Have you gotten to the end of your cruise and dreaded getting that final bar bill? Well, you can avoid sticker shock on your next sailing by considering a beverage package. Many mainstream cruise lines now offer alcoholic beverage packages that allow travelers to pay one flat fee for access to most drinks on board.
To help you sift through some of the confusion around the various programs and options, we've put together this updated Complete guide to cruise ship drink packages available to cruisers age 21 and up. Note that drinks are included on all-inclusive luxury cruise lines.
Cruise ship drink package basics
While each cruise line’s alcoholic beverage package is slightly different, they almost all have certain inclusions and restrictions that you should know before buying one of the packages.
- Most drink packages are priced per person, with a flat fee per day.
- You need to purchase the drink package for the entire cruise, not just select days.
- An additional service charge (of either 15% or 18%) is added to the total purchase price of a drink package at checkout.
- Once the cruise has begun, beverage packages are non-refundable and non-transferable.
- Many cruise lines require all individuals in a stateroom to purchase a beverage package.
- Beverage packages are usually not offered on chartered sailings or on cruises of two nights or fewer.
- Most packages cover beverages purchased in onboard restaurants (including specialty restaurants), lounges, bars, at poolside and at outside venues, and they usually work on the cruise lines’ private islands.
- Cruise drink packages often cover drinks up to a certain dollar amount, with cruisers needing to pay the difference for any drinks that are above this maximum allotment. Sorry, no $1,200 bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild!
- Indeed, most drink packages do not cover bottles of wine or bottles of liquor, nor are mini-bar items, souvenir cup/specialty promotions or room service purchases usually covered.
- Cruisers are entitled to one drink at a time, whether it is alcoholic or non-alcoholic, and the drink package does not cover onboard specials like “buckets of beer” (thank goodness).
- Drink packages are for your own personal consumption, meaning no sharing of drinks with other cruisers who don't have a package.
- Most cruise line packages are “unlimited” for the duration of the cruise. Do the math and decide if you'll save money by springing for a drink package.
- Make sure you consume responsibly as cruise lines reserve the right to deny service to individuals who are intoxicated.
Here's our rundown of cruise line beverage package options:
Royal Caribbean International
- The Deluxe Beverage Package – Starting at $63-$89 a day dependng on the sailing —plus 18% service charge — the Deluxe Beverage package covers all beers, wines by the glass, cocktails priced up to $12 ($13 on Oasis-class ships), plus premium coffee drinks.The package also includes 500-milliliter bottled still water, specialty coffees at onboard coffee shops (Starbucks on Oasis-class ships is not included), as well as soda and juices. Some cruise lines require all individuals in a stateroom to purchase the plan, but Royal Caribbean does not. And if you are booked on a Royal Caribbean cruise, you can often score a 20% (or greater) discount on the package by purchasing early in your Cruise Planner. Plus, receive a 40% discount on bottled wines priced up to $100, and 20% discount on wine prices above $100.
Carnival Cruise Line
- The Cheers Program – One of the best mainstream cruise line packages, the $51.95 per day (plus 15% service charge) Cheers program on Carnival cruise ships covers quite a lot. All cocktails, beers and wines by the glass up to $20 are covered on the package. The line reasonably limits the number of alcoholic beverages consumed by an individual to 15 drinks during a 24-hour period. A variety of additional non-alcoholic beverages are unlimited, including soft drinks, zero-proof cocktails, energy drinks, 500ml bottled water, premium bottled water at dinner and specialty coffees and teas. Plus, if you book before the cruise begins, you get a 10% discount. You also get a 25% discount off the menu price for any spirit or wine by the glass above $20. All individuals over 21 in a cabin must purchase the plan for the entire duration of the cruise.
Norwegian Cruise Line
- Premium Beverage Package – Starting at the hefty price of $99 per day (plus 20% service charge), Norwegian’s Premium Beverage Package includes any wines, beers or cocktails priced at $15 or less per glass. The package also covers soda and juices at all bars but no other non-alcoholic beverages. While the package works on the cruise line’s private island of Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas, it does not include drinks at the line’s newest destination Harvest Caye in Belize. Beverage packages must be purchased for all guests staying within the same stateroom, additional stateroom or adjoining stateroom. Individuals under the age of 21 will be required to purchase the Soda Program.
- The Corks and Caps Package – With a daily charge of $65 (plus 20% gratuity), the Corks and Caps Package covers beers and wines by the glass up to $15, along with soft drinks and juices at the bars and lounges on the ship. The program has similar restrictions as the Premium Beverage Package; the main difference is that this package does not include any liquor-based cocktails. As with the above, all guests in the party must purchase the package, and those under 21 must buy the Soda Program.
- Premier Beverage Package – With a per day price of $59.99 (including service charge), the Premier Beverage Package on Princess Cruises covers all beverages, including soda, water, specialty coffees, as well as beers, wines and cocktails up to $12 a glass. Depending on the region/ship, Princess Cruises may not offer the package for certain sailings, and the prices and coverage are different for Australian cruises. Still, the package covers the vast majority of drinks offered at onboard bars and restaurants. Plus, the cruise line does not require all individuals in a cabin to purchase the package.
