10 Drink Package Mistakes You Should Never Make on a Cruise - Cruise with Leo

10 Drink Package Mistakes You Should Never Make on a Cruise

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Drink Packages Mistakes

Drink packages are very popular on cruise ships.

People who go on vacation want to enjoy those days to the fullest, so they also want to drink without any worries.

I have to admit that I am a fan of the packages; I always add them to my booking before departing and couldn’t do without them.

After using them for several years, I have noticed that there are still some mistakes passengers often make regarding this “extra.”

Let’s take a look at what they are and how you can get the most out of your beverage package.

1. Not Purchasing a Drink Package in Advance

Drinks with the drink package
Drinks with the drink package

I have been saying this for years, but I still see people making this mistake.

If you want to buy a beverage package, it is better to decide in advance, before you get on the cruise ship.

On many cruise lines, the price you find on board is higher than the price you would have gotten by booking online before departure or with a travel agent.

Some people told me that they were waiting for onboard discounts, but I don’t think that’s a good strategy.

Onboard discounts are very difficult to predict. They are usually not offered during peak periods and may not always guarantee the best price.

In my opinion, the best thing you can do, if you wanna save money, is to monitor sales and promotions a few months before the cruise.

Special events like Black Friday or one-day promotions can usually guarantee a very good price.

2. Not Doing the Math

Cruise bar

The first thing you should do before buying a package is simple math to determine if it’s worth it.

First, consider the cost per drink and your drinking habits (keep in mind that on vacation you may drink more than usual.)

If drinks average $10 each (gratuity excluded) and you plan to consume around 7-8 drinks per day, a package costing $70-$90 per day is definitely worth it.

3. Ignoring Non-Alcoholic Options

Tropical crush mocktail
Tropical crush mocktail

In addition, consider that with drinks packages you usually get also non-alcoholic beverages like specialty coffees, iced teas, smoothies, soft drinks, bottled water, and juices.

Many cruise lines also have a selection of non-alcoholic cocktails, you can see a very extensive list in the Royal Caribbean mocktails menu.

Using these options can improve your cruise experience and provide better value for your money.

4. Forgetting Drink Limits and Prices

Waiter serving drinks on a cruise
Waiter serving drinks on a cruise

Each cruise line has different policies regarding drink limits and price caps within their packages.

For example, some packages might include drinks up to a certain price, but any drink exceeding this amount would require you to pay the difference.

Knowing these limits is important to avoid mistakes and to prevent unexpected charges.

I have made a small summary table for you, I hope it’s useful.

Cruise LineDrinks per dayDrink price limit
Royal Caribbeanno limit$12
Carnival max. 15$20
Norwegianno limit$15
Celebrity no limit$10
MSCno limit$10

5. Exaggerating With Alcoholic Drinks

As we’ve just seen, many cruise lines have no max. drinks limit, but it doesn’t mean they will let you drink all the bar.

According to all policies, when the bartender sees you are too drunk may refuse to serve you a drink.

This is a very important safety measure on cruise ships, put in place to prevent fights but also to prevent some drunk people from falling off or jumping off the ship (unfortunately it has happened).

So remember not to exaggerate also because drinking too much or causing a fight is amongst the things that can get you banned from a cruise.

6. Not Checking Out the “Healthy” Drinks

Fresh squeezed juice from vitality cafe
Fresh squeezed juice from Vitality Cafe

Few people know this, but drink packages often include special health drinks that can be found in specific bars.

You can usually find them near the gym, spa, or wellness center.

These “special drinks” can be fresh juices, smoothies, protein drinks, shakes, and other nutritious beverages.

7. Not Stocking Up on Bottled Water

Many drink packages include bottled water, which can be very useful both onboard and during shore excursions.

As I’ve already said in several articles, I do not like tap water on cruise ships and I always prefer to take bottled water.

If you have a drink package remember that you can bring a few bottles back to your cabin to have a supply ready for excursions or to stay hydrated throughout the night.

You can even place them in the mini-fridge. It is often found in cruise ship cabins, although it is among the hidden items that not everyone finds.

8. Not Checking Package Coverage on Private Islands

Private island cabana
Private island cabana

Not all drink packages cover beverages on the cruise line’s private islands.

For example, Carnival’s Cheers Package is not applicable at Half Moon Cay.

Before disembarking, remember to check if your package is valid on the private island to avoid additional costs.

Usually, the drink packages are valid on CocoCay, Labadee, Ocean Cay, and Great Stirrup Caye.

For more information related to private islands, check out the article about the 13 mistakes to avoid on cruise private islands.

9. Assuming You Need a Drink Package

A couple of weeks ago, a user accused me of trying to sell drink packages at all costs.

Let me be 100% clear, I have no partnership with cruise lines and I make absolutely nothing from drink packages.

It’s obvious that not everyone needs a drink package. As I said before, you should evaluate your drinking habits and the cruise itinerary before deciding.

If you’re not a heavy drinker, paying for drinks a la carte might be more economical and some cruise lines already include about 10 free drinks.

10. Not Specifying Your Drink

drinks at the bar of the cruise
Drinks at the bar on MSC

If your drink package includes premium spirits, make sure to specify your preferred brand when ordering.

Bartenders usually go with house liquors unless you ask for specific brands, and when you ask for top-shelf liquors, you’re sure that you’re making the most of your drink package.

In addition, many cruisers make the mistake of only ordering drinks listed on the bar menu.

I like to ask the bartenders for something new or unique, they have a wide range of ingredients and skilled bartenders can make some very good secret cocktails!

By the way, have you heard about the secret bar on a cruise ship? It’s hidden from the public, and you enter through a very special doorway.


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