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Are Drink Packages Worth It On A Cruise?

Last updated on January 6th, 2024 at 12:54 pm

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Are Drink Packages Worth It On A Cruise?

Cruises offer a fantastic way to relax and explore new destinations while enjoying the comfort and luxury of a floating resort. One aspect of cruising that many travelers consider is the option of a drink package.

These packages can seem like a great deal, offering unlimited beverages for a fixed price. However, before you dive into buying a drink package on a cruise, there are several important factors to consider to ensure it’s a wise investment for your vacation.

Beverage Packages

Most of the major cruise lines offer beverage packages that allow passengers to pay a flat fee per day for unlimited drinks during their cruise, although there are some lines that limit the number of alcoholic drinks, usually to 15 per day. These packages often include a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Prices for drinks outside of a beverage package can vary widely depending on factors such as the type of drink, the cruise itinerary, and any promotions or packages that may be available.

The Cost Of Drinks Without A Beverage Package

For the sake of this article, we are going to use Carnival Cruise lines as our benchmark for drink prices a la carte. Carnival is the world’s largest cruise company and operates over 100 ships across nine cruise lines.

The cost of drinks in the table below are an average price offered on Carnival when purchased individually. This is a representation of what, on average, it will cost you to drink a la carte on a cruise. All prices in this article were current as of October, 2023.

Type of Drink Average Cost Brands
Tropical Drinks $11.75 Tequila Sunrise, Bahama Mama, Margarita
Cocktails $11.75 Sangria, Pirate Punch
Martini $12.25 Appletini, Tiramisu, Bluemoon
Beer $7.75 Craft, Imported, Domestic
Wine $12.00 Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Merlot
Vodka $12.00 Stoli, Grey Goose, Tito’s
Whisky $12.75 Blanton’s, Jack Daniel, Jameson
Rum $15.00 Barcardi, Starr, Myer’s
Tequila $16.00 Jose Cuervo, Patron, Santo Blanco
Scotch $16.00 Dewar’s, Chivas
Soda $3.75 Pepsi, Energy drinks, Coconut water
Coffee $2.50 Fresh or cold brewed
Espresso $3.25 Latte, cappuccino, Americano
Hot tea $1.95
Hot Chocolate $2.25
Milk Shake $4.50
Sparkling water $2.50
Bottled Water $1.50

Most beverage packages exclude any drinks from onboard Starbucks.

If you want to see the individual menus for Canival bars, go to this article by Prof. Cruise here:

Carnival Bar Menus and Drink Prices 2023

Deciding If A Beverage Package Will Save You Money

Consider what you would drink in a day when you are on a cruise. Know that when you buy a beverage package, the prices are per day, per person and you have to buy the package for the duration of the cruise. If you purchase a package, anyone else in your stateroom will also have to purchase a beverage package.

So, let’s use the following scenario as an example. Let’s say that you would have a coffee, or probably two at breakfast. And because it is a vacation, you throw in a Mimosa.

Then comes lunch with a soda, and a couple of craft beers to go with along with the burger you ordered. While hanging around the pool, you get a Bahama Mama and a Pirate Punch.

Wine with dinner would be your choice, and you would have two glasses. Then, at karaoke night you have a Jose Cuervo or two and finish it off with an appropriate Tequila Sunrise.

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All together those drinks throughout the day would total:

Cost Number Type
$5.00 2 Coffee
$12.00 1 Minmosa
$3.75 1 Pepsi
$15.50 2 Beer
$11.75 1 Bahama Mama
$11.75 1 Pirate Punch
$24.00 2 Wine
$32.00 2 Jose Cuervo
$11.75 1 Tequila Sunrise
$22.95 Gratuity
$150.45 Total for 1 day

That is a total of 12 various types of drinks throughout the day for $150.45. If you feel you might add more soda, another coffee or beer to that list, the total will climb.

So decide what you would consume in a day, check the a la carte prices for drinks and your cruise and compare your total with the cruise lines offered package.

Beverage Package Costs

Here are the cost of beverage packages on five of the major cruise lines.

