Royal Caribbean drinks package: Is it worth it?

Royal Caribbean drinks package: Is it worth it?

22nd September 2020 31 By Cruise Mummy
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When booking a Royal Caribbean cruise, one very important question to consider is “Should I get a drinks package or not?”

To decide whether a Royal Caribbean drink package offers good value for money or not, you need to consider three key questions:

  1. How much does a drink cost on Royal Caribbean?
  2. How much is the Royal Caribbean drink package?
  3. How many drinks will I drink each day?

Once you know the answers to these, you can do the maths and work out “Is the Royal Caribbean drinks package is worth it?” It may be cheaper to pay for drinks individually on your cruise.

To save you the headache, I’ve created a handy tool which does the maths for you. Just enter your email address below and you’ll receive a link to it in your inbox asap.

Royal Caribbean drink prices

Royal Caribbean drinks prices are on the high end when compared to other cruise lines. You can see a price comparison of drinks across all cruise lines here.

Here are the average Royal Caribbean drinks prices:

Beer$7 – $8
Glass of wine$9 – $20
Cocktail$8 – $13
Soft drink$3
Speciality tea or coffee$4
Bottle of water$3
Tea, coffee and hot chocolateFREE
Flavoured waterFREE
Fruit juiceFREE with breakfast

If you’d like to know exactly which drinks are available on Royal Caribbean cruise ships and how much they cost, I have taken photos of the bar menus on board Mariner of the Seas.

Take a look: Royal Caribbean drinks menus with prices

Royal Caribbean drinks packages

Royal Caribbean offers a choice of three all-inclusive drinks packages:

  1. Deluxe Beverage Package
  2. Refreshment Package (No alcohol)
  3. Classic Soda Package

Deluxe Beverage Package

$49 – $89 per day

Royal Caribbean’s drinks package includes:

  • Beer
  • Wine by the glass
  • Cocktails and mocktails
  • Spirits and liquors
  • Premium teas and coffees
  • Sodas and soft drinks
  • Freshly-squeezed juices
  • Bottled water

Refreshment Package (non-alcoholic drinks)

$20 – $38 per day

Royal Caribbean’s non-alcoholic drinks package includes:

  • Non-alcoholic cocktails (mocktails)
  • Premium teas and coffees
  • Sodas and soft drinks
  • Freshly-squeezed juices
  • Bottled water

Classic Soda Package

$9 – $15 per day

Royal Caribbean’s soda package includes:

  • Coca-Cola (including diet, zero, caffeine-free and many different flavours like strawberry, cherry and lime)
  • Fanta, Sprite and Dr Pepper (and zero versions)
  • Powerade (and zero version), Vitamin water and Hi C
  • Seagrams ginger ale (and diet version)
  • Barry’s root beer and creme soda (and diet versions)
  • Minute Maid orange and lemonade (and light versions)
  • Dasani flavoured or sparkling waters

The Classic Soda Packages comes with a refillable souvenir cup which you can use at self-service machines across thr ship.

When you buy the Deluxe Beverage Package or the Refreshment Package, you also get the souvenir cup and so have all the benefits of the Classic Soda Package.

Whilst it was nice to be able to fill up my drink from the machine, I didn’t like that I had to carry the cup everywhere with me. It was quite good to fill up and take off the ship with me. But, the cup doesn’t seal so you have to keep it upright. And you also have to wash it yourself so be sure to bring dish soap and a sponge.

I did wonder whether you could keep the cup and use it on your next cruise. However, there’s a chip inside it which means that it will only work with the machine for a certain period of time.

Royal Caribbean drink package prices

How much is the drinks package on Royal Caribbean?

The Royal Caribbean drinks package costs between $49 and $89 per person, per day and includes unlimited drinks worth up to $12 or $13 each (depending on the ship).

The price of Royal Caribbean’s Deluxe Beverage Package is not fixed. It varies depending on the sailing, and prices also go up and down as the sailing date nears.

For the best price, you should always book your drinks package in advance before your cruise and not wait until you get on-board the ship.

On the first day of your cruise, you may see signs offering buy one get one free deals on drinks packages. The onboard prices are inflated, and it’s still always cheaper to buy your package before you cruise.

Royal Caribbean drinks package promotion

Royal Caribbean offers a discount when you pre-book your drinks package on the cruise planner before you sail. The discount is increased by up to 20% during promotional periods such as Black Friday.

