A password will be e-mailed to you.

A case this week of a cruise ship brawl has turned the spotlight on how cruise lines handle the sale of alcohol.

The brawl broke out onboard a P&O Britannia from Bergen, Norway, to Southampton, England.

The case gained worldwide attention for what didn’t happen – it was reported that the fight began because of a “passenger dressed as a clown”. There was no clown suit, it later transpired.

But by then, it had gone viral on social media.

Three men and three women suffered significant cuts and bruising. The London Daily Telegraph wrote an opinion piece suggesting drinks packages were ruining cruise holidays.

Could that be true? Cruise Passenger decided to investigate.

A drinks package sounds like a good idea if you like to spend your holiday ordering drinks without having to keep track of your bar tab, or if you like to pair different wines with entrees and mains during meals.

But whether the package is worth it depends on how much you drink. And drinking to excess to justify your expenditure is not a great way to have a wonderful holiday.

We estimated by line (based on the average price of a glass of wine), the amount you’d have to order in a day to get your money’s worth.

Turns out you’d need to be having between six and 14 glasses per day to make economic (but perhaps not healthy) sense.

Having six glasses of wine throughout the day when you have several sea days might sound plausible. However, there are many itineraries that pull up to a new port each day – making it a challenge to stay at the bar.

In general, drinks packages cannot be shared and some lines like Carnival Australia and Royal Caribbean require all adults in the same cabin to purchase the beverage package. Guests travelling with Princess Cruises do not have this issue, as adults travelling in the same cabin do not need to purchase the same package.

The fine print of drinks packages also varies across lines. Drinks packages on lines like Carnival Australia, Princess Cruises and P&O Cruises have a limit of 15 alcoholic beverages per day. Any additional alcoholic drink order is subject to Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) Policy and charged at regular menu prices.

Most packages also only include drinks up to a certain price and some also exclude drinks from certain venues, room service or mini-bar items.

For example on Royal Caribbean, Starbucks is excluded from all beverage packages. For drinks exceeding the price, some lines have guests pay the difference and others have guests pay the full price of the drink.

Lines like Viking Ocean Cruises and Azamara also include beer and wine at meals in the fare. So you might want to skip the drinks package if this is sufficient and you do not have a particular drink preference.

In terms of setting aside a budget for the drinks package, it is helpful to keep in mind that the package has to be bought for the entire trip. An additional gratuity also has to be added to the advertised price of the package.

Here’s how to work out  if the drinks package on each line is for you:

Carnival Cruise Line

When sailing on Carnival Cruise Line outside of Australia, the line offers the CHEERS! drinks package.

Price (per person per day):

$75.33 (US$51.95) when purchased pre cruise, $82.58 (US$56.95) when purchased on board

Price (with 18% gratuity charge, per person per day):

$88.89 (US$61.30) when purchased pre cruise, $97.44 (US$67.20) when purchased on board

Glasses of wine (per day): 5.6

Includes: All spirits, including cocktails, cognacs, whiskies and other spirits, as well as beer (including self-serve beer stations) and wine and champagne by the glass, up to US$20 per glass.

Excludes: Alcohol by the bottle, room service, mini-bar, shareable drinks like buckets or pitchers.

Other T&Cs: There is a 25% discount off the menu price for drinks over US$20 per serving. You can only purchase one beverage at a time and up to 15 drinks per day. All adults in the same cabin must purchase the beverage package each.

Extra perks: There is a 25% discount off the menu price for wine and champagne by the bottle, beverage classes and seminars.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Corks and Caps Package

Price (per person per day): $94.25 (US$65)

Price (with 20% gratuity charge, per person per day): $113.10 (US$78)

Glasses of wine (per day): 6.8

Includes: A variety of draft beer, bottled beer and glasses of wine up to and including $15 USD and unlimited fountain soft drink and juices at all bars, lounges, restaurants and Great Stirrup Cay.

Excludes: Room service, package sales, ship specific promotions or beer buckets, designated Super Premium brands (subject to change), bottled wine, mini bar purchases, bottled water, fresh squeezed juices, select Lavazza coffee beverages, energy drinks, vending machines, wine stations.

