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? 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 $2-3.50. If you are a steady drinker, 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 figure 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)
- 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; ~$63-89 per day ($74-105 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.
To read more about drink packages, see our complete guide here.
Does non-alcoholic beer count towards your 15 or not? I can’t seem to get an answer on that one.
Carnival’s rule specifically states “alcoholic drinks.” If it’s non-alcoholic, it shouldn’t count toward 15.
If I carry champagne or wine, can I drink them outside the stateroom?
Yes, technically there is a corkage fee. But if you pour it in the room and then walk around with it, it’s doubtful anyone would give a second notice.
I just priced out two sailings with NCL and got prices WITH the Free at Sea package (includes drinks), and WITHOUT. One sailing ended up costing $40/day for drink package (whole FAS package), and the other was $49/day. Where are you coming up with the $109/$130, with gratuities, per day costs? I referenced your info on a NCL Facebook group and was promptly corrected! LOL
Here is the standalone pricing from NCL. It’s less expensive to buy with free at sea.
With a cheers drink package that allows 15 drinks a day, if I was to purchase a Cruise Cash Bar card am I still limited to only 15 drinks a day?
That I’m not sure about! Would love for you to test it out and let everyone know. I can’t drink 15 a day!
Are you still allowed to bring a case of water?
Are you allowed to bring a bottle of wine per person?
Depends on the cruise line. Most, however, do let you bring on those items. You can find more info here:
Does Carnival have water fountains that I can use to re-fill a water bottle? And do they offer non-bottled water as an option at meals? While I like my beer and my wife will have a cocktail or wine….I am not sure if we would drink enough alcohol to justify the cost. We do drink a lot of water, though and if bottled water is the only way…..??
Yes, there are cups and water machines available. And while you could fill a reusable water bottle, you are usually asked not to do that for health reasons. If sailing Carnival, I like to just order a couple of 12 packs of bottled water ($5 each) for the room. That way I always have some around.
The amount you have as the price of Celebrity drink package is not accurate since they now include a basic drink package. To get premium is only $30/day above the Always Included.
Morning, do Cunard do a discount on drinks package x
So on a 7 day 6 night cruise you get charged 7 days at say $100 ($700), but get thrown off the ship at 8 am on the 7th day. correct?! So I spent $700 for 6 days of drinking. Am I missing something? I have been searching the web for a week and no one brings up this point
The boarding day is considered the first day of the cruise. So when you get on the ship, the drink package is available. You aren’t charged for the day you debark. So a 7-day cruise that departs on Sunday, you are charged for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
NCL once again has gone completely over the edge charging $118.00 per day for their drink package. Almost twice the price of Carnival. Most lines are between $65-$85 per day. I personally like Princess who charges around $70 per day including gratuity. Even better if your room mate doesn’t drink you do not have to purchase two drink packages. As far as I Princess is the only line to do it and I commend them for it. If you like to drink stay away from NCL. I have 50 years of cruising under my belt and know all the deals.
So I have the Premium Drink package as part of my “Free” at Sea but from what I’ve read, it does not include specialty coffees from Starbucks, bottled water, or energy drinks. If I were to have a specialty Coffee each morning (either tea or coffee latte) and usually drink 4-6 bottles of water a day, and do an energy drink if I am exercising, does it make sense to upgrade to Premium Plus package? I can upgrade for $174 (divided by 5 days would be roughly $35 a day) Based on calculator if I drink the above in addition to my current package, it would cost me about $24/day + tip assuming each of these items are priced at $3 (guessing Starbucks drinks may not be…). Should I upgrade if they will allow me to do so without forcing my cabin mate to upgrade as well?
That’s a tough one. For one, it’s not certain, but it’s likely your cabin mate would have to upgrade as well. Also, don’t forget the extra gratuity on the more expensive package, if you aren’t already including it.
can you get water in a glass with ice from the bars or do you have to have a drink package
Sure, they will give you one. You can also head to the buffet and get one.
Do the non-alcoholic packages follow the same rules as the alcoholic packages? Also is it best to purchase cases of bottled water or would there be enough bottles accessible that you wouldn’t need that?
What specific rules are you referring to? We like to purchase water to be sent to the room before we arrive. That way we don’t have to carry it around when boarding.
Is specialty coffee from the coffee shops included?
Yes, almost always.
What types of drinks are included if you dont buy a drink pass
Water, tea, coffee, and some juices are available in the dining rooms/buffet.
Can you tell why Carnival doesn’t offer the cheers package on their Mediterranean cruises. I’m booked for the Legend 2020 and after 3 phone calls to Carnival no one seems to know! Thanks
No, we don’t. We’ve never sailed over there and are jealous that you get to go!
My 4 year old only needs milk and water on our cruise. Can i get away with not buying him a drink package?
Absolutely. You do not have to buy a drink package.
how many stories had you know that people actually got throw off the ship for having alcohol with Royal Caribbean
Do you mean trying to sneak alcohol onboard?
How much is drink pkg for carnival Horizon ship for 8 day cruise
It will be the cost of the package times 8 nights. So around $500 given that the package is $61 a night after gratuity.
The Drink Package Calculator doesn’t seem to be working.
Thanks for the comment. See the doohickey zigged when it should have zagged. It should be fixed now.