The “Hidden” Cost of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Free Beverage Package

Are you booking a cruise on Norwegian? If so, then the cruise line is offering some pretty enticing deals.

Specifically, recent promotions include “Norwegian’s Free At Sea”. If you book a qualifying cabin, you can select up to five free offers:

  • Free unlimited open bar
  • Free specialty dining
  • Free shore excursions
  • Free wifi
  • Friends and family sail free

There’s no doubt these are some great deals. Combined, they can help you save hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars off your vacation.

But if you’re tempted by the free unlimited open bar, then there’s something important you should know. That “free” bar isn’t exactly free.

If you book this offer, you’ll get up to five freebies for booking. The number of free offers you get depends on which cabin you book. Suites receive all five offers (if wanted). Balcony, Oceanview, and Mini-Suites receive two offers of their choice. Inside or Studio cabins receive one offer of your choice.

What you should know is that while you can select the free open bar offer, it still costs you money. That’s because the offer is for the “Ultimate Beverage Package”. This package costs $89 per person, per day. But it also includes a 20% gratuity — $17.80 per person, per day — added on top of that. Even if you select the beverage package as a free offer, you still have to pay the 20% gratuity.

That means a couple traveling together would pay $35.60 each day for the “free” beverage package. Over the course of a 7-day cruise, that’s nearly $250.

You can see for yourself in the fine print of the offer below:

Beverage package details

To be clear, paying $17.80 per person each day for an unlimited bar is a good deal. According to our Drink Package Calculator, that can be recouped after about three beers or two cocktails.

However, if you aren’t aware of the extra charge, it can come as a surprise to see it added to your bill.

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  1. I was looking at some cheap NCL cruises. I have cruised NCL in the past and they used to not charge extra for the beverage package. For starters, NO other cruiseline charges 100 dollars per day for their beverage package. Its typically around 50-60 per day. Secondly, 20 dollars per day per person for gratuity is insane. I tip cash for my drinks anyway. Why should I have to pay gratuity if I am tipping cash? I saw an awesome deal. 199 per person for a cruise. By the time you add in the taxes, port fees, and gratuities, it triples the price. a 200 dollar per person cruise, ends up costing 600 dollars per person.

    • If you select sail away, you have to pay for the drink package. If you select “inside cabin” it is always part of the deal. You get it for $0. It has been this way for as long as I’ve been cruising. I have never paid for a drink on Norwegian.


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