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Unlimited alcohol package: Convenience or value?


Matt
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My upcoming cruise I got the package, our itinerary is port Canaveral which we more than likely won’t get off the ship, Nassau and Coco Cay (those delightful coco locos are included).  So really just one day in which I won’t fully be participating so for me I will definitely get my moneys worth. I would definitely think hard about if we were on a more port intensive cruise. 

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51 minutes ago, Ogalthorpe Haywood said:

My upcoming cruise I got the package, our itinerary is port Canaveral which we more than likely won’t get off the ship, Nassau and Coco Cay (those delightful coco locos are included).  So really just one day in which I won’t fully be participating so for me I will definitely get my moneys worth. I would definitely think hard about if we were on a more port intensive cruise. 

X2, for me , the port intensive cruises make the purchase questionable.   Why pay for a package you're not likely to use.  Now, if you're looking at a 10 day or greater with at least 4 -5 days at sea, then its a no brainer.  Get to the pool & drink and sink. 

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The switch from the "types" of package to one package fits all made this harder for me.

I really don't drink mixed drinks, prefer to stick with beer for the most part. They used to offer the cheaper beer and wine package which worked better for me ... at $45 you are talking 6-8 beers which is certainly doable but more than I typically drink in a day.

Add in that I hate coffee, have no problem with "tap" water and cant be bothered to stand in line for fresh juice and now free diamond drinks every night and I really struggle to find value in the package.

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Buying the drink package in advance allowed me to not even think about the money I was or was not spending.  In the past without a drink package, was was constantly tracking my expenditures which completely changes my relaxation level and I wasn't willing to try new drinks.  With the drink package, I was free to try any drink they could make without worry.  If I didn't like it, I just got another one.  Between the bottled waters, sodas, specialty coffee and alcohol, I was free to enjoy my trip knowing it was all covered. 

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and that's my plan too.  I am a compulsive penny counter and have frequently had less fun because I was watching everything we spent (even though I don't really need to any more).  My plan is to grab every drink/specialty beverage I see!!!!!

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52 minutes ago, Pooch said:

I am a compulsive penny counter and have frequently had less fun because I was watching everything we spent (even though I don't really need to any more). 

Yes to all of this. I couldn't agree more. I think once you've had to penny pinch and even when you don't - if there is any slight OCD in you are forever counting your pennies. It's not a bad thing but it does take the fun out of things. This is the first cruise where I bought the package in advance even though I'm not a huge drinker just so I'm not counting.

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On April 26, 2018 at 12:39 PM, David Maryland said:

Buying the drink package in advance allowed me to not even think about the money I was or was not spending.  In the past without a drink package, was was constantly tracking my expenditures which completely changes my relaxation level and I wasn't willing to try new drinks.  With the drink package, I was free to try any drink they could make without worry.  If I didn't like it, I just got another one.  Between the bottled waters, sodas, specialty coffee and alcohol, I was free to enjoy my trip knowing it was all covered. 

X2, it takes a lot of stress and decision making out of the equation, but the changes the past 6 months changed my view. .  I listened to @Matt podcast about this. I've purchased the Unlimited package over the years but NOT the last two cruises since implementation in October 2017  To be clear , I have not purchased the drink package, even with the pre-cruise Voom and drink  package offer.  So yes, it did change my behavior in buying the package.  When I last cruised three weeks ago, I opted out and it appears they changed the rules again, saying that if the other adult in room does not want it, you still have to buy at least a basic soda package, no exceptions for pregnancy, religion or I just don't drink.  So, they've appeared to have dug in their heels on the drink package and if you want it, you're going to have to cave on the lesser package too. My observation on last two cruises since implementation. RC lost out on 4 figure income.  I'll bet I am just one of many.  I've got another booked July 2018 ( refurbed Mariner) and plan on NOT purchasing the package(s) again. That'll be three straight without it. Knock knock, is RC listening? 

 

Note that even though I am Diamond and close to D+, I still spent the $$ for the package over the years . Silly me I guess, but who's making these decisions? I guess the bean counters always win or do they? As more regulars advance in C&A , you'll see even more drop off of deluxe package buyers since they've tied it to all adults in the room. Has anyone in Miami or Lauderdale thought this through? 

