Hate paying individually for drinks on a mainstream cruise ship -- or perhaps you've been known to run up a huge bar tab onboard? You might be the ideal candidate for an alcohol-inclusive drinks package, offered by the majority of mainstream cruise lines. These programs let cruisers pay one base price that covers most -- if not all -- of their nonalcoholic and alcoholic drinks onboard. Of course, while high prices and annoying fine print may persuade some travellers to buy as you go, for others, the freedom to sample brightly coloured cocktails and unknown wines can be too appealing to ignore.
See below for a line-by-line guide to drink packages available on cruise ships in Australia and around the world.
Ships: Azamara Journey, Azamara Quest and Azamara Pursuit
Package Details: Although Azamara includes most nonalcoholic beverages along with select standard spirits, beers and a changing daily selection of red and white wines by the glass in its cruise fares, the line also has four for-fee beverage and wine packages.
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Options include the Premium Package (featuring 22 types of beer and dozens of liquors and liqueurs; US$15.95 per person, per day), and the Ultimate Liquor Package, which builds upon the Premium Package with more offerings for liquors and liqueurs, along with select wines by the glass, Nespresso coffees and premium waters (US$21.95 per person, per day).
There are also two wine packages: the Wine Lover Package (choose from more than 80 bottles of wine valued at US$50 or less; US$180 to US$350 for five-, seven-, 10- and 12-bottle packages) and the Wine Connoisseur Package (more than 50 bottles of wine valued at US$51 to US$75; US$315 to US$630 for five-, seven-, 10- and 12-bottle packages). All packages feature more choices and more premium brands than the complimentary offerings.
Fine Print: Packages can be pre-purchased (through Azamara or your travel agent) or bought onboard throughout the length of your cruise. Charges begin on day one or the day you purchase the package. Packages are not refundable once purchased and cannot be downgraded to a lower-tier package. You can only order one drink at a time. Drinks through room service are also permitted, during hours in which shipboard bars are open.
Carnival Cruise Line (Australia)
Note: Until 31 January 2020, Carnival Cruise Line is trialling the Cheers! program on Australia-based ships at a cost of AU$119 per person, per day. Inclusions are the same as listed below under Carnival Cruise Line (International).
Package details: Bottomless Bubbles drinks package enables you to enjoy soft drinks and juices during meals, shows and elsewhere while onboard the ship. The cost is AU$8.25 per day for adults, AU$6.50 per day for children, or AU$7.95 per day with a soft drink tumbler. The Bottomless Bubbles package is only sold onboard the ship at the lobby, casino and pool bars.
Fine print: Carnival Spirit and Carnival Splendor drinks package must be purchased for every day of the cruise, and you can only buy one beverage at a time. It doesn't include drinks supplied in your minibar or by room service, and it doesn't apply to bottled water. In Australia, adults aged 18 and older can be served alcohol on Carnival ships in line with Australian laws.
Carnival Cruise Line (International)
Ships: All ships, except Carnival Spirit and Carnival Splendor when based in Australia -- see section above -- and those sailing Europe itineraries.
Package Details: The cost for the program is US$51.95, per person, per day, if purchased in advance, and US$56.95 per person, per day, if purchased once onboard (plus a 15 percent gratuity). The package allows cruisers to select from mixed drinks, beer (including Carnival's own line of specialty craft beer), wine and spirits valued at US$20 or less each, up to a 15-drink maximum per day.
Additionally, the package includes soda, juices, nonalcoholic cocktails, energy drinks, specialty coffees and teas, most bottled water, milkshakes (where available), Powerade, Vitaminwater, coconut water and Honest Tea. The program also includes a 25 percent discount on bottles of wine and Champagne, select water bottles, beverage classes and seminars, and cocktails, spirits or wines by the glass that cost more than US$20.
Fine Print: Packages can be purchased in advance online or by phone, until the evening prior to the cruise departure, or at bars once onboard. If one adult in a cabin purchases the Cheers! package, all adults over 21 years old in that cabin must also purchase it. Participants can order only one drink at a time, there is a five-minute wait time required between drink purchases, and all bottles and cans are served opened; there is a limit of 15 alcoholic drinks per person within any 24-hour period. The package does not apply to drinks in souvenir glasses or via room service.
