Updated: Mar 5, 2020
One of benefits of taking a cruise is the ability to relax and enjoy the cruise experience – which easily includes alcoholic beverages. It may be a great deal to buy a cruise alcohol beverage package. But how do you figure out if the package is worth the investment? Below are some of our suggestions on how to make this decision.
Have you done the math? I recently cruised with my mother and sister on Holland America Line. The cruise line offers several beverage packages. The two most comprehensive were the “signature” package and the “elite” package.
The packages include a variety of wine, beer, spirits, cocktails (including non-alcoholic), sodas, bottled water and coffee. The package must be purchased for the entire duration of the voyage.
The signature package includes any beverage priced at $11.00 or lower (up to 15 beverages per day). When I last checked, the signature package was $51.69 per person a day if booked ahead of time. If you booked it on board, it was $55.75 a day.
The elite package upgrades to include any beverage priced at $15.00 or lower (up to 15 beverages per day). Prices are per day at $63.19 if pre-booked online compared to $64.95 if purchased on board.
These can be great deals if you’ll consume that much liquid. But keep in mind that there are also plenty of opportunities to drink water, coffee, and other soft beverages for free in the dining areas.
How much time will you spend off the ship? If you’ll be in port a lot, you may not take full advantage of the cruise alcohol beverage package.
Where might you consume your alcohol when on the cruise? For example, on the Holland America Line neither cruise alcohol beverage package includes the minibar, any honor bar, beverages on Half Moon Cay, its private island, in room dining, or self-serve draft beer. If you plan on drinking from those venues, it will cost extra, a cost you should factor in when making your decision to buy an alcohol beverage package.
Do you plan on participating in the cruise’s alcohol-related events? Cruise ship bar happy hours are common, with the second glass a fraction of the cost of first one. Cruises also offer a number of alcohol-related activities for a fee, such as wine tastings and bar crawls. If you plan on participating in those activities, it may not be worth it to buy an alcohol beverage package as well.
Are there terms and conditions that make the package less attractive? For instance, many operators require that if one person purchases a cruise alcohol beverage package, everyone else staying in the same stateroom over 21 must purchase the same package, since the package can’t be shared. If you don’t, the stateroom account will be charged for the guests who haven’t purchased the package. If you’re traveling with a light or non-drinker, then this may not be a good choice for you.
Are there other options for obtaining alcohol? For example, Holland America allows each passenger to bring one bottle of wine or champagne on board; additional ones are allowed but subject to a corkage fee. Frequent cruisers may also be entitled to alcohol-related perks, such as special lunches with wine or mimosas at breakfast. You may not need an alcohol beverage package.
We hope you find these suggestions about whether to buy a cruise alcohol beverage package helpful. Please share your experiences and recommendations about cruising and beverage packages. Ship ahoy!