Roaming Around the World

Travel Guides, Tips, and Tales

25 Best Tips: How to Get Cheap & Free Drinks on a Cruise Ship

October 12, 2022 By John Widmer 68 Comments

Indulging in many beverages can be so much fun when cruising. But in 2023, as drink prices on cruises hover around $10, those poolside piña coladas will add up before you know it. Splurging every night on costly cruise cocktails can be a blast. But it’ll also blast your onboard account before you can even say “mar-ga-ri-ta.”

During the past eight years, we used extreme budget travel tactics to drink our way across 100 countries and even cruise entirely around the world . After spending 237 days (8 months) as paying passengers on 21 different cruises, we’ve figured out the best strategies to drink lots on cruises while keeping our bar bill very low.

We’re now back on land to share all of our alcohol hacks, tips, and tricks on how to get cheap drinks on cruise lines such as Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Celebrity, Holland America, and more. Many of these strategies will even get you free drinks on a cruise!

As an example of our cheap cruise drink strategy, during a 14-day sailing on the Celebrity, we managed to keep our bar tab under $75 per person, while drinking quite well …and a lot! That’s less than $6 per day! During a transatlantic repositioning cruise with Royal Caribbean, we solely used a $100 onboard credit to drink throughout the cruise (for free) and we again drank very well during that 13-day voyage.

Pina colada on the pool deck of the Norwegian Star cruise ship to show how to get cheap drinks on a cruise

But it was on a two-week Norwegian Star cruise, that we scored unlimited drinks for free the entire cruise! How did we pull that off?

This article details tactics like how to get hooked up with a free beverage package and the truth about sneaking booze onto a cruise. But let’s play by the rules. As such, happy hours can make for happy cruisers! And knowing when the free cocktails are served is even better! Yes, many cruises regularly give passengers unlimited free drinks for short periods for those in the know. Cheers to that! 🍻

Creating your own mini-bar is another fun drinking cruise hack we regularly employ. And for those who want better coffee without paying inflated specialty coffee prices, we show how to be your own barista! Actually, there are plenty of free non-alcoholic drinks to enjoy on a cruise. Yet cruisers looking for booze will find plenty of alcohol hacks to get cheap cruise drinks all throughout this post.

So without further ado, here are 25 of our best cruise tips and hacks to get cheap (and free) drinks on a cruise. Let the party begin! 🍹

champagne and other free drinks on a cruise

1) Exploit Cruise Ship Happy Hours

Celebrity Cruises Social Hour has 3 dollar draft beer, 4 dollar wine, and 5 dollar cocktails and can be a great way to get cheap drinks on a cruise ship

Sometimes cruise happy hours are only subtly advertised. Passengers must be observant and seek out these money-saving cruise drink deals. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for happy hour promotions on tabletop signs at cruise bars.

Cruise happy hours are limited to specific bars and specific times

Know that cruise happy hours vary greatly by cruise line, ship, and even each sailing. Cruise happy hours change constantly. Cruise happy hours even change from bar to bar on the same ship.

Despite ongoing changes, here are each cruise line’s happy hours :

  • Carnival : Known to offer happy hour with half-off cocktails and beer at specific times at particular bars (e.g., Red Frog Pub, casino bar) on certain days only (often embarkation days and port days).
  • Celebrity : Previously offered two happy hours with greatly reduced-priced cocktails, wine, and beer. Although Celebrity’s happy hour is now focused on free drinks for Elite Captain’s Club members 5:00-7:00, occasional happy hours can still be found throughout some ships.
  • Disney Cruise Line : Typically has several happy hours nightly at specific bars with up to half-off drinks.
  • Holland America : Typically has two happy hours (e.g., 4:00-6:00, 10:00-midnight) with buy one drink, get one half-off (has replaced buy-one-get-one for $1/$2 happy hour)
  • Norwegian : No regular happy hour on NCL, but sporadic BOGO happy hours have been found at specific bars, only on some ships.
  • MSC : No regular happy hours across MSC cruise line, but in the past BOGO drink deals have been spotted at specific bars (e.g., Sports Bar) on certain ships.
  • Princess Cruises : Formerly offered BOGO happy hours but this has been discontinued.
  • Royal Caribbean : No regular happy hours on most bars, but specific bars on some RCL ships do offer happy hours such as Buy-One-Get-One drinks in late afternoons at low-traffic bars.
  • Virgin Voyages : No known happy hours.

💡 Tip: Plan around two happy hours

When you find cruise bars that have two nightly happy hours, plan your drinking wisely to maximize your onboard budget during these two happy hour periods. For example, it is fairly common to find happy hours during 4:00-6:00 and again from 10:00-midnight. So be sure to hit the bar and drink up during these cruise happy hours, particularly if it’s BOGO or half-off drinks. Then use our subsequent cruise drinking tips to drink economically during the four-hour gap between 6:00-10:00.

In addition to the planned cruise happy hours, some lines, such as Carnival, have been known to just announce drink deals spontaneously on party nights. Listen up and you may hear the DJ announce $1 beers! It’s happened to us before and we stocked up, which leads us to our next cheap cruise drink tip!

2) Stock Up for Later During the Best Cruise Drink Promos

If beer prices are slashed for happy hour, during a big promotion, or at a free drink event, then consider ordering some unopened beers to stash them for a later time. Take those inexpensive beers back to your cabin and put them in the mini-fridge. Doing so will enable you to enjoy those discounted (or free) beers poolside the next day!

When ordering, kindly ask the bartender not to open the beer. Occasionally a bartender may insist on opening it. If that’s so, order a 16 oz. aluminum bottles with twist-off caps. Those beer bottles can be easily resealed. So during price drops and or complimentary drink soirées, stock up!

But typically bartenders have no issue with passengers buying several unopened beers during a promotion. In fact, on a Holland America cruise when a 2-for-1 craft beer promotion came up, a bartender offered to send an entire case of discounted beers to our stateroom! We did. This brought the price-per-beer down to $2.98, which is even cheaper than buying those same beers at a bar on land!

Holland America happy hour beer promotion 2-for-1 craft beers

Cruise loyalty members may also be invited to events with complimentary drinks and high-tiered members even get access to nightly complimentary happy hours on some cruise lines. But since the timing is limited, this can be another situation to take a beer or two to-go, to enjoy later.

Lastly, rare circumstances may call for free drinks onboard, which can be another consideration to snag some free beers for later. For example, on another HAL cruise, we took, the weather had canceled a planned port call. So the captain actually gave all passengers a complimentary happy hour as a nice gesture to disappointed passengers. If something like this ever happens during your sailing, it can be an excellent time to stock up on a few free beers!

