With meals, snacks, activities, entertainment and more included in the fare, a cruise can be a great value vacation. If your ideal vacation includes raising a glass to the fun, however, you can be unpleasantly surprised as the alcohol tab adds up. From a morning mimosa to a cocktail around the pool to a glass of wine with dinner to a beer at the late night deck party, drinks on cruise ships can cost $4-10 each depending on the brand, size and type of drink. Fortunately, there are several ways cruisers can quickly get free drinks on most ships, without being loyalty passengers, booking suites or choosing more expensive shore tours or drink packages.
Top 5 Ways to Get Free Drinks on a Cruise
Get in Line for the Liquor Tasting
Many cruise lines offer free liquor tastings on board, usually during the first or second night of the cruise. This is an opportunity to sample different flavored vodkas, exotic rums and well-known labels, and if you’re so inclined, you can buy bottles at deep discounts. You don’t have to purchase in order to taste, however, and you can sample more than one variety if you wish.
Take in the Art Auction
Art auctions are big business on cruise ships, and artwork from different artists as well as sports memorabilia is often part of the gallery. During art auction preview periods or the auctions themselves, free champagne is often offered, and there is no requirement to bid on artwork in order to enjoy a complimentary glass.
Attend a Lecture
Some cruise lines offer educational lectures about popular alcohol brands, such as an overview of Johnnie Walker whiskey and its unique blends and exotic tastes. During these types of lectures, different samples of the drinks may be offered along with insights about proper tasting, meal pairings and otherwise just savoring the beverage.
Toast the Cocktail Reception
Meeting the ship’s captain and officers can be a highlight of any cruise, and many passengers will raise a free glass to their exceptional crew during cocktail receptions that include complimentary beverages. These events typically take place during the ship’s formal evening, and there may be photo opportunities with the captain and officers as well.
Join a Contest or Raffle
Crazy contests are a mainstay of cruise ship activities, from hairy chest contests to dating and marriage games, scavenger hunts and more, and many of the larger, more elaborate contests will include a bottle of wine or champagne as a winning prize. If you’re not much of a game player, you also stand a chance to win with free raffles at port and shopping talks.
What to Know About Free Drinks
While there are different ways to enjoy free alcoholic drinks on cruises, that doesn’t mean your entire bar tab can be replaced with freebies. Cruisers should note that…
Passengers must be of legal drinking age to enjoy alcoholic drinks, even when they’re free.
Free drinks are limited in variety, and no requests or orders are usually taken.
Drinks may be smaller-than-typical sizes when given away for free.
Quantities may be limited, and guests may be restricted to just one free drink per event.
Staff can still refuse to serve anyone behaving inappropriately, even when the drinks are free.
If you want to raise a glass and toast a great vacation, you don’t always have to spend money to do it when you’re on a cruise. Savvy cruisers who know how to get free drinks can enjoy a range of alcoholic indulgences while on board, all without sinking their vacation budget.