When planning on going on a Royal Caribbean cruise, you are bound to see an offer to buy an unlimited Royal Caribbean drink package. In fact, the cruise line’s beverage packages are quite famous among cruise-goers, with at least half of them purchasing the package on any one of the cruise ships.
You might be wondering why RCCL’s drink package has so much buzz, and here is why:
Well, you know that cruises as much fun as they are can cost you quite a pretty penny. And for years cruisers have been trying to find ways to reduce their cost on board. With things on board almost costing you an arm and leg at times. It is a good thing that Royal Caribbean came up with a drink package. That helps you enjoy your cruise without stressing about costs, well drink costs at least.
This drink package has 4 unlimited drink packages that are meant to help you cut costs on drinks while aboard an RCCL ship. There is a refreshment, deluxe, soda, and water package. For a flat upfront fee per cruise, you are able to purchase an unlimited access to drinks with these packages.
In this article, we will go into detail about these packages. Their advantages and disadvantages. Prices and some tips and tricks here and there, so read on to find out what you need to know about Royal Caribbean Drink Packages before your next cruise.
But first, let’s look at RCCL’s drink policies, so that you get to understand why you might need a drink package.
Drink Policy Before You Board
Long gone are the days when cruises allowed cruisers to carry soda, water, even milk packets on board. Royal Caribbean has a strict “no bringing of beverage on board their ship policy”, alcoholic or otherwise. They confiscate and dispose of any such drinks they find, in your checked luggage. The only exception to this rule, being the two 750ml wine bottles allowed per stateroom. But, ensure you carry the wine in your carry on, if you don’t want to make a trip to security to claim your luggage and potentially lose the wine.
Some cruisers claim that the “no drinks aboard the ship” rule is usually a bit relaxed for soda and water packs. But note that if you do this, you do it at your own risk.
(However, if you still wish to carry soda and water on board despite the warning. Then make sure you carry the packs in their original factory package, unopened and untampered with. This is said, to make them look less suspect to carrying other contents to the security personnel. Also, most cruisers, who carry soda/water on board recommend carrying the soda or water pack on your carry-on.)
But if you are a stickler for the rules like we are, then you are better off, using the drinks available on the ship. Here are some of the drinks that you can expect from the fare you pay for the cruise, without any additional costs.
The Free Drinks
Like any other cruise, RCCL does provide some drinks for free all throughout the day, every day of your cruise. You can get these drinks from the dining room, the buffet area (Windjammer) and even onshore at the cruise line’s private islands. They are:
- coffee (regular and decaf)
- iced tea
- flavored waters
- juices (at breakfast and not freshly squeezed)
- Hot chocolate (via instant packets)
- Tap water: Carry refillable water bottles, to refill on tap water at any point where water is accessible on the ship. You will have to use a glass to refill your bottle, so carry bottles that have at least a convenient opening.
Now, as you can see from the list, the drinks provided by the ship for free are the bare minimum and basically just keep you from getting dehydrated. Or provide you with something to swallow your meals with.
But isn’t the essence of a vacation to have fun, splurge and enjoy all the nice treats you don’t get to have daily. That’s why this drinks on their own don’t really fill the bill with a nice eating experience on a vacation.
To actually sample the colorful exiting fun drinks you see on Royal Caribbean’s menu, a beer or a glass of wine with your dinner, you have to fork out extra cash for them. And if you drink a lot of beverages in a day, you will want to consider the following drink packages, to try to save some bucks on your cruise.
The Deluxe Beverage Package
RCCL used to have different unlimited alcohol packages for their guests but changed that in 2016 and created just one package. The deluxe beverage package. This package features all drink types such as beer, cocktails, wine, soda, water, non-alcoholic drinks, premium coffee, and teas. The deluxe package is the mother of all drink packages on the cruise line. It covers all sorts of drinks that you would want to drink onboard.
It’s the only beverage package for guests who take alcohol. Its price starts from $44 to $55 per day excluding gratuity and varies with sail dates, class of ships and number of days on a cruise.
A gratuity of 18% is charged for all drinks but is usually included in the package price, which is a one-off cost paid before accessing the package.
This package covers drinks valued up to $12 and in the Oasis class of ships up to $13 worth. On the alcohol front, it covers cocktails, wine by glass, beers, liqueurs, and spirits. On the soft drinks side, it covers bottled, sparkling or still water. And on the refreshment end, it covers freshly squeezed juices and non-alcoholic cocktail drinks.
It also covers bottles of wine up to a certain percentage. Starting with 40% discount on bottles of wine that are under $100 and 20% discount on the same which are over the $100 price mark.
If you love taking several mugs of coffee or teas a day, this package is ideal for you as it covers premium coffees and teas except those served at Starbuck’s standing kiosks, on the Oasis-class ships. Either way, you will still get your espressos, lattes, and cappuccinos from café promenade in those ships.
