Flashback: Cruise Bar Menus From 10 Years Ago Show How Much Prices Have Soared

If you think cruising has gotten more expensive, it’s not just your imagination. We have proof that prices — at least in one area — are way up.

At Cruzely, we’ve taken a lot of cruises over the years. Looking through pictures, we were reminiscing about a Royal Caribbean cruise we took a decade ago. And in those photos were a couple of shots of a drink menu from back then.

It wasn’t until we looked closer that we were shocked by what we saw. Let’s just say that things have changed dramatically when it comes to alcohol prices.

A Decade-Old Menu Shows How Prices USED to Be

The menu pictures for the poolside bar was taken aboard Enchantment of the Seas in October 2014. It lists about a dozen cocktails on one side and then the lineup of beers and wine on the other. There are all sorts of tasty-sounding drinks, from the Ultimate Pina Colada to a Sunburst Splash to a Sapphire Collins.

What jumps out, however, are the prices.

The cost for cocktails ranges from $6.25 to $9.25 per drink (the Patron Perfect Margarita wins the award for the most expensive). Want a pina colada? It lists for just $7. We averaged all the cocktail prices, and it comes out to about $7.50 per drink.

On the backside of the menu, beers average $5, with 16-ounce bottles going for $5.25 and traditional 12-ounce bottles selling for $4.75.

Take a look:

This pool bar menu from a 2014 Royal Caribbean cruise shows just how much prices have risen.

Today, prices are considerably higher. On our last cruise with Royal Caribbean, menu prices showed $14 for cocktails and beers ranged from $7.49 to $8.25.

This means an increase of 87% in the cost of a cocktail and 58% for a beer!

Price Increases Outpace Overall Inflation

You might just chalk these price increases up to inflation. After all, we saw a sharp rise in the price of seemingly everything the past few years. That doesn’t seem to be the case, however. These drink prices have risen MUCH higher than overall inflation.

From 2014 until today, inflation comes in at about 31%. That means a $7.50 cocktail ten years ago would be only $9.83 today if it kept pace with inflation. A $4.75 bottle of beer would be only $6.23.

In other words, cruisers are paying about $4 more for a cocktail and $1.25 more for a beer than inflation would suggest.

This isn’t meant to pick on Royal Caribbean. In fact, we’ve seen prices across all lines for lots of things increase sharply — especially following the return to cruising.

For instance, Norwegian Cruise Line has sharply raised prices on gratuities. Carnival has increased the charge for the onboard wi-fi. And overall cruise prices have soared, especially with Royal Caribbean’s newest ship.

If you are getting sticker shock from these higher bar prices, however, there are some things you can do.

First, remember that cruise lines — including Royal Caribbean — allow you to bring one a bottle of wine or champagne per person. It may not last you the entire trip, but even if you get a few glasses out of it, that can be serious money.

Second, while it doesn’t help when on the ship, you can drink in port for considerably cheaper. Many bars and restaurants right near the docks will have drink specials to entice passengers to stop in. You can get your fill for lots less than on the ship.

Otherwise, just be prepared to open up that wallet a little wider…

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