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Cruise drink packages: A line-by-line guide


It’s easy to run up a monster bill ordering wine, beer and mixed drinks by the glass on a cruise ship. The cost of alcoholic drinks on cruise vessels — particularly cocktails — can be pricey. But for those who regularly order several alcoholic drinks a day when cruising, there’s a way to save: a flat-fee drink package.

Nearly all the major mass-market cruise lines offer flat-fee drink packages that, in some cases, can save you money when cruising. The exceptions are Disney Cruise Line and Virgin Voyages, though both offer alternative ways to save on beverage purchases.

What’s included in a cruise ship drink package, and how do they work? And, perhaps more to the point, how much do cruise drink packages cost? Read on for the answers in this ultimate guide to cruise drink packages.

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For a line-by-line guide to drink package costs, inclusions, limitations and fine print, scroll to the second half of the guide.

What is a drink package on a cruise ship?

Cruise ship drink packages let you order as many drinks as you want while on a cruise for one flat fee. This takes the place of paying for drinks one at a time.

At some lines, there are several tiers of drink packages. Basic tiers often include just sodas and bottled water. More elaborate (and expensive) tiers will add alcoholic and nonalcoholic cocktails, wine, beer and specialty coffee drinks. In some cases, there will be more than one tier of such all-encompassing plans.

Some lines also offer coffee cards that let you get a fixed number of fancy coffee drinks at a shipboard coffee bar for a discounted price. Some also offer wine-specific packages.

How much do alcoholic drink packages cost on cruise ships?

The cost of cruise ship drink packages varies widely by line. At several of the biggest cruise brands, including Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America, the main drink packages that include all types of drinks cost about $60 per person per day. Other brands, such as Norwegian Cruise Line, charge as much as $138 per person per day for a top-tier package.

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Drink packages that don’t include alcoholic drinks, such as soda packages, typically cost far less. Soda packages often are under $10 per person per day. Note that some cruise lines discount drink packages if you buy them online in advance of sailing, and others offer periodic sales on their drink packages online.

Related: How to get free or cheap drinks on a cruise

Can you buy drinks on a cruise without a drink package?

Blue Iguana Tequila bar. CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE

Yes. All major cruise lines will let you buy drinks on an a la carte basis when cruising. You don’t need a drink package to be able to drink alcoholic beverages or any other type of beverage on a ship.

Can you share a drink package on a cruise ship?

In many cases, no. Several of the biggest cruise lines, including Carnival, Holland America and MSC Cruises, have a rule that if one adult in a cabin orders a drink package, all adults in the cabin must order the package. This is to prevent two or more people in a cabin from sharing a single drink package.

Two lines that notably don’t have such a rule are Princess Cruises and Windstar Cruises. Technically, you are not supposed to use your package to buy drinks for other people.

Are drink packages on cruise ships really unlimited?

It depends. Some cruise lines, such as Carnival, limit the number of alcoholic drinks that any one person can order using a drink package to 15 in a day. That is, of course, an enormous number — more than most people will ever want to order.

Related: The 8 best drinks to order with a cruise ship beverage package

Where can you use a cruise ship drink package?

Cruise ship drink packages generally are honored anywhere you can order a drink on a ship — think bars, lounges and eateries. However, you usually can’t use them when ordering room service. They also generally don’t apply to drinks taken out of cabin minibars. Be sure to check the fine print in your particular line’s drink package before placing an order for a drink to your room.

Some cruise lines also let you use your packages when visiting their private islands.

A line-by-line guide to cruise drink packages

Sunset Bar on Celebrity Beyond. CELEBRITY CRUISES

Below is a line-by-line look at available drink packages at the major lines that offer them. Note that the pricing listed is per person per day. In cases where a line offers more than one drink package, we’ve highlighted the most inclusive package in detail while also noting other packages cruisers can consider.

Carnival Cruise Line drink package

Package name: Cheers! Beverage Program

Cost per day: $64.95 when purchased on board, not including an 18% automatic gratuity charge; $59.95 plus the gratuity charge when purchased in advance of sailing

Available on: All ships except those sailing in Europe or Australia

What it includes: Beer, wine by the glass, mixed drinks, specialty cocktails, soda, juices, nonalcoholic cocktails, energy drinks, specialty coffees, teas and most bottled water. The package also features a 25% discount on wine bottle purchases.

Limitations related to drink cost: Cannot be used for drinks priced over $20

Fine print: More expensive drinks are available at a 25% discount. If one adult in a cabin purchases the package, all adults in the same cabin also must purchase it. There’s a limit of 15 alcoholic drinks per person in a 24-hour period.

Celebrity Cruises drink package

Package name: Premium Drink Package

Cost per day: $109, not including a 20% automatic gratuity charge, for passengers who have purchased a cruise-only rate. Passengers staying in the premium Retreat areas on Celebrity ships receive the Premium Drink Package for free.