If you buy your drinks package in advance and then see that the price drops due to a promotion, you can cancel your drinks package, get a refund and then buy it again at the lower price. It’s possible to make a saving by doing this if you have the time and energy to track the prices.

Royal Caribbean drinks

Is the Royal Caribbean Deluxe Drink Package worth it?

To work out if a drinks package is worth it, you need to work out how many drinks you would need to drink each day to break even.

Let’s say the drinks package costs an average of $75 per day. The equates to:

  • 6 cocktails OR
  • 6 glasses of wine OR
  • 9 pints of beer OR
  • 21 soft drinks

Obviously, if you like to drink cocktails, it will be much easier to break even than if you drink beers and soft drinks.

Royal Caribbean drinks package calculator

You can use my free drinks package calculator to work out what your bar bill would be with no drink package.

You can then compare this total with the exact price of the drinks package for your cruise (shown on your Royal Caribbean cruise planner) to easily work out whether the drinks package is worth it or not.

Just pop your email in the form and I’ll send you a link to the calculator…

One of the benefits of a drinks package is that if you don’t like a drink you don’t have to drink it. If you paid $13 for a cocktail and didn’t like it, you’d be pretty annoyed at yourself for choosing it. Yet with a drinks package, you’re free to work your way down the menu, trying new things.

Drinking on sea days versus port days

You should think about how much time you plan to spend on the ship. Whilst you could easily drink five cocktails by the pool and then a couple of glasses of wine in the evening on a sea day, how much would you drink if you were off the ship from 9 am until 6 pm most days?

If you plan to be off the ship exploring ports most days, then not only will you not have as much time on-board to drink your drinks, but you’re also less likely to want a hangover! For this reason, a drinks package may be better value on a cruise with lots of sea days, such as a transatlantic sailing.

Does Royal Caribbean ever offer free drink packages?

Royal Caribbean doesn’t offer free drinks packages. However, you can get all-inclusive cruise package deals which have drinks included.

In fact, Royal Caribbean almost always has some kind of special offer to encourage people to book cruises. This may be a kids sail free offer, free gratuities or buy one cruise fare get one half price.

If you book your cruise during a “free drinks” offer, then you will get drinks included with your cruise.

In my former job managing cruise websites for a travel agent, I saw cruise line campaigns change regularly and prices fluctuate almost daily. One thing which I noticed is that the bigger the ‘freebie’, the higher the base price. A cruise which ordinarily costs £699 might go up to £999 with drinks included.

Note the wording used. Cruise lines rarely use the word ‘free’, instead they use ‘included’. This is because the drinks packages are not actually free, it’s just that the ticket price is adjusted to include drinks.

Look out for free drinks available on board

There are several places where you’ll find free drinks during your Royal Caribeban cruise. These are:

  • On the first formal night of the cruise, attend the Captain’s Toast and get a free glass of Champagne
  • Go to an art auction where free Champagne will be flowing
  • Attend a liquor tasting in the duty-free shop and get a free shot
  • Guests who have spent more than 30 nights at sea with Royal Caribbean (Platinum members and above) can attend a Crown & Anchor Welcome Back Party and get free Champagne or rum punch
  • Guests who have spent more than 80 nights at sea with Royal Caribbean (Diamond members and above) get free drinks between 5 pm and 8.30 pm for Happy Hour
  • Guests staying in a Grand Suite or higher can enjoy free drinks for a few hours each evening in the Concierge Lounge
  • Use a coupon – Buy One Get One Free deals may be pre-loaded on to your Seapass account

Do Diamond members get free drinks on Royal Caribbean?

Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society awards loyalty points for every night that guests spend on-board Royal Caribbean ships. With the acquisition of 80 points (equivalent to 80 nights at sea), guests become Diamond members.

Crown & Anchor Diamond status entitles you to attend an Exclusive Nightly Diamond Event between 5 pm and 8 pm each evening where you can receive three free drinks from a list of beers, wines, spirits and sodas.

Royal Caribbean cocktail
Photo credit: Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean drink package FAQs

In this section, I’ll answer the most commonly-asked questions about Royal Caribbean drink packages. If you have a question which isn’t listed here, you can add it in the comments section at the end.

How do I order a drink package?

