Are drink packages worth the cost?

Food & Drink

Drink Packages Sound Like A Great Deal, But Are They?

One of the biggest income generators on cruise ships is the alcohol. It is common on most cruise lines to offer a pre-paid drink package that allows you to enjoy free flowing beverages for the duration of your cruise. For some people this can be an excellent deal, for others, not so much. The drink packages vary in price from cruise line to cruise line, but are generally $55 per person per day, plus an 18% gratuity.

The limitations on most of the "Unlimited" drink package:

1. Those "Welcome aboard" cocktails, shooters in the dining room or anything else in souvenir glasses are not included. However, if you really want to try the drinks that are offered, you can always ask for the same drink in a regular glass.

2. The "Top Shelf" drinks are not included, or at least not included completely free. Say for example the maximum amount per drink is $15 and you want to try a shot of a premium tequila for $28, you would only need to spend $13 for the difference between them.

3. Every adult in the cabin needs to purchase the package.

The "Extras" that make it worth it:

1. Most people think the drink package is for alcoholic beverages, but it is a total DRINK package. You can use the package for non-alcoholic beverages as well. You can use the package for bottled water, fountain drinks and specialty coffees as well.

Azamara Club Cruises

Azamara includes standard spirits, international beers and a changing selection of two reds, two whites and one rose. It then offers a number of different packages that include higher-end spirits. Its Premium Package costs $15.95 per person per day and includes standard brands plus higher-end spirits. The Ultimate Package costs $21.95 per person per day and includes everything in the Premium Package plus all wine and additional higher-end brands. Azamara also offers two wine packages

Azamara also offers two wine packages. The Wine-Lover Package allows guests to purchase bottles of wine below $50; there is a 5-bottle package for $180, a 7-bottle package for $235, a 10-bottle package for $315, and a 12-bottle package for $350. The Wine Connoisseur Package, which includes all bottles of wine between $51 and $75, offers guests a 5-bottle package for $315, a 7-bottle package for $415, a 10-bottle package for $560, and a 12-bottle package for $630.    

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival offers its Cheers! Pre-Paid Beverage Package for $56.95 per person per day when purchased onboard and $51.95 per person per day when purchased online prior to the cruise. Neither of those prices include an automatic 15 percent gratuity charge. The package includes a variety of cocktails, beer, wine, and bottled water. It is not available in Australia.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity’s Standard Package ($49 per person per night) includes beer, wine, bottled water, fountain soda, cocktails, and more. Its Classic Package ($59 per person per night) includes beer, spirits, cocktails, frozen drinks and wines by the glass up to $9 per serving plus a 15 percent discount on wines purchased by the bottle.

Celebrity’s Premium Package ($69 per person per night) adds specialty coffee and teas, craft beers, spirits and cocktails, Coca Cola products, premium bottled water, and wine up to $15 per serving, plus a 20 percent discount on bottles of wine.

The line also offers Wine Packages (starting at $109) that include a 10-15 percent discount on wines and is available for three, five or seven bottles.

Finally, Celebrity’s Premium Non-Alcoholic Drink Package ($22 per person per night) includes premium bottled waters, frozen drinks and smoothies, specialty coffees and teas, Red Bull, coconut water, and Vitamin Water.

An 18 percent service charge is added to each check.

Crystal Cruises  

Crystal Cruises is all-inclusive. All beverages are complimentary, with the exception of top-shelf liquors and some pre-selected wines. Because of its all-inclusive price, travel agents make commission on the pricing.

Cunard

Cunard’s Soft Drink Package, which includes sodas and juices, can be purchased for $8.50 per person per day plus a 15 percent service charge. Wine and other alcoholic beverages can be purchased separately while onboard.

Holland America Line  

Holland America’s Signature Beverage Package costs $51.69 per person per day when purchased in advance or $57.44 per person per day when purchased onboard. It includes a variety of wine, beer, spirits, cocktails, sodas and coffee, for drinks costing $9 or less.

Holland America also offers its Elite Beverage Package for $63.19 per person per day. It includes premium spirits, cocktails, wine, beer, coffees, nonalcoholic beverages, bottled water and sodas, up to a per glass value of $15. The package includes the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines on Koningsdam, which offer more than 100 flavors.

Then there is the Cellar Master Package, which starts at $273.74 per person per day. The packages include a choice of five wine bottles, a standard and a premium wine-tasting, one Pinnacle Grill dinner, a wine accessory gift set, and a Holland America Line commemorative bottle of wine.

MSC Cruises

MSC’s Cruises offers a number of different packages depending on sailing and guest.

The Easy Package costs $35 per person per day and offers unlimited selected drinks by the glass, including house wines, one brand of draft beer (Heineken*) and/or Miller Lite bottled beer (for Caribbean itineraries only), selected spirits and cocktails, non-alcoholic cocktails, soft drinks and fruit juices by the glass, bottled mineral water, classic hot drink (espresso, cappuccino, cafe latte, hot tea) and coffee and hot chocolate drinks. It's available in all onboard bars, as well as the self-service buffet and restaurants, excluding specialty restaurants.

