We know many cruisers wonder if drink packages are a good value. Recently, we sailed on Norwegian Escape and received the Ultimate Beverage Package as part of a promotion. Even though we received this package for free, we still itemized all our drink purchases so we could write this Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package Review.

We have written similar reviews for the drink packages on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises. How did we make out with the drink package on Norwegian Cruise Line?  Well, you will have to continue reading our Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package Review to determine the overall value of this plan.

Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package ReviewNorwegian Ultimate Beverage Package Review – Norwegian Escape Docked in Miami, FL

Note, if you want a detailed run down of all the drink packages offered on Norwegian Cruise Line, see our Complete Guide to Norwegian Drink Packages.

Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package Review

Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package – Getting the Package

You can purchase the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package 90 days before sailing by logging into your MyNCL.com account or on the ship during the first few days of your cruise. Regardless of when and where you purchase the plan, the total cost of the package plus an additional 18% service charge will be assessed at the time of purchase.  If you plan to use onboard credit to purchase the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package, you will have to wait until you are physically on the ship to use those funds.

You must purchase the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package for the entire duration of the cruise. If you buy it while onboard, you will be paying for the “remaining days” left of your cruise.  Normally, NCL offers the package on the first few days of the sailing, except for short cruises.

Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package Review Get Your Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package Early so You Can Have Drinks for Sailaway!

One negative about the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package is that all members of a stateroom must purchase one.  Other cruise lines allow individual members to purchase different drink packages and/or no package at all. This means that if you are a family of four, not only do the two parents have to purchase the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package, but their two kids (staying in the same room or linked to the same reservation) must also purchase the Soda Package.

Norwegian Escape CruiseAll Individuals in a Cabin Must Purchase the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package

What is Included in the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package?

As the name implies, this package is the most encompassing Norwegian Drink Package available. Currently, the plan is priced at $79 per person, per day ($93.22 with 18% service charge).

The Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package includes all soda, beers, wines, and cocktails priced at $15 or less. This includes almost all wines by the glass, all draft beers, and cocktails. If you want to see if your favorite drinks are covered, we have a complete listing of all the bar menus from Norwegian Escape here.

Norwegian Ultimate Beverage PackageVirtually All Alcoholic Drinks are Covered with the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package

At the time of this posting, most beers cost between $6.50 and $6.95. Many glasses of wine ranged from $8.50 to $13.95, with most priced at either $8.95 or $9.95. Most specialty cocktails are priced between $8.95 and $11.95, with many popular drinks being priced at $10.95. Of course, these prices are subject to change at any time and do sometimes vary by cruise region.

If a drink does cost more than $15, you will receive a $15 discount on the drink and pay only the difference in price plus 18% gratuity when using the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package.

Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package

What is Not Covered in the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package?

You can use the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package at all bars and lounges, as well as the complimentary and specialty restaurants. However, the package does not cover drinks in the mini-bar, room service purchases, onboard packages (e.g., buckets of beer), bottles of liquor, vending machines or automatic wine dispensing machines, and gift shop purchases. Unlike some other cruise lines, specialty coffees and teas, bottled water, and freshly squeezed juices are not included in the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package either.

Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package ReviewThese Machines Are Not Part of the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package

Bottles of wine are not covered either; although, you do get a 20% discount if you choose to buy a bottle of wine when you have the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package.

Norwegian Ultimate Beverage PackageBartenders Will Want to See Two Room Key Cards For Two Drinks

You can’t share beverages on the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package. When ordering, you are only allowed one beverage per transaction. If you go to the bar for a drink for both you and your spouse, the bartenders will want to see both room key cards.

Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package Review – Is the Package Worth it?

For a week long cruise, the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package costs $652.54 a person or a total of $1305.08 for the two of us. We did receive this package as a complimentary perk for booking a balcony room during one of NCL’s many promotions.

Below is the breakdown, per day, of the drinks we consumed and their costs while using the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package on our recent Norwegian Escape cruise.

In total, we drank 76 drinks that were included in the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package. The total cost of all those drinks with service charge was $918.34- a far cry from the $1305.08 we needed to consume to break even. In fact, if we had purchased the package, we would have lost $386.74 compared to just paying out of pocket for all our alcoholic beverages.

Norwegian Escape Photo TourWe Got Our “Money’s Worth” One Night Drinking in the Skyline Bar

We also consumed a total of 19 specialty coffees (additional $110.98) and carried two cases of bottled water onboard. We ran out of bottled water on Day 6, which meant we had to purchase 4 1-liter bottles for the remainder of the cruise ($23.60). Even if these were included, it is tough for us to justify buying the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package.