3) Attend Cruise Drink Tasting Events

Wine tastings, cocktail tastings, martini tastings, and even beer tastings can be some of the best drink deals at sea. Personally, it’s our favorite tip to partake in for cheap drinks on a cruise.

These aren’t free tastings (we’ll show you where to get those later). Drink tasting events are typically paid activities to try several cocktails during a fun and informative demonstration that can last about a half hour or so. And they often yield excellent value!

🤓 Let’s do the math! Specialty drinks, like creative martinis, typically cost $15 (or more), plus gratuity. So five fancy cocktails could easily cost a cruiser $90. These tasting events on cruises vary in cost, but are often priced around $25, giving half-pours or sometimes even full-sized pours.

Often with cocktail or martini tasting they give about 4-6 ounces tasting, which is a half-sized cocktail. So that’s an okay-ish value, equating to 2.5 cocktails for $25. For comparison, three of these same cocktails would otherwise cost $53 when priced at $15 +gratuities.

Yet occasionally at tasting events, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by receiving full-sized drinks! We’ve found that drink tastings on NCL (Norwegian Cruise Line) are of particularly good value, as they’ve poured some large and strong drinks. Norwegian usually does martini tastings, margarita tastings, beer tastings, and wine tastings during their regular cruises.

Five good cocktails on an NCL would easily set you back around $100. So enjoying them at a tasting event for $25 is excellent value.

Drink flight sampler celebrity eclipse molecular bar demonstrating how tasting events can be a great way to get cheap drinks on a cruise ship

If you don’t want to drink all five drinks, consider attending with a partner/friend and sharing the experience . These events are usually charged by the pour, not by the person.

These tasting events aren’t just good value, you get to try a variety of different cocktails you may have never thought to try before. Drink-tasting events are also a lot of fun and a great way to make friends during a cruise. We’ve even learned some drink recipes that we now use back home.

Keep an eye out for alcohol tastings in the daily itineraries. When you see them, reserve a spot and you may discover your favorite new libation, all while being mindful of your drink budget.

Prohibition drink menu on Norwegian Bliss

4) Why Never Order Wine By the Glass on a Cruise

Never ever order by the glass on a cruise, even if you’re only going to have one glass of wine with dinner. Here’s why: if you order a bottle of wine and don’t finish it, your server will gladly re-cork it for you so that you can enjoy the rest of that bottle on another night, at no additional charge. Also, most cruise ships even permit the server to send what’s left of the bottle to another bar or even to your stateroom.

As is the case with any land-based restaurant, wine by the bottle on cruise ships offers significant savings compared to ordering by the glass. So as long as you’re able to finish an entire bottle during the length of your entire cruise, there’s really no reason to order by the glass.

🤓 Let’s do the math! Glasses of wine priced at $7 may seem like a good deal, but it’ll add up to $42 (plus gratuities) over the course of six glasses. That’s over $50! On our last cruise, the $7-per-glass wine was priced at $29-per-bottle. So ordering the bottle will ultimately get you that same wine for far less money. Just finish the bottle another night or whenever you’re ready.

Drinking wine on Norwegian Bliss cruise from wine package

5) Wine Drinkers Should Buy a Wine Package to Save

Most all cruise lines offer wine packages in which you commit to a certain number of bottles throughout your sailing, at a reduced price. Typically the more wine you commit to, the greater the price reduction. So try to estimate how much wine you’ll go through on the front end of the cruise, which will lessen the blow to your onboard account by departure day.

You can often purchase these wine packages before you set sail. Buying these packages online before your cruise usually gives a slightly bigger discount. For example, Celebrity offers a Taste of the Vineyards package online with either 3, 5, or 7 bottles. The 3-bottle package starts at $109. Look online or ask your booking agent. Alternatively, inquire about these wine packages at the ship’s wine bar.

If you’re going on a 7-day cruise and you think you may share one bottle of wine each night for dinner, then it would make sense to order a 7-bottle package for nice savings!

🤓 Let’s do the math! Below is an example of the Holland America wine packages we found during a recent cruise. Their rates start at $119 for a four-bottle package. Those particular bottles were priced at $35-$40 individually. So you would save $20-$40 by purchasing this package instead of buying the wines individually. If you know, you’re definitely going to be drinking these wines, it certainly would prove advantageous to buy the wine package.

wine packages on a holland America cruise

6) Find Cheap Drinks in Port

If you have an extra hour or two to burn while in port, skip the sugary overpriced drinks at Señor Frogs and Fat Tuesday. Instead, find a cozy local bar a little further away from the port to throw back a few. Not only will you have a more authentic travel experience with local flavor, but you also may find local prices!

Drink your Budwiesers and Heinekens once you’re back home or on the ship. Instead, take the opportunity on shore to explore a local beer or spirit.

We’ve found there to be some surprisingly tasty brews popping up all around the world. Many popular Caribbean and Central American cruise destinations even have local brewpubs near cruise ports.

Also, be aware that many places around the world don’t have open container laws like the US. This means you can go into a local convenience store, and get a cold beer to enjoy while relaxing on the beach, touring the city streets, or simply walking back to the ship while you sip .

Whatever you’re able to sip on while ashore will almost certainly be better priced than on the ship and likely more interesting too. So drink up!

Local beers and drinks found in port are much cheaper than on the cruise

💡 Tip: How to know if open containers are tolerated in port . Many countries officially have open container laws, but they are completely unenforced in popular cruise ports. The easiest way to know whether drinking alcohol in public is tolerated is if the cashier of a convenience store has a bottle opener at the counter .

If you see a bottle opener, it’s a clear indication it’s acceptable to drink on the streets while in port. So use it to pop open a beer. The best part is that all of these local beers while in port will be at a fraction of the cost compared to the cruise ship’s pricey drinks.

Get to know the local drinks in an area you’re visiting ! Local wine found ashore throughout a Mediterranean cruise is not only delicious but can be surprisingly inexpensive. That’s the same for rum throughout the Caribbean. And let’s not forget about all the yummy tropical cocktails found all throughout many of the world’s most popular island cruise ports.

Our favorite local drink to get is painkillers in the Virgin Islands! Although we’ll always seek out sky juice whenever porting in Nassau. Rum punch is a must in Jamacia, just as margaritas are obligatory in Mexico. Yet don’t overlook the panty ripper in Belize. There are so many delicious cocktails to explore throughout the Caribbean and elsewhere!

enjoying a painkiller drink while in port in the Virgin Islands

7) Go on Inexpensive Shore Excursions that Include All Your Alcohol

Instead of necking a bottle of beer in the streets, book a tasting tour, a booze cruise, or an all-inclusive beach pass while in port. Use a tour agency independent from the cruise line to save money on shore excursions.

