Unlimited alcohol packages

Should you buy Royal Caribbean's unlimited alcohol package

In:
15Sep2016

Royal Caribbean's unlimited alcohol packages have been very popular with passengers and many guests looking to take a Royal Caribbean cruise wrestle with the idea of if these drink packages are a good value.

There are many factors that go into deciding if a Royal Caribbean drink packages is "worth it" and so this article will help give you the facts you need to know to make an informed decision.

Understanding how Royal Caribbean's drink packages work

Royal Caribbean's unlimited alcohol package is a simple concept: instead of purchasing each drink throughout your cruise and then having a bar tab at the end of your cruise to deal with, Royal Caribbean offers one unlimited alcohol package that will give passengers the option of paying for their drinks in advance and then having the convenience of not dealing with the costs of each drink.

In September 2016, Royal Caribbean simplified its unlimited drink package offerings and narrowed the options down to one unlimited drink package.

We wanted to do the math and figure out how many drinks one would need to order per day in order to theoretically "break even".  By breaking even, we mean having enough drinks that would cover the cost of the package if they had ordered the same amount of drinks but opted to pay for them a la carte.

Royal Caribbean has one unlimited alcohol package to choose from, the Deluxe Beverage package, which costs $55 per passenger, per day and features unlimited beers, wine by the glass, cocktails, non-alcoholic beverages, premium coffee, tea, fountain soda, fresh squeezed juices, sparking and bottled still water. This package includes drinks with a value of up to $12.

Room service and minibar items are not included in either package. Prices are inclusive of service charges.

Time for the math!

Deluxe Beverage Package

$55 per person, per day.  On a 7-night cruise, this comes out to $454.30 per person (with gratuity).

Mixed drinks/cocktails, martinis, frozens: $12.00

Beers: $6.25 - $6.95

House wines (by the glass): $8.00 - $12.00

Soda: $1.95

Juices: $3.95

Fresh squeezed juice: $4.95

Premium coffee: $3.95 - $4.95

This drink package offers guests virtually all the premium drinks available onboard for a fixed price.  It assumes the guest is interested in consuming the variety of drinks included, which includes to premium coffees, teas and juices.

To break even on the ultimate beverage package with mixed drinks and coffee alone, it would take about 5 mixed drinks and 2 premium coffees per day.  

If you are a beer drinker and do not care for much else, it will take about 7-8 beers per day to break even.

Conclusion

Based on the breakdowns of drink prices and the beverage package changes of 2016, the unlimited drink package can be a reasonable value, provided you can drink that much every day of your cruise.

It is important to note that while the drink packages do work on Royal Caribbean's private islands of Labadee and CocoCay, they do not work while you are in other ports of call.  The more ports of call you visit, the less time you have onboard to take advantage of the drink packages.  However, if your itinerary has mostly sea days, it becomes easier to get the value from the package.

It is also important to know that many guests will see a discount available for their drink package online prior to the cruise, often in the amount of 20% off the package price.  This savings does make the cost-savings ratio lower, since the amount one needs to drink per day is lower by about 1-2 drinks per day. Check your Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's web site for availability of such a discount.

The deluxe beverage package benefits guests who want a great variety of premium drinks on their cruises.  Those that mainly drink beers will find it more difficult to make the deluxe beverage package worthwhile over the course of the cruise.

What we often hear from other cruisers is over the course of longer cruises (7-nights or longer), it becomes more and more difficult to maintain the level of drinking required to get the value from the package.  

From a financial standpoint, if you can drink enough every day of your cruise to make it worth it, then go for it.  But if it sounds like too much, then stick to paying cash. Or better yet, take the money that the unlimited alcohol packages would cost, save it and then deposit it in your onboard account to offset the cost of your drinks.  Any leftover money can pay for other onboard purchases or you can take the extra money and keep it!

Are Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink packages worth it?

In:
25May2016

Going on a Royal Caribbean cruise these days and you are bound to see plenty of offers to purchase an unlimited drink package, which begs the question, "is a drink package worth it?".

Many years ago, the marketing geniuses at Royal Caribbean realized that guests really love convenience, and they hate having to take their wallets out on vacation.

And so, Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink package option was born. Each drink package has several price points and levels. With a drink package, you get access to certain beverages for the duration of your cruise.  It may be convenient, but it is not always a good deal.

Drink package basics

Before you can even begin figuring out if a package make sense to get, you need to have a good understanding of what they are and how they work.

