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Princess Cruises – What is Included? Food, Gratuities and More

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 multiple times and during this post will be looking at everything that costs extra as well as included so that you can adequately budget for your cruise.

Princess are very keen to offer “Princess Plus” and “Princess Premier Fares. If you upgrade to these for an additional daily fee, you get things like included gratuities, drinks and Wi-Fi included.

If you pay the standard fare, none of these things are included.

You may find that your “bargain Cruise” doubles in price if you upgrade to “Princess Plus.”

What is Included In The Standard Fare on a Princess Cruise?

Cruises with Princess include your food, accommodation, and entertainment.

Daily gratuities are not included and are added to your onboard account each day. There are charges for drinks, excursions, speciality meals and some onboard activities. 

Many cruise lines are moving towards including things like gratuities. This hasn’t yet happened with Princess if you pay the standard cruise fare – but they are very keen for you to upgrade to Princess Plus with all the “added extras.”

What is Included on a Princess Cruise?

Princess Cruises Main Dining Room
In the main dining room on Golden Princess (She is now sailing as Pacific Adventure for P&O Australia)

Is Food Included on a Princess Cruise?

Food is 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’ve always found the quality of food on Princess Cruises to be high so I have never felt the need to pay extra for speciality options – although occasionally if I have “free” onboard credit, I might use that on a speciality meal.

Food in The Main Dining Room is Included

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 cruises main dining room food

Princess have both fixed and flexible dining within their main dining rooms. When booking you’ll be asked if you want to pick early seating, late seating or select ‘anytime’ dining.

I’m personally a big fan of the flexibility of any-time 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 is that you don’t have to pay at the end!

Food in The Buffet is Included

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!

I’d personally recommend the chocolate chip cookies, they’re brilliant.

Cookies and Brownies Golden Princess Dessert Buffet

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 5/6 am) until late at night, usually around 11 pm.

Some of the smaller older ships have relatively small buffets but I never found this to be a problem when finding a seat.

In the buffet, you’ll also find water, tea, and coffee.

These are free and you can come and make sure yourself a drink 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 then it is chargeable

The Bar/Grill/Pizzeria By The Pool is Included

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.

*It’s worth noting that Princess used to include meals at Alfredo’s and Gigi’s pizzerias within the standard cruise fare. Now, unless you have purchased the Princess Plus or Princess Premier package, you will be charged extra.

This is around $15 for a set three-course menu, at the time of writing. (Additional items can be bought individually and are priced per item.)

Is Room Service Included on a Princess Cruise?

Sometimes – it depends on the cruise fare you choose.

If you have paid for the Princess Plus or Princess Premier cruise fare, then room service is free.

If you have paid the basic “Princess Standard” fare, you will have to pay a $5 delivery charge.

To maximize the stateroom experience, Princess Plus and Princess Premier participants will have the standard $5 per delivery room service charge waived. That means no extra charges for the ease and luxury of on-demand service anywhere, anyplace or anytime on a Princess ship for Plus and Premier Guests.

Princess Cruise Lines

The majority of cruise lines do charge for room service, so if you have paid the Princess Plus or Princess Premier fare, you may as well use it.

emma cruises room service princess cruise

If you have a balcony stateroom it is amazing to have room service delivered to eat on your balcony – perhaps during a sail away or an early morning sail-in.

Princess Room service is available 24 hours a day.

Are Drinks Included on a Princess Cruise?

There are some drinks included on Princess cruises but as a general rule these are only available in the buffet or main dining room and the selection is limited to tea/coffee or water.

Drinks served in the bars have an extra 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 that 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 $10 for a glass of wine, $7 for a beer and $3 for a soda.

If you are someone who drinks a lot, it may be worth paying the Princess Plus or Princess Premier fare, as drinks are then included.

This doesn’t work out well for everybody though, so make sure you think about how much you’ll really drink before upgrading.

At the time of writing (Dec 2023) upgrading to Princess Plus is an extra £50 a day, and Princess Premier is £65 a day.

Is Entertainment Included on a Princess Cruise?

Princess cruises include a variety of entertainment on all cruises including theatre productions, live music, trivia, and gameshows.

The activities are varied and take place throughout the day. The entertainment will vary by destination and ship.

