Ready to really go on vacation? Then you might start with a drink package. Instead of worrying about the price of your bar bill, you can pay one set daily fee and get your drinks included for the entire cruise.
On the surface, the MSC drink packages are pretty simple. You pay the cost, and you get to drink your fill of whatever you want. However, with any drink package there are a lot of options, fine print, and caveats.
To help you sort through the details and make sure you get the right deal for you, we’ve covered all the ins and outs of MSC’s drink packages below. This includes how to figure if the package is worth it for your cruise.
What Drink Packages Are Offered on MSC?
MSC has a total of four drink packages. Of these, three are alcoholic packages and one is non-alcoholic.
First, there is the Easy Package. This deal offers selected drinks aboard the ship that are priced up to $6 per glass. At a limit of $6, your options are somewhat limited, but it does include some beer, cocktails, soft drinks, juices, bottled water and coffees. (The $6 selection of cocktails is shown later in this article.)
A step above the Easy Package is the Premium Package. This acts like the typical drink package on other cruise lines, covering drinks up to $12 per glass. Here you’ll find a much wider selection with cocktails, wines, beers, as well as sodas, juices, energy drinks, and more.
MSC’s top-of-the-line package is called Premium Plus. With this package (which is also the most expensive) you get any drink by the glass from any bar on the ship. So if you want a top-shelf cocktail, it’s covered under this package, as well as everything from bottled water to beer. It even covers items in the mini-bar.
MSC also has a Non-Alcoholic Package that features drinks across the ship that don’t have alcohol. This includes non-alcoholic cocktails, soda, energy drinks, juice, water, coffees, tea, and even ice cream.
How Much do MSC Drink Packages Cost?
Each of the four packages has a different cost, ranging from as little as $17 per day to $79 per day. Note that prices can change at any time, but the listings below are current as of the publication date of this article.
- Easy Package: $35 per person, per day
- Premium Package: $62 per person, per day
- Premium Plus Package: $79 per person, per day
- Non-Alcoholic Package: $29 per person, per day (12+ years old); $17 per person, per day (3-11 years old)
As well, you have a 15% gratuity charge if you purchase the package while on the ship. Booking ahead saves you this 15% charge, which can be a substantial amount of money. You must book at least 48 hours prior to the sailing date to get the savings.
Is Gratuity Included? Do I Need to Tip More?
Yes. If you purchase before you cruise, the service charge of 15% is waived, meaning the package is a better deal. If you wait until on the ship, the 15% charge is included on the daily fee.
Either way, at the bar you don’t have to worry about additional charges or gratuity. It is already taken care of. You can tip more if you feel generous, but it’s not expected or required.
You should note that if you use the package to buy a drink while in port, you will be charged tax on the purchase.
Do I Have to Buy the Package For Each Day of the Cruise?
Yes. MSC requires guests who want the package to buy it for every day. You can’t purchase for single days.
So if your cruise is a week, you’ll be charged for seven days, whether you have 10 drinks on a day or don’t drink anything at all.
Keep this in mind when considering the drink package. If you have a cruise with a number of days in port, you’ll still pay for the package even if you are off the ship and don’t use it.
Also note that the package is not charged for the day you arrive back home (debarkation day).
Does Every Person in a Cabin Have to Buy It If One Person Does?
Yes. MSC says that guests all sailing in a cabin must purchase the drink package. According to the terms posted on MSC’s website:
“The package must be booked by all guests occupying the same stateroom, or traveling together, including minors who must book the Child version of the package.”
This is likely designed to limit sharing (one person buying the package and then getting drinks for someone without the package).
It’s important to note that this extends to kids as well. So if you are traveling with a minor that is three years or older, then you will have to purchase the non-alcoholic beverage package for them. There is a $29 cost for those 12 years or older. The package costs $17 for kids 3-11 years old.
Kids under three don’t have to get a drink package.
What’s Included/Not Included in the Packages?
Each package is slightly different in what it does and does not include. Here’s a breakdown for each.
Easy Package (up to $6 per drink)
Includes one brand of draft beer (usually Heineken) and/or bottled Miller Lite, cocktails and non-alcoholic cocktails, soft drinks, energy drinks, juice, bottled water, coffees, and hot chocolate.
It does not include drinks in specialty restaurants, minibar, or room service. Also, drinks above $6 are not included.
Premium Package (Up to $12 per drink)
The Premium Package includes everything in the Easy Package above, but has more options given the higher price ceiling. You’ll find a wide array of beers, cocktails, wine by the glass and liqueurs. As well, drinks in specialty restaurants are included.
