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Hi guys! My friends and I are going on our first cruise and there’s still a few questions we were hoping you could help with:

1) Will we save money by buying the DBP?

We plan on drinking a decent amount of cocktails  and having a few coffees and juices as well throughout the day, and we think we might actually break even. But is it likely we will save ourselves money? 

 

2) How does the gratuity work?

We’re from NZ and tipping isn’t the usual. If we only buy the Beverages package and we order an alcoholic drink will the tip be included in the price or added on top? Have you found that with the tips can be a “hidden cost” on the cruise?

 

3)Do you have any extra advice for us?

 

Thank you guys!

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It really depends on how much you would typically drink if you were buying the drinks individually.  Would you have that fancy coffee or fresh squeezed OJ over what is offered for free (regular coffee and OJ from concentrate) if you had to pay for it individually?  I know I personally take advantage of trying lots of drinks when I get the package, but I know if I didn't have it I would be a lot more careful with what I ordered at a cost.  It does make it easier to know that if you don't like a drink it wasn't a waste.  Plus you can pick up bottles of water at any bar which are handy to take off the ship for excursions and for hydrating.  

When you purchase the drink package it should disclose if you are paying the gratuity or not.  In the US, it's 18% added to the total cost of the package.  Some choose to tip on top of that as you can sometimes get better or faster service from a bartender.  The ship crew work really hard, so I don't mind giving an extra tip where it is deserved.

As for extra advice, if you're going to do the drink package it is cheaper to buy it through the cruise planner than it will be when you get on the ship.

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When you purchase the drink package .. it should say something like $52.00 per day plus gratuity.. so the final price should reflect it.  The drinks on the cruise ship usually cost around $8-13 per drink.. depends what you get.. we usually always purchase the package .. we like to have a few drinks during the day.. and at night.., and in the long run it saves us money.

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I agree with AshleyDillo. The beverage package allows you to try drinks you wouldn't normally order or knew existed without the fear of "am I wasting money on a drink I may not like?" I have to start my morning everyday with an iced coffee, so between that and all the bottled water I drank along with 4ish cocktails per day I calculated that I at least broke even if not saved some money. I love the peace of mind it provides in that I don't spend my entire vacation calculating how much I'm charging to my bill. Between it and the unlimited dining package, it's the closest you can get to an all inclusive experience. I'm pretty good at budgeting my money and I spend a significant amount of time stressing over it. I don't want to do that on vacation, so these packages allow me to not worry about it and relax. 

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4 minutes ago, kadmgs said:

I love the peace of mind it provides in that I don't spend my entire vacation calculating how much I'm charging to my bill.

This comment is one of the biggest reason why I buy the package, I have time to pay it off before the cruise and then during the cruise I don't worry about cost of drinks or food.

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10 minutes ago, tiny260 said:

This comment is one of the biggest reason why I buy the package, I have time to pay it off before the cruise and then during the cruise I don't worry about cost of drinks or food.

I couldn't agree more .... it's one less thing to worry about ..... Besides, I tend to turn a profit by the end of Day 1 ....lol

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3 minutes ago, Matt said:

In short, it is very possible to break even on the Deluxe Beverage Package. It just depends on you to drink enough every day of the cruise.

 

Thanks guys for all the help!  we originally thought $92nzd a day might be tough to achieve but if the drinks are roughly $13 each that’s definitely doable

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2 minutes ago, Marley said:

Thanks guys for all the help!  we originally thought $92nzd a day might be tough to achieve but if the drinks are roughly $13 each that’s definitely doable

Especially when you factor in Specialty Coffee and Bottled Water (of which we drink a ton of) --- hitting the profit margin really isn't that difficult.

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The only other thing you might consider is the cruise itself, how long and how many port days will you have? The relationship is that if you are in port and not on the ship then it will be tough to break even that day. If one of your days is Coco Cay or Labadee then the drink package works for those stops.

I personally would still get it for the convenience, but that is a personal preference of mine.  

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2 minutes ago, tiny260 said:

The only other thing you might consider is the cruise itself, how long and how many port days will you have? The relationship is that if you are in port and not on the ship then it will be tough to break even that day. If one of your days is Coco Cay or Labadee then the drink package works for those stops.

I personally would still get it for the convenience, but that is a personal preference of mine.  

Thanks! It’s an Australian cruise that visits Vanuatu and New Caledonia, but we will just have to make up for it on cruising days. If we do buy the DBP is it acceptable for me to still tip my bartender in cash? What currency would the prefer if so?