Package Name Price per day Gratuity Total
Carnival
Cheers! $59.95 18.00% $70.74
Royal Caribbean *
Classic Soda $12.99 18.00% $15.33
Refreshment $29.00 18.00% 34.22
Deluxe Package $75 to $94 18.00% $88 to $112
Norwegian
Open Bar Package $109.00 20.00% $130.80
Premium Plus $138.00 20.00% $165.60
Celebrity
Classic Package $89.00 20.00% $106.80
Premium Package $109.00 20.00% $130.80
Princess
Plus Package $64.99 18.00% $76.70
Premium Package $84.99 18.00% $100.29
MSC Cruises **
Easy $49.00 15.00% $56.35
Easy Plus $64.00 15.00% $73.60
Premium Extra $88.00 15.00% $101.20
* Please Note: Royal uses “dynamic pricing” which will vary by cruise
** Please Note: MSC does not charge the 15% fee if you buy before sailing

Carnival Cruises

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Photo Carnival Cruise Facebook page

CHEERS! INCLUDES:

  • All spirits (including cocktails), as well as beer and wine by the glass with a $20.00 or lower menu price
  • Sodas, Zero-Proof frozen cocktails, energy drinks, specialty coffee, hot tea, 500ml bottled water and other non-alcoholic bottled beverages
  • Packaged water in the Dining Room and Specialty Restaurants
  • 25% discount off the menu price for any spirit or wine by the glass above $20.00
  • 25% discount off the menu price for wine and champagne by the bottle
  • 25% discount off beverage seminars and classes

CHEERS! EXCLUDES:

  • Beverages promoted and sold in souvenir glasses
  • Bottles of liquor
  • Beverages offered at gangway
  • Beverages offered through room service, mini bars and/or in-stateroom beverage programs
  • Sharing cocktails, floaters, pitchers, tubes and buckets
  • Beverages offered through enomatic wine machines
  • All other beverage-related programs including merchandise, cigars and cigarettes
  • Food items

For more info from Carnival go here: Cheers! Drink package

Check out this article: Carnival Cruise Lines Drink Packages [What’s New in 2023?]

Royal Caribbean Cruises

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Photo from Royal Caribbean’s Facebook page

Classic Soda Package

The Classic Soda package is what was once called by many guests, “the soda card”. It is unlimited soda and quite popular with kids.

For each guests that purchases this package, it includes:

  • Fountain Soda and refills in any venue
  • Coca-Cola Freestyle beverages
  • Coca-Cola Souvenir Cup included

Refreshment Package

This drink package includes all non-alcoholic drinks. It is popular with adults as well as older children and those that like having juices, coffee and teas.

For each guests that purchases this package, it includes

  • Premium coffees and teas
  • Bottled still and sparking water
  • Fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Mocktails
  • Fountain sodas / Coca-Cola Freestyle beverages
  • Coca-Cola Souvenir Cup included

Deluxe Beverage Package

The Deluxe package offers “the best of both worlds,” with access to nearly the entire stock of beverages with or without liquor. Enjoy virtually unlimited combinations on everything from cocktails with top-shelf spirits to premium teas and every beverage in between. This package includes drinks up to $14.

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For each guests that purchases this package, it includes

  • Cocktails, spirits, liqueurs
  • Beer
  • Wine (by the glass)
  • Mocktails
  • Premium coffees & teas
  • Fountain sodas / Coca-Cola Freestyle beverages
  • Coca-Cola souvenir cup included
  • Bottled still and sparkling water
  • Fresh squeezed juices
  • 40% discount on wines under $100. Wines above $100 will receive a 20% discount.

Royal uses “dynamic pricing”, which means prices change depending on your specific cruise.

Go here if you want more information: Cruise Drink & Beverage Packages

Check out this article : Royal Caribbean Beverage Packages [2023 Guide]

Norwegian Cruise Line

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Photo from Norwegian Cruise Facebook page

Unlimited Open Bar Package

With the Unlimited Open Bar Package, enjoy a wide selection of beverages both on board and at Great Stirrup Cay. Here’s what you get:

  • • Select, premium cocktails & spirits under $15 USD
  • • A variety of beer and wine by the glass under $15 USD
  • • 20% off all bottles of champagne and wine
  • • Unlimited soft drinks and juices

The Unlimited Open Bar Package is included with your reservation if you book through Free at Sea.

Premium Plus Beverage Package

With the Premium Plus Beverage Package, you have Norwegian’s widest beverage selection both on board and at Great Stirrup Cay. Here’s what you get:

  • • All top-shelf cocktails & spirits
  • • All beer, red wine, white wine and our exclusive brand of rosé Champagne by the glass
  • • Select premium bottles of wine with dinner including their exclusive brand of rosé Champagne and 40% off all other bottles
  • • Unlimited soft drinks and juices
  • • Unlimited still & sparkling bottled water
  • • All Starbucks® coffee & specialty drinks
  • • Energy Drinks

The Premium Plus Beverage Package is available as an upgrade from the Unlimited Open Bar Package included with Free at Sea.