We always use and recommend Viator shore excursions since they tend to be nearly half the cost of the cruise line’s excursions. Their ports of call tours include a worry-free guarantee promise to get you back to the ship. And if your cruise has to cancel a port for any reason, it’s nice to know that they automatically provide a full refund.

Where are you cruising to? Here are just a few booze-filled shore excursions in some of the most popular Caribbean cruise ports:

🇲🇽 Cozumel, Mexico Drinking Excursions:

  • Mr. Sancho’s Beach Club   is the hottest drink ticket in Cozumel and is such incredible value! For the price of about five drinks on a cruise ship, this ticket gets you an all-day pass to this white-sand beach resort that includes a full open bar with unlimited drinks ! The day pass also includes a complete lunch menu, beach loungers, and even ocean kayaking along Cozumel’s coastline! But best of all, there’s a swim-up bar, so you don’t even have to leave the pool to get your next margarita. Drink up! ⚠️ Beware : this one regularly sells out in advance. Check availability now for your travel dates.
  • Cozumel Coral Reef Snorkeling by Glass Bottom Boat : Although drinking is not the main activity, this snorkeling tour provides complimentary beers after getting out of the water. This high-rated tour is well-priced to pack in a boat ride, snorkeling, and cervezas ! Check availability .

🇧🇸 Nassau, Bahamas  Drinking Excursions:

  • Rum Reggae and Rhythms Tour looks like so much fun and has so many excellent reviews to vouch for it. This tour the also the least expensive booze-filled tour we’ve seen in the Bahamas, and you’ll have to sip slowly while venturing out to a number of local Nassau drinking spots. Check availability .
  • Nassau Food Tasting and Cultural Walking Tour focuses more on local Bahamian food. Yet it also includes some rum cocktails along the way. This tour gets great reviews and would be a fun way to taste Nassau while enjoying a few drinks along the way. Check prices .

🇰🇾 Cayman Islands Drinking Excursions:

  • Rum & Beer Tour with Lunch : This is our top pick for the Cayman Islands, as this 3-hour tour packs a rum distillery, a rum cake factory, and a local lunch with local craft beers. It seems that there’s plenty of rum and beer to try all along the way so you definitely won’t return to the ship sober. Book now .

🇻🇮 St Thomas, US Virgin Islands Drinking Excursions

  • Rum & Food Tour : This tour explores St Thomas’s rum history, as it includes two rum drinks, but also puts focus on the island’s local food scene. Perhaps best of all, you’ll learn how to make the signature drink of the Virgin Islands – the Pain Killer. And then drink it, of course. Sooo good! Check prices .

🇸🇽 St Maarten Drinking Excursions

  • Orient & Maho Beach : If you’re going to visit St Maarten’s two most famous beaches, be sure to choose a tour that includes cold beer and delicious rum punch along the way. This fun tour does and is only $40 !
  • Topper Rhum Distillery Tour : After touring this famed distillery, you visit the tasting bar for unlimited rum samples and even the opportunity to bottle your own rum! It’s another bargain-priced tour that gets rave reviews.

Other Boozy Shore Excursions Around the World

The above-listed shore excursions are only a few of the vast variety of excursions Viator has available on its tour booking site. You can find these boozy shore excursions all over the world, from a whale watching & brewery tour in Alaska to a vineyard excursion in Northern Italy. Search Viator excursions for your ports of call .

8) How to Get Cheap Booze in Your Cabin on the Final Night

Can you buy a bottle of liquor on a cruise ship?

Yes, there are two ways to buy a bottle of alcohol on a cruise ship:

  • Buy a bottle from the duty-free liquor store on the cruise, but they hold it
  • Order a bottle of liquor to your stateroom anytime (more info in the next tip, #9)

First, let’s discuss buying a bottle from the liquor store on a cruise. Most all cruise ships have duty-free liquor stores with a vast assortment of alcohol at decent prices. However, the cruise ship liquor store will not allow you to take those bottles back to consume in your cabin …that is, until the last night.

On the final afternoon of your cruise, any bottles that you purchased while ashore or from the cruise ship’s liquor store will be delivered directly to your stateroom.

So, at some point during your cruise, go to the duty-free liquor store onboard and buy a bottle if you want to use it on the final night to cut loose and have a few extra cheap drinks. This tax-free liquor is well-priced and you may even catch an additional sale on alcohol from time to time.

Also on the final evening of the cruise, the duty-free store will, in fact, allow you to walk out of the shop with any liquor you purchase. On one cruise, we noticed that an entire liter bottle of vodka at the duty-free shop was actually priced less than two shots of the exact same vodka if you were to purchase it at the bar.

Additionally,  any alcohol purchased while in port will also be delivered to your stateroom on the final day of your cruise. So don’t hesitate to buy that delicious Jamaican rum or snag that bottle of tequila while docked in Cozumel. When you return to the cruise ship, you can easily check the bottle with security. Then once the last night of your cruise rolls around, any bottles that you’ve purchased ashore will be delivered to your room.

liquor bought in port can be brought back to cruise ship and enjoyed on final night

Also, if you happen to be in port on the final day of a cruise itinerary, most cruise ships will actually permit you to bring any liquor purchases right back on board with you. No sneaky tactics are required. Just walk right on and put that bottle through the X-ray machine. But again, this tends to only be allowed when bringing liquor back aboard a cruise that has a port call on the final day of a cruise itinerary.

So on your last night of a cruise, have a party in your stateroom and enjoy! Just be sure to schedule a late disembarkation time the next day. 🤪

Tip for back-to-back cruise cruisers only : If you happen to be on a back-to-back cruise (consecutive cruises on the same ship) and are remaining in the same stateroom, we’ve discovered a loophole that helps to procure cheap drinks on a cruise. On the final night of your first cruise segment, you will receive your purchased liquor in your stateroom. It’s then available to enjoy on your subsequent cruise! While we haven’t seen any official policy that permits this practice, it’s worked for us every time we’ve taken back-to-back cruises.

9) Ordering Bottle Service in Your Stateroom Is a Good Deal

The previous cruise alcohol tip is great for a cheap bottle of liquor on the final cruise night of a cruise. But what about the rest of the cruise? Here’s how to legally buy a bottle of alcohol on a cruise ship that you can actually consume on the ship, anytime.

Most cruise lines offer standard 750-ml bottles of liquor that they’ll deliver to your room for a modest price. They’ll set it all up nicely with glasses and ice for you to use throughout your cruise. Sometimes, they’ll even throw in some free mixers too! The price of these liquor bottles with set-up ranges around $40-$60 , depending on the cruise line and your liquor preference.

