If you’re taking a cruise aboard a Carnival ship, then chances are that you’ve seen mention of the CHEERS! beverage package. And you’re likely wondering if it’s worth the money.
Put simply, this package is like an “all-you-can-drink” plan that covers alcoholic and non-alcoholic purchased aboard the ship. So instead of having to pay each time you get a beer from the bar, you simply pay one flat rate and your drinks are included.
While the price may seem high to some (more than $50 per day), it easy to see that it could also offer a lot of value to those who plan to drink regularly on their cruise.
Still, there is a lot of fine print that comes along with the CHEERS! package and many people have questions about it and whether it’s a good deal for them. Below, we run through more than a dozen of the most important questions regarding CHEERS! and help you decide whether it is worth it for your next trip.
What is the CHEERS! Package?
As mentioned above, the beverage package is like a buffet for drinks on the ship. The “regular” way to purchase drinks on the ship is to buy them individually — so you pay the menu price for every beer or cocktail or soda that you drink. For some people that can put a damper on the fun. Instead of enjoying their drink, they are thinking of the bar tab that awaits their account at the end of the cruise.
CHEERS! allows these people to instead pay a flat daily fee per person to enjoy all the drinks they would like. They pay the same amount each day whether they have two beers or if they have ten cocktails. It makes it much easier to budget for the cruise and enjoy yourself without worrying about how much you’ve spent.
The package covers a wide variety of drinks, including everything from bottles of water to sodas to energy drinks to beer and cocktails. Basically, if you can drink it, it’s likely included in the CHEERS! package.
How much does CHEERS! Cost?
As of 2020, the CHEERS! package aboard Carnival costs $51.95 per person, per day — if bought ahead of time. If your cruise is for three or four days, the price is $54.95 per person, per day if bought prior to your cruise.
On top of that, the cruise line charges an 18% gratuity charge. Therefore, the actual total cost is $61.30/$64.84 per person, per day for people who buy the package before boarding the cruise.
If you wait to purchase the beverage package until you board the ship, the price rises to $56.95 per day, plus 18% gratuity (or $59.95 for three or four-day cruises). The total cost is $67.20/$70.74 for those who wait.
You are charged this amount every day you are on the cruise — no matter if you are in port or at sea. It also doesn’t matter if you drink nothing on a certain day, or have 15 drinks. Each day is charged.
Is gratuity included in the price?
An 18% gratuity is automatically included when you purchase the package for a total of $61.30 per day (ahead of time) or $67.20 (once on the ship).
The $51.95/$54.95 or $56.95/$59.95 “headline” price that’s advertised doesn’t include gratuity, but it will be included on your final charge.
When you get a drink from the bar, you are not charged an additional gratuity when you have the package.
How old do you have to be to buy the CHEERS! package?
Passengers must be 21 years old to buy the package. Even though the drinking age may be lower in the ports you visit, Carnival goes by the 21 year age limit that’s the law in the United States.
Does everyone in the cabin have to purchase the package if one person does?
Yes. All adults over 21 must purchase the beverage package if one person does. This requirement is likely to help stem the incentive for people to share the package by only purchasing it one time.
We’ve heard stories of Carnival relaxing this requirement if there is some sort of extenuating circumstance (such as the other person in the cabin is pregnant). However, if the other person doesn’t drink or simply doesn’t want the package, they will still have to buy it.
How do I buy the CHEERS! Package?
The easiest and cheapest way to purchase the package is to book it online through the Carnival Fun Shops after you’ve booked your cruise. You can also call them at 1-800-522-7648 and request the package be added to your account. Remember, booking the CHEERS! package ahead of time gives you a cheaper rate.
If you wait until you board the ship, you can head to a bar and request to purchase the package. There are also tables set up the first day advertising the package.
What’s included in the package?
The good news is that most drinks served on the ship are included in the beverage package. According to the cruise line, all “spirits, including cocktails, cognacs, whiskies and other spirits, as well as beer (including self-serve beer stations – PYOB) and wine and champagne by the glass, with a $20 USD or lower menu price per serving” are eligible.