The deluxe package also covers the fountain sodas available on RCCL ships. Get as many refills as you want every 10-15 minutes at the coca cola refill machines or at the bars using your coca cola souvenir cup.
- For this beverage package to make any economic sense, you must be the kind of person that can drink more than 6 or 7 drinks a day. Otherwise, the cost of the package will outweigh the benefit of it.
- If your cruise itinerary has many port stops, then this package might not be ideal for you because you will have very limited time to enjoy it. You should count how many drinks you will need to take on the available sea days and determine whether the package will be worth it.
- If you are visiting private ports like Cococay or Labadee, then count them in as you will be able to use this package on those islands as well.
- You cannot share drink packages with another person, each person has to buy their own drink package. This is strictly enforced on board RCCL ships, to the extent that you have to go with your partner’s or friend’s sea pass card/wow band bracelet, to charge for their drinks if you are taking one to them.
- This package covers some of the drinks served in the specialty restaurants, and any other bar or drinks kiosk in the ship apart from Starbucks, drinks served by room service and the drinks in your minibar.
The deluxe package offers some obvious advantages over the other packages. These are:
- The package covers all sorts of drinks from alcoholic to non-alcoholic. Which means you can drink your money’s worth since you need different drink types for different occasions all through your cruise.
- The unlimited alcohol feature on this package makes it easy to go bar hopping and taste many different signature drinks, to find your favorite at no additional cost.
- It breaks apart your cruise cost nicely, to help you budget, instead of incurring a large bill at the end of the cruise, due to unplanned excess drinking.
- It eliminates the stress of trying to plan your money on the sort of drinks you will need onboard since it includes all types of drinks. It, therefore, leaves you with room to enjoy your vacation.
- You can now visit each and every specialty venue on your ship, to try out their signature cocktails.
- Best of all, it’s a money saver when used effectively.
- It’s easy to use, just walk up to any bar, order a drink, they will scan your wow band or swipe your sea pass card and you are done. It also makes reconciling your account statement at the end of the trip a breeze, since there aren’t many drink transactions on there.
- You get a free souvenir cup
- If you pre-book in advance, you might chance upon discounts of 20-30% on this package.
- You cannot share this drink package with anyone else
- It’s very expensive if you are not the kind that takes more than half a dozen drinks a day.
- You might inconvenience your partner or cabin mate. Royal Caribbean has issued a new policy in 2018 that requires every person in a cabin who meets the drinking age, to purchase the same drink package, as long as one of the people in the cabin has purchased one.
However, on the point above, note that for people who cannot take part in the deluxe drinks package for various reasons such as religious or medical can be exempted from this rule. All they need is to call Royal Caribbean and explain their reasons.
The Premium Refreshment Package
This package is similar to the Deluxe Royal Caribbean drink package with the only difference being the exemption of alcohol. It’s ideally designed to cater to the needs of people who don’t take alcohol or don’t take enough of it to require the deluxe package.
Price and Coverage
For $26 a day it covers premium coffees and teas. It includes non-alcoholic cocktails and freshly squeezed juices. And also covers fountain soda, bottled water, both still and sparkling, and also comes with a free Coca-Cola souvenir cup.
So, the next time you are going on a cruise, you can book this package to enjoy all you can drink non-alcoholic cocktails and soda. It’s also a great package for the older kids, who have not yet attained a drinking age but also desire some variety, not just soda.
If you are a coffee or tea lover, again this package will be great in that at almost half the price of the deluxe package, you will still get to enjoy as much coffee or tea as you want.
Similar to the deluxe drinking package, you will not be able to share this package with anyone else and if you buy it, everyone else in your cabin will need to purchase it too.
Note, that you can always upgrade it once onboard and will only pay the difference to upgrade to deluxe. But if you feel like upgrading it pre-cruise, you can cancel it and purchase another package.
As with deluxe this package also covers drinks from specialty restaurants and will provide the perfect chance for you to try out new drinks while on your vacation. Note, however, it does not cover coffees sold at Starbucks kiosk onboard your ship or the drinks you order via your stateroom or ones found in the minibar.
- Saves cost when you factor that a price of a cocktail is $10-13 and a can of soda goes for $3.50 or a latte which goes for $4.5 a cup. Then you can see that you save a lot with this package considering you might take more than 3 drinks a day.
- It’s stress-free, you don’t have to debate whether you have money for another drink or not.
- Allows you to sample new cocktail drinks, you haven’t had before.
- Its costly if you cannot consume your money’s worth of drinks.
- You cannot share it with anyone else
The Classic Soda Package
A package that is very popular with the kids and adults as well is the soda package, once called the soda card. This package allows you unlimited soda refills at Windjammer, the dining room and at private port destinations. It also comes with a free coca cola souvenir cup. To help you refill at the coca cola machines available on the ship. Best of all the souvenir cup is yours to keep.
However, note that if you lose the souvenir cup, you will have to part with $4.50 more for another, as the refilling machines only work with the Coca-Cola souvenir cup. This package costs roughly $8.50 a day.
