An Essential Guide to Cruise Drinks Packages

Step onboard your cruise ship of choice and you’re sure to have relaxation and exploration on your mind. Cruise lines are always doing more to ensure that your needs and desires are met – something which definitely extends to the onboard drinks packages. Every cruise line will offer something a little different, but with the right knowledge under your belt you’ll know exactly what to expect from your break at sea.

A twist on an old favourite – strawberry martinis are a refreshing summer cocktail with a kick

What are cruise ship policies on bringing my own alcohol?

Broadly speaking, this is not something that’s always encouraged. That said, cruise operators also understand that you might have a favourite wine that you hope to enjoy during a special meal and may allow you to bring it onboard at their discretion. It’s worth noting that there is usually an additional corkage fee.

Generally, more upmarket cruise lines such as Regent Seven Seas Cruises permit guests to bring their own wines or spirits onboard. Meanwhile, P&O Cruises offers a middle-ground approach, where guests are allowed to bring a small amount of their own alcohol. Make sure you check your chosen cruise line’s policy before sailing however, as lines such as Royal Caribbean® will confiscate any drinks they find aside from wines, of which up to two bottles are permitted.

Can I pay for all of my drinks on my cruise upfront?

Absolutely, and that’s exactly what’s on offer with the vast majority of drinks packages. Cruise ships of every kind have realised that guests want to have a special deal that takes the headache out of ordering drinks onboard. These deals don’t necessarily cover only alcoholic drinks either, as soft drinks, teas and coffees often fall under the same umbrella.

As with any other aspect of your cruise, it’s always a good idea to check the small print on your chosen deal. All-you-can-drink packages may be the norm on some cruise lines, while others will express a limit on how much you can drink per day, either in a monetary value or in the number of beverages.

Complete with a glittering chandelier, this RCI champange bar is the perfect spot for a glass of bubbly

What kinds of drinks packages are there on cruises?

There’s a superb variety of drinks packages to discover, the likes of which get better every year. For example, a drinks package might entitle you to a day or two’s worth of soft drinks across the cruise ship so that you don’t have to rummage for money at the bar. Other drinks packages are specially tailored for guests who love tea and coffee, while cocktail packages are also available. Of course, the biggest drinks packages cover every kind of drink and may even last for the whole journey.

Many cruise lines design the balance of packages specifically for their range of guests. For example, Cunard has a soft drinks package where colas, juices and tonic water can be enjoyed for a flat daily fee. Cunard also offers a selection of wine packages, such as the Commodore’s Collection and the Captain’s Collection, which let guests enjoy either four or 12 bottles of superb wine for an upfront payment.

Keeping it nice and simple, Fred. Olsen has an All Inclusive drinks package deal that runs from as little as £10 per day. It includes house spirits, select beers either in cans or on tap, wines and soft drinks by the glass. The deal also gives guests the chance to enjoy a range of half price cocktails.

Another great example of a cruise line creating perfect drinks packages is Marella Cruises, offering a single All Inclusive deal that gives you access to all but the most premium spirits for the duration of your cruise. Keep an eye on this cruise line in particular – sometimes they offer free versions of this deal with their offers.

Are drinks packages expensive?

Price depends entirely on your cruise line and drinks package of choice. On most cruise lines, a simple soft drinks package ranges between £10 to £20 a day, usually based on what’s included. Drinks packages including alcohol lean closer to £40 to £70 per day, or £199 for one of the cruise line’s carefully selected wine collections.

Remember, a cruise line offers drinks packages as a way to maximise your value in the long run. You may find that some deals are perfect for you and others do not suit. A good rule-of-thumb is if you’re confident that you’d spend more on drinks onboard your cruise ship if you didn’t opt for a drinks package, then it’s worth it. If not, you may choose to opt for a cheaper soft drinks package or forgo this option altogether.

Complete with a glittering chandelier, this RCI champange bar is the perfect spot for a glass of bubbly

How can I find out what drinks I can expect in my drinks package?

Cruise lines want to make sure that the drinks packages they offer you fit what you’re looking to drink during your cruise. Usually, your chosen cruise will list the drinks that come with its drinks packages online, while you also can access a comprehensive list when you board.

Keep in mind that last minute changes can always occur, so it’s possible that the list you read is a little different to what you find. Those instances are few and far between, but if you have any doubts, your cruise ship’s staff will be happy to talk things through with you.

Do I order a drinks package onboard my cruise ship, or beforehand?

You can buy your drinks package either onboard or in advance, through the cruise line’s website or via the agent you book with. The advantage of ordering your drinks package in advance is that it is often cheaper, although ordering one when you get onboard works just as well if it is easier for you. Helpful staff will often walk around the cruise ship during the first few days to offer more information on such packages.
Drinks packages offer a versatile way to make the most of your time onboard your cruise ship. Even with so much variety, they’re easy to understand once you’ve got the basics. Make sure you check out your options when booking your next cruise.



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