There’s not much that’s more popular on a cruise ship than drinking. Bars are everywhere, and the party atmosphere mixed with the relaxation of vacation means the booze is flowing.
Whether you are sitting poolside with a fruity cocktail, or maybe playing at the casino with a beer, or having a glass of wine with dinner, having a drink just feels natural on a cruise.
It almost feels wrong not to be cooling off without a tasty beverage. But the truth is that the cost of drinks can add up on a ship. The solution to that problem?
The drink package.
Drink Spending Quickly Adds Up
If you’ve never been on a cruise, then don’t be surprised by the price of alcohol on the ship. Want a beer? They usually run $6-8, and then you add on the mandatory gratuity of 15-20%. Cocktails can easily run $10-14, and a glass of wine can be $8-12 — and even much more.
Even a soda or a bottle of water will run you $3. If you are a steady drinker, then it’s not hard to spend $100 or more on drinks per day.
Thankfully the cruise lines have rolled out drink packages. These packages allow you to pay one set fee per day and drink as much as you want. So instead of worrying about a bar bill, you know exactly what you’ll spend ahead of time.
And when it’s time to get a drink? Just head up to the bar and order what you like.
Of course, there is some fine print with the drink packages, ranging from how each adult in a cabin must buy one if one person does, to the drinks included with the deal. (See our complete guide to drink packages here.)
But the biggest hesitation before getting the package for many people is whether or not they will get their money’s worth.
Estimate If Drink Packages Are A Deal For You
Drink packages are expensive, ranging from $60-80 per day in most cases. Some go up to more than $100 per day! Since you’re charged each day of the cruise, you’ll have to drink this amount’s worth each and every day of the trip over the course of the cruise.
Rightfully, many people aren’t sure if they will actually save money by getting the package deal.
Below, we have a calculator that can help you estimate whether or not a drink package is worth the money. Simply select your cruise line and estimate the number of drinks you’ll have per day to see what it would cost to purchase them individually.
Since there are so many different prices among drinks, we’ve used estimated average prices to give you an idea of what you might spend. Your actual drinks will vary in price, but this gives you a ballpark idea of what you might spend.
Compare the amount you’ll spend each day above with the cost of each drink package per day. Note that prices will vary in some cases, including discounts for ordering before the cruise. As well, some lines offer different package levels. To keep things simple, we’ve tried to use the most common prices we think you’ll see.
- Carnival: $59.95 per day ($70.74 with gratuity) | $69.95 per day ($82.54 with gratuity) on trips of five days or fewer
- Celebrity: $89.00 per day ($106.80 with gratuity)
- Norwegian: $109.00 per day ($130.80 with gratuity)
- Princess: $64.99 per day ($76.70 with gratuity)
- Royal Caribbean: Varies; ~$75-94 per day ($88-112 with gratuity)
- MSC: $64.00 per day (no gratuity is bought before boarding)
Keep in mind that these are all estimates as drink prices vary by cruise line and what you specifically drink. If you are in the ballpark of the daily cost of the drink package, it is likely to be worth it for you.
Frequently Asked Questions About Drink Packages
While drink packages sound simple, there are actually a lot of rules. These include rules on the number of drinks allowed, which drinks you can buy, and much more. Read our complete drink package guide here to learn everything you need to know before you buy. We’ve answered some common questions below.
Does everyone in a cabin have to purchase a drink package if one person does?
Usually, the answer is yes. While it does depend on your specific cruise line, most make each adult in a cabin purchase a package if one person does. This helps discourage drink sharing where one person buys the package and gives other people free drinks.
Keep this in mind when deciding whether or not to buy a package. If one person drinks and another doesn’t, it means you’re essentially doubling the cost of the drink package without any added benefit.
Can I share drinks using a drink package?
No. No cruise line allows sharing of drinks on a package. If caught sharing, you could lose your drink package. Plus, since most lines make you purchase the deal for all adults in a cabin, there isn’t usually a benefit to sharing since everyone will have a package anyway.
Can I purchase the package for just some days of the cruise?
No. Drink packages are sold for the entire trip, not just some days. That means if you are on a week-long cruise, you can’t just purchase a drink package for a few days here and there. That’s why it’s important that you estimate what you’ll drink EACH day of the cruise on average.
Also keep in mind that except for some private islands run by the cruise lines, the packages don’t work off the ship. So if you are in port all day, that is time that you can’t use the package.
Are there discounts on drink packages?
Yes. Often cruise lines will offer a discount off the headline price if you purchase the package before boarding. After you book your cruise, you can either call the cruise line or login to your cruise line account. There you should be able to find the package to purchase. In addition to a likely discount, buying ahead of time also means the package is ready to go for you the moment you get on the ship.
Where can I find more information about specific packages?
Cruzely has a number of resources for different drink packages. We have more about specific cruise line drink packages here:
- Complete Guide to Carnival’s CHEERS! Package
- Everything to Know About Royal Caribbean Drink Package
- Complete Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line Drink Packages
- Complete Guide to MSC Cruises Drink Packages
Are drink packages worth it?
We wish there was a definitive answer, but in reality, it depends.
For some people the package is absolutely worth it. If you’re the sort of person who always has a drink in your hand during vacation, you’ll likely get your money’s worth. However, for many others, the package isn’t a good deal. Those who might have a few drinks here and there — even several a day — likely won’t drink enough to make the deal worth buying.