While $50 for a bottle of liquor is much more than you’d pay for it at your local liquor store, the cost still comes out to being much less expensive than you would pay for several drinks at the bar on a cruise.

tequila bottle in cruise was set up as bottle service as a way to get cheap drinks on a cruise

🤓 Let’s do the math on bottle service on a cruise

On a recent cruise aboard the Holland America Koningsdam, the cruise offered a Gin & Tonic package that includes a bottle of Bombay gin and three cans of tonic water for $46.25 + 15% service charge for a grand total of $53.19.

That $53 will yield at least 16 delicious gin & tonics that can be made and enjoyed right from the comfort of the stateroom throughout the entire cruise. So this comes out to about $3.31 per drink.

Meanwhile at the Koningsdam’s bars, that same Bombay gin and tonic comes to $8.34, after the 15% service fee. It would cost over $133 at the bar for 16 gin & tonics. So buying the bottle set-up for your stateroom ultimately results in a massive $80 savings!

Here’s the breakdown: $133 for 16 gin & tonics at the bar -$53 for 16 gin & tonics with bottle service in your stateroom =$80 in savings

Best of all, this bottle service set-up is a totally legal and acceptable way to have booze in your stateroom without having to sneak it on the ship! And with bottles starting at $40, it’s still semi-affordable too. If you’re a heavy cocktail drinker, ordering bottles of liquor to your cabin can really make financial sense. Use this tactic to help ease your onboard account in between drinks at the bar.

Ordering a bottle of alcohol to your room is also far more economical than tapping into a cruise’s minibar set-up. Unless you’re only going to have a drink or two, steer clear of the expensive mini-bar if you’re trying to keep your cruise budget to a minimum. Ordering a bottle of alcohol to your cruise stateroom will prove more economical.

Additionally, most cruise lines (excluding Carnival and NCL) do permit you to bring your own soda on board. So if you plan ahead, you can buy a $40 bottle of liquor on the ship and then use your own mixers that you’ve brought. There’s certainly no need to tap into the expensive minibar sodas!

10) Look for the Captain’s Toast to Get Free Drinks!

If you notice any event in the daily itinerary titled something like “Captain’s Toast” or “Captain’s Reception,” this always means there will be servers running around with trays full of complimentary cocktails, wine, and/or champagne . Don’t miss it!

Typically these events will last at least a half hour. So arrive promptly to get your fill of free drinks!

Hang out, find a nice cozy spot where the drink servers are coming out of, and then cheers to the captain!

Heather getting free champagne from a server

11) Play to Win Free Alcohol on a Cruise

There are always a number of contests and competitions held on board cruise ships. You’ll find anything from karaoke to the newlywed game to craft competitions. Smaller activities like daily trivia may only reward winners with a trinket like a keychain. But the larger gameshow-style events dole out much better prizes, and almost always give away free bottles of champagne !

For example, the Newlywed game show (AKA, Love & Marriage) always rewards participants with a free bottle of bubbly. This game is played across every cruise we’ve been on and even the losers have been rewarded with champagne. Really, they’re rewarding participants for embarrassing themselves on stage. And what better reward than a free bottle of champagne on a cruise?

free champagne provided for winning a cruise game

We’ve also seen champagne be rewarded for progressive trivia competitions and virtually every gameshow-style event requiring participants to get up on stage. So participate and bring your A-game. Then you just might get rewarded with oh-so-precious free booze on a cruise!

Once you’re gifted a bottle of sparkling wine from the cruise director, you’re welcome to drink it anywhere on the ship without a corkage fee. Personally, we’ve won a few times and have brought our free bottles, to be uncorked (for free) in the main dining room and to sip on poolside.

Drinking free champagne won during a game on a cruise

12) Be a Loyal Cruiser to Get Rewarded with Free Drinks

If you’ve come back on the same cruise line for a second cruise, cruise lines often reward you with alcohol! But that’s only if you’ve joined their loyalty club, which is totally free to do! So always be sure to join the loyalty program with every cruise line you ever go on.

Even with the lowest loyalty tier, most cruise lines will at least invite passengers to a complimentary cocktail party full of free drinks. Cruise a few more times on that same cruise line and you may find complimentary happy hours every single night for higher-tier loyalty members!

Cruise lines are quite fond of treating their loyal patrons with booze. So if this is your second or greater instance of cruising with the same cruise line, then be sure to check what alcohol perks you may be entitled to and take full advantage of your loyalty freebies.

Free champagne during captains club reception on Celebrity cruise ship

We’ve found that Royal Caribbean and Celebrity have some particularly enticing loyalty perks for cruisers who enjoy free drinks! In addition to exclusive parties with free drinks, Celebrity rewards their Elite Captain Club members with a daily cocktail hour with unlimited free drinks from 5:00-7:00 at most bars and lounges. Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean rewards Diamond members of the Crown & Anchor Society by loading free drink tickets onto their SeaPass card.

So it can really pay off for drinkers to be loyal to those lines!

Don’t have a loyalty status? Make friends! Not everyone onboard the cruise may be as big of a drinker as you are. Some high-ranking loyalty members may have leftover drink tickets they’re just going to let go to waste. So they are often happy to give them away to anyone who can use them. Sometimes these drink tickets are non-transferable, but this tends to be widely unenforced on cruise lines we’ve sailed on.

13) Free Liquor Tastings on a Cruise!

Most all cruises have a duty-free liquor store. On at least one night (often multiple nights), the liquor store will sample some of their best liquors as a way to entice you to buy a bottle while on board.

Usually, these free liquor tastings tend to occur earlier on a cruise’s itinerary, such as the first or second night. Check the daily guide for times, then stroll on by for your free shot (err, I mean a sample of liquor).

Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas advertisement for free liquor tasting

14) Enjoy Free Champagne at the Art Auction

If you’d like to sip on a complimentary glass of champagne, then head on over to the art gallery. Nearly all ships will have multiple art auctions during the cruise, which usually extends a free glass of sparkling wine . You’re not required to bid. So just sit back, learn something about the art, and watch others fight for those limited-release prints.

It can be an entertaining experience. But if you get bored, there’s no shame in making a quiet exit. So perhaps be sure to pick an aisle seat in case you do want to leave early.

Drinking a glass of free champagne from cruise art auction

15) Beer Drinkers Should Buy Buckets of Beer to Save

Are you heading to the pool and want to kick back a few beers? Buy a bucket of five beers, which most cruises usually offer for the cost of four. It’s a win-win by saving the server a few trips to deliver your beer while saving you a few bucks.

Beer buckets may not be the best drink deal out on the high seas, but it still saves the $6-$7 cost of a bottle of beer. Even if you’re not planning to drink all of those beers in one sitting, it can be worth buying the bucket to bring whatever is left back to your cabin to put on ice or in the mini-fridge.

