Here’s what you need to know to figure out whether a Royal Caribbean Drink Package is right for your family.
As you’re getting ready for your upcoming cruise, you will likely have the opportunity to buy a drinks package. The value proposition of such a purchase may vary widely depending on which cruise line you’re sailing. This post focuses on the key facts you should know about buying a Royal Caribbean drink package.
This is what you need to know to figure out whether a Royal Caribbean drink package is worth it for your family:
- what drinks are already included in your cruise fare
- what drinks you can have without any additional fees
- how much Royal Caribbean beverages cost without a package
- how much Royal Caribbean drink packages cost
- what’s included in the various Royal Caribbean drink packages and other options
- the rules, policies and practices that apply to the various beverage packages
Read on to learn all of this information and more, including answers to some frequently asked questions. Here’s all of the information you need to make the best decision for your cruise.
Related Content: 7 Simple Reasons You’ll Want To Skip That Drinks Package
Beverages Already Included In Your Cruise Fare
So what free drinks on Royal Caribbean will you find? Royal Caribbean complimentary drinks included in your cruise fare include milk, some juices, hot chocolate, and regular coffee and tea (i.e, not specialty beverages like lattes, cappuccinos or chai). You will also find some self serve fountain-style drinks at the buffet. You’ll find non-carbonated drinks like juice or juice based punch, but no sodas. And, of course, you should also be able to get regular non-bottled water.
Bringing Your Own Beverages Aboard A Royal Caribbean Cruise
One simple way to save money on cruise beverages is to bring some onboard yourself. And, Royal Caribbean allows guest to BYOB as to a limited quantity of non-alcoholic and/or alcoholic beverages.
BYOB Alcoholic Beverages
Royal Caribbean permits guests to bring two sealed bottles (750 ml) of wine or champagne per stateroom. Note that boxed wine and other containers are prohibited. And, Royal Caribbean prohibits guests from bringing any kind of beer or hard liquor onboard for consumption or any other use.
Depending on how much wine you typically drink, two full bottles may be sufficient for your entire cruise. Royal Caribbean conveniently provides a corkscrew so that you can enjoy it in your room. Or, alternatively, you can bring it with you to dinner and pay a corkage fee of $15 per bottle. If you don’t finish the bottle, the dining room staff will hold it for you for the next night(s).
These BYOB allowances for alcohol only apply at embarkation. The crew will confiscate any alcohol purchased while you are in port after sailing. They will store it until the end of your cruise.
A harsher rule applies if you try to bring on or sneak on excess alcohol at embarkation.
Alcoholic beverages seized on embarkation day will not be returned. Security may inspect containers (water bottles, soda bottles, mouthwash, luggage etc.) and will dispose of containers holding alcohol. Guests who violate any alcohol policies, (over consume, provide alcohol to people under the legal drinking age, demonstrate irresponsible behavior, or attempt to conceal alcoholic items at security and or luggage check points or any other time), may be disembarked or not allowed to board, at their own expense.
BYOB Non-Alcoholic Beverages
Guests may also carry on 12 cans or cartons of non-alcoholic beverages in their hand luggage.
Non-alcoholic beverages may not exceed 12 standard (17 oz.) cans, bottles or cartons per stateroom. Milk and distilled water brought on for infant, medical, or dietary use are permitted.
Cost Of Individual Drinks On Royal Caribbean
Here’s a basic broad overview of typical drink prices found on the larger Royal Caribbean ships. (Based on a January 2020 sailing.)
- Bottled water – $2.25 to $3.25
- Soft drinks – $3.25/can (sports & energy drinks – $4-$6)
- Specialty coffees – $4.35
- smoothies/mocktails – $5-$6
- Beer – $7-$8
- Wine – starts at $9/glass. (pPices range from $9 to $25; many moderate vintages that folks would order by name are around $17)
- Hard liquor – $7-$9
- Cocktails – $10-$13
Note that all drink orders will be assessed an automatic gratuity of 18%, which would be added to the prices above.
Royal Caribbean Drink Packages Currently Available
Royal Caribbean offers three main beverage packages that may be purchased online before you sail, or on board the ship.
While Royal Caribbean quotes pricing for its beverage packages on a “per day” basis, packages are only sold on a cruise length basis. Meaning that you will be assessed up front a charge equal to all of the days of your itinerary (plus an automatic 18% gratuity).
