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.
this 10 drink card was good to know about, but as I read these Q/A’s and all these further conditions, and think about the math, I think this…..the difference between your cost for buying drinks one by one versus with a 10 drink card is so slight that its a gamble for little upside. after all, you’d not start doing any saving until the middle of your 7-day cruise. add to that the risk that they don’t offer it on your cruise, and also that you could end up with unused punches on your ticket I think I will pass on this. I will not buy a drink package, that’s way too much. FYI, I asked in advance of our September 2023 cruise “what if my wife drinks, but I can not due to my health status. and that I can’t drink because of my liver transplant. I did have a transplant 7 years ago, not lieing here. they said OK but I’d have to buy the one deluxe plan and one refreshment plan, so its a little over a $1000 even with the standard “buy one, get the second 50% off”. I don’t even think they’d give off 50% of the lower refreshment plan. I do know the way to get around this lousy greedy cruise deal. I think I’ll buy a lead-lined locked box so it can’t be x-rayed or opened and put it in checked luggage with 75 shot sized liquor mini’s. waddaya think? we could both drink for about $250 plus the mixer.
Can you use your 10 drink card on coco at? Do they sell them on 3 day cruise?
We are on the Allure January 22 for 7 days! The 10 drink package would be perfect! Thank you for the heads up! Appreciate it!
Debbie — not 100% sure it’s still offered. You’ll want to ask the bar staff when you board.
Hi Can you reply and let’s us know if they still have the 10 drink card? And if so if you can get it the first day?
Not sure if it’s still available, but when it was, it was offered starting around day 3-4 of a 7-day cruise. Not on the first day.
What happens if you have a short trip. Like example a 4 night cruise? Can we ask right away at a bartender for the 10 drink card if we only plan having 2 or 3 drinks a day vs like 6 or 8 that we would need to have our money’s worth for the drink package?
That’s exactly what I did – I saw they had another Summer sale for New Year (mine was actually a Christmas sale) and I called them today as whenever I logged into cruise planner to check on the beverage price it said come back in 15 mins. Today I got it for $1600 (for 2) so it was worth checking. Apparently they have a new beverage package clause that the staff member said had been released on 8 January – that is beverage packages will relate to the specific cruise. Maybe the longer the cruise the cheaper the package. They cancel and reimburse 100% for the first package (takes ~ !0 days) and recharge 100% for the second rather than just refund the difference but not a major problem.
We are doing a 12 night cruise ex Sydney. A special New Year deal. I called to ask if it would be cheaper to buy the deluxe drink package online and was told yes as it would be in $US on board. At the time it was just under $AUD70 per day. Today I checked again and it’s gone up ~$6. I rang and was told the earlier price was a special until 2 January but I wasn’t told that on the first call (late December). I was offered it for $1800 (for 2) today but told it could fluctuate again. Does that mean either way or only UP?
At least in the U.S., you normally see the sale price on your online cruise planner up until right before your sailing (it doesn’t really change in our experience). Our suggestion would be to book and if the price goes down, give them a call and ask about booking at the lower price.
My wife and I routinely buy the 10 drink card when we sail. The drink cards have been $79.00 for some time and with the 18% gratuity, it is the amount stated in the other comments, somewhere around 95.00. There is no limit as to how many drink cards you puchase, but beware, there are no refunds for unused portions of a drink card. These are not usually available until the 5th day of the cruise on 7 day sailings. We’ve been lucky to where people are calling it a night on the last night of the sailing and passed their remaining unused portion to us. Although your folio number will be written on the drink card, the bar staff does not do anything with this, as they are advertised as “shareable”.
Thanks Tanner. I understand that they are cheaper if purchased before the cruise. My question is whether or how common it is for RC to offer price reductions (the 25-30% you note) at a date after you book but prior to the cruise. Thanks.
We’ve booked a few times on Royal Caribbean. It seems like the discount stays consistent up until it’s time to sail. So for instance we’ve seen offers of buy one drink package, get the second 50% off and that was offered from the time we booked until the time we sailed.
I just purchased a 7 day cruise on Liberty of the Seas departing Mar 29. Called them about drink/dining options and got a price of $565.85 for the deluxe drink package. Can I expect an email or other contact from them as we get closer to the cruise date that the deluxe drink packages are on sale for less? The RC person I spoke to today was adamant about the price going up and that I should purchase immediately. I assume a sales tactic, but not sure. Any longtime RC cruisers provide me any insight? Thanks.
Typically the prices are cheapest if you purchase before your cruise. They are full priced on the ship. We’ve seen 25-30% off if booked beforehand.
What happens with drinks over $12? Is it useless? Or just pay the difference?
Right. Pay the difference.
Can you use this drink card to buy frozen drinks as well?
Yes, but remember that you want to use it on drinks above a certain value in order to actually save money.
can I buy 10 drink pack for sailing on 4/1 vision of seas before hand or do i have to wait til on ship. my friend and i each need one.
