Unlimited alcohol packages

Are Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink packages worth it?

In:
25May2016

Going on a Royal Caribbean cruise these days and you are bound to see plenty of offers to purchase an unlimited drink package, which begs the question, "is a drink package worth it?".

Many years ago, the marketing geniuses at Royal Caribbean realized that guests really love convenience, and they hate having to take their wallets out on vacation.

And so, Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink package option was born. Each drink package has several price points and levels. With a drink package, you get access to certain beverages for the duration of your cruise.  It may be convenient, but it is not always a good deal.

Drink package basics

Before you can even begin figuring out if a package make sense to get, you need to have a good understanding of what they are and how they work.

Deluxe Beverage Package

Includes

  • Beer
  • Wine (by the glass)
  • Fountain soda with souvenir Coca-Cola cup
  • Cocktails
  • Bottled water (500 millimeters)
  • Fresh Juices
  • Premium Coffee and Tea
  • 40% discount on wines under $100. Wines above $100 will receive a 20% discount.

Within each package, the benefits are unlimited, so you can enjoy as many drinks as your package allows.  There are no daily or cruise-length limits.

Each guest must purchase one drink package for themselves, and there is absolutely no sharing of the package benefits.

Looking at the numbers

At the heart of figuring out if any of the drink packages are good value to you is, well, math.

There used to be many unlimited alcohol packages, but Royal Caribbean simplified that in 2016 with just one:

Deluxe beverage package: $55.00 per guest, per day (excluding gratuity)

The cost of a package is for the duration of your cruise, so if you pre-purchase before your cruise or buy it on embarkation day, you will be paying for use of it for the duration of your cruise.  If you buy it on day three, it will be good for that day onward. 

Figuring a seven night cruise is what many guests go for (and it provides some simple math), here is the weekly cost of an unlimited alcohol package:

  • Deluxe package: $454.30 per guest (including gratuity)

The idea to grasp is how many drinks you have to have per day, to "break even" on the package cost so the package is actually worth your money.  If you do not drink enough to break even, you would have been better off financially not buying a drink package.

If you are wondering how many drinks per day that is to "break even", it is somewhere in the ballpark these estimates. Keep in mind the deluxe package allows for different kind of drinks, so the drink prices you will find can vary greatly.

  • Deluxe package: 5-8 drinks per day

The best way to figure out if you want a drink package is consult our list of Royal Caribbean drink prices, and start to figure out what you would be interested in ordering and see what kind of bills you can accumulate.

What the packages do not include

Figuring out if a drink package is worth it involves some subjective reasoning beyond just objective math.

There are going to be drink specials throughout your cruise, which bring the price down of drinks and that makes it more difficult to "break even" on the drink packages.  As an example, the drink of the day will carry with it a 25% discount.

Any drink that comes in a souvenir glass or container is not included with the drink packages, so those sports bottles the Labadoozies come in or the hallowed-out pineapple drinks are going to cost you extra.

When you are in port and off the Royal Caribbean ship (not including Labadee or CocoCay), your drink package does not work.  Being on shore limits the time in the day you have to drink as well as requires you to still pay extra for alcoholic beverages.

The final decision

With all of the data presented, now it is time to figure out if a drink package makes sense for you.  

Despite the fact quite a bit of arithmetic was used in this blog post, one of the best ways to figure out if a drink package is worth it, is to ask yourself this question:

Can I drink 5-7 drinks per day, every day of my cruise?

If after thinking that you initially thought, "Woah, that is a lot to drink" or "Woah, that's it?", then you probably have your answer.

There are a few "x-factors" worth considering was well when it comes to any Royal Caribbean drink package.

Drink fatigue: This phenomenon occurs as the cruise progresses, each day you find yourself drinking for the sake of drinking as a means of "breaking even" on your drink package investment. Anyone can drink 5-7 drinks in one day, but 5-7 drinks every day of the cruise could possibly get old.

Trying new drinks: One of the best reasons to get a drink package is that you can enjoy all the drinks available, including some new ones.  You can order something and not be worried that you might not like it and have to "suffer" through it, simply because you paid for it.

Drink package discounts: Discounts on Royal Caribbean's drink packages used to be nonexistent, but these days, we are seeing more discounts being offered on the drink packages, which bring down the total cost. A 20% package saving might be enough to push some folks "over the fence" to make it a worthwhile investment.