Deluxe Beverage Package

Includes

  • Beer
  • Wine (by the glass)
  • Fountain soda with souvenir Coca-Cola cup
  • Cocktails
  • Bottled water (500 millimeters)
  • Fresh Juices
  • Premium Coffee and Tea
  • 40% discount on wines under $100. Wines above $100 will receive a 20% discount.

Within each package, the benefits are unlimited, so you can enjoy as many drinks as your package allows.  There are no daily or cruise-length limits.

Each guest must purchase one drink package for themselves, and there is absolutely no sharing of the package benefits.

Looking at the numbers

At the heart of figuring out if any of the drink packages are good value to you is, well, math.

There used to be many unlimited alcohol packages, but Royal Caribbean simplified that in 2016 with just one:

Deluxe beverage package: $55.00 per guest, per day (excluding gratuity)

The cost of a package is for the duration of your cruise, so if you pre-purchase before your cruise or buy it on embarkation day, you will be paying for use of it for the duration of your cruise.  If you buy it on day three, it will be good for that day onward. 

Figuring a seven night cruise is what many guests go for (and it provides some simple math), here is the weekly cost of an unlimited alcohol package:

  • Deluxe package: $454.30 per guest (including gratuity)

The idea to grasp is how many drinks you have to have per day, to "break even" on the package cost so the package is actually worth your money.  If you do not drink enough to break even, you would have been better off financially not buying a drink package.

If you are wondering how many drinks per day that is to "break even", it is somewhere in the ballpark these estimates. Keep in mind the deluxe package allows for different kind of drinks, so the drink prices you will find can vary greatly.

  • Deluxe package: 5-8 drinks per day

The best way to figure out if you want a drink package is consult our list of Royal Caribbean drink prices, and start to figure out what you would be interested in ordering and see what kind of bills you can accumulate.

What the packages do not include

Figuring out if a drink package is worth it involves some subjective reasoning beyond just objective math.

There are going to be drink specials throughout your cruise, which bring the price down of drinks and that makes it more difficult to "break even" on the drink packages.  As an example, the drink of the day will carry with it a 25% discount.

Any drink that comes in a souvenir glass or container is not included with the drink packages, so those sports bottles the Labadoozies come in or the hallowed-out pineapple drinks are going to cost you extra.

When you are in port and off the Royal Caribbean ship (not including Labadee or CocoCay), your drink package does not work.  Being on shore limits the time in the day you have to drink as well as requires you to still pay extra for alcoholic beverages.

The final decision

With all of the data presented, now it is time to figure out if a drink package makes sense for you.  

Despite the fact quite a bit of arithmetic was used in this blog post, one of the best ways to figure out if a drink package is worth it, is to ask yourself this question:

Can I drink 5-7 drinks per day, every day of my cruise?

If after thinking that you initially thought, "Woah, that is a lot to drink" or "Woah, that's it?", then you probably have your answer.

There are a few "x-factors" worth considering was well when it comes to any Royal Caribbean drink package.

Drink fatigue: This phenomenon occurs as the cruise progresses, each day you find yourself drinking for the sake of drinking as a means of "breaking even" on your drink package investment. Anyone can drink 5-7 drinks in one day, but 5-7 drinks every day of the cruise could possibly get old.

Trying new drinks: One of the best reasons to get a drink package is that you can enjoy all the drinks available, including some new ones.  You can order something and not be worried that you might not like it and have to "suffer" through it, simply because you paid for it.

Drink package discounts: Discounts on Royal Caribbean's drink packages used to be nonexistent, but these days, we are seeing more discounts being offered on the drink packages, which bring down the total cost. A 20% package saving might be enough to push some folks "over the fence" to make it a worthwhile investment.

The reality is there is no global answer for everyone.  You have to figure out the math for yourself.

There is no question Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink package presents a definite value proposition and you can make it work. Plenty of past cruisers swear by it.

On the other hand, everyone's tolerance for actually wanting to have a drink is different.  And since the reason to buy an unlimited drink package is the convenience and fixed drinking bill, one should consider just how much value the package offers.

Do you think Royal Caribbean's unlimited alcohol packages are worth it? Tell us why in the comments!

Spotted: New Royal Caribbean unlimited alcohol package waiver

In:
28Apr2016

Royal Caribbean is starting to have guests sign waivers prior to purchasing one of its unlimited alcohol packages on at least one Royal Caribbean ship.

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Rich Triplett spotted this new waiver specifically for guests who wish to purchase an unlimited drink package on Independence of the Seas.

