Royal Caribbean drinks package: Is it worth it?

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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?”

Royal Caribbean drink package

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:

DrinkPrice
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
LemonadeFREE
MilkFREE
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). For most sailings, when you buy a drinks package online, an 18% 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.

Get the best price on your Royal Caribbean cruise booking

The price you pay for your cruise will be different depending on who you book it with, even though what you get will be exactly the same.

It’s generally always cheaper to use a specialist cruise travel agent that can access discounted rates.

Click here to see who’s offering discounted rates on Royal Caribbean cruises.

Of course, not all travel agents are equal in terms of the service that they provide. If you’d like to get a quote from a trusted travel agent that I’ve used to book multiple cruises myself, click here to get a quote.

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52 thoughts on “Royal Caribbean drinks package: Is it worth it?”

  1. Does anyone know what the difference is between the complimentary coffee and tea vs the premium coffee/tea you get when you buy the Refreshment Package?

    • Complimentary is just regular coffee whereas premium includes cappuccino, latte, espresso etc.

      • Do you know the difference in the tea? My gf is a big tea drinker and is considering the package purely for that

  2. Hi Jenni,

    Great blog. I’m going on a cruise in October and would like the full drinks package for myself. My hubby-to-be is a non-drinker and he would only want the refreshment package. He would hardly be expected to buy the alcohol package too??

    Thanks,

    Aoife

    • Hi Aoife. Royal Caribbean’s rules state that each person must have the same package. It comes with fancy coffees, smoothies etc as well as alcohol. You may be better off opting to pay for drinks as you go as it’s hard to break even without drinking a lot of alcohol each day. Jenni

  3. Does the deluxe drink package include adding items to your mini bar?

    • No, it doesn’t. However, you can order a bottle of water at the bar and put it in your mini bar fridge for later if you like.

  4. Can I buy unlimited beverage package for 2 days only in a four days cruise , or it has to be for all days ?

    • You would need to buy it for the whole cruise.

  5. So do you have to buy a drink package for every day of your trip or can you buy for just 3 days of your trip

    • You would need to buy it for the whole cruise.

  6. Great Information

  7. I have a question.
    I have cruised many times before and I always order the royal caribbean premium drink package.
    My question is, what happens if I buy the beverage package of only soft drinks and non-alcoholic beverages, and at some point during the trip I want to order, for example, a pina colada with alcohol?
    would i be charged the difference between a virgin pina colada and a pina colada with alcohol? or would i be charged for the whole pina colada with alcohol?

    • Hi Jose. In this case, you’d be charged for the whole drink. Jenni

    • Hi Jose,
      My two sons are coming on the cruise with me. How do I purchase a drink package for 1 and a soft drinks package for 1 because of a medical condition

  8. Hi Jill, I’m considering booking a drinks package with Royal Caribbean. €53 euros per day, €856 for my wife and for 8 nights. Does that include the 16.36% gratuity or will I be charged another 16.36% of €856, which would be another €140 approx ? (Of course I’ll be waiting for a discount before booking it as you have advised!)

    • I have just updated this post as the gratuity on Royal Caribbean’s drinks packages is now 18% for 2021. The gratuity is added on at the final checkout so you will see the final price before you commit to buy it. Jenni

  9. Hi!

    So I’m booked and considering the drinks package. I have a question about the free drinks though…can we bring our own reusable water bottles to fill them up with the free lemonade/ice tea or are cups readily available for us to use?

    • Hi Natalie. Last time I cruised with Royal Caribbean in December 2019 you could do both options. These days, with the new protocols, I’m not sure what the rules will be on refilling our own bottles. You could always pour it from a cup into your own bottle I suppose. Jenni

  10. Thanks for the comprehensive review! We just came back from a Cruise to Nowhere aboard the Quantum of the Seas as well. Do check out our Royal Caribbean Cruise Refreshment Package Review for more information!

    Happy Travels (soon)!

    Tom & Kate,
    2bearbear.com

    • Thanks Tom!

  11. Hi,

    We’re booked on the Liberty of the Seas cruise in November 2020. I am considering the deluxe drink package for us both but I am a little concerned that most fun drinks on the menus cost $13 and the limit is $12. So we’ll have to pay the difference of $1 on almost every drink. That adds up. Why wouldn’t they have the limit at $13 or do I have incorrect info?

    • Hi Kristin. The drinks prices vary slightly by ship, with around a $1 difference on some ships. To account for this, the drink package limit is matched to it. So you won’t have to pay any more for your drinks unless you order something really specialist. I hope that helps! Jenni

  12. If I’m a simple coffee and tea drinker. Is it worth it to by a drink package? I rarely drink specialty coffee and prefer a cup of hot tea to end my meals. So not sure buying a drink package would be worth it. Also, should I bring my own sweetener or do they supply that?

