Hotel meals and beverages during land tour vs. those onboard a river cruise?

On a river cruise in France this spring all onboard meals, snacks and beverages (including alcohol) were included, plentiful and available almost any time. Although I don't eat or drink much, it was a very nice perk. I just booked a land tour in Italy for next year and am curious how meals and beverages at the hotels work and what is included.


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    Based on Tauck land tours in the UK and Ireland, here’s what I’ve found:

    • Breakfast – as Ken said, usually buffet (the Savoy was the exception) and includes everything from hot dishes to lighter fare – some have ala carte hot items as well - hot drinks also include fancier coffee like latte’s & cappuccinos. This is also true if for pre/post stays at the Tauck hotels for your tour.
    • Lunch – a mixed bag – if the itinerary says lunch will be something specific then everyone will eat together and the menu is likely to be pre-selected with limited or no options – if lunch is included on the itinerary (letter L) but nothing mentioned about it you may receive money to go dine as and where you wish – this typically happens when in a location with multiple restaurant options located near the hotel or touring sight – if no lunch is listed on the itinerary you’re totally on your own (again this happens when you are within walking distance of choices)
    • Dinner – similar to lunch but if dinner is listed on the itinerary (D) but no location like a special evening out, then it’s probably ala carte at the hotel – that is you can order any and as many food items from the menu as you desire – alcohol is extra

    Re alcohol for dinner or lunch, it sometimes is included for prearranged meals like the welcome dinner, a special dinner at another location, etc but generally you’re on your own. One hotel in Ireland did give us all one free drink as a perk. Nice surprise when I went to check out.

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    I’m a veteran of many land tours with Tauck. On some there can be a lot of times when alcohol is included, it just depends on the tour you pick. We have only once been given cash to find lunch on our own. For dinners, it’s usual to maybe pick from several restaurants for dinner, not necessarily in the hotel. You can choose a la carte and the time you want to dine. At special dinners and the Welcome and Farewell there is usually a limited set menu say of three or so choices, one of which will be vegetarian. Lunch is either limited choices menu for speed so that not so much time is spent before we head on to the next place or event. Or lunch may be on your own. Everyone always says there is way too much food on Tauck tours, so often if lunch or dinner is on own own buck we might just have a snack. I always put on about three pounds. Breakfast can be a la carte. On our last tour, a river cruise, I put on five pounds, just managed to lose it. My tip is to wear your most fitted clothing at the start of the tour and save your looser fitting ones towards the end of the tour, yes, I am serious
    There are varying comments about quality of food from people on the same tour. We have always found the food pretty good. My pet hate is at lunch buffets when people stand in line and hover over each choice for what seems to be for ever, deciding what they want. They have no concept that people behind are waiting and waiting. On a recent land tour, lunch took forever, maybe standing in line for over half an hour, while I can zip through when it comes to my turn.

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    Thank you all for your detailed replies. I knew we were spoiled on the river cruise by I guess I didn't realize just how much.

    Also special thanks to Claudia and British for lots of other good info I gleaned from your other posts and comments.

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    We aim to serve. I do miss happy hour on the ship.

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