Are You Confused by the Cruise Lines' Beverage Packages?

Published 03/01/2018

What's better than kicking back on a cruise ship with a couple of drinks? I would have to say, getting them for FREE! 

Which cruise lines include the beverage package? Which cruise lines charge for it? Which cruise lines include it and charge a gratuity for it? What’s included and is there a limit?
We've combed through 6 of the mainstream cruise lines and here’s what we found (in alphabetical order)...


Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival does not offer its Cheers! Beverage Package for free as part of your cruise purchase. The cost to pre-purchase CHEERS! prior to your cruise is $49.95 per person, per day plus 15% gratuity which equals $402.10 per person for 7-night cruise. If you purchase the plan onboard, it will cost $54.95 per person, per day plus gratuity. If there are 2 guests over the age of 21, both guest must purchase the package.

What’s Included
All spirits, including cocktails, cognacs, whiskies and other spirits, as well as beer and wine and champagne by the glass, with a $50 or lower menu price per serving, non-alcoholic frozen cocktails, sodas and juices, specialty coffees and teas served in the main dining rooms, specialty restaurants and coffee bars, milkshakes, RockStar energy drinks, Powerade, Vitamin Water, Coconut Water and Honest Tea, bottled water and other non-alcoholic bottled beverages served in bars and lounges, dining rooms and specialty restaurants.
What’s Not Included
Beverages in souvenir glasses, bottles of liquor, beverages offered at the gangway, beverages offered through room service, mini bars and other in-stateroom beverage programs. Pitchers, buckets of beer and beverages offered through enomatic wine machines.
The Fine Print
Limited to 15 alcoholic drinks per 24 hour period (6:00am-6:00am); once the limit is reached, no additional alcoholic drinks will be served.
There is a 5 minute wait time between ordering drinks.
Due to state laws, the package is not available until the second day (starting at 6:00am) for cruises departing from Texas and New York. 
CHEERS! is not offered on 2-day cruises, ships sailing from Australia (Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend) and beverage purchases made at Half Moon Cay or Princess Cays in The Bahamas.

Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity was the first to offer a Beverage Package included in your cruise fare, known as a FREE Perk. For those who don’t drink alcohol, you have a wide variety of non alcoholic beverages included, such as  virgin cocktails, sodas, specialty coffees and teas.

Celebrity’s Classic Package would normally cost $55 per person per day plus 18% gratuity, that totals $454.30 per person on a 7 night cruise. Beverage package gratuities are also included if you select it as your FREE perk. 

What’s Included
Unlimited can and fountain soda selections, fresh squeezed and bottled juices, non-premium bottled water, tea, premium coffee, beer, wine, spirits, cocktails and frozen drinks up to $9.

What’s not Included
Beverages sold in gift shops, the mini-bar or room service.

The Fine Print
There is no daily limit on the amount of drinks you can order.
If you order a drink for more than $9 you will be charged the full amount of the drink, not the difference in price.

Hint: If you prefer top shelf, you may want to consider upgrading to the Premium Package for only $10 more per day plus gratuities. This will include beverages up to $13 and premium water.

Holland America Line
Holland America Line’s Explore 4 Promotion begins on July 31st and its Signature Beverage Package is included for Free on select sailings in 2018 & 2019.

The Signature Beverage Package normally costs $44.95 per person per day plus 15% gratuity. The total cost to buy it is $51.69 per day or $361.83 per person for 7 nights. If you receive the package through the Explore 4 promotion, the 15% gratuity is included.

What’s Included
Any drink that is less than $8 is covered by the package. If the drink on the menu is $8.95, you will be charged $8.95 for it. There is no “pay the difference” option like there is on some cruise lines' beverage packages.

What’s Not Included
Drinks from the Mini Bar, Room Service or Half Moon Cay

The Fine Print
Up to a 15-drink maximum/day. If you drink more than 15 coffees, juices, cocktails or a combination of drinks covered under the package in 1 day, you will be charged for the drinks above the limit.
Guests can only order 1 drink at a time. 
All adults 21 years of age or older booked in the same stateroom must purchase the package.
You cannot order drinks with the package and give them to someone else.
Must be 21 years or older and agree to not give to minors.

Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian’s Ultimate Beverage Package is currently available as a FREE offer through its Free at Sea Promotion but it is not completely free as it comes with a gratuity charge of 18% which equals $14.22 per person per day, for a week it equals $99.54. Not bad if you consider the alternative - paying for it – the total cost would be $652.54 per person for a 7 night cruise. Yikes!

A really cool thing about Norwegian’s promotion is that even people who book Studios and inside cabins can select the Ultimate Beverage Package as their FREE Offer. Other cruise lines that offer free beverage packages only extend it to those in Oceanview or higher staterooms.

What’s Included
Variety of spirits and cocktails, wines by the glass and bottled or draft beer up to $15. Includes fountain soda and juice, and non-alcoholic beer.
Package can be used in all restaurants, lounges, bars and Great Stirrup Cay. 

What’s Not Included
Ice Bars, room service, package sales, ship specific promotions or beer buckets, designated Super Premium brands, bottled wine, mini bar purchases, bottled water, fresh squeezed juices, select Lavazza coffee beverages, energy drinks, vending machines, wine stations or spirits, cocktails, draft or bottled beer and glasses of wine over $15.

The Fine Print
Any items over $15 will receive a $15 discount and the difference will be charged to your account.
Not available on sailings 2 days or less.
Offer is not applicable at Harvest Cay bars, restaurants, or venues.
Packages may not be shared and are non-transferable and non-refundable.

Princess Cruises
If you are looking at a Princess cruise departing between Summer of 2018 and Spring of 2019 – now is the time to book it. Princess only offers its All-Inclusive Beverage Package once a year! Unlike other cruise lines that offer a Free Beverage Package all the time or several times over the course of a year. Book your cruise before August 31st if you want free drinks! If you wait and have to purchase the package It will cost you $57.45 per person per day, $402.15 for a 7 night cruise.

What’s Included
Beer, cocktails, spirits and glasses of wine up to $10, all non-alcoholic beverages including bottled water, coffee, tea, and espresso specialty drinks. If you get the package as part of the Sip + Sail Promotion, the 15% gratuity on the package is included.

What’s Not Included
Drinks from the mini bar or room service.

The Fine Print
Free All Inclusive Beverage applies to guests booked in a balcony stateroom or above, valid only for guests 1 & 2 per stateroom who are 21 years or older. 
There is a daily limit of 15 alcoholic drinks per day. There is no daily limit on non-Alcoholic drinks.
Package is NOT available for purchase within 3 days of sailing or on voyages 2 nights or less.

Royal Caribbean International 
Royal Caribbean has never offered a Free Beverage package option and probably never will. It does however, offer discounts if you purchase the package in advance through the Cruise Planner website.

The price of Royal Caribbean beverage package varies from ship to ship, and sailing to sailing. Since the prices vary, we can only give you a range. So, if purchased before your cruise through the Cruise Planner, the Deluxe Beverage package could run between $44 - $55 per person, per day not including the 18% gratuity that you pay at the time of purchase. The price is generally higher if you wait to purchase it onboard but you can purchase it any day (as long as there are 4 days left) and only pay for the remaining days.

Unlike other cruise lines, Royal Caribbean does not require all guests in the same stateroom to purchase a drink package. But it is forbidden to share and Royal Caribbean warns guests that if they get caught sharing their package can be revoked without a refund.

What's Included
The Deluxe Beverage Package includes alcoholic drinks up to $12 in value ($13 on Oasis and Quantum class ships).  Cocktails, spirits, liqueurs, beer, wine by the glass, non-alcoholic cocktails, premium coffees and teas, fountain sodas, Coca Cola Freestyle beverages (where available), Coca Cola souvenir cup, bottled still and sparkling water, fresh squeezed juices.

What's not Included
Mini bar items, Evian water, canned sodas, bottled juice, specialty beers as listed on bar menus, or super premium category beverages.
Drinks that are served in a souvenir cup, glass or mug and drinks served inside fruit (i.e. pineapples) are not included with the drink package, however, you can pay a reduced amount, as a portion of the price is subsidized by the beverage package.

The Fine Print
Royal Caribbean's drink packages are available on all sailings 2 nights or longer.
There is no daily limit on the amount of drinks you can have in 1 day.