If you want to drink alcohol on your cruise, you’ve historically had two options — purchase drinks one-by-one or purchase an all-inclusive drink package.
Purchasing drinks “a la carte” is perfectly fine for those who only drink a little, but the drink prices on a cruise ship can be expensive. For example, a margarita from the poolside bar on Royal Caribbean costs around $12 once gratuity is included.
Meanwhile, drink packages can offer a great value, but only if you plan to drink a considerable amount every day of the trip. At about $60 per day, you have to drink between 5-8 drinks every day of your cruise to get your money’s worth.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some sort of happy medium? A drink package that allowed you to save some money on those expensive drinks, but also didn’t mean you had to have several drinks every day of your trip to break even?
Royal Caribbean has solved that issue. The cruise line now offers a shareable “10 drink” card. The card offers you a package of 10 drinks for your cruise at a rate that can be less than buying them individually. Best of all, you can also share this package — so you can buy drinks for others — unlike restrictive all-inclusive drink packages.
This offer seemed like the perfect option for someone who wants to enjoy a few alcoholic beverages on their cruise, without having a typical drink package. That’s why on a recent cruise we tested out the cruise line’s shareable 10-drink card. Here’s everything you need to know…
Buying and Pricing
First things first, if you want to buy one of these shareable drink cards, then you need to make a little more effort than you do for other drink packages. The moment you step on the ship, you’ll see lots of advertisements for the “all-you-can-drink” beverage packages. Remember, these are the ones that charge on a per-day basis and let you drink your fill.
However, you likely won’t see any mention of the 10-drink cards when first boarding. On a recent cruise, we didn’t even know that the cards were for sale until the Cruise Compass on day 5 (of a 7-day cruise) mentioned that they were for sale. Prior to that, there was no mention of the deal. We’re not sure if they were for sale the entire cruise, or if they aren’t available until later in the trip.
Either way, if you want to purchase the 10-drink card then you’ll need to head to any of the bars on the ship and ask. If available, you’ll get your card and charge the price to your onboard account.
How much do the cards cost? On our sailing aboard Liberty of the Seas, the card costs $79, plus 18% gratuity. That’s a total of $93.22 for 10 drinks (remember that prices can change).
How It Works & What It Covers
The card itself is nothing fancy. It’s just a card printed out with 10 circles on it. You simply present the card and the bartender will mark off each time you purchase a beverage. It’s available for use in bars around the ship, no matter where you like to drink.
You can purchase multiple drinks at one time, and as mentioned above, you can share the card. Say you are traveling with your wife and they want something to drink. Simply hand over the card and they can use it to buy what they want. Given that sharing isn’t allowed with the regular beverage packages, this is a great feature for couples who only drink a little bit.
What does it cover? The 10-drink card works much like a regular beverage package. You can use it to purchase cocktails, beer, wine, bottled water, and specialty coffees up to $12 per glass. Notably, you can’t use it to purchase canned soda or mini-bar items, however, given the price per drink, it’s doubtful you would want to use the drink card to buy these items anyway.
Getting Your Money’s Worth
Before you buy the drink card, you need to understand the math behind it. If you don’t then you could end up paying more for your drinks with the card than without.
As mentioned above, the card costs $79, plus 18% gratuity, for a total of $93.22. With 10 drinks, that means each drink costs $9.32. In other words, if you buy the 10-drink card and purchase drinks that are less than $9.32 (after adding in gratuity), then you are paying more for those beverages.
Let’s say you buy a beer on a Royal Caribbean ship with a menu price of $7. Including an 18% automatic gratuity, that comes to a total of $8.26. In this case, it’s a bad idea to use the drink package to purchase the drink.
If you buy a cocktail with a menu price of $10 ($11.80 after gratuity), then you are saving about $1.50 by using the drink card.
You’ll want to keep this math in mind when you use the card. For instance, it works on both bottled water and specialty coffees, but these cost much less than $9.32. Save the card for beer, wine, and cocktails that cost more.
It does get a little confusing trying to do the math with the automatic gratuity. To make things easy, you’ll want to stick to drinks with a menu price of greater than $8. A menu price of $8 comes out to $9.44 after gratuity is added. Just remember the rhyme “eight is great” when looking at the menu in order to get your money’s worth.
Have more questions about the Royal Caribbean “10-drink” card? Let us know in the comments below.