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Is a Royal Caribbean drink package right for you?

13 Aug 2018
Matt Hochberg

You may have heard about Royal Caribbean's drink packages and wondered if a drink package is right for you and which package would be a good fit. There are a few drink packages to choose from, and here is an easy guide to knowing what each package includes and if it will benefit you.

Deluxe Beverage Package

If you enjoy a having a few alcoholic drinks per day on your Royal Caribbean cruise, then the only choice to consider is the Deluxe Beverage Package.

For the person that wants it all, the deluxe beverage package includes virtually unlimited combinations of beverages on their Royal Caribbean cruise.  It includes 

  • Cocktails / Spirits / Liqueurs / Beer
  • Bottled still and sparkling water
  • Wines by the glass
  • Fresh squeezed juices
  • Non-alcoholic cocktails
  • Premium coffees and teas
  • Fountain sodas
  • Coca-Cola® souvenir cup and Coca-Cola Freestyle® beverages 
  • Milkshakes at Johnny Rockets

The cost of the Deluxe Beverage Package varies from ship to ship and sailing to sailing.  That means there is no fleet wide price of the Deluxe Beverage Package, so exact pricing will depend on which sailing you book. At the time of drink package purchase, a service charge (18%) will be added that will cover gratuity on all drinks ordered with the drink package. 

It is important to note that Royal Caribbean requires if one person in a cabin purchases a Deluxe Beverage package, all others in the cabin aged 21 and over must purchase a package. 

It is worth noting that the Deluxe Beverage Package is very commonly discounted when purchased prior to the cruise, via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner.  Discounts of 20-30% off are regularly seen, and anyone considering a drink package would be well-served to pre-purchase the package instead of buying them onboard.

Unlimited beverage packages

If alcohol is not your thing or you are just not old enough to be drinking yet, then Royal Caribbean has a number of beverage packages perfect for you.

Refreshment Package - $26.00 per person, per day (plus gratuity)

With the Royal Refreshment package, you will get premium coffee, premium tea, bottled water (sparking or still), fresh squeezed juice, non-alcoholic cocktails and a Coca-Cola souvenir cup.

If the drinks Royal Caribbean provides complimentary aren't enough to quench your thirst, this is the best choice for how much you get.  It especially appeals to coffee drinkers because of the premium coffee and tea benefit.

The cost of $26 may not sound like a lot, but for a 7-night cruise it's still a few hundred dollars.  Just like the alcohol packages, it is ideal for those that enjoy having a number of drinks per day.

Classic Soda Package - $8.50 per person, per day (plus gratuity)

The Classic Soda package is simple, it is all the soft drinks you can drink during your cruise.

Coke, Sprite, root beer and all the other carbonated drinks that are available from the self-serve machines, restaurants and bars are at your disposal. 

To purchase a can of your favorite soft drink onboard otherwise, will cost you about $2, so the package requires the least commitment to get your moneys worth.

One more consideration

The basis for purchasing any drink package is to pay a fixed price for an unlimited amount of drinks, with the plan to drink enough over the course of the cruise to "break even" on the package cost.

When you look at the daily cost of any drink package, you will notice that you will need to drink more than just one or two drinks per day over the course of your cruise. With the  the significant up-front investment of a drink package, this means if you buy a drink package, you need to drink enough to make the packages worth it

That up-front investment can actually be a benefit for some, because it allows guests to break up the total cost of their cruise. Rather than end the cruise with a large bar bill, pre-purchasing a beverage package allows for spreading out the cruise cost over different billing cycles.

It's also worth noting these packages work best when you are onboard the ship, so port days when you spend a majority of the day off the ship result in less time to enjoy the package's benefits (excluding Royal Caribbean's private destinations of CocoCay and Labadee, where the drink package benefits work).

At a minimum, the unlimited alcohol package requires around a half dozen drinks per day, every day to be a good value for you.

Top reasons to get a drink package

Convenience of not worrying about drink costs onboard

Having a drink package means not worrying about the cost of individual drinks on your Royal Caribbean cruise.  Since so many cocktails, beers, premium coffees and more are included with the drink package, any concerns of running up a high bar tab are eliminated.  For a lot of guests, this is a very liberating experience.

Breaking up total cost of cruise

If you elect to buy a drink package before your cruise, you will be charged for the drink package at the time of purchase.  This helps reduce the total bill you will see at the end of your cruise.

For those that like to budget their cruise vacation and prefer smaller payments over time, buying a drink package in advance helps spread out the cost of the cruise, since you will not be paying for it (or any individual drinks) along with any other incidental charges to your SeaPass account.

Risk-free opportunity to try drinks

A great perk of having a drink package is being able to try drinks that you have never had previously without the concern of "wasting money" on something you do not enjoy. Royal Caribbean's drink menus offer a good variety of choices, and a drink package allows you to try any of them without any worry of not finishing the drink.

Top reasons not to get a drink package

You do not drink enough per day

If you are not interested in having a few drinks per day, every day of your cruise, than a drink package is likely not right for you.  While you do not need to drink enough to keep up with Bluto from Animal House, you should be having enough drinks per day to offset the daily cost compared to if you bought the same amount of drinks without a package.

Up front cost

When you purchase a drink package, Royal Caribbean will charge you for the full cost of the drink package.  For some guests, this can be a bit of sticker shock, especially with the Deluxe Beverage Package on longer sailings.

While we like the option to purchase a drink package in advance to help with budgeting for a cruise vacation, when you consider two adults on a seven night cruise will cost around $700-800, that is still a big charge.

Other adults in your room do not want a drink package

If there is one thing we hear a lot about from prospective drink package buyers that they struggle with, it is the rule of  if one person in a stateroom purchases a Deluxe Beverage package, all others in the stateroom aged 21 and over must purchase a package.

There is a little bit of wiggle room with this rule, if you call Royal Caribbean and mention your the other adult(s) in your stateroom do not drink (as much) alcohol, they will often let the other adult purchase the Royal Refreshment package instead (which costs significantly less per day).

Port intensive itinerary

Since Royal Caribbean's drink packages work only on their ships or private destinations, if your cruise vacation will take you to a lot of ports of call, that means less time to spend onboard to take advantage of the drink package benefits.  

In general, the less sea days and more days docked in a port, the more difficult it is to break even on the cost of a drink package. 

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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