The reality is there is no global answer for everyone.  You have to figure out the math for yourself.

There is no question Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink package presents a definite value proposition and you can make it work. Plenty of past cruisers swear by it.

On the other hand, everyone's tolerance for actually wanting to have a drink is different.  And since the reason to buy an unlimited drink package is the convenience and fixed drinking bill, one should consider just how much value the package offers.

Do you think Royal Caribbean's unlimited alcohol packages are worth it? Tell us why in the comments!

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.

Four questions you need to ask yourself before buying a Royal Caribbean unlimited alcohol package

In:
27Jan2016

Royal Caribbean's unlimited alcohol packages have become incredibly popular with guests who love the idea of having a fixed price for unlimited cocktails, beers and sodas on the cruise, but are they right for you?

The unlimited alcohol packages are based around a basic idea: pay one flat daily fee and get all the drinks you want.

If you are trying to figure out if these drink packages are right for you, here are four important questions to ask yourself.

Am I interested in beer, wine, cocktails, or all of them?

Before you can figure out if the drink packages are a good deal for you, you have to figure out which drink package appeals to you the most.

Royal Caribbean offers a few different drink packages that include different types of beverages, such as beers, sodas, cocktails, juices and more.

The key is to figure out which drinks you really want to have unlimited access to.  

  • Do you want alcoholic beverages or non-alcoholic drinks? 
  • Do you want cocktails or will beer and wine do?  
  • Are having fresh squeezed juices everyday important?

These are the kinds of important considerations to consider.

Can I drink about 5-6 drinks per day, every day?

Perhaps the most important question to consider is can you drink enough to make the package worthwhile in terms of cost.

All the drink packages have a threshold of beverages a guest must consume each day to equal the cost of the same amount of drinks purchased a la carte.

At the heart of these unlimited alcohol packages is the proposition that you will drink enough to "break even" each day to make the packages worth it.  If you knew that you would not drink enough to make the package worth it financially, then you probably would not consider the drink.

On average, most of the unlimited alcohol packages take about 5-6 drinks per day to reach the daily cost of the drink package. The non-alcohol packages have a lower break-even point, that is closer to 3-4 drinks.

Keep in mind that you must consume enough drinks every day of your cruise to recoup the cost of the package, and the longer the cruise, the more difficult it can be to maintain that amount of drinking.

How much time will I spend on shore?

An overlooked consideration when it comes to figuring out if Royal Caribbean's drink packages are worth it is your cruise itinerary.

There is no question that the more time you spend onboard Royal Caribbean ships or at Royal Caribbean private destinations, the more time there is to take advantage of the drink packages.

If you are going on a port-intensive itinerary, that will leave fewer hours per day to use the package benefits compared to an itinerary with lots of sea days.

Also keep in mind that often purchasing drinks on shore can be cheaper than on Royal Caribbean ships, which can be a source of tremendous value.

How important is the convenience of having drinks pre-paid for me?

There is an intangible value that Royal Caribbean's drink packages offer to guests and that is the convenience the package offers.

We often hear from Royal Caribbean passengers who love how the package for not having to worry about keeping track of costs, the opportunity to try new drinks without fear of wasting money and being able to split up the cost of the cruise.

These "x-factors" may not always add up with the fiscals of the package, but then again, you are on vacation and part of a memorable vacation is not worrying about some details.

Do you think the unlimited alcohol packages are a good deal? Share your experiences with the packages in the comments!

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!

Royal Caribbean adjusts unlimited drink packages pricing

In:
25Aug2015

Royal Caribbean has changed up how it advertises the cost of its unlimited alcohol packages and unlimited beverage packages.

Royal Caribbean is now including the 18% service charge into the daily cost of the package.  

Previously, Royal Caribbean would advertise a lower rate for the packages and then add the service charge upon purchase.

The new pricing for the unlimited alcohol packages is as follows

  • Select package: $42 per person, per day
  • Premium package: $57 per person, per day
  • Ultimate package: $67 per person, per day

SHOULD YOU BUY THE UNLIMITED ALCOHOL PACKAGES?

In addition, the new pricing is reflected in the Royal Replenish and Royal Refreshment packages as well.