Room service and mini-bar drinks are not included, nor are drinks above $12 per glass.
Premium Plus Package (All drinks)
If you want the top-of-the-line package, then the Premium Plus Package may be ideal for you. It covers all drinks on the ship. This includes champagne, all wines by the glass, drinks in specialty restaurants, room service, and drinks in the mini-bar.
If alcohol isn’t your thing or you are sailing with kids, then you might be interested in the non-alcoholic package. It covers soda, non-alcoholic cocktails, energy drinks, juice, coffee, and organic tea.
This package doesn’t apply to the specialty restaurants, nor the mini-bar or room service.
Does the Drink Package Work on Ocean Cay?
Ocean Cay is MSC’s private island (see our complete guide to the island here), and yes, the MSC drink package works on Ocean Cay just as it does on the ship.
Since cruises aboard MSC from Florida typically include a stop here, it’s an extra day that you can get your money’s worth from buying the drink package. Simply head up to any of the numerous bars on the island and place your order.
Is There a Daily Limit on How Many Drinks I Can Get?
No. There is no mention of a daily limit on drinks mentioned with the packages. That said, if you appeared overserved, then the cruise line reserved the right to refuse service.
Be sure to mix in some waters with those margaritas during your cruise.
What If My Drink Is More than the Limit on the Package?
Some drink packages have dollar limits on what you can get with them. For instance, the Easy Package is good for beverages up to $6 per glass. If you order a drink more than the limit, then you are responsible for the full cost of the drink.
For example, say you purchase a $10 cocktail with the Easy Package, which has a $6 limit. In this case you’d have to pay the entire $10 out of pocket plus the service charge. The package limits don’t subtract from the drink prices if it’s more than what’s allowed.
What Drinks Are Available for $6? What About $12?
While the Easy Package is attractive at just $35, many people wonder what alcoholic drinks are available for $6 or under.
The good news is that there is an entire page of simple mixed cocktails like Moscow Mule, Long Island Iced Tea, Bourbon and Coke, and more. Take a look:
As for beers, most are priced slightly above $6, but you can get Heineken and Miller Lite. Other beers like Budweiser, Dos Equis, Sam Adams, and Bud Light are priced between $6.50 to $7.
Your options are much more under the Premium Package that includes drinks up to $12. Here you get pretty much all the menu but a handful of “Signature Cocktails” that are high-end fancy drinks.
The menu below only had a single page of cocktails that were more than $12 per glass:
Is the MSC Drink Package Worth It?
For some people the drink package is a great way to save money. For others, it can be a waste as you’ll spend more than you would otherwise.
Before you buy the package, it’s important that you do the math and think about how you will use it.
The first thing to do is figure out what sort of drinks you’ll want on the cruise and how many per day.
Beer drinker? Most beers run about $7 each unless you are fine with Heineken or Miller Lite. If you plan to drink five a day, then that’s $35, compared to the $62 per day for the Premium Package that’s needed to purchase them.
Don’t forget to add in non-alcoholic drinks that you might have.
To give you an idea of what things cost, we have general prices below:
- Beers: $6-7 (most $6.50 or above)
- Cocktails: $6-13 (most $9 or above)
- Soda: $2.25-3.25
- Juice: $2.95-$4.25
- Energy Drinks: $4.95
- Bottled Water (Spring & Sparkling): $2.75-5.50
Beyond considering how much you will drink each day, consider the amount of ports of call on your cruise. Remember that you can’t use the package while off the ship, unless you are visiting Ocean Cay. You can use the package on the ship while it is in port.
If you’re the sort of person who likes to get out and explore then that’s a lot of time that you won’t be able to use the package.
Finally, remember that if one person buys a drink package that everyone in the cabin has to buy it. So if you are a couple and one person drinks and the other doesn’t, then it’s going to be much harder to get your money’s worth.
The drink package rule also applies to kids that are three years and older. Be sure to add in these costs when making your decision.
To give you an idea of how to figure if it’s worth it, let’s do an example. Say you plan to drink three beers a day, three cocktails by the pool, and two bottles of water.
In this case, the estimated price would be about $21 for beers, $36 for cocktails, and $6 for water. That comes out to $63 for a day. In this case, you would break even if you bought the Premium package before your cruise.
You can use this amount as a baseline to see how much you’d need to drink to get your money’s worth. Keep in mind that if you have higher-end tastes you might want the Premium Plus drink package. If you are fine with basic drinks, then the Easy drink package might work for you.
Have more questions about MSC’s drink package? Let us know in the comments below.