Have to wait until on the ship. Even then, it may not be available.
Do you have any knowledge regarding the ability to add a deluxe drink package on day 4 or 5 of the cruise?
I have heard some people say that you can add the drink packages later in the cruise if you do not want deluxe package for the entire time?
We’ve found that they drink package is usually offered only the first day or two of a cruise. After that, you can’t buy it anymore.
You can purchase it when your trip as at least 4 days remaining. You can get it from any bar.
Now, something very good about RCCL is that they offer significant “pre-cruise” discounts on drink packages and shore excursions.
An example….. my upcoming 7 days cruise…. the deluxe package with pre-cruise purchase discount ($46 per day) comes to $380 (incl. 18%), that’s full 7 days from the moment I step onto the ship until I disembark….. if I am to purchase this on the ship…. I think the current price is like $66…. so, if you buy 5 days on the cruise… it already comes out more than the $380 I paid…. so the ONLY way you can get ahead of not buying the pre-cruise deluxe package is to only buy for the last 4 days of the trip…. IMHO, if you are going to drink and enjoy yourself… just get the package, and BE SURE to purchase it pre-cruise…
So you can’t use the drink cards the first few days? Only on day 4 and on?
They usually aren’t offered until a few days into the cruise from what we’ve seen. Once it’s for sale and you buy it, you can use it whenever.
How would I know the drink card is available on the ship?
There will be a notice if your daily “Cruise Compass” that’s delivered to your stateroom. On a week-long cruise, start looking for it around day 4. You can also ask a bartender.
What if the drink ends up being more than $12? You pay the extra amount?
Right. You’ll need to pay the excess amount.
Can you buy this on all Royal Caribbean Cruises! Sounds like a good ideal if the other party in your cabin doesn’t drink. I will be sailing on Rhapsody of the seas can I buy a 10 card drink pkg. in January 2019?
Our understanding is that it’s available only on some cruises. However, it’s pretty common so there is a decent chance your cruise will have it. Ask a bartender a couple of days into the cruise if they plan to offer it.
can I get a 10 drinks card each for myself and my wife?
Absolutely. Although it might be smarter to get one card, you both use it and then get a second if you need it later.
Does buying the 10 Drink Card for one guest qualify as the “second” Drink Package for a couple in the same cabin? We’ve had some heated discussions with RC about forcing the purchase of two Premier Packages … the best we were able to do on our last cruise was buy one Premier and one Soda package …
Thanks for any insight you can provide …
Not to our knowledge. For those who aren’t familiar, Royal Caribbean requires all adult passengers in a cabin to purchase a drink package if one person does. We have found that if you call them they sometimes let one person buy the soda package as you mentioned as well.
Does not qualify for the 2nd person in the same cabin needing also to buy drink package.
BUT, you can always claim “health reason” or “religious reason” that you cannot drink, then you can be exempt from the rule.
Somehow my initial response vanished … it requested for LL (or someone) to post where on Royal’s web site the Rules for Exclusion were posted/listed. On our most recent cruise, the RC rep stated there are no exclusions and refused to escalate our request to Supervisors up the Chain of Command … and help or insight would be appreciated … Andy
We’ve never seen a list of reasons, however, many of them are common sense. For instance, a pregnant woman having to buy the package just because her husband wanted it as well. We’d suggest calling back and talking to another person to see what they say. Sometimes a different representative can be more lenient. If not, you’ll need to weigh the value of having to buy two packages, even if one person won’t use it.
Thanks Tanner … but the cost for two packages for 7 days or longer has become prohibitive … and RC Reps are now “trained” to say NO to just about everything … and I’m even a Shareholder who can’t get an audience with a Supervisor … it’s like talking to my kids … NO … NO … but … NO … NO … LOL
That’s crummy. Thank you for letting us know. Looks like buying drinks the old-fashioned way is your only option? The 10-drink card would be handy if it’s sold on your cruise.
Important to note that it is not a given that the drink card will be offered on every sailing. I heard it is based of sales of alcohol during that cruise. And it is not available to buy when you first board. It becomes available on about day 4 of a 7 day cruise.
Thanks for the comment Krista. We’ve heard similar things.
After being given misinformation about a number of things a supervisor just informed me about the card. However, she said to get it from guest services as soon as we board. Hopefully it will be available.
Glad you got it straightened out with the staff. Let us know if you can get it from Guest Services when you board! We only ever heard of getting it from the bar.
How many of the cards can you buy per trip
Never thought to ask! We saw no limit on cards. If you plan to buy a lot of drinks, you might want to look into the drink packages.
Awesome that this idea has been implemented. On the RCL facebook pages many of us have suggested it several times. Don’t forget – on the traditional all you can drink packages, they only work on the ship. So, when you are at port, you are also paying to drink in the local bars because you are off the ship. Nice to have a smaller, more manageable option.
We definitely liked being about to have the smaller plan. We aren’t big drinkers, but like to have a few. You just have to make sure that you are buying drinks that are worth it on the plan.