Drinks at sea: Should you buy a beverage package on a cruise? - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

Drinks at sea: Should you buy a beverage package on a cruise?

Updated: May 31, 2011 01:10 PM EDT
© Creatas / Thinkstock © Creatas / Thinkstock
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By Heidi Sarna
 

 

Most cruises include the cabin, meals, entertainment, and activities in the fare -- though you'll have to pay extra for drinks, such as bottled water, soda, wine, beer, cocktails, and specialty coffees. These extra fees can really add up if you're a big drinker.

Exceptions to this rule are high-end cruise lines (such as Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, SeaDream Yacht Club and Crystal), which include tips and all alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks in their rates.

But on mainstream cruise lines, you can easily rack up an onboard bill of hundreds of dollars (or more) just for drinks -- whether you guzzle the soft stuff or the hard. To make it easier to keep track of what you're spending (and drinking), many cruise lines now offer a variety of pre-paid drinks packages that can be bought on board or often pre-booked on the cruise lines' websites. For a fixed amount per day or per cruise, you can imbibe with abandon.

The packages are structured in a few ways and may cover one type of drink (bottled water or just soda) or a combination of drinks (beer, wine, and soda). The options include a pre-paid debit card for a fixed cash amount from which drink purchases are subtracted. There's also a pre-paid card (or a sticker on your cruise key/ID card) that gives you access to unlimited beverages. Sometimes drinks packages come in the form of a coupon booklet that can be redeemed for a set number of drinks (ten or 20 drinks). Most lines also bundle bottles of wine, so you can buy three or six bottles of wine to consume on the ship, at generally a 10% to 15% discount off the individual bottle prices.

"The beverage packages appeal to people who want the ability to have whatever they want, whenever they want it with the convenience of knowing it's already paid for at a fair price," says Scott Steenrod, associate vice president of food and beverage operations for
Celebrity Cruises (www.celebritycruises.com), the first cruise line to come up with an extensive menu of drinks packages.

Beverage packages can be a good way to keep track of what you're consuming so there are no surprises when it's time to settle your account. But are these drinks packages actually a good deal?

We've done the math and figured out when it makes financial sense to buy the drinks package rather than individual drinks. And don't forget that some cruise lines allow you to share drinks, so double-check before buying a beverage package for each traveler.

Unless stated otherwise, cruise lines add on an automatic 15% service charge for all drinks. Also, prices may vary slightly on ships with different currencies. For example, Princess Cruises' ships sailing in Australia sell drinks packages in Australian dollars while the currency aboard Costa Cruises' ships is the euro.

Cheers!


Carnival (
www.carnival.com)

"Bottomless Bubbles" fountain soda package: $6 per day for adults, $4.50 per day for kids 17 and under (or $42 for a 7-night cruise)
One can of soda: $1.95
Buy It: If you plan to drink three or more cans per day on a 7-night cruise
Cannot be shared


Norwegian Cruise Line (
www.ncl.com)

Unlimited soda fountain package: $6.25 per person per day; $4 per day for kids 12 and under (or $43.75 for a 7-night cruise).
One can of soda: $2.10
Buy It: If you plan to drink three or more cans per day during your cruise
Cannot be shared

Bottled water packages: six large bottles for $21.95 (a $27 value); 12 large bottles for $39.95 (a $54 value); 18 large bottles for $55.95 (a $81 value); and 24 large bottles for $69.95 (a $108 value).
One large bottle of water: $4.50
Buy It: If you plan to drink four or more large bottles of water during your cruise
Can be shared


Princess Cruises (
www.princess.com)

Unlimited soda fountain package: $4.50 per person per day (or $31.50 for a 7-night cruise)
One can of soda: $1.95
Buy It: If you plan to drink three or more cans of soda per day on a 7-night cruise
Cannot be shared


Holland America (
www.hollandamerica.com)

Soda card: $25 for $50 worth of sodas
One can of soda: $1.95
One glass of fountain soda: $1.50
Buy It: If you plan to drink 13 or more cans, or 16 or more fountain sodas during the cruise
Can be shared

