Are you wondering if you should purchase a Royal Caribbean Drink Package? You are not alone, as it is a question we get quite often from fellow cruisers. Over the past few years, we’ve had the chance to test out the Royal Caribbean Drink Packages on several different sailings. While there are many benefits of buying a beverage package on a cruise, there are also many reasons why cruise ship drink packages are a waste of money.
Whether or not you should purchase one for your next vacation is an individual decision that depends on several factors. For us, the Royal Caribbean Drink Packages have always been a good deal, making our cruise more hassle free and (usually) saving us some money in the process. Ultimately, you will need to weigh the pros and cons to determine if one of the Royal Caribbean Drink Packages is right for you.
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Ultimate Guide to Royal Caribbean Drink Packages (2021)
Royal Caribbean Drink Package Basics
There are a few basic things you need to know about the Royal Caribbean drink packages before we dive into the details of each option.
-Each drink package is priced per day, per person and must be purchased for the entire duration of the cruise.
-Further, a service charge (18%) will be added to the total purchase price of a drink package at checkout. Additionally, applicable state and local taxes may be applied to purchases made during certain ports and/or itineraries.
-You can purchase the drink package online pre-cruise or once onboard during the first day (or two) of your cruise. You will usually save money by purchasing pre-cruise.
-Beverage packages are non-refundable and non-transferable.
-There is no sharing of the package or using your package to order drinks for other cruisers. All guests of legal drinking age in the stateroom do have to purchase the alcoholic drink package.
-The packages cover beverages purchased at onboard restaurants, bars, and lounges. They also work on the cruise line’s two private islands, Perfect Day at CocoCay and Labadee, Haiti.
-You are only allowed to get one drink at a time, whether it is alcoholic or non-alcoholic. In addition, you must show your SeaPass card (or Wow Band) every time you order a beverage. There will be a notation on your SeaPass card indicating that you have purchased the package.
-The Royal Caribbean Drink packages are “unlimited” for the duration of the cruise, unlike Carnival Cruise Line. Although, do consume responsibly as the company has the right to deny you service if you are intoxicated.
-Beverage packages are available on most 2+ day sailings except for 2 or 3-day sailings from Southampton, England.
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Royal Caribbean Deluxe Drink Package
A few years ago, Royal Caribbean revamped the alcoholic drink packages. Now, the cruise line offers only one alcoholic package, known as the Deluxe Drink Package. Many cruisers refer to this as the unlimited drink package, as it includes essentially all alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
The onboard price of this package will vary from $63 to $89 a day (plus gratuity). Pricing will vary based on the ship, sail dates, and itinerary. Generally, you will find higher prices on newer ships. Note, these are the “onboard prices”. Typically, you can purchase a drink package pre-cruise using the online cruise planner for cheaper.
This plan covers all alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine by the glass, and cocktails up to $13. This allotment covers basically all 16 oz beers on the ship and a decent selection of red and white wines at the onboard restaurants and bars.
Further, the package also includes most liquor and premium spirits. Brands such as Grey Goose, Tito’s Vodka, Patron, Johnny Walker Black Label, and Dewar’s 12 scotch are all included, as are Premium and Classic cocktails.
See our recent Royal Caribbean bar menus from a Freedom of the Seas cruise in early 2020.
If a drink is over the maximum dollar amount, guests will only be charged the difference (+18% gratuity on the difference).
Classic cocktails cost around $10; Premium cocktails are about $12-13. (Prices vary slightly by ship and/or by region.) With the average wine price on the standard menu around $10 as well, you will need to consume about 6-7 of these drinks a day to “break even”.
Beer lovers will have to drink a bit more. With beers priced around $7, you will have to consume about 9-10 drinks a day to hit the magic number.
Of course, this does not include any other non-alcoholic beverages that you may get throughout the day that are also part of the package. The Deluxe Drink Package does include fountain soda, Coca-Cola freestyle machines (where available), still and sparkling water, premium coffees and teas, and fresh-squeezed juices as well.
