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
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.
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!