One of the most frequently asked questions related to cruising is about beverage packages. Is a drink package on a cruise a good value? Well, if you are looking for an all-inclusive option, then paying a flat fee for alcoholic drinks, along with other premium beverages, might be the right choice.
Of course, there are many factors involved in choosing a beverage package. Luckily, the Princess and I can help weigh the pros and cons of these different offerings. Most recently, on our Alaskan cruise, we received a Celebrity Cruises beverage package as part of the 123Go promotion. We took some detailed notes to report back to you our experiences using the package during the seven night sailing.
Celebrity Cruises Beverage Package Basics
When it comes to different drinks packages on Celebrity, cruisers can select from a number of alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. Most packages are unlimited, in that you can get as many drinks as you want; although, no matter what package you choose, you are allowed only one drink at a time.
Of course, cruise staff does have the right to refuse you bar service if your behavior is, shall we say, not very befitting. Knowing your limits is just as important during your regular life as it is on a cruise ship!
The prices are quoted as per person, per day. They do NOT include the 15% gratuity. While you can pre-book your beverage packages on the Celebrity website, you can also book them when you board the ship for exactly the same price.
There is also the convenience factor. You never have to sign any slips. The server swipes your card and you are on your way.
Just swipe and go is a nice feature of getting a beverage package
One secret most people do not know is that you do not have to book the beverage package for the entire length of your cruise. You have to purchase it for the remaining consecutive days of your cruise. So, for instance, on a seven day cruise, you can choose to purchase a package on day 3 and pay only for that day and the 4 remaining days.
Non-Alcoholic options with Celebrity Cruises Beverage Packages
Beverage packages are not just for alcohol. Celebrity offers a variety of non-alcoholic drinks options to make for an all-inclusive cruise, even for those who do not indulge in adult beverages.
Celebrity Cruises offers a Soda Package, starting at $8 a day. At about 2 dollars, you would need to consume about four sodas to “break even”. Even as a regular soda drinker, I think it would be tough for me to consume that much soda, every day.
You also have the option at $14 a day of getting a Premium Water Package, that includes Evian bottled water and sparkling water from Perrier or Pellegrino. The bottled water, which is priced at $3.00 to $4.50, again puts the average drinker at about 4 drinks a day to “break even”. With the hot Caribbean sun, or even the long days in Alaska, this is a much more reasonable quota, for us anyway.
If you do not want to limit yourself, Celebrity also offers a Non-Alcoholic Classic Beverage Package which includes soda, fresh squeezed juices and bottled juices, premium coffee and teas, and non-premium bottled water. At $16 a day, and the average drink costs between $ 2.00 and $4.50, again you need to consume about 4 drinks. But, that may be easier than you think when you look at all your options.
There is also an option to get the Celebrity Non-Alcoholic Premium Beverage package. Starting at $20 per day, this package includes everything in the classic package in addition to premium bottled water (e.g., Evian), specialty coffees and teas (like lattes and cappuccinos), non-alcoholic frozen drinks, and specialty bottled drinks like Vitamin Water and Red Bull Energy drinks. We feel this package might be the best for those who want unlimited options in drinks but do not consume alcohol.
“The Classic” Celebrity Cruises Beverage Package
Perhaps the most popular beverage package offered by Celebrity is their Classic Beverage Package. Starting at $49.00 a day per person, this package includes the same non-alcoholic beverages covered in the Classic package above, plus all beers priced at $6.00 or less, all cocktails and frozen drinks priced at $8.00 or less, and all wines at $9.00 or less a glass. Many times Celebrity offers this package as a promotion during the 123Go sales offered throughout year. If you get this package as part of a promotion, that’s great. But, we can show you how to get even more from these sales when using a travel agent.
Most Cocktails and Beers , from venues like Quasar, are included on the Classic Beverage Package
For Celebrity’s Classic Beverage Package, you can get virtually any domestic or imported beer on the ship, with a few select beers being over the $6.00 limit. When it comes to cocktails, you will be somewhat limited. All basic well drinks will be covered, as are some premium brands, but not top shelf liquors. Martinis in the Crush Martini Bar and Molecular Bar, found on Solstice class ships, will not be included in the Classic Beverage Package.