Plus, guests who purchase the Deluxe drink package will receive a 40% discount on bottled wines priced up to $100, and 20% discount on wine prices above $100.
While this package does include a lot, some drinks are excluded. Room service and minibar items are not included. Drinks in souvenir glasses, specialty beers, and super premium category beverages are also excluded. Further, all beverages served inside licensed Starbucks stores are not included.
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Non-Alcoholic Royal Caribbean Drink Packages
Royal Refreshment Drink Package
If you want more options than just soda in your Royal Caribbean non-alcoholic drink package, then the Royal Refreshment package might be right for you.
The Royal Refreshment package onboard price is $29-38 per person, per day. This plan gives cruisers unlimited choices of premium coffees and teas, soda (including the souvenir cup), bottled water (both sparkling and still), freshly squeezed orange juice, and non-alcoholic frozen drinks.
Essentially, you can enjoy almost any non-alcoholic beverage on this package. There are only a few exclusions, such as Starbucks.
While we often get the alcoholic package, we can see how this package would be a good value for those who do not drink alcohol. With current onboard pricing, it takes about 6-8 non-alcoholic drinks to hit the “break even” point for the Royal Refreshment drink package.
Classic Soda Package
The Classic Soda Package is a popular drink package choice for families. Current onboard pricing for this package is $12.99-$15 (plus gratuity) per person, per day. This includes unlimited soda from the bars and restaurants onboard the ship and at the private islands. However, it does not include cans of soda or soda ordered through room service.
When you purchase this plan, you get a souvenir cup. If you happen to lose this cup, you will be charged $9.95 for a replacement.
Many Royal Caribbean ships have Coke Freestyle machines. These freestyle machines dispense over 100 different soda/flavor combinations. So, you can make your own crazy soda concoctions using your souvenir cup. Of note, guests who do not purchase a drink package will not be able to use the freestyle machines.
Soda is priced around $3.25, meaning that you will need to drink about 4-5 servings a day to “break even” for this package.
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Are Royal Caribbean Drink Packages Worth It?
This brings us back to the original question. Are Royal Caribbean drink packages a good value? That is a question that only you can answer based on your own drinking habits.
Essentially, the question should be whether you will consume enough to make the purchase “worth it”. Below are the average costs of the different beverages within each category from a recent Royal Caribbean drink menu. Using this chart, you can do the quick math to see if you would routinely hit the daily “break even” point for the above drink packages.
|Bottled Water (500 ml)||$3.00|
|Other Non-Alcoholic Drinks||$6.00|
When compared to competitor brands, Royal Caribbean drink packages are averagely priced, with Carnival being cheaper and NCL being more expensive. However, we do like having one for the added convenience. Further, you never have to worry about the bar tab at the end of the cruise!
Our Quick Analysis of the Royal Caribbean Deluxe Beverage Package
If we look at our breakdown from a recent cruise, the answer for us is yes. We tracked all beverages consumed, per day, per drink category, to determine the value of getting the drink package.
Over the week, we consumed a total of 140 drinks (combined) for the two of us. Sixty-four of those drinks (45%) were non-alcoholic- bottled waters and specialty coffees. We averaged about 5.5 alcoholic drinks a day, which really is not hard to do if you have a few poolside drinks, dinner cocktails, and then a couple during the shows or nightly entertainment.
Paying out of pocket for the drinks, the total (with the service charge) would have been $1,233.10. We purchased the drink package pre-cruise for $48 per person which was advertised as 25% off the onboard price ($792.96). This meant we saved a total of $440.14 or about 35% by getting the package as opposed to paying a la carte for each drink! Though, we did purchase a significant amount of bottled water and specialty coffee on the cruise which helped the numbers.
Of course, the drink package prices do vary. The pre-cruise sales and promotions vary as well. This also does not account for the fact that being Diamond members, we are entitled to three free drinks a night. However, the bottom line for us is convenience not necessarily cost savings.
Have you purchased one of the Royal Caribbean drink packages on a cruise? Do you think the Deluxe beverage package is a good value? Drop us an anchor below to share your experiences with drink packages on a cruise.