants, wi-fi, and more, the costs can add up.
In fact, the average person can expect to spend about 35-40% of what they paid in cruise fare as onboard spending.
But some luxury cruise lines — including Princess Cruise Lines — are making a change. Instead of charging additional amounts for many items, the cruise line is giving passengers the option of including the costs in the fare.
The program is called “Princess Plus” and was recently rolled out. In its most basic terms, passengers booking the Princess Plus program have gratuities, wi-fi access, and a drink package included with their cruise fare instead of having to pay extra for these on the ship. (Celebrity has a similar offer with its Always Included deal.)
That said, there are plenty of questions you might have about the Princess deal, including if it’s worth it. Here’s what you need to know.
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What Is Princess Plus?
Princess Plus is an offer from the cruise line that provides a number of amenities included already with your cruise fare, instead of having to pay for them separately.
Specifically, guests who take advantage of the program when they book their cruise receive gratuities, the Premier Beverage Package, and wi-fi included with their cruise. Instead of having to shell out for these during the cruise, they are included, providing a more “all-inclusive” experience on the ship.
This offer is available across all cabin types and cruises. However, the cruise line says it is “capacity controlled,” implying that not everyone on the ship will be able to get the deal.
How Much is Princess Plus Worth?
With the plan, passengers receive three main benefits. These include:
- Gratuities: $14.50 per person, per day ($15.50 for mini-suites, $16.50 for suites)
- Premier Beverage Package: $59.99 per person, per day ($70.79 after gratuity)
- Wi-Fi: $9.99 per day
Added together, the value of the perks is about $95 per person, per day. For a couple traveling on a 7-day cruise, that comes out to about $1,334 in value, assuming a typical interior, oceanview, or balcony stateroom.
Considering the cost of the program (see below), booking the package seems to be a tremendous value if you plan to buy the amenities anyway.
How Much Does Princess Plus Cost?
At the time of this writing, the package costs an extra $40 per person, per day over the standard base rate.
So a 7-day cruise costing $1,000 per person for the base rate would run $1,280 with the Princess Plus offer. But for that extra $280 per person, a passenger would get about $665 worth of perks.
Another way to think about it is that with gratuities included (which passengers must pay if they get the package or not), the $40 per day paid for the offer is actually $25.50 more than a passenger would pay otherwise. For that extra $25, you get both a drink package and wi-fi.
Is This a Limited-Time Sale?
Of course cruise offers can change at any time. At this point, however, it appears that this is simply a new way of doing things for the cruise line, and it will be around for a while. In fact, Princess says that due to the success of a previous temporary sale with the same offer, they decided to introduce Princess Plus.
Which Drink Package Is Included?
Princess is including the Premier Beverage Package. This drink package normally costs $59.99 per day, or about $70 once the 18% service charge is added on.
With this package, you get all beer, liquors, and wines prices $12 or under. It also includes bottled water, soda, fresh juices, energy drinks and more. Another nice feature is that the package extends to the cruise line’s private islands.
One thing to keep in mind is that the package limits passengers to 15 alcoholic drinks each day. Non-alcoholic drinks are unlimited. Also, if you order a drink above $12 per glass, then it’s charged at the full price.
What Are the Wi-Fi Details?
Many Princess ships now have MedallionNet, which offers unlimited wi-fi. You simply login to your account and activate the device you’re using. The service is limited to one device at a time per passenger. MedallionNet claims to be among the fastest wi-fi at sea. The company claims it has a 1.5 gigabit per second bandwidth, which is enough for 1,500 people to stream Netflix at the same time.
For ships that still use Internet-by-the-minute, Princess will provide 5,000 minutes of service. That’s about 3.5 days worth of non-stop Internet usage.
Do I Have to Buy the Princess Plus Package?
No. When you book, you’ll see two different prices offered. Of course you’ll see the Princess Plus package, but you’ll also see a lower-priced deal called Princess Savers.
Princess Savers is simply the traditional fare offered on most cruises. The base fare doesn’t include gratuities, drinks, or wi-fi. It’s available for passengers who choose not to opt-in to the Princess Plus deal.
Does Everyone Have to Buy the Deal One Person Does?
In most cases. If you are traveling as a couple, then the Princess Plus offer applies to both people in the room — even if one person doesn’t drink or simply doesn’t want the deal.
That said, Princess says that if you have a third or fourth passenger in a cabin, then you can opt out of the deal for them by calling the cruise line.
What If a Passenger is Underage or Doesn’t Drink Alcohol?
As part of the offer, the Premier Beverage Package is included. However, some people travel with kids, or they might have a travel partner that doesn’t drink.
First, if you book this offer and are traveling with someone underage, then they will automatically receive the non-alcoholic Premier Coffee & Soda Package. This offers non-alcoholic drinks around the ship, including mocktails, energy drinks, soda, coffee, and teas.
If someone is over 21 but doesn’t drink, then they will still receive the Premier Beverage Package that includes alcohol. One thing to keep in mind is that the package also includes tons of non-alcoholic beverages. So they can still get just about anything to drink on the ship that they want.
Is Princess Plus a Good Deal and Worth the Money?
For many cruise offers (such as drink packages), we find that they often straddle the line of being a good deal versus costing you more money. That’s not the case here.
With a current price of $40 per day, we feel that just about everyone will get their money’s worth with the Princess Plus offer.
At $40, you’ll get gratuities included, which run $14.50 per day for most cabins. Since you have to pay this charge anyway, you’re really paying an extra $25.50 for the program.
For that extra charge, you get wi-fi, which is a $9.99 per day charge. That means you essentially get a drink package that covers your cruise for about $15 per day. For that amount, just a couple of drinks per day will get your money’s worth. You could even get your money’s worth easily with non-alcoholic beverages.
Now if you’re someone who doesn’t want Internet access and plan to stick only with the free beverages that are on the ship, then you won’t come out ahead on this deal. For the average cruiser, however, we think Princess Plus is definitely worth it.