Whether you’re new to cruising or readying to book a repeat voyage, you’re probably contemplating whether or not to tack on an onboard beverage package. Most cruise lines—at least those that aren’t all-inclusive—offer prepaid add-on drink packages. There are all-alcohol or wine-only packages, soda options, and even alternatives for unlimited specialty coffees.
The benefits of drink packages can be twofold: a discount on your overall bar bill, as well as the convenience of not signing a check for every soda or glass of wine ordered. As an added bonus, the unlimited nature of the arrangement may encourage your palate to explore new flavors—after all, sampling new drinks is all the more feasible when you’re not worrying that your money will go to waste if you don’t like it.
HOW TO DETERMINE IF A BEVERAGE PACKAGE IS RIGHT FOR YOU
These unlimited drink packages can be a terrific value—under certain circumstances. However, many cruise lines mandate that if one person in your stateroom buys a beverage package, everyone in the stateroom has to buy one. If a couple with similar drinking habits is sharing a cabin, this may be fine, but the calculation is murkier for families or a couple with one alcohol drinker and one teetotaler.
Know what you’re getting in the drink package. Most soda packages are valid only for fountain soda. If you prefer canned tonic, you should stick to paying à la carte prices for your drinks.
The itinerary will also play a major part in your decision-making. If you’re spending several days at sea, you may get more value out of a drink package than if you are out and about in port all day.