MSC’s All-Inclusive Premium Package costs $62 per person per day. That package includes all drinks priced up to $12, including beers wines by the glass, premium spirits and cocktails (both alcoholic and nonalcoholic), mineral water, energy drinks, soft drinks, tea and coffee. Includes drinks from the minibar, room service and specialty restaurants.

Premium Plus Package costs $79 per person per day for unlimited consumption of all drinks by the glass. Drinks and food from the minibar and the room service menu and drinks from theme bar menus are all included as well. Includes drinks from the minibar, room service and specialty restaurants. Includes a 30 percent discount on bottled wine and champagne.

All-Inclusive Non-Alcoholic Package costs $29 per adult or $17 per child aged 3-11, per day. That package offers unlimited alcohol-free cocktails, soda, energy drinks, mineral and flavored water, a wide range of coffee drinks, hot chocolates, organic tea and soft ice cream. These can be consumed in all onboard bars, as well as the self-service buffet and restaurants, excluding specialty restaurants.

Norwegian Cruise Line

NCL’s Corks and Caps Package costs $65 per person per day, plus a 20 percent gratuity. It includes select fountain soda and juices, beer (draft and bottles) and wines by the glass ($15 or less).

NCL also offers an Ultimate Beverage Package that costs $99 per person per day plus a 20 percent gratuity. That package includes liquor and cocktails that cost $15 or less.

The Soda Program runs $7.95 per person per day for adults and $5.95 for children.

Oceania Cruises

Oceania’s Prestige Select package costs $59.95 per person per day and includes unlimited premium spirits, champagne, wine and beer.

Its House Select package, which costs $39.95 per person per day, includes unlimited champagne, wine and beer with lunch and dinner (not available on Alaska and New England sailings).

Oceania also offers Wine by the Bottle packages; a seven-bottle package goes for $47.50 each, gratuity included.

Paul Gauguin Cruises

All cruises include complimentary select wines and spirits, beer, soft drinks, bottled water, and hot beverages served throughout the ship.

Regent Seven Seas

All cruises include complimentary select wines and spirits, beer, soft drinks, bottled water, and hot beverages served throughout the ship.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Royal’s Deluxe Package costs $63-$70 per person per day, depending on the sailing, plus an 18 percent gratuity. It includes cocktails, beer, wine, coffee, tea, and bottled water; and a 40 percent discount on bottles of wine under $100, and a 20 percent discount on bottles over $100.

Royal’s Refreshment Package costs $26-$29 per person per day, plus an 18 percent gratuity. It includes teas, coffee, bottled water, sodas, and juices.

The Classic Soda package, which $12.99 per person per day, plus an 18 percent gratuity, offers unlimited soda.

Seabourn

Seabourn cruises include beer, wine, champagne and spirits. Rare or ultra-premium bottles of wine are available for an extra fee.

Silversea Cruises

Silversea cruises include beer, wine, champagne and spirits. Rare or ultra-premium bottles of wine are available for an extra fee.

Viking Ocean Cruises

Costs for the Viking’s Silver Spirits Package vary depending on itinerary length, but start at $139 per person for seven nights. The package covers drinks up to $15 each, anywhere on the ship or in the minibar (or 15 percent off those costing more), and premium wines at The Chef's Table wine pairing.

Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages includes “Basic Bevvies” in their fares. Those beverages included are filtered still and sparkling water, non-pressed juices, sodas, teas or even drip coffee. Alcohol, however, still needs to be purchased and at this point, I have not heard anything about unlimited drink packages.

Windstar

Windstar offers three packages. The Voyager's Adventure Wine Package ($32 per person per day) includes 20 fine wines priced up to $8.50 per glass. Its Topmast Discoveries Wine Package, which $42 per person per day, offers a choice of 33 premium wines priced at up to $11.50 per glass.

And its Captain's Exclusive Beverage Package, which costs $52 per person per day, includes unlimited cocktails, spirits, beer and wines, priced up to $11.50 per glass including minibar; a 30 percent discount off the cost of wine bottles up to a retail value of $100; and free corkage for all wine guests carry onboard.

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Peter Korer

I have been an avid traveler for the past 35 years. For the past 20 of those years, cruising has been my preferred method of travel. I have been all over the world and have discovered the best way to see many locations while enjoying the travel between them has been by ship.

After going on several cruises I had found a passion for knowing about every cruise line and ship available. My friends would come to me asking for my advice and recommendations for their cruises. I would happily help them out. I then decided to get my license and actually sell travel through the cruise line directly. It did not cost anything more for my friends to book through me since I was paid through the cruise lines as a travel agent, but the perks I received from the cruise lines were incredible. This enabled me to cruise more often and on more cruise ships. I love to share my knowledge with others and see them enjoy themselves as much as I have.

The reason I started this blog was to share my knowledge about cruising with as many people as I can. I am here to answer your questions and I will hopefully open your eyes to all of the wonderful possibilities that cruising has to offer.

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