Holland America Line
- Signature Beverage Package – Holland America offers a Signature Beverage Package. For a daily charge of $54.95 (plus 15% gratuity), the package covers beers, wines and cocktails priced up to $11. You may be pleasantly surprised at the number of drinks that are included in the package. The package also includes bottled water, soda and other mocktails. Holland America caps the total number of drinks to 15 a day, and this total includes both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Also, any drink not covered in the plan needs to be paid 100% out of pocket. If you step up to the Elite Package at $59.95 per day, you're able to order single drinks up to $15, compared to the Signature Package's $11 cap.
Celebrity Cruise Line
- Premium Package – At a per day cost of $69 (plus 20% gratuity), the Premium Package on Celebrity Cruises includes all beer, wine and cocktails priced at $15 a glass or less. A wide range of premium options are covered in the package, including craft cocktails and specialty beers and wines. Along with premium coffee and soft drinks, this package also includes bottled and freshly squeezed juices, purified bottled water as well as Vitamin Water and Red Bull. All cruisers in a cabin are not required to purchase a beverage package.
- Classic Package – At a cost of $59 a day (plus 20% gratuity), this package includes a more limited selection than the Premium Package: beers, cocktails and wines up to $9 a glass. Many liquor brands will be included, but signature cocktails will be additional. Premium coffees and “non-premium” bottled water, along with juices and soft drinks, are also part of this package. For a complete comparison of brands covered on the Classic and Premium package, head to Celebrity Cruises’ website.
- Drinks & More Package – A relatively new offering, the $85 a day (plus 20% gratuity) Drinks & More Package includes all the benefits of the Classic and Premium Beverage Packages as well as two bottles of wine from a pre-selected wine list, $50 in casino "free play," a wine-tasting experience and mini-bar replenished daily.
Viking Ocean Cruises
- Viking, which now has a small fleet of sleek ocean-faring ships, recently reduced the cost of its Silver Spirits drinks package from $30 to $19.95 per day for its ocean ships, with no restrictions, apart from champagne. The package can be booked in advance or purchased on board. Chris Cruises has an excellent summary of the Silver Spirits plan for Viking's river ships, which cost $300 per couple for a 7-night cruise.
MSC Cruises has introduced five new drinks packages for 2021 and 2022 cruises, with new pricing. What's more, they’ve removed all of the prices for its drinks package prices from its website, saying the line will adjust prices according to the season.
The three main packages are:
- Easy Package (formerly Cheers Adult Package) – With prices formerly starting at $20 a day (plus 15% gratuity), guests can select from draught beer, house wines by the glass, classic cocktails, mixed drinks, non-alcoholic cocktails, soft drinks, fruit juices and specialty coffee drinks, all up to $6 per serving.
- Easy Plus Package (formerly Premium Package) – Formerly at $45 per day (plus 15% gratuity), cruisers will be able to consume all Easy Package selections plus draught and bottled beers, a wider selecton of wines by the glass and cocktails, standard and premium spirits and more. Certain venue restrictions apply.
- Premium Extra Package (formerly Premium Plus) – Formerly at $61 per day (plus 15% gratuity), you get all Premium Package drinks plus: All wines and champagne by the glass, connoisseurs' selection of spirits, all cocktails, minibar, drinks and food from room service menu, 30% discount on bottles of wine and champagne from wine lists, and certain venue restrictions apply.
- Cunard Line, with upscale ships Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, offers a Beers, Wines, & Spirits Option at $69 per person per day. It covers individual drinks up to $12 in price. The package includes draught beer, wine (served in 150ml measures), spirits and liqueurs (served in 1 oz. measures) and cocktails by the glass. The package also includes all beverages available in ITS Premium Non-Alcoholic package. Passengers purchasing the Beers, Wines, & Spirits Option also receive 20% off drinks that are priced over $12.
Disney Cruise Line
- Disney Cruise Line does not offer a traditional alcoholic beverage package for its family-friendly ships. It does offer a wine and dine program, where cruisers can save by pre-purchasing select bottles of wine for a discounted price.
- Pranzo & Cena – At $25 per person per day (plus a 15% gratuity), this is the base drink package for Costa Cruises guests. It's for those who want to sip a nice glass of wine or a cool beer with their dinner or lunch. Enjoy unlimited consumption of a selection of wines, beers and soft drinks by the glass.
- Brindiamore – At $41 per person per day (plus gratuity), this package covers a variety of wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks and specialty coffees available throughout the day.
- Piu Gusto – At $45 per person per day (plus tip), this package includes everything in Brindiamore plus an expanded choice of cocktails and frozen drinks.
- Intenditore – At $59 per person per day (plus tip), you'll receive unlimited drinks by the glass priced up to 9 euros, as well as drinks via room service and from the mini-bar. Costa also offers the option to book more premium, inclusive cruise packages, including the Total Comfort and Deluxe options, which bundle beverage packages into the fare. As with other cruise lines, if one person in a stateroom ponies up for a beverage package, all guests must do so.
How about you? Have you purchased a drink package, and was it worth it? Let me know in the comments below.
Republished and updated from an earlier post.