The cruise line uses a variable pricing system, deciding on whether or not to buy a drink package is not simple math like it would be on a Carnival cruise.
When you book a room on a Royal Caribbean International (RCL) – Get Royal Caribbean Group Report or Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) – Get Carnival Corporation Report cruise, you essentially just pay for your stateroom, dining in the main dining room, buffet, and a few other free options, as well as entertainment and use of most of the ship’s facilities. You don’t, however, get internet access, meals in added-fee or premium restaurants, and drinks aside from water, milk, basic coffee, and a few other choices.
Bottled water, soda, specialty coffees, fresh juice, milkshakes, and, of course, adult beverages cost extra. You can buy those as you go or you can pay for a premium drink package. The cruise line offers a few of them including:
Classic Soda Package: Soda at any venue and from the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine,The Refreshment Package: Soda, bottled water, specialty coffee, fresh-squeezed juice, and milkshakes.The Deluxe Beverage Package: This includes everything in all of the other packages but adds alcoholic beverages including any mixed drink, spirit, wine, beer, or anything else up to $14 per drink.
The deluxe package also allows you to get discounts on bottles of wine, and, if you have it, you only pay the difference on any drink that costs more than $14. And, unlike Carnival’s unlimited drink package, which actually limits you to 15 alcoholic drinks per day, the Royal Caribbean package actually lets passengers have as many drinks as they would like as long as they are not visibly intoxicated.
How Does the Royal Caribbean Drink Package Work?
Whether the drink package is “worth it,” depends on two main factors — how much you plan to drink and how much the package costs on your cruise. That can vary greatly from as low as $52 a day to perhaps as high as $85 per day (or even higher in rare cases (plus an 18% pre-paid gratuity).
Carnival sells its drink package for a set price:
59.95 USD, per person, per day plus 18% service charge when purchased pre-cruise$64.95 per person, per day plus 18% service charge when purchased onboard.
Royal Caribbean also makes deciding on the drink package even harder for its customers because the price can change. The cruise line frequently offers sales on pre-cruise purchases (usually around pretty much every holiday) and sometimes the sale price is better than the “regular” price, but sometimes not.
Basically, the price varies by cruise and it can change often in the lead-up to your cruise departing. To get the best price you have to monitor the cruise line’s website and, if you bought it, but see a lower price you can cancel your original order and buy it again (but you will have to wait until your credit card is refunded to get your money back).
And, in general, all adults 21-and-over sailing in the same cabin must get the premium package if anyone in the room opts to get it. You can, however, call the cruise line give a reason why someone in the room won’t be getting the premium package but that person will have to purchase a Refreshment Package.
It is strictly forbidden for anyone with the Deluxe package to share or give a drink to anyone who does not have it (and if you get caught, you may lose your package with no refund).
But Is the Royal Caribbean Drink Package Worth It?
While the price seems high, it’s actually pretty easy to drink more than the Deluxe package costs when a beer may cost $7, a mixed drink $13, a glass of wine $10, a specialty coffee $6, fresh-squeezed juice $10, and soda maybe $4. You don’t have to be a heavy drinker for the numbers to pile up quickly.
Let’s look at an example:
8 a.m. Fresh-squeezed orange juice at the Windjammer buffet $109 a.m. Cappuccino at Cafe Promenade $612 p.m. Soda with lunch $41:30 p.m. Bottle of water at the pool $33 p.m. Beer at Lime & Coconut by the pool $7 4 p.m. Bottle of water at the pool $35 p.m. Mixed drink at the Bionic Bar $137 p.m. Wine with dinner in the main dining room $109 p.m. Mixed drink in the theater $139:30 Bottle of water at Bolero’s $310 p.m. Mixed drink at Playmakers $1311 p.m. Bottle of water at Cafe Promenade $312 a.m. Mixed drink at the Schooner Bar $13
That’s not a hard-drinking day and purchased a la carte you would have spent $101 on drinks. Now, if you’re only going to have a drink or two, don’t drink soda, like basic coffee, and prefer flavored water to real juice, then a drink package is a waste of money. But, anyone who may have 3-5 alcoholic beverages in a day (or more) who may also have a fancy coffee, a juice, a few bottles of water, and even a milkshake, then even at the higher per-day prices, buying a drink package is generally worth it.
There’s also, of course, the piece of mind of not having to do the math as you go or pass up on a drink you’d like to have because you’re spending too much money. The Deluxe Beverage Package lets you focus on your vacation and while it’s important to drink responsibly (you don’t want to end up in the ship’s brig) you can get good value for your dollar without having to be a heavy drinker.