The waiver reinforces the rules of the drink package, and focuses on a few key aspects of the package rules

  • Your package is for your own personal use only
  • One drink at a time
  • Safety (as it pertains to being over-served)
  • Drinks excluded from the drink package
  • Room service and mini bar not included

Guests must sign at the bottom of the form during the purchasing process.

It is not clear if this waiver is being made available to guests on other Royal Caribbean ships yet, but it may be a sign of things to come.

How to purchase Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink packages

In:
14Apr2016

Are you ready to buy one of Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink packages

Many guests like the idea of locking in the price of their drinks onboard by getting an unlimited drink package so they have one less thing to worry about.  Here is how you can purchase a drink package for your Royal Caribbean cruise.

Online

To pre-order any drink package online, go to Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner and choose which drink packages you want to order.

In our experience, the drink packages are available for ordering online many months in advance of a cruise sailing date.  In fact, it is one of the first items available for purchase via the Cruise Planner.

Buying a Royal Caribbean drink package before your cruise begins offers two significant advantages: you can split up the total cost of the cruise vacation because the drink package cost will be charged at the time of purchase and it will be ready to be used once you board the ship.

For a seven night cruise, prices for an unlimited alcohol packages start at $322.14 per guest (including gratuities) for the entire cruise. By opting to purchase an unlimited alcohol package in advance, guests can pay off the drink packages before the cruis even begins, which means less of a bill that will be incurred following the conclusion of a cruise.

Phone

There is one more method of pre-purchasing an unlimited drink package and that is by phone.

Guests may call (800) 398-9819 in the U.S. or Canada to reserve drink packages for their cruise.

Onboard

Another option is to wait and purchase the drink package onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise.

Drink packages can be purchased at various kiosks set up around the ship, as well as any bar or lounge.

There are a few advantages of buying a drink package onboard your ship. First, you can use onboard credit towards the purchase of a drink package.  Second, if you choose to purchase a drink package on a day other than embarkation day, Royal Caribbean will prorate the cost of the package for the remainder of the cruise.

Four questions you need to ask yourself before buying a Royal Caribbean unlimited alcohol package

In:
27Jan2016

Royal Caribbean's unlimited alcohol packages have become incredibly popular with guests who love the idea of having a fixed price for unlimited cocktails, beers and sodas on the cruise, but are they right for you?

The unlimited alcohol packages are based around a basic idea: pay one flat daily fee and get all the drinks you want.

If you are trying to figure out if these drink packages are right for you, here are four important questions to ask yourself.

Am I interested in beer, wine, cocktails, or all of them?

Before you can figure out if the drink packages are a good deal for you, you have to figure out which drink package appeals to you the most.

Royal Caribbean offers a few different drink packages that include different types of beverages, such as beers, sodas, cocktails, juices and more.

The key is to figure out which drinks you really want to have unlimited access to.  

  • Do you want alcoholic beverages or non-alcoholic drinks? 
  • Do you want cocktails or will beer and wine do?  
  • Are having fresh squeezed juices everyday important?

These are the kinds of important considerations to consider.

Can I drink about 5-6 drinks per day, every day?

Perhaps the most important question to consider is can you drink enough to make the package worthwhile in terms of cost.

All the drink packages have a threshold of beverages a guest must consume each day to equal the cost of the same amount of drinks purchased a la carte.

At the heart of these unlimited alcohol packages is the proposition that you will drink enough to "break even" each day to make the packages worth it.  If you knew that you would not drink enough to make the package worth it financially, then you probably would not consider the drink.

On average, most of the unlimited alcohol packages take about 5-6 drinks per day to reach the daily cost of the drink package. The non-alcohol packages have a lower break-even point, that is closer to 3-4 drinks.

Keep in mind that you must consume enough drinks every day of your cruise to recoup the cost of the package, and the longer the cruise, the more difficult it can be to maintain that amount of drinking.

How much time will I spend on shore?

An overlooked consideration when it comes to figuring out if Royal Caribbean's drink packages are worth it is your cruise itinerary.

There is no question that the more time you spend onboard Royal Caribbean ships or at Royal Caribbean private destinations, the more time there is to take advantage of the drink packages.

If you are going on a port-intensive itinerary, that will leave fewer hours per day to use the package benefits compared to an itinerary with lots of sea days.

Also keep in mind that often purchasing drinks on shore can be cheaper than on Royal Caribbean ships, which can be a source of tremendous value.