Due to state laws, the Cheers! package is not available until the second day of all sailings leaving from ports in New York and Texas. Cheers! applies to onboard beverages only; it cannot be used at two private ports of call in the Bahamas: Half Moon Cay or Princess Cays. The package must be booked for the entire duration of the voyage.
Ships: All ships except for the line's Galapagos-exclusive fleet
Package Details: Celebrity Cruises offers three alcohol-inclusive drink packages. The Standard Beverage Package (US$45 per person, per day) includes select drinks (beer, wine, cocktails) up to US$6 per serving. This includes soda and bottled water. Additionally, the package includes a 10 percent discount on wines purchased by the bottle.
The Classic Beverage Package, priced at US$59 per person, per day, upgrades the Standard Package to include spirits, cocktails, frozen drinks, beer and wine by the glass valued at up to US$9 each. Plus, soda, fresh-squeezed and bottled juices, premium coffees and teas and non-premium bottled water are bundled in. The package also includes a 15 percent discount on wines by the bottle.
The Premium Beverage Package, priced at US$69 per person, per day, includes all of the above along with premium bottled water, specialty coffees and teas, Red Bull and spirits, cocktails, beers, Champagne and wine by the glass up to US$13 per serving. The package also includes a 20 percent discount on wines by the bottle.
Or, choose from three wines-by-the-bottle Taste of the Vineyard packages: the Classic Wine Package (from US$109 for three, five or seven bottles), the Premium Wine Package (from US$149 for three, five or seven bottles) or the Build Your Own Wine Package (select three bottles priced at US$75 or more and get a 15 percent discount).
Note that Celebrity's trio of ships that exclusively sail to the Galapagos -- Celebrity Xpedition, Celebrity Xperience and Celebrity Xploration -- operate on an all-inclusive basis, with all beer, wine and spirits served onboard free of charge.
Fine Print: A 20 percent service charge is added to package prices. Packages must be bought for the entire sailing and refunds are not allowed; however, packages can be purchased onboard up until two days are left in the cruise, at prorated prices. Packages do not include drinks purchased from the mini-bar, via room service or from Enomatic wine dispensing machines. Preordered packages can be modified up to four days prior to the sailing date.
Package Details: With its standard cruise fares, Costa Cruises offers a variety of supplementary beverage packages. The Brindiamo (€24.99 per person, per day), with a selection of wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks and specialty coffees available throughout the day; Piu Gusto (€27.99 per person, per day), which offers the same as Brindiamo, along with an expanded selection of cocktails and frozen drinks; and Intenditore (€45.99 per person, per day), which features unlimited drinks by the glass priced up to 9 euros, as well as drinks via room service and from the mini-bar. The Giovani package (€15.99 per person, per day) must be combined with one of the beverage packages for adults - Brindiamo, Piu' Gusto or Intenditore. It includes a selection of unlimited soft drinks by the glass, with the exception of minibar drinks. It is only available to children between 4 and 17 years old. The tiered pricing model which includes drinks in the cost of the cruise is not available for Australian cruisers.
Fine Print: Package prices are inclusive of a 15 percent service charge. Mini-bar products and premium brands are excluded from packages apart from Intenditore. Adults' packages are for passengers ages 21 and older for U.S. ports and 18 and older for all other ports, while kids' packages are for children ages 4 to 17. All passengers, even kids (ages 4 and up), traveling together with the same booking number or who choose to dine together, must purchase a drinks package, or travel on a premium fare that's inclusive of one.
Cruise & Maritme Voyages
Package Details: With its standard cruise fares, Cruise & Maritme Voyages offers a variety of supplementary beverage packages for guests aged over 18 which also include additional benefits such as gratuities and exclusive discounts. Starting at AU$24 per person per day on Australian departures of 70 nights or more (£15 per person on European departures), the CMV Plus package includes juices, soft drinks, mocktails and selected non-alcoholic beers and 50 percent off premium coffees and teas. The CMV Premium package starts at AU$39 per person per day (£24 per person on European departures) and includes the same benefits as the CMV Plus package plus all-inclusive bar drinks (excluding Premium Beverages), and house wines, including white, rosé, sparkling & red varietals. The CMV VIP package starts at AU$70 per person per day (£30 per person on European departures) includes the same benefits as the previous two packages plus Signature Wines, premium beverages from the bar, and one bottle of in-room mineral water and on excursions daily.