Deluxe Beverage Package
Royal Caribbean’s most inclusive (and most expensive) package is the Deluxe Beverage Package. It covers both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. This includes soft drinks, non-alcoholic cocktails, bottled water, sparkling water, specialty coffees and teas, and fresh squeezed juices. Guests will also receive a souvenir cup that can be used with onboard Coca-Cola Freestyle machines.
As for alcohol based beverages, the package includes cocktails, spirits, hard liquor, beer and wine by the glass.
The package will cover the price of individual drinks up to $12. This package also provides discounted bottles of wine. Guests receive 40% off of wines under $100 and 20% off wines exceeding $100 per bottle.
Specific pricing for beverage packages varies based on ships and itineraries. The onboard pricing for this package ranges from $63 – $89.00 per day.
Royal Caribbean Deluxe Beverage Package includes a wide range of well known brands and you’ll find an updated list of current brands on Royal Caribbean’s website.
- Vodka: Absolute, Belvedere, Grey Goose, Tito’s, Stoli
- Scotch: Chivas (12), Dewar’s (12), Glenfiddich, Johnnie Walker Black, Glenlivet
- Rum: Bacardi, Bacardi 8, Captain Morgan’s, Malibu
Ideal Guest Purchaser
This package is best for folks who regularly drink alcoholic beverages and who will likely consume at least 6 beverages daily, with most of those including max priced alcohol.
Guests Who Should Skip It
You should probably pass on this package if you will drink less than 5 alcoholic beverages per day.
This package essentially includes all of the same beverages as covered by the Deluxe Package except for beverages containing alcohol. So, it includes soft drinks, non-alcoholic cocktails, bottled water, sparkling water, specialty coffees and teas, and fresh squeezed juices. This package also includes the souvenir cup for the onboard Coca-Cola Freestyle machines.
The onboard pricing for this package ranges from $29.00 – $38.00/per day for 2019-2020 sailings.
Ideal Guest Purchaser
This package is best for folks who like to stay hydrated. If you drink 8 bottled waters daily, you will almost certainly break even. Likewise, if you consume some combination of bottled water, soda, lattes and the occasional mocktail, you will break even if you consume at least 5 to 6 drinks a day.
Guests Who Should Skip It
You should probably look for alternatives if you primarily drink water and coffee based drinks. For instance, an Evian Water Package and a Coffee Card would be considerably cheaper.
Classic Soda Package
This is Royal Caribbean’s most simple and least expensive beverage package. It covers sodas only. No bottled water, juices, or specialty coffees. Just soda. As with the larger two packages, this package comes with the souvenir cup for the onboard Coca-Cola Freestyle machines.
Prices for this package range from $12.99 – $15.00/per day.
Who Should or Shouldn’t Get The Soda Package
In theory, if you drink at least 3-4 sodas a day, you should break even.
I have long held a love-hate relationship with this particular package. It’s available to anyone, but the most obvious target audience is children. And I have procured a soda package for at least one of my kids on many occasions. And pretty much every time that I have outright paid for it (vs receiving it as some kind of free perk), I’ve been left with the lingering suspicion that I didn’t quite get my money’s worth. Yet still I persist.
A key problem that we have repeatedly encountered with this particular package is that those nifty Freestyle machines are often inconveniently located, out of the preferred beverage, or out of service completely.
Additional Royal Caribbean Beverage Options
Evian Water Package
This package is very simple and specific. Basically it’s a bulk order of 1 liter bottles of still Evian Water that’s delivered to your stateroom. You have a choice of ordering 12 bottles or 24 bottles. You’ll find a variety of options for Royal Caribbean bottled water on board in terms of size, brands and packaging. But this package only covers liter bottles of Evian.
If you are interested in other types of Royal Caribbean bottled water, you will need to get the Refreshment Package or go ala carte.
The Cafe Select Coffee Card
With this coffee card, you have the opportunity to order 15 different specialty coffees of your choice. With each order, the server will punch or stamp your card. One of the benefits of this card is that you can easily (and openly) share the benefits with other guests. The card is not specific to any one passenger. Depending on your coffee beverage of choice, this card will save you up to 50% off the regular price of individually purchased coffees.
For an upcoming 6 Night Caribbean cruise in 2020, this card was priced at $31.
