If you are taking your first cruise with Princess you may be wondering what is included in the cruise fare. I’ve cruised with Princess twice and during this post will be looking at everything that costs extra as well as is included so that you can adequately budget for your cruise.
Whats Included on a Princess Cruise?
Princess cruises include your food, accommodation and entertainment. Daily gratuities are not included and are added onto your onboard account each day. There are charges for things such as drinks, excursions and some onboard activities.
Princess offer a very standard cruise line model when it comes to the included elements. Many cruise lines are moving towards including things like gratuities however this hasn’t yet happened with Princess.
Is Food Included on a Princess Cruise?
Yes. All meals are included on a Princess cruise. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served in the buffet and at a minimum breakfast and dinner will be served in the main dining room for no extra charge. It is possible to cruise with Princess and not spend anything extra on dining.
I have cruised with Princess twice and on both occasions I didn’t spend anything extra on dining. I’ve always found the quality of food on Princess cruises to be high so have never felt the need to pay extra for speciality options.
Below is a photo of me in the main dining room of the Golden Princess. As you can see, I was one of the first people in the restaurant on this day. You can see the waiters on the left waiting for other guests!
Main Dining Room
The main dining room is usually open for breakfast and dinner. It may also be open during lunch depending on the itinerary of the cruise ship. The main dining room is often open for lunch on sea days but may not be on port days. This does vary by cruise ship.
Princess have both fixed and flexible dining within their main dining rooms. When booking you’ll be asked if you want to pick an early seating, late seating or select ‘anytime’ dining. I’m personally a big fan of the flexibility of anytime dining as this means you can eat when you’re hungry rather than when it’s your designated dinner time.
Eating in the main dining room on a cruise ship works very similarly to a restaurant on land. The difference being that you don’t have to pay at the end!
On all Princess cruise ships you’ll find a buffet. Everything in the buffet is free to eat and you can eat as much as you’d like! Hoorar! I’d personally recommend the chocolate chip cookies, they’re brilliant.
In the buffet you’ll find breakfast, lunch and dinner served as well as snacks in between. The buffet is open from very early in the morning (around 5/6am) until late at night, usually around 11pm.
Some of the smaller older ships have relatively small buffets but I never found this to be a problem when I cruised on the Golden Princess. We were always able to find something to eat.
In the buffet you’ll also find water, tea and coffee. These are free and you can come and make sure yourself a cup whenever you’d like. You’ll also find juices here at breakfast. When I cruise I usually go to the buffet quite frequently to make myself a cup of tea! Tea is offered in the bars around the ship but there is a charge for this.
Below is a photo of the buffet onboard the Sapphire Princess. You can find my full tour here: Sapphire Princess Ship Tour 2019.
On all Princess ships you’ll find some sort of bar/grill area by the pool deck. Many Princess ships also have a Pizzeria where you can grab a slice of pizza. It’s a great option for lazy days by the pool! Any food here is included in your cruise fare.
There is also a bar here where you can grab a drink but drinks here do cost extra.
Another great included food option is room service. The majority of cruise lines do charge for room service so to have this included is a great bonus. There are some items on the menu which come at an extra cost but I personally ignore these.
If you have a balcony stateroom it is amazing to have room service delivered and to eat on your balcony perhaps during a sail away or an early morning sail in. I have to say I’ve never ordered room service to an inside cabin because this just isn’t as much fun. It’s always good to have the option though. Princess’s room service is available 24 hours a day!
Below is a great video from Sheri at CruiseTipsTv which shows you what’s on the menu! Yum.
Are Drinks Included on a Princess Cruise?
Yes. There are some drinks included on Princess cruises but these are only available in the buffet or main dining room. Any drinks served in the bars have a charge.
There are some drinks included on a Princess cruise but these are minimal and I’ve never met anybody who has cruised only drinking the included drinks.
Drinks which are included are:
- Tea and Coffee in the buffet (Whenever open)
- Juices in the buffet (Usually only with breakfast)
- Water in the buffet (Whenever open)
- Tap water with meals in the main dining room
Drinks which aren’t included are:
- Any beer, wine, or spirits.