There are two CMV Additions packages for guests aged under 18 years. These include soft drinks, juices and mocktails, and a 25 percent discount at the ice cream stand, 10 percent discount on sweets and lollies, and 25 percent discount on premium hot chocolate. This package starts AU$13 per person per day (£7 per person per day on European cruises) for ages 3 to 10 and AU$22 per person per day (£11 per person per day on European cruises) for ages 11 to 17.
Fine Print: CMV Additions packages are available on cruises five nights or longer. You can also enjoy early-booking discounts when pre-booking the CMV Additions package more than seven days from departure, which can be combined with exclusive Columbus Club discounts: 5 percent for Gold members, 7.5 percent for Platinum members and 10 percent for Diamond members.
Holland America Line
Package Details: For US$54.95 per person, per day, Holland America's Signature Beverage Package allows cruisers to indulge in a variety of wine, beer, spirits, cocktails (including nonalcoholic), sodas and coffee for an entire sailing. Each drink must cost no more than $11.
The Elite Beverage Package will buy you premium spirits, cocktails, wines, beers, coffees, nonalcoholic beverages, bottled water and sodas, up to a value of US$15 each. The price for the Elite Beverage Package is US$59.95 per person, per day if purchased in advance or onboard.
The line also offers a Cellar Master Package, which includes a choice of five wine bottles, a standard and a premium wine-tasting, one Pinnacle Grill dinner, a wine accessory gift set and a Holland America Line commemorative bottle of wine, starting at US$273.74 per person.
Fine Print: Prices reflect an included 15 percent service charge. Packages are only available to purchase onboard during the first 48 hours of the cruise. If one passenger in a cabin opts for a Signature or Elite drinks package, anyone who is 21-plus years old in the same cabin is required to purchase it as well. Items from the mini-bar, in-room dining and beverages on Half Moon Cay are excluded from packages. Passengers can only order one drink at a time, and no sharing is permitted.
Package Details: MSC Cruises offers multiple beverage packages, starting with the Easy Package, which is available for $35 per person, per day, and includes drinks priced up to $6 including house wines by the glass, one brand of draft beer that varies by sailing and Miller Lite bottled beer (on Caribbean itineraries only), select spirits and cocktails (including non-alcoholic cocktails), soft drinks, fruit juice by the glass, bottled water, and classic hot drinks (espresso, cappuccino, cafe latte, hot tea and hot chocolate). This package is valid in all onboard bars, as well as the buffet and restaurants, but not in specialty restaurants.
The Premium Package is $62 per person, per day, and it includes the same types of beverages as the Easy Package, but all drinks up to $12. It also includes multiple draft and bottled beers, more spirits and wines, and energy drinks. This package is available in specialty restaurants, in addition to bars, buffets and restaurants onboard.
The Premium Plus Package includes all drinks by the glass, and it costs $79 per person, per day. It is available everywhere, including room service, and also offers a 30 percent discount on the purchase of wine and Champagne by the bottle.
A children's package is available for $17 per person, per day, and includes all nonalcoholic beverages -- including sodas, soft serve ice cream and mocktails. The children's package cannot be used in specialty restaurants.
Fine Print: If one person in a cabin purchases a package, all others in the cabin must purchase a package; same goes for family or friends traveling together and wishing to share a dinner table. Passengers 21 or older (18 or older on cruises not departing from the United States) can only select an alcohol package; passengers older than 3 but younger than 21 (younger than 18 on non-U.S.-based sailings) can choose between the equivalent children's package or a soda package. Packages must be purchased for the entire duration of each voyage.
Only one drink may be ordered at a time. The above listed packages do not include drinks in souvenir glasses. All-inclusive drink packages are not available on shorter one- to three-night sailings, except for South American cruises where no minimum nights are required.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Ships: All ships, but note that Pride of America has its own package. Norwegian Sky includes a free Premium Beverage Package for all passengers.
