How To Know If Purchasing A Cruise Drink Package Is Right For You

When you're getting ready to set sail on a cruise you've been looking forward to for months, there's a good chance you're excited to enjoy a mode of travel designed to be stress-free and ideally, all-inclusive too. For many adventurers, time on a cruise ship is extra appealing thanks to cruise lines catering to the concept that once you book, all you have left to do is enjoy the experience without worry. In reality, there are a few major factors not always included in the price of your cruise package.

When you pay for a cruise, it typically means you'll have your room reserved upon arrival, entertainment options lined up, and many of your meals ready to be served at a minimum. What you might not have access to are all the delicious drinks you've been dreaming of enjoying along the way. This can be extremely disappointing if you can't imagine your sailing experience without a handcrafted cocktail to match. This is where a cruise drink package could make all the difference.

While the price of an all-you-can-drink cruise package is going to vary from one cruise line to another, the basic concept is the same. Cruise drink packages are available for a flat fee as an add-on to your cruise fare and experience. They allow you to access alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks while onboard that would otherwise only be available to purchase at a higher and often eye-popping per-glass rate.

Scenarios where a drink package makes sense

According to Cruzely, the average price for a beer on a cruise ship can be anywhere from $6 to $8. Cocktails average $10 to $14 a glass with wine coming in between $8 and $12. Then there's the gratuity to consider of 15% to 20% on top of all that. It's fair to say that if you're a passenger who enjoys several drinks a day, onboard costs add up quickly.

Even soda can cost up to $3.50 a bottle on a cruise. This makes it easy to overspend even if you're not planning on enjoying the alcoholic options available. If you know with certainty that you want to be able to easily access beverages while sailing without having to worry about accidentally spending beyond your budget, a cruise drink package is typically a good option. Those who are cruising adults-only with friends and looking forward to bar hopping onboard will find investing in a drink package is generally a good way to enjoy yourself without regretting added spending along the way.

A drink package might also be the right choice if you're cruising with kids. Trying to calculate what each child might want when it comes to soda selections and adding that to the cost of coffee and alcohol options for the adults in your group ahead of time can be a hassle. Instead, a drink package ensures everyone can get what they want, right when they want it without having to worry.

When it's better to pay by the glass

While cruise drink packages can be refreshingly convenient, they're also a significant investment. It's important to consider your own consumption habits before signing on for a drink package that you might not make the most of while sailing. For example, if you don't plan on enjoying preferred beverages onboard daily, you could be wasting a lot of money on a plan that's exclusively designed to cover costs for every single day of your cruising experience. Unfortunately, there is no picking and choosing specific drink package days onboard with most major cruise lines.

It's also good to consider who you'll be cruising alongside when trying to determine if a drink package is worth the price. On many ships, it's mandatory for all adults in a cabin to order a drink package to avoid sharing costs. If one or more of the adults in your traveling crew doesn't want to invest in a drink package, it might not make sense for you financially either.

If you happen to be a stickler for certain brand-name beverages, it could be better to avoid a drink package and opt for a pay-by-the-glass approach instead. Many drink packages eliminate the use of some of the most popular brand-name options out there when serving beverages up onboard due to cost. Not being able to enjoy a preferred high-end wine or favorite beer brand while cruising can sometimes be enough to deter passengers from investing in drink packages.