Are you wondering if you should purchase or upgrade to one of the NCL drink packages? You are not alone, as it is a question we get quite often from fellow cruisers.
There are many factors involved in deciding if a beverage package is right for you. We’ve had the chance to test out the NCL Drink Package, as well as those on many other cruise lines, on several sailings over the years and can see the pros and cons to purchasing one.
Ultimately, you will need to determine if one of the Norwegian Drink Packages is right for you. So, in this complete guide, we detail all the plans, drink prices, and FAQs to help you decide if a Norwegian drink package is right for your next cruise.
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Complete Guide to NCL Drink Packages (2023)
NCL Drink Package Basics
When it comes to NCL Drink Packages, there are a few basic things you need to know before we dive into the details of each option.
- All NCL drink packages are priced as per person, per day.
- You must purchase a Norwegian drink package for the entire length of the cruise. You can not purchase just select days.
- There is no sharing of the NCL drink package or using your package to order drinks for other cruisers.
- Cruisers must be 21 years of age or older to purchase an alcoholic beverage package.
- All qualifying individuals in the stateroom or additional staterooms under the same method of payment must purchase one as well. Individuals under 21 must purchase the Soda Package.
- The stated prices do not include the additional 20% service charge which is added when purchasing the NCL drink package. Additionally, applicable state and local taxes may be applied to purchases made during certain ports and/or itineraries.
- Beverage packages are non-refundable and non-transferable
- NCL drink packages are not available for purchase on charters or sailings that are two days or less.
- You can use these packages almost everywhere on the ship. This includes the bars and lounges, complimentary dining venues, and specialty restaurants.
- Norwegian drink packages also work on the brand’s private island of Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. However, drink packages do not work at Harvest Caye, Belize.
What beverages are complimentary on NCL?
Some beverages are included in the price of your Norwegian Cruise Line fare. These options are non-bottled water, lemonade, some juices in the buffet for breakfast, iced tea, and non-specialty coffee and tea.
How do you purchase an NCL drink package?
You can purchase NCL drink packages pre-cruise using your online cruise planner or once onboard the ship.
Even if you receive an NCL 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.
What are the NCL drink packages?
Norwegian Cruise Line has made significant updates to its drink packages within the last year including prices and offerings. Now, the cruise line features only two alcoholic drink packages, the Premium Drink Package and the Premium Plus Drink Package.
There are also two additional non-alcoholic drink packages, the Unlimited Soda Package and the Unlimited Starbucks package.
We will cover the specifics of each NCL drink package down below.
What are the NCL drink package prices?
- Premium Drink Package: $109 per person, per day
- Premium Plus Drink Package: $138 per person, per day
- Unlimited Soda Package: $9.95 per person, per day
- Unlimited Starbucks Package: $12.95 per person, per day
Is there a limit on the NCL drink package?
Unlike the Carnival drink package which limits you to 15 alcoholic drinks a day, Norwegian’s drink packages are truly unlimited.
With the alcoholic drink packages, you can order two beverages per person, per transaction. With the Starbucks package, guests are entitled to one beverage 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!
What does the NCL free drink package include?
The NCL “free drink package”, which is provided as part of the Free at Sea promotion, includes the following beverages.
- Select premium cocktails & spirits under $15 USD
- A variety of beer and wine by the glass under $15 USD
- 20% off all bottles of champagne and wine
- Unlimited soft drinks and juices
Further, you can upgrade to the Premium Plus drink package for $29 per person, per day. This NCL drink package includes all of the previous inclusions in addition to the following beverages.
- All top-shelf cocktails & spirits
- All beer, champagne, and wine by the glass
- Select premium bottles of champagne and wine with dinner and 40% off all other bottles
- Unlimited soft drinks and juices
- Unlimited still & sparkling bottled water
- All Starbucks coffee & specialty drinks
Norwegian Drink Package Specifications
What is the Premium Drink Package on NCL?
The most popular of the Norwegian Drink Packages is the Premium Drink Package. This package was previously called the Ultimate Beverage Package and is also sometimes referred to as the Unlimited Open Bar Package.
This is the drink package that guests receive with the Norwegian Free at Sea promotion.
The Premium beverage package includes a variety of spirits, cocktails, 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. It also includes a 20% discount on bottles of wine and champagne, Wine and Spirit Experiences, Connoisseur Collection beverages, and tastings and flights purchased on board.
Any items over $15 will receive a $15 discount; you will then need to pay only the difference.
The Premium drink package does not include room service, ship specific promotions or beer buckets, bottled wine or liquor, mini bar purchases, fresh squeezed juices, bottled water, wine dispensers, energy drinks, or vending machines.
