Cruise passengers who purchase drinks packages say they consume more alcohol to justify the cost.
In a poll conducted by Cruise Passenger, readers who have purchased packages in the past felt inclined to drink more than they usually would on a cruise.
While the poll is small – 60 responded over seven days – it will cause some concern. While the idea of drinks packages is to increase value, the industry will worry if it encourages drinking to excess.
Jean Hamilton posting on Cruise Passenger’s Facebook page: “Drinks packages are very expensive now and you do drink more to make sure you get your money’s worth.”
Another reader, John Muareen Brinkley, who sailed with Princess Cruises, said he had spent a large amount of money on his drinks package. “We would not do it again last one on Princess was $92 a day,” he wrote.
Others like Christine Langdon said: “I could never drink enough alcohol to warrant purchasing a package. I prefer to have a pre-dinner cocktail and a glass of wine or two with dinner. There is often a cocktail or wine of the day, or you can buy a bottle at dinner and the waiter will bring it to the table each night until you finish it.”
Drinks packages can cost cruisers up to $185.60 per person per day for a Premium Plus Beverage Package on lines like Norwegian Cruise Lines. But that price can get heftier, as NCL upped its service charge late last year, from 18 per cent to 20 per cent. This means, for the same drinks package, you’ll be forking out $222.72 per person, per day with the gratuity included.
Celebrity Cruises’ Premium Package with a 20 per cent gratuity added to your bill, amounts to roughly $120.06 per person, per day.
While Princess Cruises, which has an 18 per cent gratuity charge on its drinks package on ships sailing in America, will set you back roughly $102.65 per person, per day.
But it’s not all doom and gloom – some of readers have provided great tips, making sure that you don’t blow the bank on those cocktails by the pool.
Stewart Low, a fan of NCL has taken advantage of its Free at Sea offer, which gives cruisers the option to pick between a beverage package, specialty dining, shore excursion credit, WiFi package, or a reduced sailing rate for friends and family. Depending on your category of cabin, you can get one, or all five of these offers.
“I have been on several NCL cruises where the drinks package is included. And on a 14-day cruise, it would have worked out at around $2,300 per person,” he said.
“I was drinking Double Chivas on the rocks. The cost of these was US$36, and when converted to Australian dollars, it equalled out to be about $52 per drink. After about six of these each day, yes, I drank a lot more, but I enjoyed it.”
Others said they swear by the drinks package, and it ends up saving them more dosh than purchasing by the glass.
“I have been on cruises with and without drinks packages,” said Sandy Inglis.
“It’s always cost me more when the package option isn’t available especially when you add in bottled water (to take on your day trips), soft drinks & proper coffee (I don’t drink the complimentary crap they provide). I’ll take the package every time thanks.”
And our favourite tip from Doris Schmid: “We just bought two bottles of wine every time we went ashore as on Princess you are allowed to bring a bottle each on board. We enjoyed this in our cabin and balcony.”