Cruise Line Drink Packages – Are They Worth the Money?

Cruise line drink packages


I confess.  I’m not a huge drinker.  Like almost everyone though, I’ll drink more when I’m on a ship.  Sailaway cocktail, pre-dinner cocktail and a glass or two of wine at dinner.  Three maybe four drinks maximum.  By my calculations, four drinks are about $32.00 plus 18% gratuities…about $5.76 or so.  Roughly $35 – $38 per day, if I keep to schedule.

Almost all of the mainstream and premium cruise lines have their version of a drink package. For now, let’s pick Norwegian.  They’ve just announced a $50 cruise reservation deposit and their continuing Free at Sea promotion that includes a drink package, is combinable with the reduced deposit.

For the heck of it, I went through a mock reservation just to price and compare if I would save any money if I chose the Free Drinks package. With an inside stateroom, you receive one of the Free at Sea choices.  If you choose the Sailaway Inside promo, you get none.  Just so you know, so you don’t spend 15 minutes looking for the Free at Sea promo.  Oceanview can choose two freebies etc.

Is it really “Free”?

With my inside stateroom selection, I purposely choose the Free Drinks package so I could write this article.  Norwegian states that the Free Drinks package has a dollar value of $79. Delve deeper and you’ll find that if you choose this package, an automatic charge of $14.22 per DAY is added to your cruise fare.

That amount covers the 18% gratuity.   So while the drinks are free, you’re still obligated to the gratuity.  I have absolutely no problem with gratuities and more times than not, I’ll personally hand a room attendant, waiter or sommelier a few extra dollars at the end of the cruise.  But what doesn’t work for me…considering I might drink only two to four drinks a day, is paying almost $100 in gratuities for drinks I never order.

On longer cruises and transatlantics, it would be nice to just walk up to the bar and order a drink without feeling nickel and dimed every time. But the extra gratuities on a longer cruise for drinks I never sip would really add up.

So if you’re a drinker (to the tune of exceeding $79 per day) then it’s well worth it.  But to do it just for convenience…not at all.  You’re better off with either the dining package or internet package or $50 per person shore excursion credit.

No sharing allowed, thank you.

If you’re thinking of sharing your drink package, it would have to be with someone in a different stateroom.   When one person wants the package, both guests in the stateroom must purchase it.

For a while now, Royal Caribbean has permitted just one person in a two-person stateroom to buy a package.  That idea must’ve been a losing proposition for the cruise line.

As of Sept. 30, 2017, Harmony of the Seas guests in the same stateroom must both purchase the Royal Caribbean Drink Package.

Do you or would you purchase a cruise line drink package?


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4 thoughts on “Cruise Line Drink Packages – Are They Worth the Money?”

  • Hi, Drink packages are purchased separately and there’s a gratuity charge of usually 18%. Thanks for your question.

  • Hi Kerry,
    I don’t think I’d purchase one either. And yes, I agree, I’m sure that the cruise lines have learned the hard way that people cheat on the packages. Thanks for your comment!

  • We do not purchase drink packages, I don’t drink that much if at all, hubby drinks more, but not enough to make the drink package worthwhile. If I was traveling with a friend who wanted the package, I wouldn’t buy it….I understand why the cruise lines do it that way though, as I am sure there are people who abuse the system.

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