Purchasing Norwegian Cruise Line’s all-inclusive alcohol package can be a great way to let your hair down and make the most of your cruise. But before you go ahead and book the NCL drinks package, read on to find out whether you can get yourself a free drinks package, and potentially save hundreds.
This detailed guide to drinks on Norwegian Cruise Line will tell you everything you need to know…
What is the adult beverage package on NCL?
There are five different adult beverage packages available on Norwegian Cruise Line cruises. These are:
- Premium – $99 per day
- Premium Plus – $128 per day
- Wine and Beer – $65 per day
- Soda – $7.95 per day
- Hawaii – $99 per day
Until March 2019, NCL offered the ‘Ultimate Beverage Package’. This was renamed as the ‘Premium Beverage Package’, and at the same time Norwegian Cruise Line also introduced the ‘Premium Plus Beverage Package’. Confused? Don’t be, read on to see what’s included in each package…
NCL Premium Beverage Package
Formerly known as the Ultimate Beverage Package, NCL’s main drinks package is now called the Premium Beverage Package. It entitles guests to a wide selection of beers, wines by the glass, cocktails, spirits and soft drinks up to $15 value.
Cost: $99 per person, per day.
- Cocktails – 100s of different ones
- Beers and Ciders – Bottled and draft
- Wine – Over 20 wines by the glass
- Gin & Vodka – 16 brands
- Rum – 16 brands
- Whiskey, brandy and other spirits – 33 brands
- Liqueurs and cordials – 24 brands
- A large selection of sodas, tonics and juices
Does NOT include:
- Super premium brands
- Bottled water
- Freshly squeezed juices
- Lavazza or Starbucks coffees
- Energy drinks
- Beer buckets
- Bottles of wine
- Drinks over $15 each
- Vending machines, mini bar or room service
NCL Premium Plus Beverage Package
For those that enjoy specific drinks which aren’t included in the standard drinks package, an upgraded drinks package is available.
Cost: $128 per person, per day.
- Everything which is included in the Premium Beverage Package
- Bottled water
- Speciality coffee inc. Lavazza and Starbucks
- Energy drinks
- Ultra-premium spirits
- Wines by the bottle (during dinner)
NCL Corks and Caps Wine and Beer Package
Another option is NCL’s beer and wine package, which also includes soft drinks.
Cost: $65 per person, per day.
- Draft beer
- Bottles beer
- Glasses of wine
- Fountain soda
- Fruit juices
NCL Soda Package
The soda package is great for kids or people who choose to avoid alcohol. It offers unlimited fountain soda.
Cost: $7.95 per day for adults and teenagers (age 13+) and $5.95 per day for children.
- Pepsi & Diet Pepsi
- Sierra Mist
- Mountain Dew
- Ginger Ale
- Tonic Water
- Club Soda
NCL Hawaii Beverage Package
For those cruising to Hawaii onboard the Pride of America cruise ship, the drinks package is slightly different.
Costs: $99 per person, per day.
Includes: a wide selection of drinks up to $15 each.
NCL beverage package service charge
A 20% gratuity and beverage service charge will be added to all drinks package purchases when you buy it.
How much does the NCL drinks package cost?
On the face of it, Norwegian Cruise Line drinks packages seen pretty expensive. For a family of four on a seven-night cruise, if you purchase the Premium Plus package for the adults and the soda package for the kids, you can expect to pay $2,250.36. That’s £1,730!
Being a budget cruiser, I usually pay less than £1,730 for our whole cruise, so the thought of paying that much for a drinks package is a bit shocking!
However, here’s the important bit… You can actually get an all-inclusive drinks package for a fraction of the price! Introducing…
The NCL Free at Sea programme
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Free at Sea programme is an upgrade which costs £99 per person (based on a 7-night cruise), to access two of the following benefits:
- A premium drinks package (worth up to US$99 per person, per day, including gratuities and service charges)
- Speciality dining for three nights of a seven-night sailing (worth $89 per person, including gratuities and service charges)
- Free WiFi (up to 250 mins per stateroom)
- Shore excursion discount ($50 dollars on-board credit per stateroom, per port, to spend on shore excursions)
- Free kids places – The third and fourth passenger in a stateroom, sails for the cost of taxes only (selected sailings only)
The Free at Sea upgrade is available on all cabins types. Guests staying in NCL’s top stateroom classes (Haven, Concierge or suites) are automatically eligible for all five offers.
With the Free at Sea offer, there’s no need to purchase a drinks package, as it makes more financial sense to choose free drinks as part of the Free at Sea offer. In fact, the majority of NCL passengers upgrade to Free at Sea and receive free drinks.