How important is the convenience of having drinks pre-paid for me?

There is an intangible value that Royal Caribbean's drink packages offer to guests and that is the convenience the package offers.

We often hear from Royal Caribbean passengers who love how the package for not having to worry about keeping track of costs, the opportunity to try new drinks without fear of wasting money and being able to split up the cost of the cruise.

These "x-factors" may not always add up with the fiscals of the package, but then again, you are on vacation and part of a memorable vacation is not worrying about some details.

Do you think the unlimited alcohol packages are a good deal? Share your experiences with the packages in the comments!

Answers to the most common Royal Caribbean unlimited alcohol package questions

In:
13Jan2016

It seems like Royal Caribbean has hit a home run with their unlimited drink packages, which give guests the option to have all the alcoholic beverages they want on a cruise for a flat fee.

Given the drink packages popularity, we get a lot of questions here about them and we decided to list answers to the most commonly asked unlimited alcohol package questions for everyone's future reference.

The drink packages really are unlimited

This may seem obvious, but other cruise lines place limits on their unlimited alcohol packages.  This causes those new to Royal Caribbean to question just how unlimited the alcohol packages are.

The answer is, there is no limit on the unlimited alcohol packages and no daily caps on how many beverages you can get.

The closest thing to a limit that exists, is with the soda fountain cups each drink package receives, the automated machines do limit refills to once every 10-15 minutes.  This is prevent abuse of the self-serve soda machines.

Gratuity is included with the drink packages

When you purchase an unlimited alcohol package, your purchase price includes gratuity for every drink you order.

Royal Caribbean advertises one price for each drink package, but if you look at the receipt, you will notice a cost for the base package plus a "service charge" that covers your gratuities.

When you order a drink with the drink package, your receipt will show an 18% gratuity has already been added, although there is the option to add additional gratuity if you so choose.

Not everyone in your stateroom needs to get a drink package

When Royal Caribbean first announced their unlimited alcohol packages, there was a requirement that if one adult was purchasing a drink package, then all adults in that stateroom had to purchase one too.

Royal Caribbean has since changed that rule and today, any adult can purchase an unlimited alcohol package without requiring any other adult in the same stateroom to purchase one too.

You cannot share the drink packages with someone else

Let me be crystal clear here: it is against Royal Caribbean's rules to share the benefits of the drink package with anyone else. Period.

Royal Caribbean stipulates the drink packages are solely for the person purchasing it and if caught sharing the package, you may have your drink package canceled without refund.

You do not have to buy the drink packages on the first day

In the months (or years) leading up to your Royal Caribbean cruise, you will see a ton of advertising to purchase a drink package and even on embarkation day, there will be plenty of opportunity to buy a drink package.  But you do not have to buy it on day one.

As long as there are at least four days left in your cruise, you can opt to purchase a drink package later in your cruise and pay a prorated amount for the package.

This means on a seven night cruise, you can wait until day two or three to buy a drink package and then pay only for the remaining days of the package.

Did we miss your question? Post it in the comments below and we will try our best to answer it!

Royal Caribbean raising prices of unlimited drink packages

In:
06Jan2016

Royal Caribbean is beginning to raise the prices of its popular unlimited alcohol packages on select sailings.

We ran spot checks across a variety of Royal Caribbean sailings in 2016 and 2017 and found in more than half the cases, the drink package pricing has changed as follows:

  • Select drink package: $46.02 per day (old price $42)
  • Premium drink package: $57.82 per day  (old price $57)
  • Ultimate drink package: $69.62 per day  (old price $67)

The increase has also affected the non-alcolohic drink packages.  Most notably, there is now no longer a change in price between children and adults for the Royal Refreshment package.

  • Royal Replenish package: $22.42 per day (old price $22)
  • Royal Refreshment package 
    • Adults: $9.44 per day (old price $8)
    • Children: $9.44 per day (old price $5.50)

Interestingly enough, the Evian bottled water package went down in price

  • Evian bottled water package: $46.02 (old price $47)

The new pricing does still include the service charge.

The change in pricing is not reflective of all Royal Caribbean sailings we have seen.  Some sailings still reflect the old pricing, and it is unclear as of yet if or when this new pricing will spread fleetwide.

Royal Caribbean has not increased the base price of its drink packages since they debuted in 2012, although they have played with service charge pricing, as well as increasing the service charge to 18%

What do you think about the drink package pricing change? Share your thoughts in the comments!