It also does not include Wine and Spirit Experiences, tastings or flights, Starbucks, Ice Bars (if applicable to your ship), and Connoisseur Collection beverages.
This package differs from most other cruise lines in that it does not include any premium non-alcoholic drinks like bottled water, fresh squeezed juices, or specialty coffee.
The Premium drink package is currently priced at $109 per person, per day. This equates to $915.60 for a 7-day cruise (including 20% service charge).
So, given that it does not include many non-alcoholic items, the Premium NCL drink package is priced well above its competitors. However, it’s a good deal if you get it for “free” as you are just paying the gratuity which equates to $152.60 for a 7-day cruise.
NCL Premium Beverage Package vs Premium Plus
A relatively newer NCL drink package is the Premium Plus beverage package. This is the most all-inclusive option of the Norwegian drink packages. Though, it does come at a higher price point.
This drink package includes everything within the Premium beverage package, along with other top-shelf spirit brands.
Additionally, it includes select bottles of wine and champagne, Starbucks coffee and specialty drinks, bottled water, energy drinks, BioSteel sports drink selections, freshly squeezed juices, and wine dispensers.
Guests will also receive a 40% discount on non-select bottles of wine (champagne and sparkling included), “Wine and Spirit Experiences”, tastings, and flights.
The Premium Plus drink package still does not include room service, mini bar purchases, vending machines, or pre-cruise wine bottle purchases.
This NCL drink package is available as an upgrade to “free drink package”. 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 $138 per person, per day. This equates to a full retail price of $1,159.20 for a 7-day cruise (including 20% service charge). Or, $243.60 when upgrading from the free Unlimited Open Bar Package.
For a complete comparison of the Premium beverage package vs Premium Plus, you can reference this chart.
Norwegian Drink Package – Unlimited Soda Package
The most basic of the NCL drink packages is the Unlimited Soda Package. This package is $9.95 per person, per day.
Currently, NCL ships serve Coca Cola products. The list of possible soft drinks (subject to availability during your cruise) are Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Ginger Ale, Tonic Water, Fanta, and Soda Water.
This package does not cover cans of soda. Other non-alcoholic beverages, like bottled water or bottled juices, are not included either.
Norwegian Drink Package – Unlimited Starbucks Package
Another newer offering to the list of NCL drink packages is the Unlimited Starbucks package. This package is $12.95 per person, per day plus 20% gratuity.
The Unlimited Starbucks package includes all coffees, teas, Refreshers, and Frappuccino favorites.
Guests must be 18 years of age and all qualifying individuals residing in the stateroom or additional staterooms under the same method of payment must purchase the package for the entire length of the cruise.
Further, guests are entitled to only one beverage per person, per transaction.
This package excludes canned drinks, bottled drinks, food, and merchandise at Starbucks.
Hawaii Beverage Package
As of 2019, NCL drink packages are now available on Pride of America. The Hawaii beverage package is priced at $109 per person, per day.
This Norwegian drink 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.
Any items over $15 will receive a $15 discount, and the guest will be charged the difference.
NCL Drink Prices
If you are looking for the most up to date NCL drink prices, we have our Norwegian Prima bar guide with menus. This will give you an idea of how much your favorite drinks cost, so you can decide if an NCL drink package is worth it for you.
- Cocktails: average pricing $9-13
- Wines by the Glass: priced on average between $9-29
- Beers: $7 on average
- Soda: $3.50
- Energy Drinks: $5.50
- Sports Drinks: $5.50
- Bottled Water: $4.50 (500 ml)
- Starbucks Drinks: $4.25-6.25
Is the Norwegian Drink Package 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”.
Using the average NCL drink prices, you can do the quick math to see if you would routinely hit the daily break-even point for the above drink packages.
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 Free at Sea perks, we believe opting for the drink package is the best value regardless of how much you drink.
When compared to competitor brands, Norwegian drink packages, if paid outright, 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!
Other considerations include the length of the cruise and how many ports of call are on the itinerary.
For instance, will you be able to sustain the same drinking pattern over the course of a 10-day or 14-day cruise? If your cruise is port intensive, will you be on the ship enough to make good use of your NCL drink package?
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Do you think the Norwegian Drink Package is 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 drink packages.
Thanks Jean for the comment. We agree, it is a bit misleading for NCL to advertise the “free drink package” as passengers have to pay the 18% gratuity. As we noted, even paying that 18% charge, we still got plenty of value from receiving the drink package with our room upgrade. Happy sailing.
Went as a family of 6 on Pride of America last Nov. All Inclusive. Neither travel agent Visioncruise or NCL advised all drinks would be
Taxed. When we asked why on board informed boat always sailed in US territorial waters. the so
called unlimited drinks package was not.