A can of soda on board an RCCL ship goes for $3.50 and above. This package is, therefore, a good investment considering you might consume more than 3 glasses of soda in a day.
Similar to all the other packages, if one person in the room orders this package then everyone in a cabin must get it.
- Saves money
- Easy to use
- It cannot be shared and everyone in the room has to get it.
- Considering it only offers one type of drink, it doesn’t really provide variety.
- It has a 10-15-minute wait time before refilling to avoid misusing it. So, it does limit the number of drinks you can have in a day.
The Standard Water Package
If you are a heavy water drinker then you should consider the water package. Remember RCCL does not allow you to bring any water onboard their ships. And while the ship does provide free tap water, it’s useless if you forgot to pack a refillable water bottle. So, this package does offer some benefits.
You can book for this package, before your cruise, to receive discounted 12 or 24 one-liter Evian water bottles to your stateroom to use during your cruise. This package comes in handy when you are on a port, far from the ship’s water sources.
A 500 ml bottle of water will cost anywhere from $2-$4 onboard an RCCL ship. If you take a lot of water and aren’t comfortable using the ship’s water, though it’s perfectly safe for you. Then you should consider using this package.
- You won’t be tempted to use the water in the minibar
- Easy to use and saves you money
- There is plenty of free clean water to drink onboard RCCL ships, so this package may be redundant, wasting your money.
Is the Royal Caribbean Drink Package Worth it?
For years, there has been an argument on whether or not, RCCL’s drinking packages are worth it. The truth is that it all depends on you. People have different preferences, you may be taking more alcoholic drinks than you do coffees and teas. Someone else may be taking up to 3 liters of water a day and only an occasional glass of wine. As such only an individual is able to decide whether the package is worth it or not. But to help you figure out, whether you need this package or not, here is a list of the rough prices of drinks aboard Royal Caribbean ships:
|Bottle of water (500 ml)||$3.25|
|Drink of the day||$8|
|Freshly squeezed juice||$4.95|
|House wines (by the glass)||$10-$16|
|Mixed drinks/cocktails, martinis, frozen||$10-$13|
Now having looked at the list, you are able to calculate roughly how much you will use for drinks if you pay a la carte for them on board your cruise ship. Using your findings, you can compare the individual package costs. Note that you can’t buy a drink package that is less than 4 days long.
Here are some arguments that might help you decide whether the package will be worth it or not:
If you are thinking about the Deluxe package, consider this example, for a 5-day cruise at $55 plus an additional 18% gratuity the cost of the package will be roughly $324.50. For this package to make sense, you would need to consume at least more than 7 drinks in a day, and half of those would have to be at least $10 and above. The only drinks, that cost $10 and above are the alcoholic ones, so ask yourself are you able to drink at least 4 or more alcoholic drinks every day and still enjoy your cruise?
Also consider, that the longer, your cruise is, the harder it is to max out on this drink package as you can suffer from a drinking fatigue.
On the other hand, if you enjoy taking several cups of coffee/juice in the morning hours, and then relax with a couple of cocktails/beer at the poolside in the afternoon and finish the day with a glass or two of wine at dinner, then you would probably need this package.
All in all, if your aim is to save money, be honest with yourself, and consider how many drinks you can consume in a day naturally. To find out whether you will need this or any of the other Royal Caribbean drink package.
Also Read: 50 Royal Caribbean Cruise Tips and Tricks
Additional Facts about RCCL’s Drinking Package
Now that you have decided on getting Royal Caribbean drink package, here are some facts about it, that you should know about.
- Use the cruise planner platform available on RCCL to purchase the beverage package of your choice. The deluxe package sometimes has a 20-40% discount offered on it.
- You can cancel the package up to 2 days before your sail date and get a full refund in cash. If you cancel while onboard the refund will be put on your onboard credit account minus the full price of any drinks you might have used with it.
- Wine taken in public places such as the dining room, at the restaurants or the lounge area, attracts a corkage fee of $15. If you don’t finish your wine in one night, you can request for it to be stored, and access it at a different venue any other night, for free.
- You can purchase the RCCL package while on board but only if you have at least 4 days remaining in your cruise.
- The legal drinking age on RCCL ships is 21 years for northern America cruises and 18 years for Australia, UK, Asia and South American cruises.
- A gratuity of 18% is charged for every drink and is included in your drink package. So, no need to worry about figuring out what to tip.
Over To You
So, there you have it folks, all you need to know about Royal Caribbean’s unlimited drink packages, whether or not it’s worth it, and generally, every other burning question asked about drinks aboard the ship.
We have relied on our experiences and RCCL’s site to give you this article, but it’s not an official representation, so confirm prices and any other important detail from their site.
Now you can plan on enjoying your cruise, sipping on as many fruity cocktails, or chugging as many diet cokes a day as you want to or party without worrying whether you have enough for another drink. Happy Cruising!!