Over the recent years, several of the cruise lines have added optional alcohol packages to their programs. The packages we will look at here, are the ones offering unlimited alcoholic drinks during the cruise.
On one ship that I am aware of, it isn’t optional. It’s included in the cruise price and you can’t cruise without it. The ship is Norwegian Sky. It is usually priced well above the competitors with open bar, so on a regular prices cruise, you will pay extra for the booze. However, off season you can often find deals on Norwegian Sky which are priced the same or lower, compared to similar cruises from other lines. That’s great and we have been on quite a few of them.
You can only take so many Bahamas cruises though, and the quality and service on Norwegian Sky have gone downhill lately. The crew seems very over worked and sometimes you get the feeling that you bother them, just by being there. That’s we are now looking into the drink packages on other lines.
Let’s take a quick look at the prices for each of the major cruise lines.
Carnival Cruise Line (Cheers)
$51.95 USD per person, per day plus 15% gratuity
Norwegian Cruise Line (The Ultimate Beverage Package)
$89 USD per person, per day plus 20% gratuity and beverage charge
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (Deluxe Beverage Package)
$55 USD per person, per day plus 18% gratuity
Princess Cruises (Premier Beverage Package)
$59.99 USD per person, per day plus 15% service charge
So how much should you drink to break even with a drink package? Well, let’s keep Norwegian out of the equation due to their outrageous prices.
A beer cost around $5.75 and let’s calculate with an average drink package price on $55. Both numbers are without gratuity, so that will work. That will be 55/5.75 = 9.6.
So if you drink 10 beers or more per day, you will save money by buying a drink package.
If you drink 9 beers or less per day, you will save money by not buying a drink package.
If you are not a beer drinker, but drink hard liqueur from the lower shelves, the prices is pretty much the same as the beer.
So there you have it! It’s takes quite a bit of alcohol consumption before buying a drink package will pay off.