Do you quiver at the end of the cruise when your bar bill arrives? Luckily, many contemporary cruise lines now offer different drink packages (or unlimited beverage packages) that could save you money. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) currently offers three different alcoholic drink packages. So, you might be asking yourself are the Norwegian Cruise Line Drink Packages worth it?
Well, there are several reasons why you should buy a beverage package on a cruise. However, there are also many reasons why a cruise ship drink package might be a waste of money for you. Ultimately, you will need to weigh the pros and cons to determine if one of the Norwegian Cruise Line Drink Packages is right for you.
Complete Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line Drink Packages (2021)
Norwegian Cruise Line Drink Packages Basics
When it comes to Norwegian Cruise Line Drink Packages, cruisers can select from a number of alcoholic and non-alcoholic options.
For starters, the price of all beverage packages are per person, per day. When electing to purchase a package, you have to pay for the entire length of the cruise. You can not purchase just select days.
When getting a beverage package, there is no sharing of the package or using your package to order drinks for other cruisers. Further, all qualifying individuals in the stateroom or additional staterooms under the same method of payment must purchase one. Also, any guests under the age of 21 must purchase a soda package as a substitute.
Cruisers must be 21 years of age or older to purchase an alcoholic beverage package.
The stated prices do not include the additional 20% service charge which is added when purchasing the package. Additionally, applicable state and local taxes may be applied to purchases made during certain ports and/or itineraries.
These packages are good almost everywhere on the ship. This includes all bars, lounges, restaurants, and the brand’s private island of Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. However, drink packages do not work at Harvest Caye, Belize.
Norwegian Cruise Line Drink Packages are not available for purchase on charters or sailings that are two days or less.
Unlike the Carnival Cheers Program which limits you to 15 alcoholic drinks a day, Norwegian Cruise Line’s drink packages are truly unlimited.
No matter what package you purchase, you can order two beverages per person, per transaction. Of course, staff do have the right to refuse you bar service if you are intoxicated. Knowing your limits is just as important on a cruise ship as it is during your regular life!
You can purchase Norwegian Cruise Line drink packages online pre-cruise or once onboard the ship. However, guests purchasing an alcoholic drink package onboard during the dates of March 1st to April 15th will only be able to purchase on embarkation day.
Even if you receive a drink package with the cruise line’s Free at Sea promotion when booking your cruise (premium beverage package), you are still responsible to pay the 20% gratuity.
Unfortunately, Norwegian Cruise Line drink packages are non-refundable and non-transferable.
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Norwegian Cruise Line Drink Packages – Premium Beverage Package
The most popular of the Norwegian Cruise Line Drink Packages is the Premium Beverage Package. This package was previously called the Ultimate Beverage Package. This is the drink package that guests receive when choosing the unlimited bar perk with the Free at Sea promotion.
The Premium beverage package includes a variety of spirits, cocktails, and wines by the glass and bottled or draft beer up to $15. Further, this package includes unlimited fountain soda and juices at all bars, lounges, restaurants and the private island of Great Stirrup Cay. Any items over $15 will receive a $15 discount; you will then need to pay only the difference.
The Premium beverage package does not include room service, ship specific promotions or beer buckets, designated Super Premium brands, bottled wine or liquor, or mini bar purchases. For a list of included brands, see here. It also does not include Wine and Spirit Experiences, tastings or flights, Starbucks, or Ice Bars (if applicable to your ship).
Unlike most other cruise lines, this alcoholic beverage package also does not include any premium non-alcoholic drinks. Items like bottled water, fresh squeezed juices, select Lavazza coffee beverages, and energy drinks are not included. Further vending machine purchases and wine stations are not included.
Guests will receive a 20% discount to all bottles of wine purchased onboard with the Premium beverage package.
The Premium beverage package is currently priced at $99 per person, per day. This equates to $831.60 for a 7-day cruise (including 20% service charge). So, given that it does not include many non-alcoholic items, the Premium beverage package is priced well above its competitors. However, it’s a good deal if you get it for “free”!
