Drink Packages

Spotted: Coca-Cola Olympics design souvenir cups on Royal Caribbean cruise ships

In:
06Aug2016

Just in time for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, guests on Royal Caribbean can enjoy new souvenir Coca-Cola cups on their cruise.

The new souvenir cups are available on Royal Caribbean ships when a guest purchases one of the unlimited drink packages.

It is not clear how long these will be available, but it seems to be a recent addition.

These souvenir cups are compatible with the self-serve soda machines on the pool deck as well as the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines. The Coca-Cola souvenir cup has a special chip in it which activates the machine.

Spotlight: Drink cards on Royal Caribbean cruises

In:
Category: 
23Jun2016

Have you heard about the drink cards Royal Caribbean has offered on select sailings that offer a reduced cost for a select amount of drinks?  

Drink cards started popping up in the last year or so, building on the popularity of Royal Caribbean's beverage packages. Guests like having a predictable and convenient way to enjoy all the drinks they like, and Royal Caribbean likes getting guests spending more money for their cruise.  The thing is, many guests opt not to get a drink package because they do not feel they can drink enough to make the package worthwhile financially.

Drink cards are the alternative to drink packages, where guests pay a fixed-cost for a card that can be used to purchase pretty much any drink that the drink package would cover. 

If you have heard about the drink cards before, or are wondering how to get one and how they work exactly, this will help answer all of your questions.

How does the drink card work?

Drink cards can only be purchased on a Royal Caribbean ship from almost any bar or lounge. Each card is good for ordering ten drinks.

At the time of purchase, guests pre-pay the card's full amount and then can use it at any bar, restaurant or lounge onboard to get a drink.  For each drink they order, the waiter or bartender will mark off one of the numbers on the bottom to card to indicate it was used.

The drink cards cover pretty much any drink that a regular drink package covers. This includes most beers, glasses of wine, and cocktails, as well as fountain sodas, specialty coffee and fresh juices.  The drink card also covers the gratuity for the purchase.

One key difference between the drink card and a drink package is the benefits of a drink card are shareable with other guests.  So you can purchase a card and let your spouse, friends or family use the card benefits as well.

What does the drink card not include?

The Royal Caribbean drink card does not include mini bar items, canned sodas, bottled juice and souvenir glassware, specialty beers as listed on bar menus, or super premium category beverages.

How much does a drink card cost?

The price seems to differ from ship to ship and sailing to sailing.  We have heard of the drink card costing somewhere between $70-$90 per card. 

The card cost will be charged to your SeaPass account and is non-refundable.

Can I get a drink card on my upcoming cruise?

Here is the catch about the drink card: you can never be sure it will be available on your cruise or when on the cruise it will be available.

Even if it is offered, it tends to become available on various days of the sailing.  Some cruises have seen it on day 3 of a seventh night cruise, others on day 5 of a seven night cruise. Other times it was offered on the last day of a 4 night cruise.

Each Royal Caribbean ship has been given the option to test different beverage package offerings onboard. The decision of which program to offer, if any, is made by the ship. That means, there is no guarantee it will be available on your sailing, or when it will be available and for how much.

Essentially, you will not be able to determine if a drink card will be available until you are onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise and well into the sailing.

Are the drink cards a good value?

In all the variations of the drink package we have seen, the drink card makes a lot of financial sense, assuming you can drink the ten drinks allocated and drink cocktails.  If you neglect to consume even one beverage offered by the card by the end of your cruise, it is a poor decision.

Taking the $90 card cost as a "worst case scenario," that means each drink costs you $9, including gratuity. Depending on which drink you buy, most mixed drinks cost between $10-12 (before gratuity).

In addition, the drink card can be shared, which makes it a far more powerful value.  It is great for family and friends who cruise together, and can pool together their drinking onto these cards and save everyone money.

The drink card does cover other kinds of beverages other than cocktails, but they are poor choices to use the drink card for.  Assuming each drink is $9 with the drink card, most beers, juices, premium coffees and sodas are well below that $9 value.

If you like mixed drinks and/or wine by the glass, a drink card works quite well financially, given the per-price break down.  The key is to take advantage of drinks that are more expensive than the per-drink card value.  

