Tuesday, June 19, 2012

But Will It Make the Scenery Spin? River Cruise Company Offers Unlimited Alcohol

Maybe this is "ageist" of me, but I have to wonder who will be intrigued by Scenic Cruise's announcement yesterday that it will be offering unlimited hard drinks (though not top shelf drinks) on its 2013 voyages?

When one thinks of "booze cruises", its the Jersey Shore set, not the AARP gang, that pop to mind. No secret: the vast majority river cruises are populated by seniors...or at least folks who find watching the scenery inch by at two-miles-per-hour enthralling. Its not your typical party crowd.

But some of these folks will appreciate that these cruises will be indisputably all-inclusive. Along with free liquor (with lunch, dinner and in stateroom mini-bars), the cruise line will be throwing in airport transfers, wifi, butler services and GPS-guided shore tours. Since Scenic operates some of the largest river boats on the waters, it also gives its guests a lot more "free space" than the competition (or so they claim).

Of course, all of those "freebies" don't come cheap. A 19-day cruise of the Moselle River starts at nearly $8500, or $440 per day. The Danube for 11 days comes to $4400 in the cheapest cabins, or $400 per day.

By contrast, Viking River Cruises is currently running a two-for-the-price-of-one sale on its 2013 offerings which will drop the cost of a sailing to as little as $150 per person, per day. Which means that, if you don't plan to drink some $200 worth of liquor a day (and you can do without being "butled") these cruises are by far the better value.

I've found similar deals at VacationsToGo, a cruise discounter that's now covering the river cruise segment of the market, as well.

The moral of this blog: all-inclusive doesn't always mean value. Look at all the costs, consider your own vacation needs closely, and then book. Sometimes a la carte vacationing can be just as cost effective (and, in this case, could mean less of a hang-over after the holiday's over).

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