  • Royal Refreshment (soda package)
    • $8 per adult, per day
    • $5.50 per child, per day
  • Royal Replenish package: $22 per person, per day

The new pricing allows the total cost of the package to be more transparent to guests and without the surprise of a service charge added on just prior to purchase.

Do you like that the service charge is now part of the daily price? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Royal Caribbean raises gratuity amount on unlimited alcohol packages

In:
10Feb2015

Royal Caribbean's popular unlimited alcohol packages have had a small change in the total price, with the gratuity amount going up on each package from 15% to 18%.

Pricing any of the unlimited alcohol packages in Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner software reveals the base price of the packages are the same but when added to your cart, the total price now reflects an 18% gratuity service charge included.

In addition, the Royal Replenish package and the Royal Refreshment package have had its gratuity amount increased to 18% as well.

Until now, Royal Caribbean's unlimited alcohol packages had included a 15% gratuity since the packages' inception.  The base price of the packages remains the same.

The new gratuity amount appears to be in effect for all new purchases on all sailings we could test.

Royal Caribbean changes unlimited alcohol package pricing

In:
08Nov2014

Royal Caribbean has found a gold mine in offering its passengers unlimited alcohol packages but has recently changed the package pricing.  To be exact, the packages are now priced without gratuity.

At first glance, it look like Royal Caribbean lowered the prices across all of its unlimited alcohol and non-alcoholic drink packages by about $10 per day.

New unlimited package pricing

Old unlimited package pricing

The truth is, the packages are still about the same price.  The difference is Royal Caribbean has separated out the package price from the automatic gratuity included when you buy the package.  

We priced out the Premium Drink package in Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner to confirm the changes and you can see the package price along with an additional service charge.

With the new pricing, the real package prices have changed by a few dollars.  We calculated the prices via the Cruise Planner for an upcoming cruise we had booked and here's what we found.

  • Royal Replenish package: $21.85 per person, per day ($1.85 increase)
  • Select drink package: $40.25 per person, per day ($0.25 increase)
  • Premium drink package: $56.35 per person, per day ($1.35 increase)
  • Ultimate drink package: $63.25 per person, per day ($1.75 decrease)

Royal Caribbean Drink Package: What you need to know

In:
14Jul2014

Royal Caribbean's unlimited drink packages are the popular options available to cruise passengers as a way to enjoy as much alcoholic beverages as they want. For many, these drink packages have become a necessity but if you're wondering which package is right for you, then this is your guide.

Royal Caribbean's drink packages come in two basic varieties: those that include alcoholic drinks and those that do not.  The packages that include alcohol start at $45 per person, per day and go up from there.  The unalcoholic drink packages can cost just a mere few dollars per day, per person.  With all the packages, there is no limit to how many drinks you can have per day or throughout your cruise vacation.

The drink packages are fairly simple in terms of how to use them.  You sign up either online before your cruise or onboard your cruise.  You will get a sticker to put on your SeaPass card indicating which drink package you purchased.  Then all you have to do is show your sticker to any bartender or waiter and you can order any drink included in your package without any further cost.

The drink package rules have gotten easier since the packages first debuted.  Every adult in a stateroom can opt to order any drink package they want, or none at all.  However, you may not share the benefits of a drink package with anyone else.  Royal Caribbean stipulates the drink packages are soley for the person purchasing it.

From time to time, Royal Caribbean will offer the drink packages for free as a promotion to booking select cruises.  When Royal Caribbean offers a free drink package deal, it's for sailings that need to have rooms filled.  Typically these are ocean voyage cruises that cross the Atlantic or other very long cruises.  In addition, the free drink package promotion is usually in lieu of any other discount on the cruise.  

All drink package prices include a 15 percent gratuity. Packages must be purchased a minimum of four days before the cruise ends. 

Royal Caribbean drink package overview

Classic Beverage Package

This is the lowest tier of the Royal Caribbean drink packages that include alcohol. It only includes beer and wine, and does not include mixed drinks.

Cost: $45 per person, per day

Includes:

  • beer
  • wines by the glass (up to $12 per glass)
  • non-alcoholic cocktails
  • fountain soda with Coca-Cola cup
  • juices
  • 20% discount on purchases of bottles of wine

Premium Beverage Package

This is the most popular tier of the Royal Caribbean drink packages that include alcohol because it includes mixed drinks in addition to beer and wine.