Nonalcoholic beverage card: $45 for $50 worth of non-alcoholic beverages onboard, such as coffee, tea, soda, bottled water, and nonalcoholic cocktails
One can of soda: $1.95
One large bottle of water: $3.75
Buy It: If you plan to drink more than eight cans of soda and eight large bottles of water during your cruise.
Can be shared

Beverage Card: $45 for $50 worth of any beverages onboard, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic
One glass of wine: $4.50
One bottle of beer: $4.45
One can of soda: $1.95
Buy It: If you plan to drink more than 10 glasses of wine or 10 beers; or five glasses of wine or beer and 13 cans of soda during your cruise.
Can be shared

Beverage Card: $90 for $100 worth of any beverages onboard, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic
Buy It: If you'll drink more than 10 glasses of wine or 10 beers, plus 12 cans of soda and six large bottles of water
Can be shared


Costa Cruises (
www.costa.com)

Note: Costa prices on board are in Euros and rates below are the USD equivalents at press time, though prices are subject to change per fluctuating currency exchange rates.

10 nonalcoholic drinks: $25.30 for 10 drinks, including sodas, virgin cocktails, fresh squeezed citrus fruit juice, and iced tea
One soda: $2.50
One virgin cocktail: $4.80
One fruit juice: $3.80
One iced tea: $2.50
Buy It: If you plan to drink at least two of each of the above (10 of these drinks would come to more than $30 if purchased separately; 10 virgin cocktails would total nearly $50)
Can be shared

13 large bottles of mineral water: $32.90
One large bottle of mineral water: $3.65
Buy It: If you plan to drink at least 10 bottles during your cruise; 13 bottles à la carte would come to $47.45
Can be shared

20 large draft beers: $113.85 per person
One draft beer: $6.35
Buy It: If you plan to drink at least 18 beers; 20 beers purchased separately would cost $127.
Can be shared

Wine and water packages: from $94 for four bottles of Italian wine (two red and two white), plus several large bottles of mineral water.
One bottle of wine: $24 for red, $25 for white
One large bottle of mineral water: $3.65
Buy It: If you plan to drink four bottles of wine during your cruise; four bottles purchased separately would cost $98, excluding the large bottles of water
Can be shared

"Happy Individual" beverage package: $16.10 per person per day for wine, draft beer, soft drinks or mineral water by the glass for lunch and dinner in the main dining room and buffet restaurant; $9.20 per day for kids (soft drinks and mineral water only)
Buy It: If you'll drink at least three glasses of wine and one can of soda per day
Cannot be shared


Celebrity Cruises (
www.celebritycruises.com)

"The larger the package, the greater the savings to the guest," said Jacques Van Staden, vice president of culinary operations for Celebrity Cruises.

Soda package: $7 per person per day for fountain soda or cans
One can of soda: $2
Buy It: If you'll drink four or more cans of soda per day on a 7-night cruise
Cannot be shared

Unlimited premium bottled water: $12 per person per day for Evian, Perrier, and Pellegrino
One large bottle of Evian, Perrier, or Pellegrino: $4
Buy It: If you'll drink three or more bottles of water per day on a 7-night cruise
Cannot be shared

Classic nonalcoholic drinks package: $14 per person per day and includes all fountain and cans of soda, juices including fresh squeezed juices, specialty coffees, and bottled water.
One can of soda: $2
One glass/bottle of juice: $2.50
Specialty coffee: $4.50
One large bottle of water: $4
Buy It: If you'll drink at least one can of soda, one large bottle of water, and two specialty coffees per day
Cannot be shared

Premium nonalcoholic drinks package: $18 per person per day and includes all fountain and cans of soda, juices including fresh squeezed juices, smoothies, specialty coffees, frozen drinks, Red bull, Vitamin water, and premium bottled water.
Nonalcoholic cocktails: $4
Smoothies: $4
Frozen drinks: from $6
Red Bull: $5
Vitamin Water: $3.50
Buy It: If you drink a minimum of five or six of these drinks, this package would more than pay for itself.
Cannot be shared