Would you purchase a drink card if it were offered on your Royal Caribbean cruise? Tell us in the comments!

Spotted: New Coca-Cola souvenir cup design available on Royal Caribbean cruises

In:
30Apr2016

There is a new design for the souvenir Coca-Cola cups guests get with their unlimited drink packages.

The new souvenir cups are available on Royal Caribbean ships when a guest purchases one of the unlimited drink packages.

It is not clear yet when these new souvenir cup designs began being sold, but it is likely to have changed somewhat recently.

These souvenir cups are compatible with the self-serve soda machines on the pool deck as well as the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines. The Coca-Cola souvenir cup has a special chip in it which activates the machine.

Do you like the design of these souvenir Coca-Cola cups? Tell us in the comments below!

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.

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!

Spotted: Royal Caribbean 10 drink punch card ticket on Grandeur of the Seas

In:
30Dec2015

Royal Caribbean is testing a new punch card system on Grandeur of the Seas for guests to enjoy 10 drinks for a fixed price.

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Rich T shared this photo from the Cruise Compass on Grandeur of the Seas, wher guests could purchase 10 drinks for $89.95.

The drink card is valid for the purchase of most beers, glasses of wine and cocktails as well as fountain soda and specialty coffee.

Guests had reported also seeing this kind of a drink card system tested on other ships, including Liberty of the Seas.

This just one of a few tests Royal Caribbean is testing in regards to different beverage packages and price structures these days. With ships full of guests that are more inclined to party with the holidays, it seems to be an opportunity to try offers like this punch card out.

Royal Caribbean spokesperson Celia de la Llama told Cruise Critic, "Ships have been given the option to test different beverage package offerings onboard.  The decision of which program to offer, if any, is made by the ship."

Earlier this week, a one day sea day beverage package was also spotted on a few Royal Caribbean ships.

Would you buy a drink ticket like this instead of an unlimited alcohol package? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Spotted: One-day Royal Caribbean unlimited alcohol package on Enchantment of the Seas

In:
28Dec2015

It appears Royal Caribbean is offering on Enchantment of the Seas a one-day unlimited alcohol package that is aimed at getting guests who do not want to commit to a full beverage package.

Megan Tellalian spotted this new deal on Enchantment of the Seas, where guests could purchase a "sea-day beverage package" for $65 per person.

This one day drink package includes unlimited beers, cocktails and select glasses of wine, as well as bottled water, juices and specialty coffees.  Essentially, it is a one-day version of the ultimate drink package.

Other guests have reported seeing a similar package on Anthem of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.

Would you buy a one-day unlimited drink package? Let us know in the comments!

New Coca-Cola souvenir cup design available on Royal Caribbean cruises

In:
Category: 
06Oct2015

There is a new design for the souvenir Coca-Cola cups guests get with their unlimited drink packages that matches Coca-Cola's "Share A Coke" marketing campaign.

The new souvenir cups are available on Royal Caribbean ships when a guest purchases one of the unlimited drink packages.

It is not clear yet when these new souvenir cup designs began being sold, but it is likely to have changed somewhat recently.

These souvenir cups are compatible with the self-serve soda machines on the pool deck as well as the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines. The Coca-Cola souvenir cup has a special chip in it which activates the machine.

Do you like the design of these souvenir Coca-Cola cups? Tell us in the comments below!

Why I don't buy Royal Caribbean's unlimited alcohol packages

In:
Category: 
10Jul2015

Ever since Royal Caribbean debuted its unlimited alcohol packages in late 2012, they have become quite popular with many guests who love the idea of locking in the price of something that can get very expensive, very quickly: alcohol.

For a lot of folks, having drinks on their Royal Caribbean cruise is a big reason they enjoy taking a cruise and I completely understand.  Heck, I love having drinks too while I am onboard.  It is really hard to top having a fruity drink with an umbrella in it while sitting by the pool on a beautiful day in the Caribbean.

The reason why I do not purchase the unlimited alcohol packages and why I often advocate to take a second look at them is because I do not feel I can get the value out of them to make it worth the cost.

