One of the best parts of taking a cruise is the convenience: everything you need for a great vacation is contained right there on your vessel. That includes a plethora of bars where you can kick back and enjoy your favorite adult beverages. But why break out your credit card for every cocktail when you can purchase a flat-rate beverage package that covers all your imbibing? Before you commit, though, there’s a few things to keep in mind about going this route. Let’s review the basic facts about buying a cruise drink package on the major cruise lines.
What does it cost?
The cost for a cruise drink package varies not only by the cruise line, but by the package you choose as well. Typically, you’ll have to buy a package that covers every day you sail. Just as an example, the rate for alcoholic drink packages per day can be anywhere in the $50-$130 range, depending on the type of package you purchase. Non-alcoholic drink packages are significantly less.
What’s the advantage of buying a drink package versus buying drinks individually?
By prepaying for your beverages up front, you’ll pay a flat rate. That means you’ll know ahead of time exactly what you’ll be paying for drinks on your cruise and won’t have to deal with a huge bar tab at the end of your trip (which can be a major buzzkill). When your drinks are covered, you have the freedom to enjoy as many as you want—with some limitations, depending on your package—and be more adventurous when it comes to trying new things.
What kind of drinks are included in my drink package?
Most cruise lines offer at least three basic choices: 1) a non-alcoholic beverage package that includes drinks such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, and juice 2) A basic alcoholic package that includes drinks such as wine, beer, and cocktails up to a certain price point and 3) a premium alcoholic beverage package that includes top-shelf liquors in addition to wine and beer.
Keep in mind that purchasing one of the alcoholic beverage packages doesn’t guarantee you’ll be covered for any drink you encounter. In general, these packages cover drinks up to a certain dollar amount, and you may have to pay the difference if your chosen drink goes over the maximum. And be aware that some cruise lines (Carnival and Princess, for example) have limits on the number of drinks you can enjoy in a day.
Can I purchase a cruise drink package that only covers a few days of my sailing?
No—you will be required to buy a package that covers each day of your cruise. That means you can’t opt to skip alcohol on one or two days to cut costs. If your cruise is a 5-day sailing, you’ll be charged for all five days, and that includes any days in port.
Do my cabin mates need to buy their own cruise drink package?
Your beverage package only covers you personally, which means you can’t go to the bar to pick up a drink for someone else in your party. Also, it’s pretty common for cruise lines to require any adults staying in the same cabin or even in multiple cabins (under the same payment method) to purchase a beverage package of their own. There are exceptions, though. Princess and Celebrity don’t require all adults in a cabin to purchase the same drink package.
Can I use my drink package to buy beverages in port?
For the most part, your drink package won’t be available in port, simply because the cruise line isn’t affiliated with any of the restaurants and bars you’ll stumble across while you’re exploring. However, they can usually be used at the cruise line private islands, though there are exceptions, such as Carnival and Princess’s private islands and Norwegian’s Harvest Cay in Belize.
How do I purchase a cruise drink package?
If you book with Celebrity, Princess, or Norwegian, the drink package may be included in your fare! However, if you’re sailing with a cruise line that doesn’t include it, there are a few ways to go about securing your package.
Your travel agent can book the cruise drink package for you, or you may be able to purchase it through the cruise line’s portal once you register. If you decide against the package but then set sail and change your mind, you can usually tack one on, but don’t delay, since you’d normally have to do this by the second day of your trip at the latest. If you’re leaning toward buying a beverage package, it’s almost always better to purchase it before you set sail, as you may get access to discounted pricing.
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