Other T&Cs: Not available for sailings of two days or less. You can purchase two beverages per transaction. Any items over $15 USD will receive a $15 USD discount and the guest will be charged the difference to their account.  Packages must be purchased by all qualifying individuals residing in the stateroom or additional staterooms under the same method of payment for the entire length of the cruise.

Extra perks: A 20% discount will be applied to all bottles of wine purchased on board. A 20% discount will be applied to all bottles of wine purchased on board.

Premium Beverage Package

Price (per person per day): $143.55 (US$99)

Price (with 20% gratuity charge, per person per day): $172.26 (US$118.8)

Glasses of wine (per day): 10.4

Includes: Everything in the Corks and Caps Package as well as liquor and cocktails. See the full list of beverages here.

Excludes: Same exclusions as Corks and Caps Package

Other T&Cs: Same as Corks and Caps Package

Extra perks: Same as Corks and Caps Package

Premium Plus Beverage Package

Price (per person per day): $185.60 (US$128)

Price (with 20% gratuity charge, per person per day): $222.72 (US$153.6)

Glasses of wine (per day): 13.8

Includes: The widest selection of beverages by the glass, such as Veuve Clicquot, Patrón Añejo, The Macallan Quest and more. Also includes unlimited soft drinks, beers, spirits, cocktails, wines by the glass and select bottles of wine with dinner, plus, still and sparkling water, energy drinks, and specialty coffee. See the full list of beverages here.

Excludes: Room service, mini bar purchases, vending machines, or pre-cruise wine bottle purchases.

Other T&Cs: Same as Corks and Caps Package

Extra perks: For non-select bottles of wine (champagne and sparkling included), “Wine and Spirit Experiences”, tastings, and flights, guest will receive a 40% discount when purchased on board.

Oceania Cruises

House Select+

Price (per person per day): $52

Glasses of wine (per day): 5.2

Includes: Unlimited Champagne, wine and beer with lunch and dinner. See here for sample menu.

Extra perks: Receive a 20% discount on any of our exclusive wine-pairing dinners in La Reserve on board Marina and Riviera.

Prestige Select

Price (per person per day): $78

Glasses of wine (per day): 7.8

Includes: Unlimited premium spirits, Champagne, wine and beer wherever and whenever you wish

Extra perks: Same as House Select+ package

Princess Cruises

Premier Beverage Package

Price (per person per day): $86.50 (US$59.99)

Price (with 18% gratuity charge, per person per day): $102.65 (US$70.79)

Australian-based vessel Price (per person per day): $86.99 service charge included

Glasses of wine (per day): 7.5 on foreign vessels, 6.4 on Australian vessels

Includes: The package includes all beer, spirits, wine by the glass and cocktails $12.00 USD and under as listed on our menu(s), or $16.00 AUD and under for voyages departing from and returning to Australia and New Zealand. It also includes all bottled water (500ml only), fountain sodas, fresh juices (if available), specialty coffees and teas, Gong Cha items, Frappés at Coffee & Cones, milk shakes (if available) and Red Bull energy drinks.

Excludes: Package does not apply to bottled spirits or bottled wine or any items offered in retail venues or shops onboard. It also cannot used for Room Service or Mini-Bar items. Excludes and is not combinable with other Programs, Promotions, Onboard Specials, or Events such as Wine Tastings, Chef’s Table, Buckets of Beer, Buy One Get One type Offers.

Extra perks: The package provides a 25% discount on all excluded bottles of wine, one liter bottles of water, canned soda and bottled juices.

Other T&Cs: Alcoholic drinks are limited to 15 beverages per 24-hour period (6 a.m. to 6 a.m.). Alcoholic drinks requested above the daily limits are at the discretion of the shipboard management and crew and charged at regular menu prices. Only one beverage is allowed per order. Items selected that exceed the $12 USD or $16 AUD price are charged at full menu price. Drink packages are individually purchased per person, adults travelling in the same cabin do not need to purchase the same package.