Following the othe cruise  lines can take you off a cliff. The pied piper was not right. 

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When I'm not on a cruise, I usually don't drink that much because it takes quite a bit to get me buzzed - i'll have a beer here and there when i'm out, but when I'm on vacation, I just want to relax.  I've always purchased the drink package when on a cruise because of its value for me.  At the posted onboard prices, I'm easily over $150+ per day between the coffee, bottled water, juice, soda and alcohol.  I usually make friends with the bartender in the Schooner bar - after tipping a dollar on every drink, they get to be quite generous with the pours... so often, I'll end up with a double.  I don't get sloppy, slurry drunk either - just a nice, relaxing buzz.  Heck, on our Oasis cruise, one of my regular bartenders was serving at Cats, and he spotted me and ran over a rum and coke - didn't even swipe my seapass card. Now that's service!

I'm sure that Royal Caribbean has crunched the numbers on utilization and profitability of the drink package and they've set the perfect price point, but I guess I'm making up for all of those folks who can't break even ?

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The package is definitely worth it to us, but I also prefer to pay for everything up front and not have to worry about budgets and money while I'm on a vacation.  It also prevents a big bill at the end which would end the vacation on a sour note.

Another thing I like about the package is it encourages us to try things we might not if we were paying per drink.  If I wind up not liking something, it's no big deal.  It's not like I'm out $10 this round, I can just order something else without worrying.

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We got the Deluxe package for us and the Refreshment package for our teens during a recent 25% off sale.  My husband, daughter and I are all particular about our coffee and will probably drink at least 2-3 each every day.  Our 16 yo son doesn't like coffee, but he drinks Red Bull and we have successfully gotten that before under the Refreshment package.  We all drink a lot of bottled water.  We'll be busy in port/touring most days, but DH and I are sure to drink at least 3+ alcoholic beverages a day in the evening (and the kids are sure to enjoy plenty of virgin frozen drinks.)

I also like not having to worry about a bill at the end (or ordering something less expensive just because it is less expensive because I am thrifty by nature).  Plus, the unlimited package allows us to try drinks we've never had before.  If you don't like it--no big deal.  Just order something else.  ?

 

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  • 1 month later...

Buying in advance at $45 pppd, it is definitely value for me. Took full advantage of the espresso drinks at cafe promenade and park cafe as well. Enjoyed trying new cocktails that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I am perfectly content with drinking wine, beer, and whiskey, but it is nice every once in a while to try new things and not have to worry about breaking the budget. 

 

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Sure can. Some wines are available by the glass, but others only by bottle, which would obviously incur a cost if you were using the drink package. There appears to be 1 or 2 wines of each type (pink noir, merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio etc.) that fall at $13 or less mark at most restaurants.

To be clear though I don’t think any specialty restaurants include wine in the cover charge. Maybe Chefs Table? 

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1 hour ago, Alex S. said:

To be clear though I don’t think any specialty restaurants include wine in the cover charge. Maybe Chefs Table? 

Yes, the Chef’s Table includes 5 wines that are paired with the various courses. At least in my case, we were allowed to have extra glasses of our favorites from the meal at no extra charge, as long as we had them before we left the meal.

1 hour ago, Disneynorth said:

Can you get wine by the glass at dinner, with the dining package and what is the selection like?

Absolutely! Alex covered all the key points. Only thing I’ll add is that they take your SeaPass card for scanning when you order, even if the per-glass price falls within the drink package limit. Other thing to note is that it might take a fair while for it to show up, so you may want to get a glass of something from a Vintages and bring that with you into the MDR to have while you wait.

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17 hours ago, JLMoran said:

 

Absolutely! Alex covered all the key points. Only thing I’ll add is that they take your SeaPass card for scanning when you order, even if the per-glass price falls within the drink package limit. Other thing to note is that it might take a fair while for it to show up, so you may want to get a glass of something from a Vintages and bring that with you into the MDR to have while you wait.

