The cruise line has made a huge improvement to something passengers complain about a lot.
Food and beverages play a huge role in cruises for most passengers.
From the second you get on board, a virtual feast awaits you. Many people get on the ship, report to their muster station, and then head to the buffet or another casual restaurant.
One of the biggest benefits of cruising with Royal Caribbean International (RCL) – Get Royal Caribbean Group Report, Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) – Get Carnival Corporation Report, and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) – Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Report is that cruises are more-or-less all-inclusive. Your basic cruise fare includes meals in the main dining room, the buffet, and a handful of free restaurants. That pretty much always includes 24-7 pizza and a cafe with snacks from early in the morning through late at night.
Beverages, however, are another story. Your cruise ticket just gets you access to the bare minimum. Water, a few flavored waters, hot chocolate, tea, milk, and basic coffee are all you get. To get access to sodas, bottled water, and fancy coffees, you need to pay as you go or buy a beverage package (which vary in price and composition by cruise line). And, of course, if you want alcohol, you can pay for every drink or buy a package.
Royal Caribbean sells a lot of drink packages, but no matter whether you get the refreshment package that does not include alcohol or the everything included drink package, there’s one thing you previously did not get.
Now, the cruise line has fixed that.
Image source: Daniel Kline/TheStreet
Royal Caribbean Adds Starbucks
Many Royal Caribbean ships have Starbucks (SBUX) – Get Starbucks Corporation Report locations onboard. These standalone cafes do not accept any of the cruise line’s beverage packages. If you want a Starbucks coffee, you have to pay for it (think high-end land prices, like visiting one of the chain’s airport locations).
People with a Royal Caribbean beverage package do get access to premium coffee at Cafe Promenade, the Windjammer, and usually one or two other locations onboard, Those places have espresso-based beverages, frozen drinks, and even adult coffees, but they did not use Starbucks coffee until Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Wonder of the Seas.
That ship, the largest in the world, quietly added Starbucks coffee to Cafe Promenade and the other premium coffee locations onboard. The ship has a standalone, full menu Starbucks which still costs extra even if you have a drink package, but you can now get Starbucks lattes, cappuccinos, even Frappuccinos, and other beverages at multiple locations on the ship.
Now, Royal Caribbean has confirmed to TheStreet that the cruise line has brought Starbucks to Cafe Promenade and other premium coffee locations on all of its ships.
Royal Caribbean Does Something Good for Passengers
It may seem like a small thing, but it has always been a pain point for cruise passengers paying for a beverage package that they only got access to inferior coffee. That meant that some, maybe many, coffee fans chose to pay for a Starbucks beverage at least once or twice on their cruise. Now, they can get that as part of their package, rather than only at the actual onboard Starbucks.
This change almost certainly means that the onboard Starbucks locations will sell less coffee (but they do still sell lots of beverages beyond the traditional espresso-based drinks now found in other locations on its ships). It’s a case of the cruise line doing something that benefits passengers, giving them a better experience without charging them more.