Whether your adult beverage of choice is beer, wine, a fruity cocktail, or something with a little more kick, cruise vacations are often a time for travelers to relax and throw back a couple of drinks.
If you are like us, then you might want to compare cruise drink packages to see if they are a good value for you. Remember, drink packages are not only about the alcoholic options, they can also include other beverages such as soda, bottled water, and premium coffees and teas, among others.
Many of our readers have asked about these cruise drink packages, which can vary from cruise line to cruise line, so we have outlined our reviews of the Royal Caribbean Drink Packages and Celebrity Drink Packages in previous posts.
Earlier this year, we utilized the Ultimate Beverage Package from Royal Caribbean on two different sailings-one eight night sailing on Quantum of the Seas and another three night sailing on Enchantment of the Seas.
Two Cocktails from our Recent Enchantment of the Seas Cruise
So naturally, we set out to determine how this drink package compared on a long vs. short cruise. Did our use of the drink package vary on these two sailings? Well, let’s take a look at a few key metrics to see how the Ultimate Beverage Package fared for us on these sailings.
Word of Caution:
At no time do we advocate drinking to excess. Just because you pay for a drink package does not mean you need to over indulge. In this post, we outline how you can quickly reach the “break-even” point, and better yet save money, without consuming excessive amounts of alcohol during your cruise vacation.
We Compare Cruise Drink Packages on Two Sailings
Breaking Down Our Cruise Drink Packages
Below is the table we put together outlining all of the drinks we consumed over the 8 days on Quantum of the Seas. In total, the package cost us $880 (for 2 people, not including the 18% gratuity). If we were to have purchased these drinks separately, they would have cost us about $1,188.00, thus we saved over 300 dollars or about 26%.
|Drinks||Price||Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Day 4||Day 5||Day 6||Day 7||Day 8||Day 9||Total|
We did a similar analysis for our three day Bahamas cruise on Enchantment of the Seas. For this cruise, the cost, pre-gratuity for the package was $330(again for 2 people). Over the three days, and the morning of disembarkation, we drank a total of 87 drinks, which would have cost us $505. This means we saved about $175, or about 34%, by buying the package vs. paying individually for each drink.
|Drinks||Price||Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Day 4||Total|
Drinks Consumed on Sea Days vs. Port Days
You will often hear travelers suggest that the decision to purchase a drink package should be weighed by how many sea days you have compared to port days. Well, what really matters is how you spend your days, both at sea and in port. WHERE you will be stopping at port and for HOW LONG you are in port are also key factors.
Zip Lining at Port? Then you probably will not be drinking much prior to that excursion
On our three day cruise, we had two ports of call, so no official “sea days”, whereas our 8 day cruise had 5 sea days (including embarkation day) and 3 days at port.
Looking at our schedules, we were in port more on the 3 day cruise, yet our daily drink consumption (combined for the two of us and including alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages) was 27. 67 drinks for that cruise and only 23. 75 for the 8 day cruise. Almost a full four drinks more, on average, were consumed each day on the short cruise.
Note, on both cruises we stopped at one of Royal Caribbean’s private islands, where you can use the drink package. You can use the drink package to purchase the signature Labadoozie or Coco Loco minus the souvenir cup or any drink of your choice at any of the island bars.
Labadoozies on Royal Caribbean’s Labadee are Covered in the Drink Package
On both cruises, we did excursions at most ports, but they were often in the morning or lasted for only a few hours. Even when we were in port longer, we actually tended to stay up later doing things around the ship, meaning our drink consumption was about the same.
Lounging around the pool on your cruise? Then a drink package may be worth the investment!
Takeaway – What you decide to do when onboard the ship or at a port of call will affect your beverage consumption patterns more so than just the number of “port days” and “sea days”. Look at your itinerary and cruise calendar when you compare cruise drink packages to determine if one would be a good value for your particular cruise. Also, keep in mind that drink packages work on “private islands” so if that is one of your ports of call, you can think of it as a sea day.
Sustaining Your Drink Consumption on Longer Cruises
On longer cruises, some may argue to get your “money’s worth” you need to be consistently drinking, which will get harder as the cruise goes on.
Again, this depends on how you approach your vacation. Yes, if you go head strong into an eight night cruise, odds are you will fizzle out and consume less as the cruise goes on, but we actually found we drank more towards the end of the cruise.
Groovy Town on Night 7 on Quantum of the Seas was a Late Party Night
Again, the ship’s schedule has a lot to do with what you consume and when you consume it. On the second to last night of our Quantum of the Seas cruise, there was a show in the main theater that we had pre-booked as well as a party in another venue that went until 1am. You know what that means, we were drinking $12 cocktails over the course of 6 hours!
We also made sure to drink plenty of bottled water to ensure we were hydrated.
So yes, your drinking patterns on a longer cruise might have greater variation, but that does not mean you need to be drinking large quantities of alcohol the entire length of your cruise to get your money’s worth.
Day 8 Cocktails on Quantum of the Seas. Yes, we were still drinking after a week on the cruise!
Takeaway- Your day-to-day beverage consumption will fluctuate more on a longer cruise, but this does not mean that you will end up drinking less than a shorter cruise. Also, on a longer cruise there is a greater potential for you to experience a day with unexpected bad weather or some other occurrence that will alter your plans. Good thing the bars on a cruise ship are always open! Keep this in mind when you compare cruise drink packages as this could affect your final decision.
The Savings in Drink Packages
If you look at the breakdowns for both cruises, we saved about 26% on Quantum of the Seas using the drink package and about 34% using the package on Enchantment of the Seas. These savings relate to a daily savings of $38 a day on Quantum of the Seas and about $58 on Enchantment of the Seas.
Looks Like The Drink Package was a Better Deal on our Short Cruise
So yes, we did save more money on Enchantment of the Seas as we did drink more, per day, on this ship.
Interestingly, when looking at the drinks consumed on both ships, close to half of the drinks were NON-ALCOHOLIC. Those non-alcoholic drinks, 99 on Quantum of the Seas and 41 on Enchantment of the Seas, accounted for about 23% of total costs if we were to purchase them without the drink package. So essentially, we got all of our lattes, bottled water, and soda “for free” by buying the package.
Erase these non-alcoholic beverages from the picture, then yes, getting a package just for alcohol is much more difficult to break even or realize any savings, at least for travelers like us that are not “big drinkers”.
Takeaway – You can get a great deal of cost savings from the non-alcoholic beverages you consume during your cruise. If you are purely in it for the alcohol, it does take more drinks to meet the daily costs of the package.
Lattes, Soda, and Bottled Water Made up a Bulk of our Savings Using the Drink Packages
Main Takeaway on Drink Packages
At the end of the day, the decision to purchase a drink package on a cruise comes down to where your cruise is heading and what you are planning to do on your cruise. Honestly, the duration of the cruise did somewhat impact the use of the drink package for us; but, in both instances we did save money. If you are contemplating a drink package, you can do a similar analysis to the ones we present here. If you need any help on deciding if a package is right for you, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]. We will be glad to help!
Have you used a drink package before on a cruise? Did you find the drink package was a good value? Did you find any significant differences using a drink package on a short vs. long cruise? Drop us an anchor below to share your experiences with a drink package. Help fellow cruisers decide if one of these packages is right for their next cruise.