Golden Princess Theatre Adam Dean Magician

Princess Cruises are relatively busy compared to some other cruise lines. On the daily schedule, you may see things like the following:

  • Gameshows
  • 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-dependent!)

Princess has invested heavily in “Ocean Medallion” wearable Technology. Find out more about that in the video below:

If you don’t want to use technology, they still deliver a daily schedule each night which will arrive in your cabin. This will give you all the information that you need about the next day’s activities.

Are Kids Clubs Included on a Princess Cruise?

Princess Cruises has kids clubs for children ranging from 6 months to 17 years.

The kid’s clubs are split into age groups and all have a wide range of activities in which children are invited to take part.

The kid’s 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.

Are Exercise Classes And Use Of The Gym Included On Princess Cruises?

Select exercise classes are included on a Princess cruise but some do cost extra.

Our state-of-the-art fitness centres offer exercise and spinning courses, free and machine weights, treadmills with ocean views and more to energize yourself while on your cruise vacation. And if you like the outdoors, there’s a jogging track a few decks above the waves.

Princess Cruises

Find out more about cruise ship Gyms here:

Cruise Ship Gyms: Cost, Opening Times, and Other Things You NEED to Know


As on every cruise, your accommodation is included in your cruise fare. There are a variety of cabins available for you to choose 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 by the wardrobes/closets and this layout gives the cabin lots of storage space.

My parents had an Aft cabin when we sailed on Emerald Princess. This was something they would have never considered, but it was recommended by my partner travel agent.

It had a really big balcony – but there was a slight catch. Find out whether they liked the cabin here:

What is Not Included on a Princess Cruise?:

There are some exercise classes that cost extra. These are usually Boot Camp/Yoga/Pilates workouts – but this does vary by cruise ship and destination.

Gratuities Are Not Included on Princess Cruises

Gratuities are not automatically included in cruises with Princess Cruises if you pay the “Standard” cruise fare.

Gratuities can be prepaid and currently stand at $16 to $18 per person per day, depending on the type of accommodation you book.

Recently many cruise lines have been moving towards a more inclusive pricing structure, but Princess has never included gratuities in their cruise fare.

Instead of including gratuities within the fare, Princess tries to encourage you to buy the more expensive Princess Plus or Princess Premier Fare. This does include gratuities, drinks, WI-Fi and some other perks.

The “Crew Appreciation” (Gratuities) is a daily amount for each guest that will be automatically added to your onboard account for your convenience, to recognize the efforts of a wide variety of crewmembers who contribute to the experiences of all our guests.  The crewmembers eligible to receive these funds work in various departments, many of whom rotate among different ships, throughout our fleet of ships. The amount of the Crew Appreciation will be based on stateroom category, as set out below:

Stateroom CategoryDaily amount per guest
Interior, Oceanview and BalconyUS $16
Mini-Suite and Reserve CollectionUS $17
SuitesUS $18
Princess Cruises Lines

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 share. Tipping only the staff you see leaves behind-the-scenes stuff such as the people who work in the laundry short.

To learn more about gratuities, including how they also affect drinks and spa treatments, check out this post so that you don’t have any nasty surprises on your cruise:

Cruise Gratuities: A Simple Step by Step Guide For First Time Cruisers

A lot of cruise lines are moving towards a more inclusive structure. To learn more about cruise lines that include gratuities as standard check out this post:

 Which Cruise Lines Include Gratuities? (Cruise Line Guide).

Princess Cruises Don’t Include Shore Excursions

Some luxury cruise lines do 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.

I’m a big fan of doing my own thing when in port. It saves a LOT of money.

I took a British Isles Cruise, and only took one cruise line excursion. That was to see Loch Ness in Scotland, which is so far from anywhere else, it would be tricky – or impossible – to get there by public transport.

Find out about all the interesting sights I saw – without cruise line excursions, here:

Before You Go

Find out whether you should book via a trusted travel agent, or directly with the cruise line in the article below:

Is It Best To Use a Travel Agent or Book Directly With The Cruise Line? (Money-Saving Hints and Tips For Booking, and Much More…)

Find out what you need to think about when planning and packing for your cruise below:

Planning And Packing For Your Cruise, Things to Organise in Advance, Packing Essentials And More

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

Ever wondered how the mainstream cruise lines compare? Cruise lines won’t tell you this, but I will.

This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.