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 and Azamara Quest
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. Options include the Premium Package (featuring 24 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 $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 $75; US$315 to $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 Club Cruises 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.
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$7.25 per day for adults and AU$5.50 per day for children and it's sold only onboard the ship at the lobby, casino and pool bars.
Fine print: Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend 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
Ships: All ships, except Carnival Legend (when based in Australia) and Carnival Spirit -- see section above.
Package Details: The Cheers! program has been rolled out to all ships in the Carnival Cruise Line fleet, with the exception of those sailing in Australia. In 2018, 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. The package allows cruisers to select from mixed drinks, beer, wine and spirits valued at US$50 or less each, up to a 15-drink maximum per day. Additionally, the package includes soda, nonalcoholic cocktails, energy drinks, specialty coffees and teas, most bottled water, PowerAde, Vitamin Water, coconut water and Honest Tea. The program also includes a 25 percent discount on bottles of wine and Champagne, beverage classes and seminars, and cocktails that cost more than US$50.
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 (Celebrity Xpedition, Celebrity Xperience, Celebrity Xploration)
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$55 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$65 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: An 18 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 Pranzo & Cena package (US$20.99 per person, per day) includes a selection of unlimited wines, beers and soft drinks by the glass when served with lunch and dinner. A kids-geared variation on this package, Giovani (US$7.99 per child, per day), offers soft drinks, smoothies, hot chocolate and mineral water at mealtimes.
Other adult-oriented drinks packages include the Brindiamo (US$34.99 per person, per day), with a selection of wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks and specialty coffees available throughout the day; Piu Gusto (US$38.49 per person, per day), which offers the same as Brindiamo, along with an expanded selection of cocktails and frozen drinks; and Intenditore (US$59 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.
As of April 2018, Costa will implement a new tiered pricing model, with beverage packages automatically bundled into premium cruise fares. However, beverage packages, as outlined above, will still be available on a supplementary, a la carte basis for base-level Costa Basic Fares. Higher tiers include Costa Comfort Classic fares, inclusive of the Pranzo & Cena package; Costa Comfort Premium fares, which include the Brindiamo package (though without cocktails); or Comfort Deluxe, featuring the Intenditore package -- all three of these fare tiers likewise automatically include a kids' Giovani package. Note, however, that upgrades on beverage packages are not allowed for the drinks-inclusive fare levels; if you want a more inclusive package, you'll need to book the corresponding cruise fare.
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 18 and older, 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.
Holland America Line
Package Details: For US$51.69 per person, per day, with advance purchase, or US$57.44 when you purchase onboard, 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 US$9. 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. On Koningsdam, this also includes the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, which offer more than 100 flavors. The price for the Elite Beverage Package is US$63.19 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$252 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, all adults in the same cabin are required to purchase it. Items from the mini-bar, in-room dining and beverages on Half Moon Cay private island are excluded from packages.
Package Details: MSC Cruises offers multiple beverage packages, includingthe All-Inclusive Deluxe Drinks Package (four- to eight-night sailings, US$55 per person, per day; nine-plus nights, US$44 per person, per day), which includes all beers, wines by the glass, premium spirits and cocktails (including nonalcoholic cocktails), mineral water, energy drinks, soft drinks, tea and coffee, as well as drinks from the mini-bar and from the room service menu. This package is valid in all onboard bars, lounges and restaurants (including specialty restaurants). It also gets you a 30 percent discount on bottles of wine and Champagne. Children's packages are priced at US$23 and US$18.50 per person, per day, respectively, and they include all nonalcoholic beverages -- including milkshakes, smoothies and mocktails.
Available on MSC Seaside and MSC Divina in the Caribbean is the All-Inclusive Classic Drink Package (four- to eight-night Caribbean sailings, US$47 per person, per day; nine-plus night Caribbean sailings, US$38 per person, per day) or in all other destinations as the All-Inclusive Restaurant & Bar Package (US$23 to $29 per person, per day). This option offers spirits and cocktails (excluding premium brands), a selection of wine by the glass, all beers, soft drinks, mineral water, coffee, tea, hot chocolate and ice cream (cone or cup). The package is valid in all onboard bars, lounges and restaurants. These packages do not include premium liquors and cocktails, or mini-bar or room service items. Corresponding kids' package details in the Caribbean are the same as for the All-Inclusive Deluxe Drinks Package; in other destinations, the accompanying kids' packages (US$10.50 to $13.50 per child, per day) include soft drinks, mineral water, mocktails, smoothies, hot drinks and ice cream in a cone or cup.
Or, offered on all sailings outside of the Caribbean, the Mealtime Restaurant Drink Packages for adults (US$14.50 to $18.50 per person, per day) and kids (US$8 to $10 per person, per day) allow for unlimited beverages during lunch and dinner in the main dining rooms and self-serve buffets. Featured items for adults are house wine selections, draft beer, mineral water and soft drinks. The children's version includes soft drinks and mineral water. These packages are not valid for drinks or discounts on drinks in alternative restaurants.
Note that these drink packages are purchased as an optional add-on for MSC cruise fare tiers that include the Bella, Fantastica and Wellness Experience. The Aurea Experience and MSC Yacht Club fares are both inclusive of either a Classic or Deluxe drinks packages (dependent upon the specific sailing).
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-US-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.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Ships: All ships except for Pride of America. Norwegian Sky includes a free Ultimate Beverage Package for all passengers.
Package Details: Norwegian has two beverage packages, available on all ships except for Pride of America. The Corks and Caps Package costs US$59 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 Ultimate Beverage Package costs $89 per person, per day (plus a 20 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 at Great Stirrup Cay.
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 up, that means buying the soda package instead.) 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. For any beverage purchase over US$15, a 15 percent discount will be applied, with the difference charged to the passenger's account. 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 $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 Drinks Package (Australia)
Princess ships in Australia offer both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drink packages. After two years of offering the best value package, the line raised prices in September 2017.
Package details: 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.
The Unlimited Soda & More Packages allows soft drinks, mocktails, juices and hot chocolate for AU$8.05 per person, per day. The Princess Premium Coffee Card entitles you to 15 espresso-based coffees or premium teas for a one-off fee of AU$36. 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.
Package Details: Princess Cruises' Premier Beverage Package costs US$59.99 per person, per day, plus a 15 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 ($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.
Beverage deal: P&O's drink package prices increased in 2016, with different costs 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$19.80, including six 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 Drink Packages
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 US$55 per person, per day, Deluxe Beverage Package 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 US$100 and a 20 percent discount on wine bottle purchases more than US$100. Drinks must not exceed US$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 other adults in the cabin bmust 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.
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 start at US$139 per person for a seven-night sailing; the line charges for drink packages by the voyage duration, rather than by the day, so you'll need to check prices for your particular length of cruise.
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 three separate drinks packages. The Voyager's Adventure Wine Package (US$32 per person, per day) allows passengers to choose from a list of 20 fine wines (priced up to US$8.50 per glass). The Topmast Discoveries Wine Package (US$42 per person, per day) allows a choice from 33 premium wines (up to US$11.50 per glass). Finally, the Captain's Exclusive Beverage Package (US$52 per person, per day) entitles passengers to unlimited cocktails, spirits, beer and wines priced up to US$11.50 per glass; 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.