If you drink wine, then your choices will be extremely limited. Besides a few house wines, there is virtually no vino covered in this plan. You do get a 15% discount on bottles of wine, but why would you buy more alcohol if you already have a drink package? If you consider yourself a wine aficionado, Celebrity does offer a variety of discounted wine packages which might be a better fit.
“The Premium” Celebrity Cruises Beverage Package
As part of a dual promotion one of our preferred travel agents was running alongside of the 123Go sale being offered by Celebrity Cruises, we received an upgrade from the free Classic Beverage Package to the Premium Beverage Package.
This package includes all beers, wines, cocktails, and specialty top shelf liquor priced at $13 dollars or less. In fact, at most bars onboard you will be hard pressed to find a drink that is not covered in this package. The Premium Beverage Package will cover all martinis at the Crush Martini bar and the handcrafted drinks at the Molecular Bar, as well as a wider selection of wines.
Drinks from all venues, including the Molecular Bar, are covered in the Premium Beverage Package
This package starts at $59.00 a day. If you receive the Classic Beverage package as a free upgrade or travel agent promotion, you can upgrade to the Premium package if you choose for the difference in cost, which is $10 plus gratuity.
Don’t forget that this package also includes all of the premium non-alcoholic beverages- premium bottled water, vitamin waters, red bull, soda, and premium coffee.
If you want a truly all-inclusive cruise, this package is your best option when sailing with Celebrity Cruises.
How did we make out using the beverage package?
Back to the original question…was the beverage package worth the cost? Was it a good value?
Let’s take a typical Sea Day– Day 2 (the first full Sea Day). The chart below details the drinks we consumed. These are estimated costs based on the drinks we typically consumed in each category.
|Breakfast||1 Evian water||4.50||1 Evian water||4.50|
|1 latte||4.50||1 Latte||4.50|
|1 freshly squeezed OJ||3.00|
|Lunch||1 soda||2.00||1 Evian water||4.50|
|Afternoon||1 Evian Water||4.50||1 Latte||4.50|
|Pre-Dinner||1 martini||11.00||1 martini||11.00|
|Dinner||1 wine||8.00||1 wine||8.00|
|Show||2 cocktails||16.00||1 Cocktail||8.00|
|After Show||2 beers||10.00||1 Martini||11.00|
|Totals||11 Drinks||$63.50||8 Drinks||$56.00|
So, without going too overboard, we averaged enough drinks to meet the costs of the Premium Beverage Package.
Over the course of our 7 days, the Princess and I consumed a total of 139 drinks, detailed below. Using estimates of the average costs of drinks in those categories (which are probably conservative), we drank about $990 worth of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
To purchase the beverage package would have cost a total of $826. So, right there we saved $163, close to 20%. But, we did not pay for the beverage package, so it was an even bigger win for us!
|Drink||Drinks Consumed||A la Carte Costs||Total Costs|
|Evian Bottled Water||35||4.50||157.50|
Bottoms Up from the editors of EatSleepCruise!
How to get the Most from a Cruise Beverage Package
To be eligible for the 123GO Promotion, we had to book a veranda room (i.e. balcony). Our preferred travel agent was offering a free upgrade to the Premium Beverage Package along with free prepaid gratuities if we booked during their special sale which was about a year out from our sailing.
To be fair, this veranda cabin cost an extra $700 (in total) more than the inside cabin we would normally book. With those extra costs we got the $168 in gratuities and the premium beverage package which was worth a total of 993.50 (based on our consumption), which means we scored a savings of 40%.
A pretty good investment, not to mention the ease of use and the peace of mind of not worrying about the bar tab at the end of the cruise.
Would we utilize the beverage package again? Absolutely! Especially if we can combine the savings with cruise sales or travel agent deals. But, even without those incentives, the Celebrity Cruises Beverage Package was a good value for us and something we would most definitely do during our next Celebrity sailing.
Have you ever purchased a drink package when on a cruise? Let us know your experiences with a beverage package. Good, bad, or a little tipsy, we want to know. Help your fellow cruisers plan their vacation and make the right call when it comes to purchasing drinks while onboard.