Available on: All ships except those in the Galapagos (where drinks are included in the fare)

What it includes: A large selection of beers including craft beers, wine by the glass, mixed drinks, specialty cocktails, Coca-Cola products, juices, nonalcoholic cocktails, energy drinks, specialty coffees, teas and premium bottled water. The package also offers a 20% discount on wine bottle purchases.

Limitations related to drink cost: Cannot be used for drinks priced over $17

Other packages: Celebrity also offers a less inclusive “classic” drink package that is included in the fare for its sailings if you choose the All Included fare (rather than the cruise-only fare). When purchased separately, it costs $89 per person per day, not including a 20% automatic gratuity charge.

Fine print: Packages do not include drinks from in-room minibars. Drinks ordered through room service also aren’t included.

Related: These cruise ship bars are not to be missed when cruising

Holland America drink package

Package name: Elite Beverage Package

Cost per day: $59.99, not including an 18% gratuity charge

Available on: All ships

What it includes: Beer, wine by the glass, mixed drinks, specialty cocktails, soda, juices, nonalcoholic cocktails, energy drinks, specialty coffees, teas and bottled water

Limitations related to drink cost: Cannot be used for drinks priced over $15

Other packages: The slightly less expensive Signature Beverage Package only includes drinks costing up to $11. It costs $54.95 per day. In addition, the line offers a nonalcoholic drink package called Quench that brings unlimited bottled water, juices, specialty coffees, Coke products and mocktails. It costs $17.95 per day. There’s also a Coca-Cola Products package available that covers purchases of Coke products on ships for $8 per day.

Fine print: If one adult in a cabin purchases a package, all adults in the same cabin also must purchase it. Packages do not include drinks from in-room minibars or ordered through room service. The package is not valid on Holland America’s private island, Half Moon Cay, or for minibar charges.

Related: How to book a cruise with points and miles

MSC Cruises drink package

Package name: Premium Extra Package

Cost per day: $85 for sailings of seven nights or more if booked in advance; $100 if booked on board. Pricing is $88 and $104, respectively, for sailings of six or fewer nights.

Available on: All ships

What it includes: Drinks by the glass including draft, craft and bottled beer; a selection of wine and Champagne by the glass; premium-brand spirits, liqueurs and cordials; a variety of frozen and classic cocktails; soda; juices; nonalcoholic cocktails; energy drinks; hot chocolate drinks; specialty coffees; teas; and bottled water. The package also offers a 25% discount on wine and Champagne bottle purchases.

Limitations related to drink cost: Cannot be used for drinks priced over $16

Other packages: A less expensive Easy Plus package is available that only includes drinks priced up to $10. It costs $61 per day for sailings of seven nights or longer when booked in advance ($72 when booked on board). Easy Plus package pricing for shorter sailings is $64 per day ($76 when booked on board).

An even cheaper Easy package is available. It only includes a limited number of drinks and is not valid in extra-charge specialty restaurants. It costs $46 to $60 per day, depending on when it’s booked and the length of the sailing.

MSC Cruises does not add service charges to drink package purchases, in contrast to the policy at most lines.

Fine print: If one person in a cabin purchases a package, all people in the same cabin or traveling group also must purchase a package (children in cabins will be charged for a less expensive, nonalcoholic package). Packages are not available on sailings shorter than three nights, with the exception of South America sailings. Note that the package is valid on Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, MSC Cruises’ private island in the Bahamas.

Related: Can I bring my own alcohol onto a cruise ship?

Norwegian Cruise Line drink package

A couple at the Sugarcane Mojito Bar on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship. NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE

Package name: Premium Plus Beverage Package

Cost per day: $138, not including a 20% gratuity charge

Available on: All ships except Pride of America

What it includes: All beverages by the glass (top-shelf spirits, cocktails, beer and wine) and select premium bottles of Champagne and wine. Also includes unlimited Starbucks coffee and specialty drinks, bottled water, soda, juices and energy drinks. There’s a 40% discount on other bottles of wine as well.

Limitations related to drink cost: None

Other packages: Norwegian has one less inclusive, less expensive alcoholic beverage package. The Unlimited Open Bar Beverage Package, priced at $109 per day, adds spirits and cocktails priced up to $15. This is the drink package that many travelers get comped as part of Norwegian’s Free at Sea promotion (though you still have to pay 20% of the package price for gratuities). In addition, the Hawaii-based Pride of America has a single drink package that costs $109 per day.

Fine print: If one passenger in a cabin purchases a package, everyone in the same cabin as well as other cabins tied to the same method of payment must purchase the package, too. Children are charged for a less expensive, nonalcoholic package. Packages do not include drinks from in-room minibars or ordered through room service. Beverage packages can be used on Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas, Great Stirrup Cay.