Free at Sea charges based on length of cruise
The £99 charge to receive two Free at Sea benefits is based on a seven-night cruise. For other cruise durations, the charges are:
- 1-6 nights – £49 per person
- 7-9 nights – £99 per person
- 10-13 nights – £149 per person
- 14-17 nights – £199 per person
- 18+ nights – £249 per person
The details of this offer are correct as of November 2019 for UK cruisers. They may be subject to change and may be slightly different for people booking in other countries.
NCL Drink Prices 2019
Perhaps you don’t drink a lot of alcohol and are wondering whether to take up the Free at Sea offer, or whether to include drinks in it.
In that case, you’ll want to know how much drinks are to purchase individually on Norwegian Cruise Line ships.
I sailed on Norwegian Encore in November 2019 and noted the following drinks prices:
- Cocktail: $10 – $13
- Glass of wine: $8 – $10
- Pint of beer: $9
- Bottle of beer: $6 – $7
- Liqueur: $10 – $15
- Soft drink: $3
- Energy drink: $5
- Coffee: $3 – $4
- Large water: $6
So, as you can see, it’s really easy to spend £99 per week on drinks if you purchase them individually. Even one glass of wine, one coffee and one soft drink per day would be enough to make choosing the free drinks on the Free at Sea offer worthwhile.
(I had wanted to take photos of all the menus, but as this was the inaugural sailing for the press and travel agents, the normal menus weren’t out yet.)
What drinks are free on Norwegian Cruise Line?
The following drinks are available free of charge:
- Tea and coffee
- Flavoured water
- Fresh fruit juices (at breakfast)
Is the NCL Drink Package worth it?
If you have the option to book the Free at Sea offer, then the NCL Drinks package is almost always worth it. However, you might be interested to know how much you’d spend on drinks on your cruise if you don’t have a beverage package.
NCL Drinks Package Calculator
My cruise drinks package calculator works out how much your Norwegian Cruise Line bar bill would be without the drinks package, so you can see if the drinks package is worth it.
Just pop your details in this form and I’ll send you the link to it…
Norwegian Cruise Line Drinks FAQs
Finally, I know a lot of people have questions about drinking on Norwegian Cruise Line cruises, so I have answered some of the most popular ones here.
Can 18-year-olds drink on Norwegian Cruise Line cruises?
Being an American cruise line, Norwegian Cruise Line drinking age policy states that the minimum age for drinking alcohol is 21 years. However, there are a couple of exceptions.
Guests who are 18 – 20 years of age can purchase and consume beer or wine when the ship is in international waters (3 miles from land). The parent or legal guardian must be on-board the sailing with the young adult and present themselves at the Front Desk so they can sign the form allowing the consumption of beer and wine only.
Please note, that this only applies to beer and wine and that temporary guardianship for the purposes of sailing isn’t allowed; only a permanent legal guardian can sign the form.
On cruises embarking in a country where the legal drinking age is lower than 21, those aged 18, 19 or 20 are generally not permitted to consume alcohol. However, there may be exceptions to this rule. It all depends on the laws of each country and the agreements in place with the cruise line. Specific information for each cruise can be obtained from Norwegian Cruise Line.
Can you bring your own alcohol on NCL cruises?
Norwegian Cruise Line permit you to bring unlimited bottles of wine onboard. This is subject to a corkage fee of $15. You may drink it wherever you like on the ship.
No other drinks are permitted to be brought on-board, with the exception of purified water for medical use.
Are NCL drinks packages available on short cruises?
Drinks package are only available on cruises of three days or more
Can we share a drinks package?
No. If one person has a drinks package, all adults in the stateroom must have the same one, and children must have a soda package.
Is bottled water included in the NCL drinks package?
Bottled water is included in the Premium Plus Beverage Package, but not in the Premium Beverage Package. Water by the glass is always available free of charge.
Is Starbucks included in the NCL drinks package?
No. All food and drinks in Starbucks in chargeable.
Does the NCL drinks package have a limit?
Unlimited amounts of drinks are served. The maximum value per drink is $15.
Where can you use the drinks package?
You can use your drinks package in all bars, lounges, restaurants and on one of Norwegian Cruise Line’s private islands, Great Stirrup Cay, but not on the other island, Harvest Caye.
Can I get bottles of wine with the drinks package?
Bottles of wine are included in the Premium Plus Beverage Package, but not in the Premium Beverage Package.
The Premium Beverage Package gives a 20% discount on all bottles of wine purchased on board. But honestly, you’d be better just to ask for it by the glass.
(Too long, didn’t read)
To summarise, individual drinks and drinks packages are pretty expensive on Norwegian Cruise Line. However, this is irrelevant, as the Free at Sea programme allows you to get a free drinks package (plus another benefit like dining or free kids places) for as little as £99 on a seven-night cruise. Whether you drink a lot or not, this offer is great value.