No one likes to spend more money than they have to, especially when on vacation. The bargain hunter in all of us is always looking to find ways to stretch travel funds or squeeze a few extra dollars out of a trip. This is even more true when it comes to your bar tab on a cruise. These 10 easy ways to save money on cruise drinks are simple and inexpensive ways to get cheaper, and often times free, cocktails on most cruise lines. Raise a glass and toast to savings when you score your next drink courtesy of me and the Princess!
10 Easy Ways to Save Money on Cruise Drinks
Have Someone Else Pay For Them – This sounds like a no-brainer. You can save money on cruise drinks by having the cruise line pick up the tab. Quite honestly, this is easier than you think. Many cruise lines run promotions in which you can get free beverage packages or onboard credit that can be used to offset your bar charges during the cruise. If the cruise line is not running any deals on the cruise you are considering, see what perks are available through travel agents. Booking with a travel agent can often save you money by providing extra value, such as alcoholic beverages. If nothing else, perhaps the agent will include a Bon Voyage gift in your cabin, which is usually a bottle of wine or champagne.
Save Money on Cruise Drinks – Free Champagne Courtesy of our Travel Agent
Buy Before You Board – One of the easiest ways to save money on cruise drinks is to prepay before you even step on-board the ship. Using the cruise line’s website, you can usually pre-purchase things such as bottles of wine or bottle service. In addition, other savings can be had when you buy cruise beverage packages ahead of time, with reduced rates up to 20% off the going rates on the vessel. Now it will be that much easier to reach your “break even” point and save some serious cash.
Save Money on Cruise Drinks – Pre-purchase Beverage Packages
Bring along Your Own Drinks – We would never recommend you do anything to violate the cruise contract. Almost all major cruise lines prohibit you from bringing bottles of liquor and beer onboard. However, you can save money on cruise drinks by packing bottles of wine. Most cruise lines allow two bottles of wine that can be consumed at dinner or in your stateroom. This puts a little less stress on your wallet, and lets you reserve more funds for those frozen cocktails poolside.
Find a Cruise Line You Love and Stick with Them – Perhaps the easiest way to get free and cheap drinks is to cruise often with the same cruise line. Once you have taken a cruise with the line, you will be enrolled in their loyalty program. Depending on the cruise line and your standing in their program, you can score everything from coupons for 50% off drinks, free Welcome Back parties (with free drinks), to nightly receptions where you can indulge in beer, wine, and spirits courtesy of the cruise line. Sometimes, it pays to stay loyal.
When You Cruise with the Same Brand, You Can Score Free and Reduced Cruise Drinks
Enjoy a Taste Test – During your cruise, the line will most likely offer a taste testing or some type of wine classes or cocktail making demonstrations. Some of these are free, offering small samples, and others do have cover charges. But, even the ones that do have a small additional charge often include a variety of drinks making the per drink cost lower than the nearby bar. You can sometimes even get coupons/additional discounts on purchases made onboard by attending one of these events. So, even if you get just a few sips for free, you are saving money on cruise drinks while expanding your horizons.
Save Money on Cruise Drinks with Classes and Demonstrations
Meet the Captain – On most cruises lasting 7 nights or longer, you are bound to find one night where there is some type of “Captain’s Reception”. Here, the captain gives a short speech and is available to take pictures, while the crew are usually handing out free glasses of champagne or wine. Attending a party on the Promenade or in the Centrum lounge can provide you with a complimentary drink or two that you can take along with you to the next show.
Save Money on Cruise Drinks – Captain’s Reception
Don’t Drink on the Ship – This doesn’t mean you have to forgo libations all together; instead, wait until you are docked in port. You are sure to find a local establishment offering some discount deals on local beers, wines, and signature rum and tequila at most ports of call. Along with the savings, you can try something new and perhaps bring home a bottle as a souvenir. Don’t feel comfortable wandering off on your own? Then, find a shore excursion or beach break that includes an all-inclusive option. This way, you can spend the day exploring a new locale while also letting loose and enjoying yourself.
Save Money on Cruise Drinks with All-inclusive Beach Options
Go for More than One at a Time – Ordering multiple drinks at once is another way you can save money. You can often save 15% or more when buying a “bucket of beer”. Along with getting some free bottles, you can also score a nice little cooler or beverage container for the remainder of your cruise. If you are a wine lover, opt to purchase a bottle of wine instead of glasses of wine. Your waiters will be happy to save the bottles for you each night, and you can eek out a few more drops of savings than if you purchased those glasses individually. Also, be on the lookout for buy-one-get-one deals or happy hour specials that usually couple drinks to increase the savings.
Save Money on Cruise Drinks – Buckets of Beer on Norwegian Cruise Line (Source)
Purchase a Drink Package – How about getting all your drinks covered for one flat fee? Most major cruise lines now offer beverage packages they cover most onboard alcoholic purchases. Drink coverage varies by plan level and per cruise line. We have tested out several plans. See how we have fared using drink packages on cruise lines including Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line. Not only do these programs work on the ship, but they are often also redeemable on the cruise line’s private islands.
Upgrade Your Cruise Experience – When pricing out your cruise, consider premium or luxury brands. Along with more intimate service and better accommodations, these lines usually include drinks at most meals. Lines like Viking Ocean, Seabourn, and Crystal Cruises offer such perks. Once you start to compare the per day prices for the additional luxuries, those who are fond of drinking might find a better deal on these more inclusive cruise lines. Not to mention all of the other upgrades you will experience as part of your cruise vacation.
Do you have any additional tips to save money on cruise drinks? How do you keep your cruise bar bill in check? Drop us an anchor below to help fellow travelers stay on budget during their next sailing.