We always stopped every night ay vintages pre dinner and ordered the next glass right away.   It usually came with the entree...it takes a very long time sometimes!   Though a couple years ago the wine steward saw I had a 2nd glass every dinner and just brought it right away without swiping... it saved him a bunch of time!   Jane

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like so many others, i'm of the mind set that if i can prepay for anything before the cruise,, that's my preference.    First cruise we took we didn't do that and while i knew i was going to have some charges at the end of the cruise, i sort of got sticker shock.  we planned for it financially so it wasn't an issue.   however to me couple hundred bucks for odds and ends, no problem. Now spending an extra 600-800 AFTER the cruise for drinks, spec dining etc sort of tarnished the after-effect for me.     

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I'm really debating the drink package for my October cruise. It was a no brainer for my July one since I'm with a very large group of people and we plan on a lot of activities which I'm sure include drinking. My October cruise is just me - unless I get a ridiculously cheap sale I'm not sure it's worth it. I do drink a lot of water and coffee and will definitely have a drink or two with dinner but not sure it's worth the $$ for me on my own. I may just purchase the coffee card and pay by the drink for everything else.

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For me, it's rarely a value. At most, I think I break even especially on longer cruises. After all, how many specialty coffees can one consume per day. ? However, for my wife, she's content with bringing her own non-alcoholic drinks on. Even on cruise lines the openly allow for it, that's just one additional thing that I don't personally want to lug at check-in.

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1 hour ago, ellcee said:

I'm really debating the drink package for my October cruise. It was a no brainer for my July one since I'm with a very large group of people and we plan on a lot of activities which I'm sure include drinking. My October cruise is just me - unless I get a ridiculously cheap sale I'm not sure it's worth it. I do drink a lot of water and coffee and will definitely have a drink or two with dinner but not sure it's worth the $$ for me on my own. I may just purchase the coffee card and pay by the drink for everything else.

Keep an eye out for 10 drink cards, or 10 draft beer cards mid-cruise.  Saves a few bucks.  The 10 beer cards have limited draft choices so make sure you like the beer before going this route.

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My first cruise was in 2015, and when my TA told me about the drinks package, I went home, calculated the price and then worked out how much I'd need to save per week to pay for it! ?

Second cruise coming up in March 2019, so no idea yet what the package is going to cost - but I've high-balled a number and yep, saving up for it as we speak.

When I was married, I NEVER got to drink when we went out - the ex didn't drive, so I was always the designated driver and had to stay sober. Now I'm single, I'm still the designated driver, but I've been known to indulge and catch a cab home (the ex disapproved of that - can you see why he's now the ex?) ?

For me, my cruise vacation will be just that - a vacation. Away from always being the driver, away from (much) responsibility - the drinks package allows me the freedom and convenience to enjoy speciality coffee (the free stuff is pretty dreadful, and I'm no coffee snob), to take bottles of water on shore excursions, and to laze away the day by the pool with lovely waiters bringing me drinks with umbrellas in them. Isn't that the stereotypical vacation ideal?

Plus, my experience on Independence back in 2015 was brilliant - I glimpsed a cocktail in the wine bar (before the ex dragged me away because he didn't want to stay there) that had elderflower liqueur in it. Couldn't remember the name, just that it was champagne and elderflower. When I asked the bartender in the MDR for this vaguely described drink? I got it. And it was beautiful.

So the unlimited alcohol package is an indulgence, but one which I am sure I will get value for. It's also a convenience. I should mention I'm cruising alone, so there's no requirement to purchase a second package for another party, which certainly adds to the affordability.

I can't wait for March next year to enjoy some fabulous Royal cocktails again!

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2 hours ago, June May said:

I should mention I'm cruising alone, so there's no requirement to purchase a second package for another party, which certainly adds to the affordability.

I can't wait for March next year to enjoy some fabulous Royal cocktails again!

Cruising solo does offer its advantages.  I've done some great excursions that as a family or even a couple would break the bank. 

If the drink package works in your favor, having to buy only one certainty makes a big difference and a care free vacation without thinking about it when you feel like a drink.

Cheers!

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