16) Order the Drink of the Day for a Discounted Cruise Cocktail

A Pina Colada on a cruise ship

Many cruise lines have a specialty “drink of the day” which will usually save you $1-$3 off the regular price. Sure, it’s not as great of a deal as a Buy-One-Get-One happy hour, but the drink of the day deals last the entire day.

Waking up to find out the “daily drink” happens to be your favorite can be a wonderful surprise to take full advantage of.

An additional bonus to the daily drink specials is that you may even get a souvenir cup which can entail even further discounts when getting a refill. The drink of the day is usually outlined in the daily cruise newsletter.

17) Legally Bring Your Own Wine on a Cruise

Many cruise lines actually permit you to bring your own wine and champagne aboard the cruise ship. So take advantage of these bring-your-own-wine allowances!

But wine allowances can vary greatly by the cruise line. Some cruise lines forbid it altogether. Other cruise lines will allow you to bring wine but charge a fee per bottle, even if it’s opened in a private space like your stateroom. Yet thankfully most major cruise lines are gracious enough to allow passengers to bring a bottle of wine or two. But you need to know the rules.

Usually, the wine allowance is one 750 ml bottle per person or two 750 ml bottles per stateroom. Most cruise lines’ alcohol policies indicate that these wine bottles must be placed in your carry-on luggage only and can only be brought onto the ship on embarkation day.

Each cruise line’s wine allowance policy is slightly different and these beverage policies do change occasionally. So before you pack a few bottles of wine, be sure to check your cruise line’s official alcohol policy to confirm.

Wine allowance policy by cruise line:

  • Carniva l: 🍾 1 bottle per person (source: Carnival Liquor & Beverage )
  • Celebrity : 🍾 2 bottles per guest (source: Celebrity Alcohol Policy )
  • Disney : 🍾 2 bottles per person (source: Disney: Carrying Alcohol Onboard )
  • Holland America : 💲 Fee of $20 per bottle (source: Holland America FAQs )
  • MSC : ❌ Not allowed (source: MSC Conditions of Carriage )
  • Norwegian : 💲 Fee of $15 per bottle (source: NCL Beverage Policy )
  • Princess : 🍾 1 bottle per person (source: Princess Pre-Cruise FAQ )
  • Royal Caribbean : 🍾 2 bottles per stateroom (source: RCI Onboard Alcohol Policy )
  • Virgin Voyages : 🍾 2 bottles per person (source: Virgin Help Articles )

A bottle of champagne was wine allowed onboard a Celebrity cruise, as permitted through the cruise alcohol policy

4 More Tips When Bringing Wine on a Cruise:

💡 17a) how to avoid the corkage fee in the main dining room.

Most cruise lines that permit you to bring wine onboard still charge a corkage fee if pouring that wine in the main dining room. These corkage fees vary by cruise line but typically range between $15-$25 per bottle.

Meanwhile, you can enjoy your own wine from your cabin at no charge whatsoever. Your stateroom attendant will happily deliver wine glasses to your room and will even deliver an ice bucket to chill champagne or white wine. This is complimentary, with no corkage fee on most cruise lines.

You may want to bring a corkscrew with you to open the wine. Stateroom attendants can usually track one down, but this has proven problematic for us on a few cruises. So consider screw-top wine bottles. Otherwise, it may be a wise idea to pack a cheap corkscrew.

But what if you want to have that glass of wine with your dinner without the expensive corkage fee? Then you can simply pour a glass of wine in your cabin to then enjoy it anywhere else on the ship.

Usually, the wine glasses delivered to your room are the same glasses being used in the bars and dining room. As such, no one will know (or care) that you poured your own glass of wine. So fill up your wine glass in your cabin and then take it to dinner, thereby avoiding a corkage fee. Often the maître d’ will even carry your glass of wine for you as you’re walked to your table.

Go ahead and make it a big pour. You may even be able to make one big glass last all the way until the dessert course.

Wine in the dining room can be brought for free when poured in your room to avoid the corkage fee

💡1 7b) The Best Wine to Take on a Cruise for Value

Generally speaking, the best wine to take on a cruise is whatever type of wine is most pleasing to your tastes. But if you’re really trying to get the most bang for your buck, bring some strong wine on your cruise . Many popular wines have a lower alcohol percentage of 11%-12%. For example, one of our favorite wines, Pinot Grigio, tends to have an alcohol content of about 11.5%, which is fairly low.

Champagnes and sparkling wines can be fun wine choices to take on a cruise, but their alcohol by volume often is around 12% or lower. Sparkling wines would be a bad choice to bring on a cruise if you’re trying to get your money’s worth in the few bottles of wine that you’re legally allowed to bring aboard the cruise.

Some of the best wine options that have higher alcohol that you can take on your cruise are: Shiraz or Zinfandel . Those two are stronger wines, often clocking in around 15% alcohol. Better yet, consider a dessert wine like port wine or sherry , each of which can run as high as about 20% alcohol by volume.

If you’re trying to drink cheap on a cruise, bringing these stronger wines will certainly help to stretch your alcohol a bit further.

bring your own wine on a cruise

💡1 7.3c) Bring Even More Wine Than the Limit

While many official cruise alcohol policies limit cruisers to two bottles per stateroom, we’ve found it can be possible to slip in an extra bottle, particularly when using multiple bags.

If you bring an extra bottle or two above what the cruise allows, then consider dividing your wine bottles into separate luggage. Cruise line security is likely not going to add up wine bottles that are in different bags being delivered to the same stateroom. So putting two bottles of wine in one suitcase and two in another could get four bottles to slip through to a stateroom.

Just know this is officially against the rules. But it regularly works.

Maybe you miscalculated and brought three bottles instead of two. Oops! Don’t worry about it, as there’s a fair chance it will go unnoticed.

💡 17d) How to Bring Your Own Beer on a Cruise Ship (Instead of Wine)

If you’re a beer drinker, you may want to know how to legally bring beer on a cruise (instead of wine). A few cruise lines do permit you to bring your own beer onboard, although it is rare. Disney is one of the only major cruise lines that allow passengers to bring their own beer on a cruise ship . Disney Cruise’s official policy permits passengers to carry on six beers per person. Thanks Mickey!

But most other cruise lines forbid passengers from bringing beer on a cruise ship, even though they allow wine. So here’s a hack for beer lovers to bring some beer on a cruise ship instead of wine.

Consider bringing a 750 ml bottle of craft beer on board . Such bottles often have the appearance of wine or champagne. So that has worked for us to bring a nice beer instead of an allowed wine bottle. (See adjacent image: the bottle on the left is beer).

