Every year we go on holiday with our Dads on a cruise. Most cruise lines now give passengers the option of purchasing a drinks package. Those of you that know us, know that we do enjoy a drink or two! The information in this post is based on our previous cruise experiences predominantly with Royal Caribbean Cruises with whom we have cruised 6 times.
Update October 2016 – We have just got off the Independence of the Seas. Since September 7th, RCCL now only offer one Deluxe Drinks Package (the old Ultimate Package) now costing $55 which was the price of the Premium Package previously. This still suits us very well but does not suit our Dad’s and is not value for money for them. Much of the information below remains relevant and gives you an idea of drinks available and tips to check.
We have also cruised with P&O, Cunard, Thomson and Celebrity. These prices below are from our cruise in February 2016 so please check current prices which may differ.
There are non alcoholic and alcoholic drink packages available, so lets start with the non alcoholic.
Replenish Drinks Package $20 per day per person (£14)
This includes premium coffee, premium tea, bottled water, sparkling (375ml) or still (500ml) water, fresh squeezed juice, non-alcoholic cocktails and fountain soda with a souvenir cup
Does it save you money?
You can get free coffee and tea at the Promenade cafe, in your stateroom, and in the buffet restaurants. You can also get glasses of water in the Promenade cafe. However, if you love your specialist coffee and tea, and drink bottled water then it could be worth it.
Select Drinks Package US $40 (£28) per person per day
Includes beer, cider, wine by the glass up to $8, non-Alcoholic cocktails and fountain soda with a souvenir cup. This also includes all the soft drink options in the replenish drinks package.
Beer prices varied from $5.5-$6.5 dollars and were not full pints, many were in 330ml bottles and some beers did come in cans which were 440 mls, however, there was a good selection. Wine prices varied from $7-$8 but selection is limited. Non Alcoholic cocktail prices were $4.
Does it save you money?
If you were only drinking alcohol you would need to drink 7 beers, or 5 glasses of wine throughout the day and night. However, when you combine the soft drinks and bottles of water it really is value for money.
You can also enjoy 20% off bottles of wine, but then we question, why would you choose to buy a bottle of wine when you can get glasses of wine with this drinks package?
Premium Drinks Package $55 (£38.50)
This drinks package includes beer, wine by the glass up to $12, non-Alcoholic cocktails and fountain soda with a souvenir cup. In addition to this it includes premium cocktails, frozen cocktails, premium wines by the glass, bottled water still (500ml) and spirits. Cocktail prices were $10 – $12, spirits with mixers varied from $7-$8.
Does it save you money?
If you were only drinking alcohol you would need to drink 5 cocktails, 7 beers, or 5 glasses of wine throughout the day and night. However, again when you combine the soft drinks and bottles of water it really is value for money.
This is the drinks package that we always purchase and have always found that we have saved money. We know this as we have written down exactly what we have drank during the entire cruise. This will tell you two things, one are you getting value for money and two are you drinking too much?! It has also been a great way to try different brands we have not tried before like Grey Goose, or Knob Creek Bourbon and obviously it’s a great way to try all the different cocktails that are on offer.
Ultimate Package $65 (£45.50)
This drinks package gives virtually unlimited options which is a combination of all the benefits from Premium and Royal Replenish packages. You would just need to do the math to see if this was appropriate to you. We have never felt the need to have this package as the Premium drinks package covers all of our needs.
Other useful information
You can pre book your drinks package or purchase one on board. When you have purchased a package a sticker will be placed on your Sea Pass and then there is no need to sign for each drink. The sticker denotes which package you are on, if you ask for a drink that is not on that particular package the bar staff will let you know.
We advise that you do check your accounts on your stateroom television to make sure no extras have been added. On one of our cruise’s our Dads kept getting charged for their Boddingtons which was included in the drinks package, this was easily rectified by the guest relations desk, but potentially could of been missed.
You will be charged extra for anything you use out of your minibar in your stateroom, so we would advise to get bottles of water that were included in the package and put them in the fridge.
Do be aware that the rules stipulate that both persons sharing a cabin have to have the same package. The only exception to this is if one of the passengers have a medical condition that needs to be covered by a letter from your Doctor.
Some passengers bulk at the price tag when you paying up front rather than individually. It can be painful paying a couple of hundred dollars for drinks before your cruise starts, but once you have paid you have the luxury of ordering drinks at bars without having to worry about the bill at the end.
We have also heard that passengers feel that they might not get good service if they have a drinks package, we have never experienced this as the service has always been excellent.
We are already planning our next cruise, including a drinks package and hope that you have found this useful in planning and budgeting yours!
Have you cruised and purchased a drinks package? Did you find it saved you money? We would love to hear your comments below.
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