Go here for more information: Norwegian Beverage Packages

Celebrity Cruises

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Photo from Celebrity Cruises Facebook page

Classic Package

With the Classic Package, choose from an incredible array of beers, spirits, cocktails, liqueurs, frozen drinks, and wines by the glass up to $10 per serving. You’ll also get 15% off all wines by the bottle.

Premium Package

The Premium Package includes specialty coffees and teas, craft and artisanal beers, spirits, cocktails, frozen drinks, Coca Cola products, premium bottled water, and wines by the glass up to $17 per serving. You’ll also receive a 20% discount off all bottles of wine.

Go here for more information on these packages: All-Inclusive Cruise Drink Packages

Princess Cruises

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Photo from Princess Cruises Facebook page

Plus Beverage Package

Beverages up to $15 USD each

Plus Beverage Package Includes:

  • Cocktails, wine by the glass, beer, specialty coffees fountain sodas, bottled water, fresh juices and healthy smoothies (juice bar), new juice bar, mocktails and crafted cocktails by Mixologist Rob Floyd
  • 50 spirits, 25 wines by the glass, 25 beers, all specialty coffees & non- alcoholic drinks
  • 25% discount on wine bottles (including rare vintages)
  • 25% discount on large bottles of water and cans of soda

Premier Beverage Package

Top-shelf premium beverages up to $20 USD each

The Premier Beverage Package includes everything the Plus Beverage Package has and:

  • Top shelf spirits, reserve wines by the glass and new high-end crafted cocktails by Mixologist Rob Floyd
  • Selection of 75+ spirits, 40+ wines by the glass, 20+ high-end, crafted cocktails
  • Premier wines by the glass including Duckhorn, Stag’s Leap, Grgich Hills and Cattier Champagne
  • Private Woodford Reserve Bourbon Selection created exclusively for Princess
  • Personalized Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Single Barrel Select
  • 25% discount on wine bottles (including rare vintages)
  • 25% discount on large bottles of water and cans of soda
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Find more information about beverage packages here: Princess Cruise Drink Packages

Check out this article: Princess Drink Packages Compared: Plus vs. Premier in 2023

MSC Cruises

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Photo from MSC Facebook page

If you book any of the beverage packages before sailing, MSC does not charge the 15% gratuity. If booked onboard, expect the gratuity to be added to the cost of the package.

Easy Package

This package offers selected drinks. The options are a bit limited, but includes some beers, well cocktails, house wines, soda, juices, coffee and bottled water.

Easy Package Plus

A bit more expanded, the Easy Plus offers drinks up to $10 a glass. There is a wider selection of cocktails, wines, beers as well as sodas, juices, and energy drinks.

Premium Extra Package

This package is the most expensive, and includes drinks up to $16 each. This package is very similar to other cruise lines where you have the widest variety of options across the ship. It includes beer, cocktails, wine, specific brands of liquor, energy drinks, juices, coffee and water.

Two other packages offered by MSC are the Alcohol-Free and the Minors Package. The Alcohol-Free is $30 per day per person if booked before sailing. The Minors is $21 per day per person if booked before sailing.

For more information, go here: Frequently Asked Questions about Drink Packages | MSC Cruises

Across The Board

Regardless of the cruise line, there are going to be similar stipulations for each line. The most common requirements are:

  • You can expect that all of the cruise lines are going to require that a person be at least 21 years of age to purchase a package.
  • Package prices are always per person, per day.
  • Some, but not all, cruise lines have a limit on the number of alcoholic drinks per day. There may also be stipulations on the amount of time that needs to transpire between drinks.
  • Most also have the rule that if one passenger in a stateroom purchases a drink package, the other members of the room will also have a drink package added to their cruise tab.
  • Beverage packages must be purchased for the duration of the cruise.
  • Keep in mind that most cruise lines also add gratuities or service charges to the cost of drinks, even if you have a package or order drinks individually.
  • Most packages have limits on what’s available, excluding drinks that are above a certain price limit
  • Drink packages don’t apply to drinks from your in-room mini bar.
  • Always check with the individual cruise line for up-to-date pricing and information.

 

This page contains affiliate links for which we may receive financial compensation when a purchase has been made through one of our affiliate partners.

 

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About Jonathon Hyjek

Jonathon is the tech guy behind CruiseportAdvisor.com. When he's not stuck in front of his computer, Jonathon enjoys travel & cruising (even after being on a cruise ship that caught fire - a story for another day!)

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