Thinking of purchasing a drink package, but just aren’t entirely sure it’s the right idea? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Truth be told, the drink package can be a major purchase costing hundreds of dollars over the course of a cruise. It’s not something to be taken lightly. The good news is that there are some strong signs when a drink package is the right idea for your cruise… and some signs when you’re better off without it.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best tells whether or not a drink package is a good idea for your situation. In addition, you can use our Drink Package Calculator to estimate if you will get your money’s worth from a package.
Signs You Should Buy a Drink Package
You don’t like keeping track of spending
You know what’s not much fun on a vacation? Budgeting and tracking your finances. Who wants to have to reign in the fun because they’ve spent more than they planned already? Solving this problem is one of the major advantages of purchasing a drink package.
Drink packages have a set daily charge, so if you drink one drink or 15 drinks, you’ll be billed the same amount. If you don’t want to worry about keeping track of your tab, that’s a great thing. You don’t have to worry about being surprised by huge bills the morning after, nor do you have to do the mental gymnastics of keeping track of how much you’ve spent on alcohol. Simply pay the fee, and get a drink whenever you want.
If you’re not a great budgeter (or simply don’t want to hassle with it), then this is a Godsend.
You like to drink cocktails instead of beer
Drinking on a cruise ship is expensive — especially if you are a cocktail drinker. If you want a can of beer, expect to spend about $5-7 for each one. But cocktails can easily run $8-12 each, and sometimes even more depending on the cruise line.
Consider that the average drink package runs about $60 per day, including gratuity. In this case, you’d have to drink about 8-12 beers to make it worth your money. But with cocktails it’s more like 5-7 drinks. So if you’re someone who likes to drink cocktails — margaritas, sex on the beach, mojitos and more — then it makes it much easier for you to get your money’s worth from the drink packages on a cruise.
You like to always have a drink in your hand
For some people, drinking is a fun thing to do on vacation. For others, drinking IS the vacation. (Don’t worry, we don’t judge!) If you are the sort of person who isn’t relaxing unless you have a drink in your hand, then it’s likely a drink package is a good idea for you.
Think about the average day on the ship. If you are out and about around the ship — hanging out by the pool, eating dinner, watching a show, playing in the casino — it may be natural for you to have a drink during all of these activities. Being out at the pool starting at noon and playing in the casino until midnight is 12 hours of fun. At a pace of one drink per hour, you’ll have a dozen drinks over the course of the day. Even the cheapest alcoholic drinks will result in a drink package being worth the money.
You spend a lot of time on the ship
We all have heard of a “homebody” — those people who just like to hang out at home and not go out much. Therefore, a “shipbody” would be someone who likes to hang out on the ship, even when it’s in port. We’re not saying you never get off, but when the ship is in port you spend most of the time still hanging out by the pool.
If this sounds like you, then you can get your money’s worth with a drink package. The rules of these packages say that you have to buy them for every day of your cruise, even on the days when you are in port. However, they don’t work off the ship. So if you are in port all day, you have to pay for your drinks out of pocket. But those who stay on the ship can still use the package.
Signs You Shouldn’t Buy a Drink Package
Your significant other doesn’t drink
In the rules of many cruise line drink packages is one that can cost you dearly. Most cruise lines require all adults in the cabin to purchase the package if one adult does. So if a husband wants the package and a wife doesn’t drink at all, then they still both have to purchase the package.
Considering that the average drink package can run about $60 per day, that’s $60 per day spent on someone who doesn’t drink. (Note: If you have a situation where one person wants the package and the other doesn’t, call the cruise line. Sometimes they can make exceptions to the rule).
Why do the cruise lines have this rule? It’s to keep one person from buying the package and then sharing drinks with another person.
Your cruise spends a lot of time in port
We’ll be honest, any cruise you take will result in a lot of time on the ship. But if you are the sort of person who likes to get out and explore ports all day, then you might not get your money’s worth with a package.
As explained above, drink packages don’t work when you are off the ship. So if you are out exploring a port of call, you have to pay for any drinks out of pocket. Considering that you can be in port for 8-10 hours a day, that a large chunk of time where you can’t take advantage of your drink package.
You are not an everyday drinker
Are you the sort of person who needs a recovery day if you drink heavily? In that case, a drink package likely isn’t for you. Remember that you are charged for the package every day of the cruise, whether you have one drink of 15 drinks. This includes days when you don’t use the package at all or when you are in port.
So if you have a day or two when you drink very little, then it’s hard to make a beverage package make financial sense. Occasional drinkers are usually better off buying their drinks individually.
The good news is that beverage packages often cover non-alcoholic drinks too, like specialty coffee or virgin drinks. While these don’t cost as much as an alcoholic beverage, they do mean you can get some value from the package, even on days when you don’t drink alcohol.
You’re trying to cruise cheaply
If you are a budget cruiser, then you likely want to buy your drinks a la carte and keep an eye on your tab. Put simply, the beverage packages add up in cost quickly. For a $60 drink package, purchased by both adults in a cabin, you’re spending $120 per day. On a 7-day cruise, that’s $840. Considering that you can find cruises that cost less than that per person, it’s a big chunk of change to spend — especially if you are trying to keep your vacation budget intact.
If you like saving money, you are likely better off simply buying drinks one at a time and not going overboard on spending.