These 750 ml bottles of beer have always been permitted on wine-allowing cruise ships we’ve sailed on, even though beer is technically against their official alcohol policy.

18) BYOB – How to Bring Alcohol on a Cruise: the Sneaky Way

Most cruise lines explicitly forbid passengers from bringing their own alcohol on cruise ships, as stated in their alcohol policies.

Still, cruise passengers have been known to sneak their own booze aboard cruises. We like to play by the rules and don’t particularly recommend sneaking liquor on a cruise ship. But we’d be remiss not to mention it as a strategy that passengers do use to achieve cheap drinks on a cruise.

cheap cruise with drinks

If you are going to smuggle some liquor aboard your next cruise, consider a cruise ship flask kit that is specifically made for the purpose of being undetected when going through cruise security. These nonmetallic pouches are purposely designed to let no air bubbles when pouring liquor into the devices, making them undetectable .

Many of these cruise flask kits have a good track record of success. For example, this Concealable and Reusable Cruise Flask Kit is currently the most popular alcohol smuggling device on Amazon and receives overwhelmingly positive reviews, with about 90%+ of reviewers, indicating it got past security. Check the most recent reviews .

What happens if you get caught sneaking alcohol onto a cruise ship?

The biggest realistic consequence is (1) embarrassment and (2) potential confiscation of the alcohol brought onto the cruise ship.

If you do get caught sneaking booze onto the cruise, typically cruise security will just remove the liquor and may even offer to hold it for you until the end of the cruise. If you’ve put a bottle of alcohol into your suitcase that security finds, the likely outcome is that your luggage won’t arrive in your room and you’ll have to go to security to get it straightened out. The cruise ship’s security may even offer to hold onto a bottle of liquor for a passenger who didn’t know the rules.

But bringing a bottle of liquor does run the risk of being confiscated. So if you’re going to try to bring a bottle of alcohol on a cruise ship, don’t bring any bottles that are valuable to you. Meanwhile, if you took sneaky tactics like putting alcohol in a mouthwash bottle, security will almost certainly confiscate it.

Many cruise lines’ official policies do indicate that passengers can actually be removed from the ship for bringing alcohol on a cruise ship. But we’ve never heard of that actually occurring in practice. A far more realistic consequence is delayed baggage and possibly confiscated liquor.

19) Enjoy These Free Non-Alcoholic Drinks on a Cruise

Often the only free beverage offered in the main dining room is tap water. Non-alcoholic drinks, such as sodas or specialty coffees, come with an added expense on most cruise lines. Yet those who know to ask, or know where to look, can get more than just a measly glass of ice water!

So what drinks are free on a cruise ? It should be obvious at the buffets that juices and other flat drinks are provided complimentary. Yet many cruisers don’t realize that they can also go to the main dining room and order complimentary iced tea and lemonade with their meals. It’s never offered. But unsweetened iced tea and lemonade are available for free in the main dining room during lunch and dinner on nearly all the major cruise lines.

Coffee, hot chocolate, and (hot) tea are also free drinks available on most cruise ships. In fact, cruises tend to have a very nice assortment of complimentary teas . They’re all there – Earl grey, English, herbal varieties, and more. Personally, we’ve found that an after-dinner mint tea pairs quite nicely with decadent chocolate desserts. Also, we love sipping on some chamomile tea before bedtime if we’re taking a night off from drinking.

So be sure to enjoy some of these non-alcoholic drinks for free.

Also, tap water is always free on onboard cruises and is completely fine to drink. But some people complain about the taste. So bring flavored water drops such as  Mio Water Enhancement  to turn that water into a flavorful drink. A 4-pack that has enough for 96 uses will cost less than buying 6 sodas on a cruise. So bring some flavored drops to add a little squirt to your water during lunchtime or at the pool.

20) Save on Specialty Coffees by Making Your Own for Free

Specialty coffee cruise hack: how to make your own cafe mocha for free by using hot chocolate packet, creamers, and coffee from the buffet

Don’t want to splurge the $5 on specialty coffee, but still looking for a little more flavor? Here’s our recipe to make a delicious cafe mocha :

  • Empty approximately ¾ packet of hot chocolate mix to a coffee mug.
  • Add 2 creamers.
  • Fill mug with coffee.
  • Enjoy an instant café mocha!

Sure, it may not be quite as good as a barista-made espresso-based drink. But this simple little cruise hack can save coffee drinkers about $35 over the course of a weeklong cruise, while still jazzing up a boring cuppa joe.

If your cruise has a 24-hour ice cream station, you can visit that and get even more creative with your coffee. To make your own caramel latte , jazz up a boring cup of coffee by adding some hot caramel. Heck, get some whip cream and sprinkles on top!

21) Bring Your Own Drinks to Stock Your Minibar

Most cruise lines permit you to bring your own sodas and other non-alcoholic beverages. Beverage policies vary by the cruise line on what drinks are permitted onboard.

So bring aboard some sodas or whatever you prefer. Then just ask your friendly stateroom attendant to empty out all of those expensive minibar drinks so that you can make use of the fridge. The mini bar offerings are usually overpriced and sometimes old. So just remove any temptation for overspending here and ask for these items to be removed. It’s not an uncommon request.

Once the fridge is clear, you’re free to chill down all of the beverages that you’ve brought onboard. You can use the empty minifridge to cool down:

  • on-sale (or free) beers you’ve snagged on the ship (refer to tip #2),
  • champagne you’ve won on the ship (refer to tip #11),
  • white wine you’ve legally brought on the ship (refer to tip #17),
  • booze you’ve snuck onto the ship (refer to tip #18), or
  • beer you’ve been permitted to bring back from port, which leads us to our next tip (refer to tip #22)!

empty mini fridge on cruise ship

22) Attempt Bringing Beer on Cruise from Port Calls

Most cruise line policies strictly forbid passengers from bringing any alcohol back to the ship from port. This means alcohol, including beer, is technically not permitted to be brought back on the cruise.

But we’ve found that while security is typically strict on enforcing this rule with hard spirits, many ships overlook passengers bringing beer back onboard. To find out if our ship has lax rules on bringing beers back from port, we typically experiment with attempting to bring on a few cans during the first port day on our cruise itinerary.

We’re never sneaky about this and don’t attempt to hide the beer. Rather, we run it through the X-ray machine in plain sight. Sometimes the beer will be flagged by security and stored until the final night of the cruise. In that case, we know it’s probably not worth attempting to bring beer back aboard when in subsequent ports.

But in many instances, security actually allows the beer to be carried on the cruise, no questions asked. For whatever reason, we’ve had more success with beer cans being accepted , rather than bottles.

