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Beverage Packages – Are they worth it?

Beverage packages offer guests the opportunity to purchase unlimited drinks for the duration of their cruise for an upfront fixed price. we look into if they offer good value and what you should consider before purchasing.
Are drinks not already included?

Yes, most of the popular cruise lines include some beverages for free. In fact those that don’t wish to drink alcohol or fizzy soft drinks can find they have everything they need within the free options available. These may include:

  • Tea and filter coffee
  • Non-bottled water
  • Flavoured water (Royal Caribbean & Norwegian offer flavoured water fountains on the majority of their ships)
  • Orange juice (concentrate), ice tea, lemonade
What drinks do a beverage package include?

This depends on the type of package you have purchased and the cruise line. Many offer a number of options both alcoholic & non-alcoholic. The three main types are:

  • Soft Drink / Soda Package (Unlimited Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta etc. May include speciality coffees and non-alcoholic cocktails)
  • Classic / Beer & Wine Package (Offering a selection of beers and wines up to a specified value per glass. These include popular beer brands and a selection of house wines. Some cruise lines may include a limited selection of spirits and cocktails)
  • Premium / Ultimate Package (The most expensive option includes premium spirits, a good selection of wine and sparkling wine by the glass, craft beers, premium frozen cocktails, speciality coffees and freshly squeezed orange juice)

These packages vary by cruise line. To help you decide which is most suitable and to compare the prices we have included links at the bottom of the article.

How much do they cost?

Prices vary by cruise line but they are often cheaper to purchase before you sail. Royal Caribbean’s “Ultimate Beverage Package” is $65 (£46) per day per guest if you purchase on the ship. Pre-cruise we have found the same package sold for as low as $49 (£35) per guest through the online cruise planner. The prices vary online daily, so it may be worth holding on to see if the price drops.

If you are a member of a cruise line loyalty scheme and in one of the higher tiers it may be cheaper to purchase aboard when loyalty discounts are taken into consideration.

Do I have to purchase a package on the first day?

No, you can purchase it at any time. Prices are charged per day so you only pay for the remaining duration of your vacation.

Are they good value for money?

That entirely depends on how many drinks you are likely to consume per day. Let’s use Royal Caribbeans “Ultimate Package ” as an example, at $65 per day, per guest for two people. That is $130 of drink you would have to consume every day. Keep in mind that beverage packages include the standard 18% gratuity that would otherwise be added to the bill without a package. A $12 glass of wine, including gratuity would cost around $14. We need to spend at least $130 or more ideally to get our monies worth – or measured in wine, that’s around 5 large glasses of wine each per day.

This is a bit of an extreme example (unless you really…really like wine) – remember your package can be used on soft drinks, speciality coffee, spirits, cocktails etc. That said, $130 per couple per day would seem a lot of beverages to many guests. Also keep in mind if you can get the beverage package for a discounted price pre-sailing then these numbers can suddenly look a lot more appealing.

Our advice:
  • Think about what you would usually drink on vacation, be that non-alcoholic or alcohol
  • Find the beverage package that best suits your needs with your cruise provider
  • Do some research on the drink prices on your ship (A quick search on Google for “[Insert ship name] drinks menu” usually does the trick)
  • Do a quick calculation of the daily cost of the package per guest
  • Compare the beverage package price with the menu prices (not forgetting to add on any gratuity)
  • You will now have a rough idea of how many drinks you would need to consume for it to offer good value
Is it worth waiting for the cruise line to include a free beverage package as part of a promotion?

Yes, although we have found that those “free” beverage packages are usually part of an inflated overall cruise price when compared to the cost pre-promotion. That said, catching the deal early or doing some shopping around tour operators can find some good bargains.

Useful links:

Royal Caribbean: Beverage Package Prices

Celebrity Cruises: Beverage Package Prices

Norwegian Cruise Line: NCL Beverage Price List 2017

We found this great document listing all the beverage package prices for most major cruise lines.

Hey! I'm Matt, owner and curator of CruiseOholics, a blog dedicated to Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines across the industry.