Discounted Mini-Bar Packages
This is not promoted as a stand alone package. Nor is it available to order prior to boarding (yet). But basically, you have the opportunity to place a bulk order for non-alcoholic beverages to stock your in-room mini-bar.
You can save money by making bulk mini-bar purchases. These prices work out to less than the ala cart prices outside your room. Note that the quoted prices already include gratuity. However, the $7.95 room service charge will be assessed for delivery.
We love having beverages on-hand, and found this to be a good deal.
- 24 cans soft drinks – $47 ($1.96 per can)
- 12 pack energy drinks – $42 ($3.5 per can)
- 12 bottles of juice – $42 ($3.5 per bottle)
- Sparkling water – 12 pack for $30 ($2.5 per bottle)
Crown & Anchor Privileges For Diamond Level And Above
Cruisers with certain loyalty status can receive complimentary beverages in the evenings. Specifically, Crown & Anchor members who are at the Diamond level or above can get 3 free drinks each day during the evening hours of 5:30 to 8:00. This benefit is available at all bars, lounges and the dining rooms. The benefit comes preloaded on your cruise card.
Saving Money On Royal Caribbean Drink Packages
Royal Caribbean usually provides many opportunities to purchase its drink packages at discounted prices prior to boarding your cruise. You would have to be really unlucky or not paying attention to not have opportunity to purchase a discounted drink package
There is rarely any reason for anyone to pay full price for a Royal Caribbean beverage package. You can almost always purchase at a discount online prior to your sailing.
You can typically find discounts in the 25-30% range offered at several points throughout the year.
We almost always have at least one Royal Caribbean future cruise booked and receive a steady stream of emails about deals on onboard purchases throughout the year. By way of example, these were some of the email offers we received in 2019.
The best discounts were:
- 25% off the Deluxe Package (buy one deluxe package and get 2nd for 50% off)
- 30% off the Refreshment Package
- 50% off the soda package (when bundled with a Voom internet package).
- You could also get 30% off of a bundled Voom package with the deluxe beverage package.
Specifically, I found this offer for:
- Black Friday/Cyber Monday
- Labor Day sale
- July 4th sale
- “Flash” sale in June.
A sale with smaller discounts was offered in October:
- 20% of deluxe beverage package
- 10% off refreshment package
- 30% off classic soda package
Note that if you had actually bought in October at the “higher” discounted prices, you could have gotten refund and purchased under the better deal offered during November.
For a cruise sailing in mid 2020, we recently received notice of online discounts of 30% off all beverage packages – Deluxe, Refreshment and Soda. The offer also included 40% off of an Evian Water Package.
Related Content: Try These Top Ways To Stretch Your Family Cruise Dollars
How A Royal Caribbean Drink Package Works
When you purchase a beverage package, you will receive a notation on your cruise card. If you purchased on line, it should be printed on your actual card. Otherwise, a sticker will be affixed to your card. You simply provide your card to access benefits.
Royal Caribbean has relatively simple rules that apply to its drink packages: generally you can only order one drink at a time (unless you are requesting a bottle of water in addition to some other drink), and there’s no drink package sharing. Otherwise, there’s no cap on the number of drinks you can order in a day and no minimum amount of time you must wait between ordering drinks.
Note that if one person in a cabin purchases an alcoholic drink package, then all adults of legal drinking age in the same cabin under the same booking number must purchase a drink package. If an adult is a non-drinker, you can call customer service and explain the situation. In which case the second person may be allowed to purchase the Refreshment Package instead of the Deluxe Package.
Also, beverage packages do not apply to room service, the mini bar or any Starbucks facility.
So, Is a Royal Caribbean Drink Package Worth It? Sample Scenarios.
We recently received information about available beverage package deals on an upcoming 6 night Adventure of the Seas sailing in 2020. The sale prices being offered were described as being 30% off onboard prices. The advertised discounted price for the Deluxe Package was $57 per day. The Refreshment Package was priced at a discounted $22 per day. And the discounted Soda Package was advertised at $8.99 per day.
So, for a 6 night cruise, the Deluxe Package would be $342, the Refreshment Package would be $132, and the Soda Package would be $53.94. Each of these packages would also incur an additional 18% gratuity charge.
The maximum beverage price covered by the Deluxe Package is $12. So you would need to order 5 max priced drinks each day to break even. If you drink basic wine at $9-$10, you would need to consume 6 glasses daily to break even. For beer and liquor at an average price of $7-$8, you would need to consume 7 or 8 such drinks daily. Many folks would find these consumption levels rather challenging.