There are two ways to buy a Royal Caribbean drink package:

  1. Online – At least 72 hours before you cruise using Royal Caribbean’s Cruise Planner
  2. Onboard – Ask at any bar on the ship and the staff will help you to buy it

Can you share a drink package?

Royal Caribbean drink package sharing is not allowed. If you are caught sharing your drinks with someone who doesn’t have a package, you risk having your drink package cancelled without a refund.

Can just one person buy the drinks package?

Whichever package you choose, you must buy it for every adult passenger for every day of your cruise. If two adults are sharing a stateroom then both people must have the same package.

There are some exceptions to this rule. Under certain circumstances you may be able to buy the Ultimate Beverage Package for one guest and the Refreshment Package for another guest.

These exceptions include:

  • Medical conditions
  • Pregnancy
  • Alcohol addiction
  • Religion

Do you need to buy a drinks package for children?

Royal Caribbean do not require guests under the legal drinking age to buy any kind of drinks package. So you can get the Ultimate Beverage Package for the adults without being required ro buy any kind of package for your children.

You have to wait 15 minutes between each drink, so it is technically possible to get drinks for the kids then 15 minutes later, go and get drinks for yourselves.

Just like sneaking your own alcohol on-board the ship, this isn’t technically allowed, but people do it.

Is the Royal Caribbean drinks package really unlimited?

Whilst some other cruise lines limit the number of drinks you can order to 15 in any 24-hour period, Royal Caribbean has no daily limit. However, if you appear to be too intoxicated, the staff won’t serve you any more drinks.

Bamboo Room
Photo credit: Royal Caribbean

Are tips included in Royal Caribbean drink packages?

Royal Caribbean drinks packages include all tips (also known as gratuities). When you buy a drinks package online, a 16.36% gratuity charge is added at the checkout.

If you wish to recognise outstanding service by adding extra gratuities onboard the ship, you are welcome to do so.

Suggested read: 56 amazing examples of Royal Caribbean customer service

Do Royal Caribbean drinks package go on sale?

Royal Caribbean offer discounts to people who buy their drinks packages onlin in advance of their cruise. Whilst they don’t call it a ‘sale’, the prices do go up and down. The lowest prices can often be found during the Black Friday sale period.

How can I save money on my Royal Caribbean drink package?

The best way to save money on your Royal Caribbean drink package is to buy it a few days after booking your cruise. Then, log into the Cruise Planner regularly to watch the price. If it drops, cancel the package and re-buy it at the lower price.

Do Royal Caribbean ships offer drinking straws?

Since 2019, Royal Caribbean has been cutting down on single-use plastics on-board its ships. They give out paper straws which are sadly not fit for purpose when it comes to frozen cocktails. They work for about half a drink before they collapse.

I would definitely recommend bringing your own metal straw, such as this collapsible straw with carry-case from Amazon.

How old do you have to be to drink on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

For cruises that start in North America, the minimum drinking age is 21. For cruises that start elsewhere, it’s 18.

If you celebrate a milestone birthday mid-way through the cruise, you should ask the Guest Services Manager to modify your record to allow you to drink alcohol after your birthday.

Can I buy a drinks package onboard Royal Caribbean ships?

Yes. You can buy your drinks package either before you sail via Royal Caribbean’s Cruise Planner, or on-board the ship on the first day of your cruise. However, it’s always cheaper to buy it before you board.

How do I cancel my Royal Caribbean drink package?

You can use the Royal Caribbean Cruise Planner cancel your drink package online up to two days before you cruise and receive a full refund. After that, you can cancel it when you first embark the ship, but no later.

Do I buy a drinks package?

On my last Royal Caribbean cruise, I bought the drinks package and got my money’s worth. We had a short four-night cruise to Royal Caribbean’s private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay, in the Bahamas. The drinks package is active on the island as well as the ship and we spent a lot of time on-board drinking cocktails in the hot tub.

Enjoying the drinks package at CocoCay

My next Royal Caribbean cruise is a seven-night cruise from Southampton and I won’t get a drinks package. We’ll be exploring ports almost every day. Plus, as we’re sailing from the UK it will be easy to bring our own wine and cans of pop on-board so we won’t need to buy many drinks on the ship.

Do you plan to buy a drinks package on your next cruise? Let me know in the comments below.

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