Why (not to) buy the package

The number one reason anyone would want to purchase a Royal Caribbean unlimited alcohol package is because they want to be able to drink an unlimited amount of drinks without running up a crazy bill.  It sounds like a perfectly good idea, right?

The package is simple: pay a fixed cost for every day of your cruise and you never have to worry about a bar bill again.  Royal Caribbean gets a flat fee and you get the freedom to order whatever you want.

By most estimates, you have to drink around 5 to 6 drinks per day, depending on what you order and which package you get, to essentially "break even" on the package's cost.  After all, why would you purchase something if you are going to over pay, right?

This is why I don't buy the package.

For me, five to six drinks per day, every day of my cruise is a lot.  Can I do it one or two days in a row? Heck yea! But on a seven night (or longer cruise), that's a lot to drink and I wont want that much to drink every day.  

Do not forget about port days, where a vast majority of the day I am not even onboard, so there is little time that day to drink enough to meet my daily quota to get my money's worth.  And if I am drinking for the sake of drinking to get my money's worth, then why buy the package?

What I do instead

Instead of buying the drink packages, I opt to pay for my drinks a la carte.  

In my mind, even if I drink three to four drinks per day, I am still coming out ahead of the drink package cost.  And when I am in port, usually alcohol is less expensive than on the ship and I can really reap the savings.

If I can reference something I learned in middle school English class, I would like to quote an ancient Greek aphorism, "know thyself".  It means you should remember your limits and when it comes to having drinks, some people can easily have a lot to drink and others not so much.  For me, I recognize that I'm happy with just a couple of drinks per day at the most.

By purchasing drinks a la carte, I feel like I am ordering drinks when I really want one and not ordering them just because I can with the package.  

Wine!

The other reason why I do not get the alcohol packages is because Royal Caribbean allows guests to bring up to two bottles of wine per stateroom.  

I bring the wine to dinner and this will get me through a few evening meals without having to pay for drinks.

Not everyone drinks wine but the fact this is something I can do to keep costs down and at the same time indulge in having a drink means the value proposition of an unlimited alcohol package is much less for me.

Find out for yourself

Obviously these are all my opinions and I recognize everyone is different. Forgetting about breaking up the cruise cost or having the ability to experiment with drinks, the real reason to buy the drink package is to be able to pay a fixed price for your drinks and save money on them in the end.  

If you have been on a cruise before, you probably know about how much you typically drink, so you can figure out if the unlimited alcohol packages make sense for you.  

I recommend looking at a calendar of your itinerary and consider if you really can drink enough to make the package work for you.  If it seems like the decision is too close to call, I recommend opting not to get the package off the bat.  See how a few days go, because you can always order the package at any point in your cruise, as long as there are at least 4 days left in your cruise.

In my opinion, the worst thing you can do is just assume the package is a good or bad deal without really understanding what it takes to get the value out of it.  Everyone is different, so take a few minutes to "do the math" and perhaps you will come to the same conclusion as me.  Or maybe you will call me crazy, in which case I will toast my next drink I buy (on my SeaPass account) to you!

Do you buy the unlimited alcohol packages? Or do you avoid them too? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Royal Caribbean offering free Royal Refreshment package with any Ultimate alcohol package purchase

In:
Category: 
15Jun2015

Royal Caribbean is offering a free Royal Refreshment package with any Ultimate unlimited alcohol package purchased for a limited time.

Royal Caribbean had created a flyer over the weekend advertising the deal was to get the Royal Replenish package, but Royal Caribbean Global Brand Communications manager Lyan Sierra-Caro confirmed that "was an error" and the deal is in fact for the Royal Refreshment package.

In a message to Royal Caribbean Blog, Royal Caribbean explained, "It seems there was an error on the trade flyer and it is being updated."

"With purchase of an ultimate beverage package, guests will receive an additional souvenir cup and royal refreshment package to share with a friend."

Guests will also receive a complimentary bottle of limited edition American Summer Domaine Chandon.

The Royal Refreshment package allows for unlimited fountain soda refills and a free Coca-Cola souvenir cup for $6.50 per person, per day for adults and $4.50 per person, per day for kids.

Offer valid June 15 through August 31, 2015. One bottle of champagne per stateroom.

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