By comparison, the Refreshment Package at a discounted price of $22 per day seems well positioned to offer full value. Someone who drank 4 or 5 bottles of water a day, plus 2 or 3 sodas and a latte would easily get their money’s worth.
11 Common & Frequently Asked Questions About Royal Caribbean Beverage Packages
(1) Where can you use the drink package?
You can use your drink package privileges at any venue onboard your Royal Caribbean ship that’s outside of your cabin with the exception of Starbuck’s facilities. Room service and mini-bar are not included. You can also use your drink package at all Royal Caribbean private destinations like Coco Cay and Labadee.
(2) What happens if you lose your soda cup?
If you lose the soda cup that’s required to access the freestyle soda machine, you can purchase a replacement for $9.95.
(3) Are you expected to tip when you receive drinks?
All Royal Caribbean beverage packages have an 18% gratuity automatically assessed. And, any individual drinks purchased onboard also receive the same automatic gratuity assessment. Nevertheless, when you sign the receipt for your drinks, you will notice that there is a separate line available where you can write in additional tip. This is completely at your discretion. In all circumstances, you will have already paid an 18% gratuity, and you are welcome to go beyond that amount by writing in more tip if you think it is warranted.
(4) Must all adults purchase drink packages?
If one person purchases an alcoholic drink package, then all adults of legal drinking age in the same cabin under the same booking number must purchase a drink package. If an adult is a non-drinker, you can call customer service and explain the situation. In which case the second person may be allowed to purchase the Refreshment Package instead of the alcohol Deluxe Package.
(5) Is there a drink package day pass?
No. And beverage package must be purchased for the duration of your cruise. You may purchase a package while on board (if 4 or more days remaining) and pay a prorated charge, but the package will be priced for all remaining days of your sailing.
(6) Does drink package include any good liquor?
Yes. Royal Caribbean publishes a list of brands available through its beverage package. This includes brands like Grey Goose, Patron Silver, Glenlivet, and Maker’s Mark.
In addition, other premium brands may be purchased at a surcharge. The beverage package covers any drink up to $12. Any overage will be charged to your onboard account.
(7) Are there any limits on the number of drinks you can consume under a package?
Unlike some cruise lines, there are no numeric caps on the number of drinks that you can consume with a Royal Caribbean beverage package. However, Royal Caribbean may refuse to serve additional alcoholic beverages to any guest who does not consume alcohol responsibly, including those who have purchased an all-inclusive beverage package.
(8) Does Royal Caribbean drink package include Starbucks?
(9) Does Royal Caribbean drink package include shots?
Yes. Up to $12 per drink. Any amount that exceeds $12 will be charged to your Seapass card.
(10) Can I cancel a Royal Caribbean drink package?
If you purchase a drink package on-line, you can cancel and receive a refund prior to boarding.
(11) What’s the best deal on a Royal Caribbean drink package?
Beverage packages purchased online via the Cruise planner will be less than the onboard package price. In addition, Royal Caribbean often offers sales that will offer discounts in the 25-30% range (from onboard prices). These are often found during the summer months and around Black Friday/Cyber Monday.
The best deals we have seen are the 30% off offers discussed above.
So What’s The Bottom Line On Whether Royal Caribbean Drink Package Is Worth It?
A Royal Caribbean beverage package can be “worth it” in terms of the economic value, provided you meet certain criteria:
- Buy in advance (to receive the online discounts)
- Buy the right package
- Adult in same cabin wants similar package
- Sail cruise where most days/hours are on the ship or private island
- Want more than specialty coffee
- Want more than bottled water
- Drink most beverages outside of your room
- Aren’t diamond member or above who typically drinks 3 beverages or less and usually in the evening/dinner hours.
- Remember that you don’t have to double tip
When evaluating whether a drink package will be worth it to you, consider your goals. Are you seeking cost savings or convenience? If you’re primarily seeking cost savings, then use the information above to do the basic math that applies to your situation. If you are unlikely to drink more than 5 beverages each and every day, then you are unlikely to get full economic value from a Royal Caribbean drink package.
But other reasons may nevertheless motivate a purchase. For instance, pure convenience. Also, many folks love the freedom to experiment that comes with not having to worry about whether you’re wasting individual drinks.
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