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Norwegian Cruise Line Drink Packages – Premium Plus Beverage Package
A relatively newer offering, the Premium Plus beverage package is the most all-inclusive option of the Norwegian Cruise Line drink packages. Though, it does come at a higher price point.
This drink package includes everything within the Premium beverage package, along with other higher end offerings. These additional inclusions are fountain soda, freshly squeezed juice, bottled water (flat and sparkling), energy drinks, non-alcoholic beer, wine dispensers, and specialty coffee. For a full list of included beverages, see here.
Another upgrade to this plan is the availability of select bottles of wine at dinner. For non-select bottles of wine (champagne and sparkling included), “Wine and Spirit Experiences”, tastings, and flights, guests will receive a 40% discount.
The Premium Plus beverage package still does not include room service, mini bar purchases, vending machines, or pre-cruise wine bottle purchases.
This beverage package is available as an upgrade to the Free at Sea Premium beverage package option. Cruisers can upgrade by paying the difference in the retail package price ($29) in addition to associated service charges.
The Premium Plus beverage package is currently priced at $128 per person, per day. This equates to a full retail price of 1,075.20 for a 7-day cruise (including 20% service charge).
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Norwegian Cruise Line Drink Packages – Corks and Caps Package
The Corks and Caps package is for adults who like beer and wine but not necessarily other liquor. For the cost of $65 a day, per person, you can indulge in an unlimited selection of beer, draft beer, and wines priced at $15 or less. This plan also covers soda.
The Corks and Caps package does not cover bottles of wine. However, you do receive a 20% discount on any bottles of wine purchased onboard. Wine flights are also not covered, nor are the automatic wine dispensing machines found throughout the ship. Additionally, the plan does not include beer buckets, mini bar purchases, bottled water, fresh squeezed juices, specialty coffee, and energy drinks.
Special events such as onboard wine tastings, mixology classes, or liquor tastings will not be covered in this plan either. You will need to purchase those separately.
Any glass of wine or beer over $15 is not included, but you will receive a $15 discount on the drink, paying only the difference.
Cocktails or liquor based drinks are not covered in this package; you will need to pay the full amount of the drink if you purchase one.
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Norwegian Cruise Line Drink Packages – Soda Package
The most basic of the Norwegian Cruise Line drink packages is the Soda Package. This package is $5.95 per person, per day for children age 12 and under and is $7.95 for adults.
Currently, NCL ships serve Pepsi soda products. The list of possible soft drinks (subject to availability during your cruise) are Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Sierra Mist, Mt. Dew, Ginger Ale, Tonic water, and Club Soda.
This package does not cover cans of soda (start at $2.95). Other non-alcoholic beverages, like bottled water or bottled juices, are not included either.
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Hawaii Beverage Package
As of 2019, beverage packages are now available on Pride of America. The Hawaii beverage package is priced at $99 per person, per day. This package includes a wide selection of beverages up to $15 during your entire cruise. This package is applicable to guests 1 and 2 on the reservation for Hawaii sailings only.
In addition to alcoholic beverages up to $15, guests can enjoy fountain soda, freshly squeezed juice, bottled water (flat and sparkling), non-alcoholic beer, and specialty coffee (limited to dining rooms only). The Hawaii beverage package does not include specialty coffee outside of the restaurants, room service, mini bar purchases, or vending machines.
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Are Norwegian Cruise Line Drink Packages Worth It?
This brings us back to the original question, are NCL 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 NCL 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)||$4.00|
|Bottled Water (1 liter)||$5.00|
|Other Non-Alcoholic Drinks||$5.00|
Keep in mind that while you may not drink enough to cover the costs of “buying” a drink package, opting for a certain cabin selection when booking your cruise might qualify you for the Free at Sea promotion. So, paying slightly more money for an upgraded stateroom to score a free drink package might be the best bet.
Compared to the other perks, we believe opting for the drink package is the best value regardless of how much you drink.
When compared to competitor brands, Norwegian Cruise Line drink packages are not the best value. 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!
Do you think Norwegian Cruise Line Drink Packages are a good value? Do you think it’s worth upgrading the to Premium Plus package? Drop us an anchor below to share your experiences with NCL beverage packages.