An updated version of this article for the 2018/19 season can be found here.
Drinks package deals on cruises aren’t for everyone. But they certainly are a talking point.
If you enjoy the occasional poolside cocktail or digestif, up to $80 per day is just not economical. If, on the other hand, you and your fellow sailors like to drink all day, it may be a bargain.
Last week, we reported Royal Caribbean was trialling in the US a new drinks policy because some cruise passengers were sharing their drinks cards.
Your comments showed what a subject of debate drinks packages are.
Which set us thinking: which cruise lines offer the best value when you want to raise a glass on your cruise?
Celebrity offers great value, and so does Princess Cruises.
Sarah Loughlin stayed stone cold sober to investigate.
P&O drinks package
The Soft Drinks Package covering soda is $7.50 per day ($7 pre-purchase).
The Refreshment Drinks Package for $25 per day ($19 pre-purchase) includes soda, tea, coffee, juice, mocktails and bottled water.
The Premium Beverage Package for $89 per day on cruises over 7 days ($79 pre-purchase) covers drinks up to $12 including soda, juice, mocktails, bottled water, beer, and cider, wine, spirits and cocktails.
The Lot! Package for $105 per day on cruises over 7 days ($95 pre-purchase) includes everything in the premium package plus tea, coffee, and energy drinks.
NCL’s Soft Drink Package includes a souvenir cup and is $9.50 per day ($6.30 for under 12s).
The Corks and Caps Package for $75 per day covers soft drinks, wine, and beer.
The Unlimited Beverage Package is $100 per day on sailings over 2 days and includes soft drinks, beer, spirits, cocktails, and wine up to $19.
To avoid package sharing if one person buys a package, all passengers over 21 on the booking have to buy it as well. Children have to have the soft drinks package.
MSCs all-inclusive ‘Deluxe Drinks Package’ allows guests to enjoy unlimited premium spirits, classic and premium cocktails, unlimited wines by the glass, draught & bottled beer, soft drinks and juices, mineral water, coffee-based drinks, chocolate based specialties, non-alcoholic drinks, energy drinks, minibar, room service food and drinks and a 30% discount off the menu price on bottles of wine & champagne from the wine list for $75 pp per day.
Children’s ‘Deluxe Drinks Package’ means younger guests can enjoy soft drinks and juices, mineral water, hot drinks, smoothies and milkshakes, and take away ice creams for $31 pp per day.
The all-inclusive ‘Restaurant & Bar Package’ includes unlimited spirits, liqueurs, aperitifs and cocktails from a dedicated bar list, selection of wines by the glass, draught beer, soft drinks, fruit juices, mineral water, wide selection of hot beverages and takeaway ice-cream for $39 pp per day.
These drinks packages are available for cruising in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Arabian Peninsula, Cuba and West Indies. In the Caribbean, the All-Inclusive Classic Drinks package includes unlimited drinks from specific bar & wine lists including premium spirits, liqueurs and cocktails, wines by the glass, beer, canned soft drinks, energy drinks and juices, mineral water, coffee-based drinks and hot chocolate for $64 pp per day.
Princess Cruises drinks package
In Australia, the Princess Beverage Package is available for $59 per day on cruises over 7 nights, for drinks up to $14 including cocktails, wine, beer, coffee, soft drinks, shakes, juices, spirits, and bottled water. 40% discount available on bottles of wine under $100.
The Unlimited Soda and More package for $10 per day includes mocktails, fountain drinks, juices, and hot chocolate. Packages do not apply to room service.
Royal Caribbean drinks package
The Classic Soda Package is $11 per day.
The Refreshment Package is $33 per day and includes premium tea, coffee, bottled water, fresh juice, mocktails, soda.
The Deluxe Beverage Package for $70 includes any drink up to $15 with the same inclusions as above, plus cocktails, spirits, liqueurs, beer, and wine. 40% off wine bottles under $127, and 20% off wine bottles over $127.
All packages include souvenir cup. Limitations include ordering one drink at a time to prevent package sharing. Harmony of the Seas is currently the only ship on which if one passenger in the cabin buys a package, all other passengers in the cabin also have to buy it.
The Bottomless Bubbles Package (no, not those bubbles!) is $7.25 per day for soft drinks ($5.50 for kids), mini bar and room service excluded.
Discounted wine packages available with 5 bottles of deluxe wine for $185, and 5 bottles of premium wine for $228.
Carnival does not offer alcohol packages in Australia.
The Standard Package $57 per day includes beer, wine, cocktails, soda, bottled water up to $7.50. 10% discount on bottles of wine.
The Classic Package $70 per day includes soda, juices, speciality coffees and teas, bottled water, beers up to $7.50. Plus, spirits, cocktails, frozen drinks up to $8, and wine up to $11. 15% discount on bottles of wine.
The Premium Package $83 per day includes soda, bottled water, speciality coffees and teas, mocktails and smoothies, Red Bull, Vitamin Water, beers, spirits, cocktails, and wine up to $16. 20% discount on bottles of wine.
Packages do not cover room service or drinks from the mini bar.
Although alcoholic drinks are included in your fare, there is a selection of packages to upgrade your drink choices.
The Premium Package is $15.95 per day and covers premium spirits and beers.
The Ultimate Package is $21.95 per day and includes premium spirits, beers, wines, coffee and water.
The Wine Lovers Package is from $180 for 5 bottles and covers bottles of wine under $50.
The Wine Connoisseur Package is from $315 for 5 bottles and covers bottles of wine up to $75.
Unlike most other beverage packages the Azamara upgrades cover your room service as well.
Have you purchased any of these packages whilst cruising? Do you think they are good value for money? Let us know in the comments below!
Vote in this year’s special Readers’ Choice Awards
No doubt 2020 will go down in cruise history as the year of the pandemic – a once in a generation event. And this year’s Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice Awards will reflect it.