    • Hi Rebecca. You definitely don’t need a drinks package. Tea and coffee are always available for free and you can get sweeteners as well. Enjoy! Jenni

  13. So I’m noticing all the cool mixed cocktail drinks are priced. I’m sure intentionally just over the 12.00 limit for the ultimate drink package. As a person who rarely drinks and had to buy a package for myself so that my husband could have one, does this mean I’m paying an extra dollar or two if I decide I’d like to try one of these drinks. On top of what I already paid for the two unlimited packages?

    • Great observation, Michelle. On the Oasis Class and Quantum Class ships, the drinks package limit is $13 rather than $12 to account for these ships having slightly higher drinks prices. If you order a drink that costs more than the package limit, you would be charged the difference.

  14. Hi, I have harmony of the seas booked for next may but when I have tried to book a drinks package there is no option for this. Is this due to the situation at the moment or have they stopped selling drinks package online.

    • Hi Katie. I’m not sure actually. I’d suggest asking Royal Caribbean, they’re usually very quick to reply on Facebook.

  15. Hello!

    Thank you for answering all these questions!
    How strict are they on how much bottles you can bring on board? I leave from Miami and happy to pop to a Walmart beforehand to pick up some things to save money on board.

    Thank you again!

  16. We are travelling with Royal Caribbean for the first time and are considering purchasing the Deluxe drinks package. We have two kids. Do we need separate soft drinks packages for the kids or can they share ours?

    • So, strictly speaking they would need their own. However, you can get a drink every 15 minutes so it is possible to get the occasional drink for your child on the sly. I’m not saying do it, but people do it. There are also lots of free drinks available including flavoured water, water and milk as well as fruit juices at breakfast time.

  17. I am curious why some of the same drinks are over $13 in one location and $12 or less in another. Example – pool vs Bamboo. My husband and i are going on our first cruise later this spring and bought a deluxe package. Are there ways to request a drink like a Bloody Mary but in a $12 or less version?

    • The cocktails in the Bamboo Lounge are a little different to the poolside cocktails, the have fancier glasses and the ingredients may be different too. The bar staff were always encouraging me to let them make up drinks rather than stick the menu, so I’m sure they wouldn’t mind you asking.

  18. Great blog – exactly the sort of information I was looking for to make in informed decision. We have decided to use your tip and buy the soda package with the intention of buying shots on board. Are you able to advise how much shots were roughly?

    • I’m not sure, sorry!

  19. Are the drink prices in US dollars or Australian while on an Australian run. I am on Voyagers of the seas in April on repositioning cruise. The prices that are on the menus are reasonable if in Au Dollars.

    • Royal Caribbean always price in US dollars no matter the itinerary.

  20. We are sailing on Anthem of the seas June for two weeks going for the de lux drinks package offered us £43 per day is that fair price or should I wait in case prices go down

    • That seems pretty good to me. I’m guessing they make it cheaper on a longer cruise compared to a 3- or 4-nighter so it’s really hard to compare with what I’ve seen it for on my own cruises. If the price does drop, you can always call Royal Carribbean to cancel it and book it again at the lower price.

  21. Thank you so much for this insight – definitely helps with planning. Can I ask – there is a limit of bringing drinks on board yourselves but how do they actually know if you have brought more than the allowance?

    • They scan your bags. I know that some people get away with putting one bottle in the main suitcase and one in hand luggage. Not sure if I’d risk it though!

  22. This is extremely helpful. Thank you. I’ll be cruising in November on Oasis of the Seas. At least I’ve got time to think about which package to buy. ?

  23. Superb article, i am new to cruising and only used NCL which seems to have cheap drink package and this helps me no end, thanks a million

    • I’m so pleased that you found this helpful 🙂 Jenni

      • This is extremely helpful. Thank you. I’ll be cruising in November on Oasis of the Seas. At least I’ve got time to think about which package to buy. ?

        One other thing. Is it true that each individual drink purchased an additional 18% is added?

        • That’s right, each time you order a drink, and 18% gratuity is added on to your bill. If you have a package, gratuities are already included in that, you won’t pay any more per drink.

          • Hi, I would Like to know something. If I bought the premium beverage drink do I have to pay an additional gratuites? Thank you in advance.

          • Your drinks package will include gratuity on all drinks. So no, you wouldn’t have to pay any extra gratuities on drinks. But you would still have your standard daily gratuity to pay which covers all other staff members. Jenni

  24. Thanks for the great information. I have a general question I am booked on the Adventure of the Sea in February wondering if the muster station is done outside standing or inside able to sit down..

    Thanks in Advance,
    Jill

    • Hi Jill. This depends on your muster station. Some muster stations are outside, some are inside with seats. If you are uncomfortable standing, just let a staff member know and they will be sure to accommodate you. I hope this helps. Jenni

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