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Cruise Ship Drink Packages: What You Need to Know

drink with straw
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Planning a cruise involves many decisions, and one of the most important ones is whether to purchase a drink package.

Cruise ship drink packages provide convenience and potential savings, depending on your drinking preferences.

This detailed guide will explain how these packages work, the different tiers available, what’s included, and how to get the most value from your package.

We will also highlight which cruise lines offer free drinks or special promotions on drink packages.

Understanding Cruise Ship Drink Packages

Cruise ship drink packages are designed to offer a range of beverages for a fixed daily rate.

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These packages can cover everything from soft drinks and bottled water to premium spirits and specialty coffees.

Many cruise lines offer various tiers of drink packages, allowing you to choose one that best suits your preferences and budget.

Different Tiers of Drink Packages

Most cruise lines offer several levels of drink packages, each with different inclusivity and costs.

Typically, these tiers are as follows:

  1. Basic/Soft Drink Package: This package includes non-alcoholic beverages like soda, bottled water, and sometimes basic coffees and teas.
  2. Standard/Classic Package: This package offers a broader range of non-alcoholic drinks, house wines, beers, and standard cocktails.
  3. Premium Package: This package includes a wide selection of beverages, including premium wines, craft beers, specialty cocktails, and top-shelf spirits.
  4. Specialty/Ultimate Package: This all-encompassing package includes every type of beverage available on the ship, including premium options and specialty drinks not covered in lower-tier packages.

What Drinks Are Included at No Cost?

Most cruise lines provide certain drinks at no additional charge.

These typically include:

  • Tap Water: Available throughout the ship, including dining rooms, buffets, and bars.
  • Basic Coffee and Tea: Usually available in the main dining rooms, buffet areas, and some lounges.
  • Iced Tea, Lemonade, and Juices: Often available at buffet stations and during breakfast service in the main dining rooms.
  • Milk: Provided at breakfast and available upon request.

Where to Find Included Drinks

Included drinks can be found in several places on the ship.

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In the main dining rooms, you can get basic coffee, tea, water, milk, and juices during meal times.

Juices, however, are only complimentary during breakfast.

The buffet area typically offers tap water, iced tea, lemonade, and sometimes juices.

Lounges and bars usually provide tap water and sometimes basic coffee and tea.

Coffee: Included vs. Extra Cost

Basic coffee is typically included in the cruise fare and available in the main dining rooms and buffets.

However, specialty coffees such as espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes usually come at an extra cost and are often available at dedicated coffee shops or cafes on the ship.

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Drink Packages Covering Coffee:

  • Standard Packages: Usually include basic drip coffee.
  • Premium Packages: Often include specialty coffees like espressos and cappuccinos from onboard cafes.

Teas: Included vs. Extra Cost

Most cruise lines include basic teas, such as black and herbal teas, at no extra cost.

These are generally available in the dining rooms, buffets, and lounges.

Specialty teas, such as loose-leaf teas and specialty blends, may come at an additional charge and are typically available in cafes or specialty tea shops onboard.

Top Shelf Drinks and Premium Packages

Top shelf drinks, including premium wines, craft beers, and high-end spirits, are usually only included in the higher-tier drink packages.

These packages provide access to a broader selection of beverages, often including those not available to passengers with basic or standard packages.

Premium Packages:

  • Royal Caribbean’s Deluxe Beverage Package: Includes premium spirits, wines by the glass, cocktails, and specialty coffees.
  • Celebrity Cruises’ Premium Beverage Package: Covers top-shelf spirits, craft beers, premium wines, and specialty coffees.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line’s Premium Plus Beverage Package: Offers unlimited top-shelf liquors, wines by the bottle, and specialty coffees.

Cruise Lines with Free Drinks and Special Promotions

Some cruise lines offer free drinks as part of their standard cruise fare or through special promotions:

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  • Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL): Often runs promotions offering a “Free at Sea” package, which includes a free unlimited open bar option as part of the booking.
  • Viking Ocean Cruises: Includes beer, wine, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner at no extra cost.
  • Margaritaville at Sea: Includes unlimited complimentary drinks with their premium all-inclusive package.
  • Luxury Lines: Cruise lines such as Silversea, Seabourn, and Regent Seven Seas include all beverages, including premium options, in the cruise fare.

Breakfast Beverages at No Additional Cost

During breakfast, many cruise lines offer a selection of beverages that might otherwise incur a charge at other times of the day.

These can include:

  • Fresh Juices: Orange juice, apple juice, and other fruit juices.
  • Specialty Coffees: Sometimes specialty coffees like cappuccinos and espressos are available at no extra cost during breakfast in the main dining room or buffet.

Free Drinks Through Loyalty Programs

Many cruise lines offer free drinks or drink packages as part of their loyalty programs.

As you accumulate cruise points through repeated travel with the same line, you may gain access to complimentary drinks and other perks.

Loyalty Program Benefits:

  • Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor Society: Higher tiers offer complimentary drinks in the exclusive Diamond Lounge.
  • Carnival’s VIFP (Very Important Fun Person) Club: Platinum and Diamond members receive complimentary drinks at certain times.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line’s Latitudes Rewards: High-tier members receive free specialty dining and beverage packages.

Tips for Maximizing Your Drink Package Value

To get the most value out of your drink package, consider the following tips:

  • Evaluate Your Drinking Habits: Calculate how many drinks you typically consume daily and compare that to the cost of the drink package.
  • Consider the Length of Your Cruise: Drink packages are often priced per day, so longer cruises may provide more value.
  • Look for Promotions: Take advantage of promotional offers and book during sales to get discounts on drink packages.
  • Use Included Beverages Wisely: Make the most of the complimentary beverages available at meals and in the buffets.

Is a Drink Package Right for You?

Cruise ship drink packages can enhance your cruising experience by offering convenience and potential savings.

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Understanding the different tiers of drink packages and what each includes is crucial in selecting the right one for your needs.

While basic beverages like water, basic coffee, and tea are typically included in the cruise fare, specialty drinks and top-shelf liquors usually require a higher-tier package.

Many cruise lines offer special promotions, such as Norwegian Cruise Line’s “Free at Sea” package, which can provide significant value.

Additionally, leveraging loyalty program benefits can secure you free drinks and other perks.

By carefully considering your drinking habits and taking advantage of promotional offers, you can maximize the value of your drink package and enjoy your cruise to the fullest.

Whether you are a coffee lover, a fan of top-shelf spirits, or simply enjoy having a variety of drink options at your fingertips, there is a cruise drink package that will meet your needs.

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