In-depth look at Royal Caribbean's Premium Drink Package

In:
19Oct2015

Perhaps no Royal Caribbean unlimited alcohol package is as popular with guests as the Premium drink package for the variety of drinks it offers that meet what most guests want at one fixed price.

The Premium package has been offered by Royal Caribbean since the cruise line started selling unlimited alcohol packages back in 2013.  It is the middle tier of the unlimited alcohol packages and is the first package to offer a variety of drink choices.

You can read more about what the different unlimited alcohol packages are and how they work.  We also have in-depth looks at the Select drink package and the Ultimate drink package if you want to compare the offerings.

What does the Premium drink package include?

Guests that purchase the Premium drink package can choose from unlimited beer, wine by the glass (up to $12 value), all well, call, and premium cocktails (up to $12 value),  frozen cocktails and fountain soda with Coca-Cola souvenir cup.  

Guests can also get bottled water still (500ml) and receive 20% off bottles of wine.

How much is the Premium drink package?

The base price is $57 per person, per day including the service charge.

This means the daily price you pay covers all the drinks in the package as well as gratuity.

What drinks and liquors are not included in the Premium package?

Certain top shelf liquors are not included in the Premium package because of their exceptionally high cost.  Some examples are Patron and Chopin.

Here is a list of liquors included in the Premium package, based on our experience (note this is subject to change.

VODKAS

  • Absolut
  • Belvedere
  • Finlandia
  • Grey Goose
  • Ketel One
  • Russian Standard
  • Smirnoff
  • Stolichnaya

GINS

  • Beefeater
  • Bombay Sapphire
  • Hendrick’s
  • Tanqueray

RUMS

  • Appleton V/X
  • Bacardi
  • Blackwell Fine Jamaican
  • Captain Morgan Spiced
  • Cruzan
  • Mt. Gay Eclipse Silver
  • Malibu
  • Myer’s Original Dark
  • Gosling’s Black Seal
  • Leblon Cachaca

TEQUILAS

  • Corazon
  • Cuervo
  • Sauza

SCOTCH

  • The Balvenie12 year
  • Chivas Regal 12 year
  • Cutty Sark
  • Dewar’s
  • Glennfiddich
  • J&B
  • Johnnie Walker Black
  • Johnnie Walker Red
  • The Glenlivet
  • The Macallan Select Oak

WHISKIES

  • Canadian Club
  • Crown Royal
  • Jack Daniel’s
  • Jameson
  • Seagram’s VO

BOURBON

  • Baker’s
  • Blanton’s
  • Gentleman Jack
  • Jim Beam
  • Knob Creek
  • Maker’s Mark

BRANDY & COGNAC

  • Carlos I
  • Courvoisier VS

CORDIALS

  • Baileys
  • Chambord
  • Cointreau
  • Disaronno
  • Drambuie
  • Frangelico
  • Grand Mariner
  • Jagermeister
  • Kahlua
  • Southern Comfort
  • Tia Maria

Who is the Premium drink package best for?

The Premium package is right for someone that wants to have more than just beer or wine on their cruise. 

Mixed drinks are a popular choice and it seems drink menus around the ship offer cocktails more than any other kind of alcoholic beverage.  In addition, mixed drinks taste good and a frozen cocktail by the pool seems to be the most appropriate drink choice.

In addition, the wine by the glass allotment increases from $8 to $12 with the Premium package.

What is the difference between the Premium drink package and the other drink packages?

The main difference between the Premium package and the Ultimate package is guests on the Ultimate package get everything in the Premium Package combined with the Royal Replenish package.

This means the Ultimate package is good for those that want juices or premium coffees in addition to alcohol locked into one price.

The Select package differs from the Premium package in that the Premium package offers everything the Select package has plus mixed drinks, bottled water and a higher spending threshold for wine by the glass.

Where can I use the Premium drink package onboard?

The beverage packages are honored at any Royal Caribbean bars or lounges, Windjammer Café, Main Dining Room, as well as Royal Caribbean's private destinations during normal business hours.

Room service and minibar are not included.

Can I get souvenir mugs while using the Premium drink package?

You can get drinks like Labadoozies, Coco locos, after dinner shots or the drink of the day with the ultimate drink package but does not include the souvenir mugs/glasses they are often served in.

You should tell your waiter or bartender to get the drink without the souvenir cup to avoid being charged extra for the souvenir cup.

Can I purchase the Premium drink package and share drinks with someone I know onboard?

No, sharing beverages on any of Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink packages is strictly prohibited.

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