Package Details: Norwegian has three beverage packages available on all ships, except for Pride of America. The Corks and Caps Package costs US$65 per person, per day (plus 20 percent gratuity), and includes a selection of fountain soda and juices, beer (draft and bottles) and wines by the glass (US$15 or less). A 20 percent discount applies toward the purchase of any bottle of wine.
The Premium Beverage Package costsUS$99 per person, per day (plus a US20 percent gratuity), and includes everything in the Corks and Caps Package, plus liquor and cocktails (all drinks US$15 or less). You can use your beverage package at all onboard bars, lounges and restaurants, and on the line's private Bahamian island, Great Stirrup Cay.
The Premium Plus Beverage Package costs US$128 per person, per day (plus a 20 percent gratuity), and it covers all drinks by the glass, with no price cap; still and sparkling bottled water; specialty coffee; energy drinks; select wines by the bottle at restaurants; and 40 percent off all other bottles of wine, flights, tastings and other experiences.
Passengers sailing on Pride of America have the choice of only one exclusive beverage package, the Hawaii Beverage Package. For US$99 per person, per day (plus a 20 percent gratuity), the package covers alcoholic beverages (up to US$15), soda, freshly squeezed juice, still and sparkling bottled water, nonalcoholic beer and specialty coffee in the ship's dining venues.
Fine Print: Two drinks are allowed per passenger, per order. All passengers sharing a cabin or using the same payment method (i.e., kids you stuck in the inside cabin across the hall) must purchase the beverage package. (For kids 3 and older, that means buying the soda package instead.) The exception is the Hawaii package, which applies only to the first two passengers on the reservation.
Packages do not include room service, buckets of beer, "super premium" brands of liquor, wine by the bottle, wine stations, mini-bar purchases, freshly squeezed juice, energy drinks, select specialty coffees or bottled water (except where specifically indicated). For any beverage purchase over US$15, passengers with a drink package (other than Corks and Caps) will pay the full drink price minus US$15.
Drink packages are not valid at the Harvest Caye port in Belize or on sailings of one or two days. Passengers may only purchase packages onboard on embarkation day for sailings between March 1 and April 15.
Package Details: Oceania Cruises offers two beverage package options. House Select, which costs US$39.95 per person, per day, includes unlimited Champagne, wine and beer with dinner and lunch. The second package, Prestige Select, is pricier -- US$59.95 per person, per day -- and includes spirits, beer, wine and Champagne in bars and restaurants. Either package entitles the purchaser to 20 percent off wine-pairing dinners at La Reserve (aboard Marina and Riviera).
The line also has a Wine by the Bottle package of seven bottles (selections can be made from a set list, which varies by ship and voyage), with each bottle priced at US$47.50, including gratuity -- a good savings, considering most bottles retail in the US$60 to US$100 range. Oceania already includes in cruise fares items like soft drinks, bottled water and specialty coffees. Note that passengers booking the line's ongoing OLife Choice promotional fares can choose a complimentary House Select beverage package as part of the deal.
Fine Print: Package prices include gratuities and can be pre-booked online or through a reservations representative. They can also be purchased onboard at any time during the cruise (with prices prorated for days remaining). You can upgrade from the House Select to Prestige Select during the voyage, but you can't downgrade. Refunds aren't allowed.
Princess Cruises (Australia)
Package details: Princess ships in Australia offer both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drink packages. Premier Beverage Package costs AU$86.99 per person per day. Available on all cruises of eight nights or longer, it covers drinks up to the value of AU$16 including cocktails, spirits, beers, wine by the glass, specialty coffees, soft drinks, shakes, juices and water bottles. Passengers who buy the deal also receive a 25 percent discount on all bottles of wine and including a free one-litre bottle of water when you dine at a specialty restaurant. The deal also includes canned soft drinks and bottled juices. The package excludes in-room drinks, mini-bar and vending machine items.
Premier Coffee & Soda Package costs AU$29.99 per day. It includes all specialty or premium coffees and teas, hot chocolate, fountain sodas, fresh juices (if available), Gong Cha items (if available), Frappes at Coffee & Cones, mocktails, and smoothies as per the menu, Red Bull and Milk Shakes (if available). The package includes one souvenir tumbler. The package provides a 25 percent discount on bottled water and canned items such as soda or bottled juices (if available).