Cost: $55 per person, per day

Includes:

  • frozen drinks
  • all cocktails including premium brands
  • beer
  • wines by the glass (up to $12 per glass)
  • non-alcoholic cocktails
  • fountain soda with Coca-Cola cup
  • juices
  • 20% discount on purchases of bottles of wine

Ultimate Package

This is the upper echelon of Royal Caribbean drink packages.  It essentially a combination of the Premium drink package and the Royal Replenish Package (see below) and includes every drink you could possibly order on the cruise ship that is included in any beverage package.

Cost: $65 per person, per day

Includes:

  • frozen drinks
  • call  and premium cocktails
  • beer
  • wines by the glass (up to $12 per glass)
  • non-alcoholic cocktails
  • premium coffee
  • premium tea
  • bottled water
  • sparkling water (375ml)
  • still water (500ml)
  • fresh squeezed orange juice
  • fountain soda with Coca-Cola cup
  • juices
  • 20% discount on purchases of bottles of wine

Royal Replenish Package

This package offers unlimited non-alcoholic drinks and is great for someone who does wants to enjoy a greater variety of juices and other beverages without paying a lot for it.

Cost: $20 per person, per day

Includes: 

  • premium coffee
  • premium tea
  • bottled water
  • sparking water (375ml)
  • Still water (500 ml)
  • fresh squeezed orange juice
  • non-alcoholic cocktails
  • fountain soda with souvenir Coca-Cola cup

Are the drink packages worth it?

The most common question about the drink packages is if they are worth it.  This is a very subjective question and depends largely on the person asking it but there are some basic guidelines we advise.

The drink package benefits those that enjoy at least a few alcoholic drinks per day and want to indulge in their cruise more often than not.  For those looking into the alcohlic packages, the premium drink package makes the most sense since it includes mixed drinks as well as beer and wine.  The unlimited package is a better value since it includes, well, everything and the greater variety with these packages, the easier it is to "break even".

The Royal Replenish Package is a great value for most people because of its affordable price and the variety of non-alcoholic drinks included.

Conclusion

Overall, Royal Caribbean's drink packages are a good deal depending on who is purchasing it.  There are a lot of varibales involved and it's not fair to say it's right for everyone but hopefully the consideratiosn above can help with your decision.

It's chief benefit is it allows for a convenient way to enjoy a lot of drinks without worrying about what the final bill will be. It also allows guests to try new drinks without the fear of "wasting money" on a drink they did not enjoy.  

The other consideration is the price for these packages requires you to drink quite a bit every day.  In most cases, the alcohol packages require about 6-8 drinks per day to get your moneys worth.  This may be easy enough on a sea days, but on port days getting your moneys worth may be more difficult. 

The drink packages are definitely a better fit for cruises that have a lot of sea days or for itineraries in which you do not anticipate spending much time off the ship.  In order to get the package's benefits, you must be onboard the ship (excluding CocoCay and Labadee, where the packages are included).

Your Thoughts…

What is your experience with Royal Caribbean's drink packages? Thinking about using it? I would love to hear what your thoughts are about the drink packages , and how it works–or doesn’t work–for you, in the comments! If you have any questions, ask them there, too.

Top 5 Royal Caribbean unlimited alcohol package drink values

In:
06Mar2014

On my last cruise on Navigator of the Seas I noticed Royal Caribbean offers a lot of alcoholic drinks to choose from and the prices of each vary considerably.  It got me thinking, "Is there a strategy to maximizing the unlimited alcohol packages faster?"

Obviously no one wants to spend money on something they know in advance is a waste of money and there is a physical limit to the amount of drinks anyone can drink.  So I took a look at the most recent Royal Caribbean drink menu to figure out which drinks would give passengers the best value if they are using the unlimited alcohol packages.

What are Royal Caribbean's unlimited alcohol packages?

Royal Caribbean's unlimited alcohol packages are optional add-ons you can purchase to allow you as many beverages as you like for a flat fee per day.

If you do decide to indulge in one of the packages, consider these five drinks as the best ways to get your moneys worth from the investment!

Any margarita from Sabor Modern Mexican - $12

The brand new Sabor Modern Mexican restaurant on Navigator of the Seas specializes in Mexico's most famous liquor, tequila.  Their selection of margairtas is both tasty and a great value for those on the unlimited alcohol packages.