Related: My strange night out at Norwegian’s new ‘zero waste’ cruise ship bar

Oceania Cruises drink package

Package name: Prestige Select Beverage Package

Cost per day: $30, including gratuities

Available on: All ships

What it includes: Under Oceania’s relatively new “simply MORE” value promise, all passengers receive a House Select beverage package for free with their booking that lets passengers order Champagne, wine and beer with lunch and dinner at onboard restaurants. For $30 more, passengers can then upgrade to the Prestige Select package that allows for ordering beer, wine by the glass, mixed drinks and cocktails at any time. Soda, bottled water and specialty coffees already are included in the fare on Oceania sailings. The Prestige Select package also comes with a 20% discount to wine-pairing dinners on Oceania’s Marina and Riviera.

Limitations related to drink cost: None

Other packages: As noted above, a House Select package — which covers Champagne, wine and beer with lunch and dinner at onboard restaurants — is included in the fare when booking an Oceania cruise as part of the line’s relatively new “simply MORE” program.

Fine print: None

Princess Cruises drink package

A couple drinks wine at a bar on a Princess Cruises ship. PRINCESS CRUISES

Package name: Premier Beverage Package

Cost per day: $84.99, not including an 18% gratuity charge (Princess calls these “crew appreciation” charges). On Australia cruises, the package costs 140 Australian dollars (about $89) per day. There is no gratuity charge on the Australian package.

Available on: All ships

What it includes: Beer, wine by the glass, mixed drinks, specialty cocktails, soda including canned soda, juices including juice bar offerings, nonalcoholic cocktails, energy drinks, smoothies, milkshakes, specialty coffees, teas and bottled water. The package also brings a 25% discount on wine bottle purchases.

Limitations related to drink cost: Drinks that cost $20 or under are included. Passengers who order drinks that cost more than $20 must pay the difference between the purchase price and $20. For packages on Australia sailings, the cost cutoff is 30 Australian dollars.

Other packages: Princess also offers a less pricey Plus Beverage package that can be used for drinks priced up to $15 (20 Australian dollars on Australian sailings). It’s priced at $64.99 (110 Australian dollars on Australian sailings).

Fine print: There’s a limit of 15 alcoholic drinks per day.

Royal Caribbean drink package

Package name: Deluxe Beverage Package

Cost per day: $56 to $105, not including an 18% gratuity charge (pricing varies by ship and itinerary)

Available on: All Royal Caribbean ships

What it includes: Beer, wine by the glass, spirits, mixed drinks, cocktails, soda, juices, nonalcoholic cocktails, energy drinks, specialty coffees, teas and premium bottled water. The package also offers a 40% discount on wine bottle purchases for bottles priced up to $100. More expensive bottles come with a 20% discount.

Limitations related to drink cost: Cannot be used for drinks priced over $14

Fine print: If one adult of legal drinking age in a cabin or traveling under the same booking number purchases a package, all adults of legal drinking age in the same cabin also must purchase it. Packages do not include drinks from in-room minibars or those ordered through room service. Drinks served in souvenir glassware, specialty beers and beverages served inside licensed Starbucks stores on ships are not covered by the package. Beverage packages can be used on Royal Caribbean’s private islands, Perfect Day at Coco Cay and Labadee.

Viking drink package

Package name: Silver Spirits Beverage Package

Cost per day: $25, including gratuities

Available on: All ships, including river and expedition ships

What it includes: Beer, wine by the glass, mixed drinks and cocktails priced at up to $18. Soda, beer and house wines by the glass ordered at lunch and dinner are already included in the fare at Viking; so are specialty coffees and teas at all hours. The package also brings a 15% discount on wine bottles and premium beverages costing more than $15 that aren’t included in the package.

Limitations related to drink cost: Cannot be used for drinks priced over $18

Fine print: None

Windstar Cruises drink package

Package name: Captain’s Exclusive Beverage Package

Cost per day: $65, not including an 18% gratuity charge. Windstar also has begun offering optional All-Inclusive Pricing rates for cruises that include unlimited drinks at no extra charge.

Available on: All ships

What it includes: Beer, wine by the glass, spirits and cocktails. Soda, specialty coffees and other nonalcoholic beverages are already included in the fare on Windstar sailings. The package also brings a 30% discount on wine bottle purchases for bottles costing up to $100.

Limitations related to drink cost: None

Other packages: The less costly Topmast Discoveries Beer and Wine Package, at $55 per day, includes a choice of beers and premium wines but not spirits and cocktails. Windstar also offers an All-Inclusive Fares add-on package that gives passengers included drinks, Wi-Fi and gratuities for an upcharge of $89 per day.

Fine print: None

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