- Any soft drink, energy drink or mocktail.
- Tea or Coffee from the bars onboard.
Drinks on a Princess cruise are fairly priced. They’re similar to that which you’d find in a bar or pub on land. It’s roughly $7 for a glass of wine, $7 for a beer and $3 for a soda.
Is Entertainment Included on a Princess Cruise?
Yes! Princess cruises include a variety of entertainment including theatre productions, live music, trivia and gameshows. The activities are varied and take place throughout the day.
Princess Cruises are relatively busy compared to some other cruise lines. On the daily schedule you may see things like the following:
- Trivia (My mum won Beatles trivia for our team on our Golden Princess cruise!)
- Live Music (A range of music from classical to pop and rock)
- Theatre Shows (Nightly shows, performed twice per night)
- Themed parties (Either on the top deck or inside, weather dependant!)
Each night of your cruise a daily schedule will arrive in your cabin. This will give you all the information that you need about the next day’s activities. I’d recommend taking a photo of the schedule or downloading the cruise lines app so that you can see what is going on when you are out and about.
Princess actually bring puppies onboard during some of their Alaska cruises they call it ‘puppies in the Piazza’ and this sounds AMAZING!
Are Kids Clubs Included on a Princess Cruise?
Yes! Princess cruises have kids clubs for children ranging from 6 months to 17 years. The kids clubs are split into age groups and all have a wide range of activities which children are invited to take part in. The kids clubs are based in their own area on the ship and have lots of amenities for children and teenagers to enjoy.
Be warned though, if you do take your children on a cruise they might end up like me (writing about cruises on the internet and OBSESSED with cruising). I’ve been cruising since I was 11 years old and had so much fun in the kids and teen clubs.
SOME exercise classes are included on a Princess cruise.
One of my favourite things about a Princess cruise is the included Zumba classes. On my Princess cruise onboard the Golden Princess I got up ALMOST every sea day for 9am Zumba!
What is Not Included on a Princess Cruise?:
There are some exercise classes which cost extra. These are usually bootcamp/yoga/pilates workouts but do vary by cruise ship and destination.
There is a gym on all Princess cruise ships and these are free to use at any time. To learn more about cruise ship gyms, including the possibility to have to sign a waver, check out this post:
As on every cruise your accommodation is included in your cruise fare. There are a variety of cabins available for you to chose from, ranging from inside cabins to multi level suites.
I personally am a BIG fan of the Princess cruise cabins. They often have a separate changing area in the cabins which gives the cabin lots of storage space.
If you are interested in learning how I secure the cheapest cabins, I teach a course focused around cruising cheaply which you can find here: How to Cruise For Less.
Gratuities are not included in cruises with Princess cruises. Recently many cruise lines have been moving towards a more inclusive pricing structure but Princess have never included gratuities in their cruise fare.
To simplify the tipping process for our guests, a discretionary gratuity of $16.50 per guest for suites, $15.50 per guest for mini-suites and $14.50 per guest (including children) in all other staterooms, per day, is automatically added to your shipboard account on a daily basis. This gratuity will be shared among those staff who help provide and support your cruise experience, including all waitstaff, stateroom stewards, buffet stewards, and housekeeping staff across the fleet. – source.
It is possible to remove gratuities by going to the reception desk although I would strongly recommend you do not do this. The automatic gratuities make sure that all crew members receive a piece. Tipping only the staff you see leaves behind the scenes staff such as the people who work in the laundry short.
A lot of cruise lines are moving towards a more inclusive structure. To learn more about cruise lines that include gratuities are standard check out this post: Which Cruise Lines Include Gratuities? (Cruise Line Guide).
A very luxury cruise lines include excursions but generally speaking cruise lines don’t. When you get to port there are a couple of options available to you. Cruise line excursions are usually the easiest but are the most expensive. It is also possible to book excursions independently of the cruise line or to not take any excursions at all.
I’m a big fan of doing my own thing when in port. It save a LOT of money.
Where To Next?
Want to learn how to cruise well on a budget? Start here: How to Cruise For Less
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