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We recently completed a 6 day cruise and did not buy the drink package.  Generally we have purchased it in the past.  Both my wife and I are not heavy drinkers during the day but usually have a couple of glasses of wine at dinner and cocktails during the shows.  I was upset when RCL changed to requiring everyone in your room get the drink package, unless you get the exception, as my wife may only have one or 2 drinks.  My thought was we had some OBC and we would use that to offset our drink cost during the cruise.  With that as background I would say going forward we agreed we will purchase the drink package.  We both agreed not having the drink package added to our stress, which is the last thing you want to do on a great vacation like this.  As mentioned in the other post individual drink cost can add up quickly with the gratuity added in.   Also we found we were making choices of do you really want that drink before the show or not?  Or do I want to go to the spa since I've already spent some money for a couple of drinks today.  We enjoy the little things like picking up a couple of bottles of water as you leave the ship for your excursion or letting the bartender make you one of their favorite drinks.  I would recommend just adding the drink package into your estimated cost upfront as you choose your choice of cruises.

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I completely agree with you, Razerbkfan.  Quite truthfully, I never make out financially with a drink plan (Dan normally does, but not me) but I continue to purchase it for both of us b/c #1, agree with John - we are able to pay off this expense before cruising and #2,  just want to be able to get whatever I want whenever I want it without having to stop and think about the cost.   As I have said many times before, I blame Star Class for this attitude.  Just another reason to NEVER sail Star Class unless you want to be ruined for the rest of your [cruise] life.

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23 minutes ago, Marley said:

Thanks guys for all the help!  we originally thought $92nzd a day might be tough to achieve but if the drinks are roughly $13 each that’s definitely doable

Considering the high end of the drink package covers up to $13USD (~$20NZD) you know exactly how much to calculate. 

I will note that most of the advice on this board is geared towards US passengers and US sailings.  I know the Euro and Australian sailings often have different rules and cultural practices, so make sure you read everything when you go to purchase to understand exactly what you are paying for.  That $92NZD may or may not include tips.  You also may or may not be able to cancel your purchase in the cruise planner if a better price comes along like we can do in the US.

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21 minutes ago, Marley said:

Thanks! It’s an Australian cruise that visits Vanuatu and New Caledonia, but we will just have to make up for it on cruising days. If we do buy the DBP is it acceptable for me to still tip my bartender in cash? What currency would the prefer if so?

What is your stop in Vanuatu?  My brother and his family live on Espiritu Santo in Luganville.

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25 minutes ago, Marley said:

Thanks! It’s an Australian cruise that visits Vanuatu and New Caledonia, but we will just have to make up for it on cruising days. If we do buy the DBP is it acceptable for me to still tip my bartender in cash? What currency would the prefer if so?

Pinging @F1guynz , he is better equipped to answer this question, I'm not.

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I have never used a bar on an RCI ship as I don't drink and I always bring enough soft drink so that I don't need to use the bars, however when purchasing drinks on board an 18% gratuity is automatically included.

If you want to tip extra I have tipped in both Australian and US dollars. It is probably easier in USD as the smallest denomination note in Australia is $5.

 

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10 hours ago, Matt said:

In short, it is very possible to break even on the Deluxe Beverage Package. It just depends on you to drink enough every day of the cruise.

 

I've been kicking around the deluxe drinks package dilemma for several months now...leaning towards going for it even though I'll have to include my roommate and two others traveling with us. I know there are pros and cons but one question I've had is if, to get your "money's worth",  you end up drinking more than you normally would? Like one day on the cruise you realize you've only had two drinks so you down 6 more right quick to "justify". LOL maybe I just need to "chill" as my kids say.

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3 hours ago, rtread said:

I've been kicking around the deluxe drinks package dilemma for several months now...leaning towards going for it even though I'll have to include my roommate and two others traveling with us. I know there are pros and cons but one question I've had is if, to get your "money's worth",  you end up drinking more than you normally would? Like one day on the cruise you realize you've only had two drinks so you down 6 more right quick to "justify". LOL maybe I just need to "chill" as my kids say.

Rtread my thoughts exactly! If you ring them they’ll let you buy a dbp then just buy the refreshments packages for everyone else in your cabin if the others don’t want to pay for the dbp

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14 hours ago, rtread said:

 you realize you've only had two drinks so you down 6 more right quick to "justify". 

I think this does happen to some.  I have long since given up worrying about whether I get my money's worth or not.  I never, ever do.  But I don't buy the DBP to save money.  I buy it to save energy and to have the flexibility to get whatever I want whenever I want it and also to prepay this expense so that I do not have to worry about how much we are spending onboard.  I never get the combo drinks+internet package.  We purchase the internet package once onboard, using our D+ discount.  This is the only cruise-related expense that Dan pays !  ...and usually there is more than enough OBC from our RCCL Visa points rebate to cover it so he rarely pays even for that !  What a great deal !

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14 hours ago, Marley said:

one day on the cruise you realize you've only had two drinks so you down 6 more right quick to "justify".

This is so true.  We got the package, but found that we were so full from all the food and drink that we couldn't drink enough to justify the cost.  Far better for us to get the refreshment package, then pay as we go for that one or two drinks we might have. Drink fatigue is a real thing.

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