The Unlimited Soda & More Packages allows soft drinks, mocktails, juices and hot chocolate for AU$8.05 per person per day. A bottled water package costs AU$6.90 for 12 x 500 ml bottles of water delivered to your stateroom.
Drink packages are also available on Princess' repositioning cruises but, as the ship is not departing from and returning to Australia, these are charged in US dollars and the terms and conditions differ (see below).
Fine print: On Princess cruises originating from Australia, passengers must be 18 years or over to purchase or consume alcohol. When the ship is sailing in American waters the minimum drinking age is 21 years old. For passengers on cruises originating in Japan, the minimum age drinking age is 20. Drinks packages are not available for ordering drinks through room service or from the minibar.
Princess Cruises (International)
Package Details: Princess Cruises' Premier Beverage Package costs US$59.99 per person, per day, plus an 18 percent gratuity, and includes all cocktails, spirits, beer and glasses of wine, valued at up to US$12. Bottled water, juice, fountain soda, energy drinks, specialty coffee and tea, smoothies and milkshakes are also included. Each purchaser of the package also receives a 25 percent discount on all bottled wine.
Additionally, Princess offers beer packages, by brand, which include five bottles for the price of four: Dos Equis (US$25.30), Heineken (US$25.30), Budweiser (US$28.75) and Bud Light (US$26.45). The price includes the service charge. Beer packages are not available on voyages when itineraries begin/end in Australia or New Zealand.
Fine Print: Princess cruisers may purchase the package on three-night or longer cruises (seven nights for Australian itineraries). The packages are available on an individual basis, meaning passengers traveling in the same stateroom do not have to purchase it if one person does. Package must be purchased for the entire cruise duration; prorated/partial packages are not available.
For advance bookings, the window closes three days ahead of the sailing; once onboard, it is only available on embarkation day and is nonrefundable. Only one drink may be ordered at a time and a limit of 15 alcoholic beverages per person, per day, applies to the Premier Beverage Package.
P&O Cruises (Australia)
Beverage deal: P&O's drink package prices are different depending if you buy before or after boarding the ship. To get the best deal, pre-purchase them in Cruise Control (on P&O's website) or by contacting the line's customer service team from approximately 90 days up until four days before departure. To purchase onboard, you should do it before the end of the first sea day, as you will be charged for every day of the cruise, whether you drink every day or not. There are four options to choose from: The Lot, Premium, Refreshment or Soft Drinks.
Its new top-level package, called The Lot, is not only the most expensive in Australia, it's one of the priciest in the world. Available only on cruises of seven nights or longer, The Lot Beverage Package costs AU$105 per person per day if purchased onboard or AU$95 per person per day if pre-purchased. It includes unlimited beer, ciders, wine, cocktails and spirits up to and including AU$15. Items exceeding AU$15 are not included and full charges will apply to these items. It also includes soft drinks (Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Sunkist Orange, Solo, lemonade, tonic water, soda water and ginger ale), 600ml bottled water, juice blends, mocktails, espresso coffee drinks, T2 tea, and energy drinks. Drinks can only be purchased one at a time by the person who has purchased the package. It does not include in-room bottled water or room service, and is subject to P&O Cruises’ Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) Policy, so you might get 'cut off' if you are drunk.
The Premium Beverage Package, costs AU$79 per person per day if purchased prior to sailing. After that, when purchased onboard, the price rises to AU$89 per person per day. It is available only on cruises of seven nights or more. Shorter cruises do not sell alcohol packages; drinks must be bought separately. The Premium package includes any item up to the value of, or equal to, AU$12, such as wine, beer, selected spirits, cocktails and small bottles of water. It does not apply to room service or in-cabin bottled water. The package must be purchased for the entire duration of the cruise, and passengers must be aged 18 years or older on the day the ship departs. You can order one drink at a time and service is subject to P&O's RSA policy.
P&O's Refreshment Drinks Package costs AU$19 per person per day (pre-purchased before boarding, or a much steeper AU$25 per person per day if purchased onboard). It includes unlimited glasses of Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Sunkist Orange, Lemonade, Solo, tonic water, soda water, ginger ale, 600ml bottled water, juice, mocktails, espresso coffee drinks and T2 teas. The Refreshment Drinks Package does not include Red Bull or other energy drinks, in-room bottled water or apply to room service.
