Let me try to answer some of the questions.
Sandy: It was both. The prices were higher:
-The "drink of the day" at the bars was around $8-$9. I do not drink alcohol, so it wasn't so bad for me. But I did get a couple of "virgin" "drinks of the day" for the souvenir glasses.
-Unless you purchased a $50 or $100 Internet plan, the Internet useage costed 70cents per minute, and the Internet speed was slower than broadband. With $50&$100 plans the Internet was a less (maybe 50 or 40 cents/minute).
- The photos taken by the professional photographer-crew members (on display in the photo gallery) were almost twice the price than the same photos onboard my Carnival cruises. I remember the price of the photo onboard the Carnival ships were around $8. On this cruise they were $14.
There were more expenses too:
- There was no self-service laundry mat onboard. Only full service "valet" laundry service. And of course, they had the full service laundry price.
- There were a couple of dinning rooms onboard where the food was "included in the cruise fare", as one member in this forum once stated. However, most of the dinning places were specialty restaurants which charged an additional flat fee. And in such restaurants, there were menu items that cost an additional fee in addition to the additional flat fee.
- Also, when you ordered a drink at the bar, or ate at these specialty restaurants, you would recieve the receipt to sign. And on this receipt was a space provided to write in an additional tip (just like restaurant receipts on land). This additional tip was in addition to the automatic gratuity charged on the receipt. So you felt compelled to give the waiter/server an additional tip on top of his/her automatic tip.
There will be more responses to the other questions in a later reply.....