P&O Cruises Australia

Premium Beverage Package

Price (per person per day): $79 pre-purchase, $89 onboard

Glasses of wine (per day): 7.4 pre-purchase, 8.3 onboard

Includes: Glasses of Coca Cola, Diet Coke, Fanta Orange, Sprite, Lift, tonic water, soda water, ginger ale, 600ml bottled water, juice blends, mocktails, beer, wine and cocktails up to and including AU$13. Full charges will apply to drinks exceeding AU$13.

Excludes: Energy drinks, espresso coffee drinks,T2 beverages, in-room bottled water or apply to room service, food, merchandise items, events, special promotions, sponsorships, charitable partnerships or tastings, beverage and merchandise packaged items, New Zealand Natural ice cream products or cover charges.

Other T&Cs: Only one beverage allowed per order. Alcoholic beverages are limited to 15 beverages per 24-hour period (6am to 6am). Alcoholic beverages requested above this limit are subject to P&O’s Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) Policy and charged at regular menu prices.

The Lot! Beverage Package

Price (per person per day): $95 pre-purchase, $105 onboard

Glasses of wine (per day): 8.8 pre-purchase, 9.8 onboard

Includes: Everything in the Premium Beverage Package and espresso coffee drinks, T2 beverages, milk by the glass, energy drinks, wine and cocktails up to and including AU$16. Full charges will apply to drinks exceeding AU$16.

Excludes: The Lot! Beverage Package does not include in-room bottled water or apply to room service, food, merchandise items, events, special promotions, sponsorships, charitable partnerships or tastings, beverage and merchandise packaged items, New Zealand Natural ice cream products or cover charges.

Other T&Cs: Same as the Premium Beverage Package

Royal Caribbean

Deluxe beverage package

Prices for onboard purchase

Price (per person per day): $91.35 – $101.50 (US$63 – US$70)

Price (with 18% gratuity charge, per person per day): $107.79 – $119.77 (US$74.34 – US$82.6)

Glasses of wine (per day): 10.8 to 12

Includes: Cocktails, spirits, liquor, beers, wine by the glass, can and fountain soda, fresh and bottled juices, premium coffee and teas, bottled and sparkling water.

Excludes: Package does not include room service, mini bar items and souvenir glassware, specialty beers as listed on bar menus, or super premium category beverages above $12.

Other T&Cs: All guests of legal drinking age in the same stateroom and under the same stateroom booking number are required to purchase the same alcoholic beverage package. All Beverage Packages exclude any beverages served inside licensed Starbucks® stores.

Extra perks: Receive a 40% discount on bottled wines priced up to $100, and 20% discount on wines prices above $100.

Celebrity Cruises

Classic Package

Price (per person per day): $85.55 (US$59)

Price (with 20% gratuity charge, per person per day): $102.66 (US$70.8)

Glasses of wine (per day): 6.6

Includes: Beers, spirits, cocktails, liqueurs, frozen drinks and wines by the glass up to $9 per serving.

Excludes: Packages may not be shared, and do not include beverages sold in gift shops, mini-bar, or room service.

Other T&Cs: Drink packages do not need to be purchased by everyone in the cabin

Extra perks: This package also included a 15% discount on all wines by the bottle.

Premium Package

Price (per person per day): $100.05 (US$69)

Price (with 20% gratuity charge, per person per day): $120.06 (US$82.8)

Glasses of wine (per day): 7.7

Includes: All classic package items, plus specialty coffees & teas, craft & artisan beers, spirits, cocktails, frozen drinks, Coca Cola products, premium bottled water and wines by the glass up to $15 per serving.

Excludes: Packages may not be shared, and do not include beverages sold in gift shops, mini-bar, or room service.

Other T&Cs: Drink packages do not need to be purchased by everyone in the cabin

Extra perks: Take a 20% discount off all bottles of wine

SUBSCRIBE

Cruise Passenger magazine

Subscribe to Cruise Passenger magazine and win a luggage set worth $1,378

Save up to $31.40 when you subscribe to Cruise Passenger magazine and go into the draw to win a Samsonite Cosmolite 3 luggage set worth $1,378.

LEARN MORE