So go ahead and give it a try! The worst-case outcome is that security will hold onto your beers for you until the final night of the cruise, as per most cruise lines’ alcohol policy. And you can still drink those beers on the final night of the cruise. So you really don’t have anything to lose by attempting to bring a few beers back aboard the ship with you. And you don’t have to be sneaky about it.

During our last Caribbean cruise, security was lenient enough to allow us to bring beer back onto the ship from every port we visited. We gladly brought back our hauls to chill in our mini-fridge and hence have inexpensive local beers to enjoy back on the cruise ship.

cruise mini fridge stocked with local beers smuggled aboard the ship

23) How to Determine If a Cruise Drink Package Is Worth It

The above cheap cruise drink hacks and tips will help keep your bar bill low on your next sailing. But you’ll certainly need to put in some effort and strategizing to accomplish that. If you instead just want to enjoy your vacation and not have to worry about sneaky tactics or a growing bar bill, then a drink package may be the way to go. And they are often great value!

So this cheap cruise drink tip helps to carefully break down whether the drink package may be worth it for you.

These unlimited drink packages can seem expensive on the surface, but all-you-care-to-drink alcohol packages can actually be fantastic value for those who tend to tip back a few while cruising. Cruise drink packages are a trend in the cruising industry that cruise lines like to promote. Now Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, most Norwegian ships, and many Carnival ships offer some sort of alcohol drink package.

Each cruise drink package varies on exactly what alcohol is included. But most of these cruise drink packages tend to be generous in their offerings, even including top-shelf liquors. Some of the cruise drink packages further include specialty coffees, soft drinks, and other non-alcoholic drinks to help you recover the next day.

But cruise drink packages can be costly. So how much is a cruise’s beverage package?

Drink package prices vary greatly among the cruise lines and the specific package. Cruise beverage packages range in price from about $38 (MSC Easy) to $165.60 (NCL Premium) per day. Yet drink package pricing often tends to fall somewhere between $60-$80 per day.

Cruise drink package daily prices and policies:

  • Carnival CHEERS! : $59.95 +18% for 15 drinks per day, up to $20 each ( more info )
  • Celebrity Classic / Premium package : $69 / $84 +20% for unlimited drinks, up to $9 / $15 ( more info )
  • Disney Cruise Line : No drink package is offered
  • Holland America Signature / Elite : $54.95 / $59.99 +18% for 15 drinks, up to $11 / $15 (more info)
  • Princess Plus / Premiere : $59.99 / 79.99 +18% for 15 drinks, up to $12 / $18 ( more info )
  • MSC Easy / Easy Plus / Premium : $38 / $51 / $71 for unlimited drinks, select / $9 / $15 ( more info )
  • Norwegian Unlimited / Premium :  $109 / $138 +20% for unlimited drinks, up to $15 / nearly all ( more info )
  • Royal Caribbean Deluxe : $63-$89 for unlimited drinks, up to $13 ( more info )
  • Virgin Voyages : No traditional beverage package, but has run promos that include generous bar tabs (more info)

Note: above prices are current as of October 2022 and reflect online prices purchased prior to sailing.

When deciding on a drink package, understand that cruise beverage packages do tend to have restrictions. For instance, while some drink packages are truly unlimited; Carnival, HAL, and Princess limit their drink packages to 15 drinks per day.

Also, understand that you must purchase a drink package for the entire length of the cruise . No cruise lines allow purchasing a drink package for certain days only.

Also, it’s standard across all the lines that sharing a drink package is not allowed . Typically all adults in the same stateroom must all be on a drink package. To be clear, it’s not allowed for couples in the same cabin to share one drink package.

Is there a way to cheat a cruise drink package? It may be possible to discretely slip a friend a drink. But if you do this, it violates the terms of the drink package and risks your beverage package being revoked. So doing so may not be worth the risk.

Is a Cruise Drink Package Worth It?

Often the hefty cost of a drink package is not worth the expense. But it certainly can be!

We recommend splurging on drink packages in the following instances :

  • moderate and heavy drinkers : your bar bill will be higher than the cost of a drink package.
  • shorter cruise itineraries : fewer nights = less total expense.
  • cruises with many sea days and/or short port calls : more time on the ship means more time you’re using the drink package.
  • when ports include private islands : some cruise lines allow drink packages to be used at bars on their private islands.
  • when the cost of a drink package is within your budget and think you might enjoy 6+ drinks daily .

Simply consider how much you may drink on the cruise and then do the math.

For those who may drink an average of at least 6+ drinks or so each day, cruise beverage packages will likely result in significant savings. An associated benefit is simply not having to be concerned about your growing bar tab on a cruise. While cruise drink packages are never cheap, the expense can be worth it and can ultimately save.

🤓 Let’s do the math! Let’s use Carnival for example, which currently (2022) promotes its CHEERS drink package for: $59.95 per day + 18% gratuities = $70.74 daily *7 days of the cruise = $495.19 *2 people per stateroom = $990.38 total cost of CHEERS! drink package on a 7-day Carnival cruise.

Spending nearly $1,000 for the privilege of 15 daily drinks may seem pricey, particularly for budget-conscious passengers. And it is! For those who are only going to have a few drinks per day, stay away from drink packages. It won’t be worth it.

Yet for those who want to enjoy 6-8 (or more) drinks each day throughout the voyage, a cruise drink package can really make financial sense. You’ll likely save yourself from spending even more than that if you were to purchase those drinks a la carte.

Let’s consider what an average of eight drinks per day would cost on a 7-day Carnival without the drink package : $15 drinks + 18% gratuity = $17.70 per drink *8 drinks per day = $141.60 per day *7 days of the cruise = $991.20 *2 people in the stateroom = disembarking with a $1,982.40 bar tab !

In the above example, a couple could have saved about $1,000 by opting for a beverage package before the cruise began.

Considering that Carnival’s CHEERS! beverage package allows passengers to purchase drinks up to $20, you can actually break even just by simply drinking 3-4 higher-priced drinks each day .

cruise drink packages can be worth if ordering several expensive martinis

Shorter Cruises Have a More Reasonable Drink Package Total Costs

While a $1,000 beverage package may still seem out of reach, it must be realized this is over the course of a hypothetical seven-day cruise. Shorter cruises will incur a far more reasonable expense .

For instance, a beverage package during a quick 3-day Bahamas cruise on Carnival would come out to a grand total of $212.22 per person for a fun 3-day booze cruise. That’s a lot easier to swallow!

Beware How Unexpected Cruise Drinks Quickly Add Up

Moderate drinkers may think that having 6+ drinks in a day is excessive . But new cruisers may not realize how quickly those drinks add up. Consider that you may enjoy a few beers by the pool, then a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, a cocktail at the show, and then a few more drinks at the dance party on the lido deck. You’re on vacation!