In addition, you can drink the following with your package:
- Virgin frozen cocktails
- Sodas and juices
- Specialty coffees
- Energy and sports drinks
- Bottled water
There is also a 25% discount off the menu price for wine and champagne by the bottle and drinks over $20 per serving.
What’s NOT included?
While pretty much any drink from a bar is included, there are some exceptions that you will still be charged for, even if you purchase the CHEERS! Package:
- Drinks in souvenir glasses
- Alcohol by the bottle (except beer)
- Drinks offered at the gangway (welcome beverages)
- Room service alcohol or mini-bar drinks
- Shareable drinks like buckets or pitchers
- Fresh-squeezed orange juice served in the Havana Bar
In other words, stick with drinks served at the bar if you want to keep from spending extra.
What about liquor rules in Texas and New York?
If you are sailing from Galveston or New York, you might have heard there are strange laws affecting alcohol sold on cruise ships. Due to state laws, Carnival can’t activate the CHEERS! package until the second day of the cruise.
If you purchase the package when sailing from one of these ports, you won’t pay for the package on the first day of the trip, but you also will have to purchase drinks instead of having them included. The package will activate at 6:00 a.m. on the second day of the cruise. For more on alcohol rules on a cruise from Texas, click here.
Can I share the package?
No. Sharing of the package is expressly prohibited. In fact, stopping passengers from sharing of the package is likely why Carnival requires all guests in a stateroom to purchase the package if one person does so. If caught sharing, you can lose your package privileges.
Do I have to buy the package for the entire cruise?
Yes. The package is sold only for the entire trip. You can’t pick and choose dates that you want to purchase nor can you purchase it halfway into the cruise. That means you will pay for the CHEERS! package even if you are in port or don’t feel like drinking one day.
How many drinks can I buy at one time?
You can only purchase one beverage at a time. There is a five-minute waiting period between drinks. This is likely to discourage sharing. If you want to purchase more than one drink, you can charge one to your drink package and simply pay for the other on your onboard account. Or just wait five minutes
Is there a daily limit to how many drinks you can have?
Yes. Carnival allows up to 15 alcoholic drinks per day (6:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.). After that, the guest will not be served any additional alcoholic beverages.
There is no limit on non-alcoholic drinks, so drink all the bottled water and sodas that you want!
Can I order a “double”?
Want to spice up your drink with an extra shot? You can’t do it on the beverage package. According to Carnival, a double shot is the same as ordering two drinks and is prohibited.
How will the bartender know I have purchased the CHEERS! Package?
When the bartender swipes your card, your account will let them know that you’ve purchased the CHEERS! package. As well, they place a sticker on your card that identifies you as having purchased the package.
Does it work on Carnival’s private islands or in ports?
No. Even though Carnival runs private islands, the drink package doesn’t work there. It also doesn’t work in ports of call like Cozumel or Nassau. That doesn’t mean you are out of luck on port days.
As long as you are on the ship, you can use the CHEERS! package from the ship’s bars. So if you decide to hang out on the ship during port days when you return, you can still be served.
What about Buying a Round of Drinks?
If you are enjoying time with friends, you might want to buy everyone a round. In that case, you can. The first drink will apply to your drink package, but the rest of your drinks will go on your onboard account.
Is the CHEERS! drink package worth it?
That depends on your personal preferences. Remember that the CHEERS! package from Carnival has to 1) be purchased for every day of the cruise and 2) be purchased by every adult member of the cabin. Including 18% gratuity, the price per day is more $60 per person.
For reference, the price of alcoholic drinks are roughly:
- Beer: $6-8 per drink
- Cocktails: $8-14 per drink
- Wine: $8-14 per glass
Meanwhile, you can only use the package on the ship, so if you are out exploring ports of call, you’ll need to pay for drinks out of pocket.
How much you plan to drink will help you decide if the CHEERS! package is right for you.
To help you figure things out, we’ve put together the Drink Package Calculator to make it easier to estimate whether you should purchase the package.
Have more questions about the package? Let us know in the comments below…