P&O's Soft Drink Package costs AU$7 per person per day (pre-purchased before boarding, or AU$7.50 per person per day if purchased onboard). It is available on every itinerary and must be purchased for the full duration of the cruise. The package includes unlimited Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Sunkist Orange, Lemonade, Solo, tonic water, soda water and ginger ale. It does not include bottled water (still or sparkling), Red Bull (or other energy drinks), juice, or orders made through room service. The package can only be purchased on day of embarkation at any bar and must be purchased for every day of your cruise.
There is also an In-Room Bottled Water Package for AU$26, including eight 1.5L bottles of water, or AU$39 for 12 bottles, which will be delivered to your cabin onboard. Free filtered water is available in all the ships' restaurants and bars.
Fine print: As is customary with most cruise lines, passengers are not permitted to take alcohol onboard P&O ships in Australia. Duty-free and alcohol bought while you are ashore are collected at the gangway and returned to you at the end of the cruise.
You are also not permitted to take open or unopened plastic or glass bottled drinks onto the ship. This includes bottled water. However, each passenger is permitted to carry up to 12 cans of loosely packed soft drink onboard. This means it's best you don't arrive carrying a slab of soft drinks and declare it's for the family.
Royal Caribbean Cruises
Ships: All ships with two-night or longer itineraries offer the all-inclusive package.
Package Details: Royal Caribbean has one alcohol-inclusive beverage package on offer. The Deluxe Beverage Package pricing varies by sailing, but is currently between $63 and $89 per person, per day, and includes cocktails, spirits, beer, wine by the glass, mocktails, premium coffee and tea, bottled still and sparkling water, fresh-squeezed juices, fountain sodas with a souvenir Coca-Cola cup, a 40 percent discount on wine bottle purchases up to $100 and a 20 percent discount on wine bottle purchases more than $100.
Drinks must not exceed $12 in value. Gratuities are included in the package price, charged in a lump sum of 18 percent at the time of purchase.
Fine Print: Package does not include mini-bar items, room service, drinks in souvenir glassware or specialty beers. The drinks package must be purchased on embarkation day or a minimum of four days before the cruise ends (prorated prices are available). If one person in a cabin purchases a package, all others in the cabin aged 21 and over must purchase a package. Packages may also be purchased online up to 72 hours prior to embarkation. Package users may only order one item at a time for individual consumption.
Viking Ocean Cruises
Package Details: A sailing on any Viking Ocean Cruises ship includes soft drinks, beer and a rotating selection of house wines by the glass at lunch and dinner, plus specialty coffees and teas around the clock. Spirits, cocktails and premium wines cost extra.
Enter the Silver Spirits Package; it covers drinks up to US$15 each anywhere on the ship. It also covers mini-bar replenishment and premium wines for The Chef's Table pairing, as well as 15 percent off premium beverages costing more than US$15, an extensive collection of Armagnac and bottles of wine more than US$50. Packages are $19.95 per person, per day.
Fine Print: Packages can be pre-purchased or bought onboard during the first day of the cruise and must be purchased for the entire duration of the sailing by all parties sharing a stateroom. Gratuities are included in the pricing.
Package Details: Windstar offers two separate drinks packages. The Topmast Discoveries Beer & Wine Package ($49 per person, per day) allows a choice from domestic and imported beers, and 33 premium wines.
The Captain's Exclusive Beverage Package ($59 per person, per day) entitles passengers to unlimited cocktails, spirits, beer and wines; this includes mini-bar items. (Windstar includes nonalcoholic beverages, such as coffee and soda, for everyone in its cruise fares.)
Bottles of wine and Champagne are not included; however, package holders will get 30 percent off the cost of wine bottles (up to a retail value of US$100) and will not be charged a corkage fee for any wine brought onboard themselves in port.
Fine Print: If one traveler in a cabin buys a package, the other is not required to purchase one, as well. Beverage packages must be purchased within the first two days of the cruise and prices will be prorated if bought on the second day. An additional 15 percent gratuity will be added to the cost of the package.