Classic package: $44 per person per day and includes all fountain soda and cans, juices including fresh squeezed juices, smoothies, specialty coffees, frozen drinks, bottled water, beers up to $5, spirits, liqueurs, all cocktails, and wine by the glass up to $8.
Frozen drinks: from $6
Cocktails: from $5.50
Wine: from $5.50
Red Bull: $5
Buy It: If you plan to drink two sodas, two cappuccinos, two bottles of water, two cocktails and two glasses of wine per day, this package would pay for itself.
Cannot be shared

Premium package: $54 per person per day and includes all fountain soda and cans, juices including fresh squeezed juices, smoothies, specialty coffees, frozen drinks, premium bottled water, Red Bull, Vitamin Water, beers, spirits, liqueurs, all cocktails and wine by the glass up to $12.
Buy It: If you plan to drink two sodas, two cappuccinos, two bottles of water, two cocktails and two glasses of wine per day, this package would more than pay for itself.
Cannot be shared


Royal Caribbean (
www.royalcaribbean.com)

Fountain soda package: $6 per person per day and $4 per day for kids 17 and under
One can or glass of fountain soda: $1.95
Buy It: If you'll be drinking more than three cans of soda per day during your cruise
Cannot be shared

Bottled water package: eight 1-liter bottles for $28.45 ($31.60 value); 12 bottles for $40.30 ($47.40 value); 16 bottles for $50.55 ($63.20 value); and 24 bottles for $71.10 ($94.80 value).
One large bottle of water: $3.95
Buy It: If you plan on drinking eight or more large bottles of water during the cruise.
Can be shared

Juice packages: cost $20.15 for 6 bottles of Minute Maid juices; $25.25 for 8 bottles; and $35.55 for 12 bottles.
One bottle of Minute Maid juice: $3.95
Buy It: If you'll be drinking five or more bottles of juice.
Can be shared


Disney Cruise Line (
www.disneycruise.com)

Unlimited fountain soda: Free in all dining rooms and self-service drink areas
Canned soda deal: Buy five cans, get six cans for $9
One can of soda: $1.75
Buy It: If you'll drink more than four cans of soda during your cruise
Can be shared

Bottled water packages: buy five 500-ml bottles of Evian, get six for $10; buy 10, get 12 for $17.50; and buy 20, get 24 for $35
One 500-ml bottle of Evian: $1.75
Buy It: If you'll be drinking five or more bottles of water during your cruise
Can be shared

Beer packages: buy five, get six for $21.25; buy 10, get 12 for $42.50; buy 20, get 24 for $85
One bottle of beer: $4.25
Buy It: If you'll be drinking at least five beers
Can be shared


By the Numbers: À la Carte Pricing for Drinks Aboard Cruise Ships

It's standard practice for the cruise lines to add a 15% service charge to all bar bills, including both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks.

One can of soda: $1.75 each (Disney); $1.95 (HAL, Princess, Carnival and Royal Caribbean); $2 (Celebrity), $2.10 (NCL); $2.50 (Costa)

Half-liter bottle of spring water: $1.75 (Disney); $1.80 (Costa); $1.95 (Carnival and Royal Caribbean); $2 (Princess and Celebrity); $2.45 (HAL); $2.50 (NCL)

1.5-liter bottle of spring water: $3.50 (Princess and Disney); $3.75 (HAL); $3.95 (Carnival and Royal Caribbean); $4 (Celebrity); $4.50 (NCL)

A glass of house wine: $4.50 (HAL); $5 (Costa); $5.45 (NCL); $5.50 (Princess and Celebrity); $5.75 (Carnival and Disney); $6 (Royal Caribbean).

A bottle of domestic beer: $3.95 (Carnival); $4.25 (Princess, Royal Caribbean and Disney); $4.45 (HAL); $4.50 (Celebrity); $4.95 (NCL); and $6.35 (Costa)

A standard (not top-shelf) rum and coke: from $4.50 (Royal Caribbean); $4.75 (Princess); $4.95 (Carnival); $5.25 (NCL); $5.50 (Celebrity); $5.75 a glass (HAL and Disney); $7.50 (Costa)

A piña colada or a daiquiri: $6 (Celebrity); $6.75 each (HAL); $7 (NCL and Royal Caribbean); $7.25 (Carnival); $7.50 (Costa)

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

View the original "Drinks at sea: Should you buy a beverage package on a cruise?" story at www.frommers.com 
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