Click here for my review of Sabor Modern Mexican restaurant.

Their margaritas all cost $12, which is by far the most expensive drink we ran across included in the unlimited alcohol packages. 

Besides being a good value for those on the package, it's also a really, really good drink!  The Sweet and Spice Margarita and Sabor Grand Margarita are made at your table for ultimate taste.  The other margaritas offered are also the same price and worth your time as well.

Elderphire - $10.25

If you're a fan of gin, try this drink that was a Bacardi Cruise Competition winner. Bombay Sapphire gin, elderflower, sugarcane and fresh lemon make this a great drink and a great value on the drink package.

Photo by Bacardi Cruise Competition

Ultimate cosmopolitan - $9.50

For something a little smoother, the ultimate cosmopolitan is a great choice and also available fleet-wide.  It's sweet and does the trick for someone who enjoys a good cosmo in the evening.

Photo by Calvin Timothy Leong

Sparkling Peach Martini - $10.50

Vodka and wine, together again.  That's what makes up this drink and when you start combining multiple kinds of alcohol, you drive the price up.  At just over $10, a couple of these will help get you to the "break even" point on your daily alcohol package quest that much easier.

Patron Perfect Margarita - $9.25

While we love the margaritas from Sabor, if you're not on Navigator of the Seas, try the Patron Perfect Margarita that is available on all Royal Caribbean ships.  As the name implies, it uses a better brand of tequila to give you a strong drink.

Photo by Quick_Fox

Honorable mentions

These drinks didn't make our list of the best values but they are still good choices for maximizing your unlimited alcohol package value

  • Red Bull & Vodka - $9.00
  • Long Island Iced Tea/Long Beach Iced Tea - $9.50
  • Hendrick's Gimlet - $9.50
  • Luxury martini - $9.50
  • Appletini - $9.50
  • The Grand Margarita - $9.25
  • Grolsch beer - $6.50

New Royal Caribbean unlimited alcohol packages available for purchase online

In:
15Dec2013

As we reported last month, Royal Caribbean launched an expanded selection of unlimited alcohol packages, and starting today guests can pre-purchase their unlimited alcohol packages online.

To help expedite the process of getting the new package, as well to help break up the cost of your cruise, guests can now purchase these unlimited alcohol packages as well as the other unlimited alcohol packages before their cruise.

The package can be purchased via the Royal Caribbean website by logging in and going to "My Cruises" and then finding the "Alcoholic Beverage Packages" link.  Alternatively, guests can book by phone by calling the pre-cruise planning specialists at 1-800-398-9819. Guests should be able to purchase these packages approximately 2 months before sail date.

All three of the unlimited alcohol packages are available for purchase.  

  • The select package costs $45 per person, per day and includes all beers, house wines by the glass (up to $12 value), non-alcoholic cocktails & fountain soda and juices, fountain soda with souvenir Coca-Cola cup and 20% discount on purchases of bottles of wine.  
  • The premium beverage package costs $55 per person, per day and includes all well, call, and premium brand cocktails (up to $10 value), all beers, frozen cocktails, house wines by the glass (up to $12 value), non-alcoholic cocktails & fountain soda and juices, fountain soda with souvenir Coca-Cola cup and 20% discount on purchases of bottles of wine.  
  • The ultimate package costs $65 per person, per day and includes all beers, cocktails (up to $10 value), house wines by the glass (up to $12 value), premium coffee & tea, bottled water, sparking water, still water, fresh squeezed orange juice, fountain soda with souvenir Coca-Cola cup and 20% discount on purchases of bottles of wine

The other signifigant change to the unlimited alcohol packages is that you do not have to purchase the package for all adults in the same stateroom.

In addition, the unlimited beverage packages (non-alcoholic) are available for pre-purchase online.

  • The Royal Replenish Package costs $20 per person, per day and includes premium coffee, premium tea, bottled water, sparkling water (375ml), still water (500ml), fresh squeezed orange juice, non-alcoholic cocktails & fountain soda with souvenir Coca-Cola cup.

Pages

Want a Quote For Your Cruise?

Want a free no-obligation quote for a Royal Caribbean cruise?  Fill out this form and MEI-Travel will help you get a quote quickly and for free!