Embarkation Day 1 Quantity Costs Total
Frozen Cocktails 2 $9.95 $19.90
Diet Soda 1 $2 $2
Drinks of the Day 2 $7.95 $15.90
Pre-Dinner Mojitos 2 $9.95 $19.90
Cocktails at Dinner 2 $9.95 $19.90
Cocktails from Tobacco Road 2 $10.95 $21.90
Day 1 Total $99.50
Day 2 – Sea Day
Drinks of the Day 2 $7.95 $15.90
2 Margaritas from Margaritaville 2 $11.95 $23.90
1 Pre Dinner Tobacco Road 1 $10.95 $10.95
Cocktails at Dinner 3 $10.95 $32.85
After Dinner Cocktails 2 $10.95 $21.90
Day 2 Total $105.50
Day 3 – Sea Day
Drinks of the Day 2 $7.95 $15.90
2 Boat Drinks Chill Bar 2 $11.95 $23.90
2 Cocktails at Lunch 2 $10.95 $21.90
1 Cocktail at Dinner 1 $10.95 $10.95
Glasses of Wine 2 $9.95 $19.90
 After Dinner Cocktails 1 $10.95 $10.95
Day 3 Total $103.50
Day 4 – St Thomas
Cocktails at dinner 3 $10.95 $32.85
Drinks of the Day 2 $7.95 $15.90
After Dinner Cocktails 2 $10.95 $21.90
Day 4 Total $70.65
Day 5-Tortola
Margarita at Margaritaville 1 $11.95 $11.95
Drinks of the Day 2 $7.95 $15.90
Margaritas at 5 O’clock Somewhere Bar 2 $11.95 $23.90
Cocktails at Dinner 3 $10.95 $32.85
After Dinner Wine at Cellars 2 $9.95 $19.90
Beer at District Brew house 1 $6.95 $6.95
Cocktail at District Brew house 1 $10.95 $10.95
Day 5 Total $122.40
Day 6 – Sea Day
Frozen Cocktails 2 $9.95 $19.90
Margaritas at 5 O’clock Somewhere Bar 2 $11.95 $23.90
Pre Dinner Mojitos 2 $9.95 $19.90
Drinks of the Day 2 $7.95 $15.90
Cocktails at Dinner 2 $10.95 $21.90
Cocktails During Comedy Show 2 $10.95 $21.90
Cocktails at Glow Party 2 $10.95 $21.90
Cocktails at Skyline 4 $10.95 $43.80
Day 6 Total 189.10
Day 7 – Nassau
Pre-Dinner Cocktails 2 $11.95 $23.90
Cocktails at Dinner 2 $11.95 $23.90
Drinks of the Day 2 $7.95 15.90
Margaritas at 5 O’clock Somewhere Bar 2 $11.95 $23.90
Day 7 Total $87.60
Subtotal $778.25
Service $140.09
Total 76 $918.34

Getting the Best Value from the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package

While the prices of the Norwegian Drink Packages are higher than comparable plans offered by competitors like Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International, NCL has recently been running promotions in which the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package is a free perk for purchasing certain cabins.

Norwegian Drink PackagesPick Your Perk Options with Norwegian Cruise Line

Depending on when you book and your itinerary, you might be able to get the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package for free (but you will still need to pay the 18% gratuity). For our cruise, if you booked an ocean view cabin (which was about $150 more per person than an inside room) or better, you got to choose a perk. Of course, we chose the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package.  Note, none of the ocean view rooms were midship, so we ended up purchasing a balcony for about $220 more per person than a comparable inside cabin.

Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package Review conclusion: buying the drink package outright would not have been a good value. Even though we have come out ahead with drink packages on other cruise lines, we would have actually lost money this time. However, upgrading our room to qualify for a perk was a wise decision. By paying a few hundred dollars more for a room, thereby securing the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package, we ended up saving much more.

Margaritaville Restaurant Review

Compared to the other perks offered, which typically include a specialty dining package, 250 minutes of internet, or onboard credit towards shore excursions, the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package is the best deal in our opinion!

Comments

Do you think the Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package is a good value? How did you fare with this package versus packages on competitor cruise lines? Drop us an anchor below to tell us your experiences with using drink packages on a cruise.

Norwegian Ultimate Beverage Package

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About the Author

DB & The Princess

Welcome Aboard! We are Don and Heidi, the husband and wife travel team behind EatSleepCruise.com. We took our first cruise vacation together 10 years ago and have been hooked ever since. Follow along as we share our travel tips, cruise reviews, information on ports of call, and the latest cruise news to help you plan the ultimate cruise vacation. Are you ready to embark on your journey to “sea the world, one port at a time”? Read More...

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