The many cruise bars can be all-too-convenient. The party atmosphere may be more tempting than anticipated to knock back a few drinks. You may be surprised how quickly all those wonderful cruise drinks flow onto your onboard account.

More Time at Sea Means More Time to Drink

Drink packages can provide even greater value on cruises with more sea days compared to cruises that are more port-intensive. When you have many full days on the ship, you’ll have more opportunities and time to hit the bars.

Conversely, if you’re on an itinerary that calls on a port every day, with long hours, you’ll have less time at the ship’s bar to take advantage of a drink package. In this case, enjoy local drinks in port and perhaps forgo the cruise’s drink package.

The exception to this is if you’re visiting a cruise line’s private island.

Drinks Packages Can Provide Great Value When Allowed on Cruise Lines’ Private Islands

Sometimes a cruise’s drink package extends its use to the cruise line’s private island . Having all your drinks included on the private island can be a huge incentive to get the drink package. Just check to see if your cruise allows this (below).

Cruise line drink package policy at private islands:

  • ✅ MSC allows their drink package to be used across Ocean Cay Marine Reserve
  • ✅ Norwegian allows their drink package to be used throughout Great Stirrup Cay
  • ✅ Princess does allow their drink packages to be used at Princess Cays
  • ✅ Royal Caribbean and Celebrity allows their drink package to be used at Perfect Day at Coco Cay and Labadee, Haiti
  • ❌ Carnival and Holland America do NOT allow their drink package to be used at Half Moon Cay

Drinks like this one at a bar on MSC's private island are included with the drink pacakge

24) Buy Your Beverage Package Online Before Your Cruise to Save More

Most cruise lines offer a discounted rate, usually saving cruisers $5-$10 per day when the beverage package is purchased in advance. So buy online in advance of your cruise, or expect to pay a bit more if purchased once on the ship.

drinks at cruise bar using the unlimited beverage package on a cruise to for cheap drinks

If cruising is just one big party to you, the investment of a beverage package can pay dividends. Do the math. Consider the splurge. If you decide to buy a drink package, enjoy it to the fullest! Just drink responsibly and stay afloat!

25)  Get a Cruise Beverage Package Included for Free!

Sometimes cruise lines will run special deals and offer these all-you-can-drink packages for free as an incentive for you to book the cruise. That is how we drank for free when we sailed on a Norwegian cruise on two different occasions. It was fantastic! It was an open bar the entire cruise and nearly the entire drink menu was included, even most top-shelf brands!

Search around to find cruise deals that include the unlimited beverage package. We tend to see such promos offered by Norwegian and Celebrity most often. Call a good travel agent who can let you know which cruise lines may be currently running such a beverage package promotion.

Just beware that these “free drink packages” sometimes require passengers to pay an extra gratuity charge for the bar service. Depending on the cruise line, this drink gratuity cost may range from $11 (Carnival) to $20 (Norwegian) per person, per day. Even if paying $20 per day for the gratuities on a “free” drink package, that’s still a heck of a deal for all-you-can-drink top-shelf alcohol!

Have Cheap Drinks on a Cruise but Don’t Miss Out on the Fun

Part of the fun of drinking on a cruise is the social element, hanging out at the numerous bars, lounges, and clubs on these awesome ships. The nightly parties can be a blast. Drunken karaoke sessions are hilarious. Late-night clubs can get interesting.

Yet some of the aforementioned cruise tips for cheap drinks may confine passengers to drinking in their staterooms. That’s boring. You’re on a cruise – go out and have fun !

Be sure to utilize those cruise happy hours, daily drink specials, tasting activities, and beverage package deals in order to truly make the most of your vacation, as you drink your way across the open seas!

having fun by taking shots at the cruise bar

More Ways to Save Before You Cruise

Bon voyage ! We sure hope this post has given you many tips and tricks to save money on drinks during your next cruise. But before you go , here are a few more links to our other money-saving  cruise articles and to our travel affiliate partners that you may find helpful:

🚢 Be sure to check out our huge list of cruise tips here :

  • 50 Best Cruise Hacks to Save You Money, Hassle, WiFi and Weight Gain .

🏨 If you need a hotel before or after your cruise, be sure to book early . All the best hotels in port cities tend to get reserved by cruise passengers in advance. We like using hotelscombined.com  to compare all the top hotel sites and score the best deal before it’s too late.

⚠️ Never go on an international cruise without travel insurance. Avoid having to shell out for medical emergencies, flight delays, trip cancelation, or lost baggage by getting a quick quote from CruiseSafe by VisitorsCoverage , which offers cruise-specific travel insurance to protect your trip. If you don’t already have travel insurance for your cruise, enter your dates for a quick quote now .

Drinking free champagne on a cruise

Then be sure to bookmark this page or pin the image to your right onto your travel Pinterest boards.

Publishing note: This article with tips on How to Get Cheap Drinks on a Cruise Ship was first written in June 2014 and is continually updated, most recently in October 2022 with the latest information and prices.

<br data-mce-bogus=”1″> <br data-mce-bogus=”1″> </p> <p>

Related Posts

50 Cruise Hacks and Tips to Save You Money, Hassle, and Weight Gain

July 16, 2019 at 2:30 PM

Thanks for all the great insights. I am going on a Holland America cruise in October and will purchase liquor to be delivered to my cabin, and try to bring a mixer in my carry-on. I know you gave the tip about being able to fill a wine glass in the cabin, then carry it around the ship. But what if i bring a travel cup, and make myself a mixed drink in my cabin, then carry it around? Do you think anyone would object? Is it frequently attempted?

' src=

July 26, 2019 at 1:23 PM

You could do that, but you’d probably stand out a bit walking around the ship. It’s doubtful, although possible, that anyone would object. But it would be very frowned upon bringing your own cup to the dining room. You’d likely be fine at the pool. But instead of using your own cup, when they deliver liquor to your cabin, they’ll bring you cocktail glasses. You can make a cocktail in the glasses provided and carry it around the ship, no problem at all. Usually the glasses they bring you are the same ones used at the bar. Have a great cruise!

' src=

October 9, 2019 at 3:23 PM

I did this on our last cruise with no problems. I even brought it on our catamaran party excursion and while everyone else was sipping out of tiny plastic cups I had my huge insulated cup 🙂

' src=

June 19, 2019 at 8:20 AM

Hahahaha the guy looks like a straight goober. Haha probably a five time gold medalist in the goober nationals.

June 19, 2019 at 7:03 PM

So that’s what you took away from this post about cheap drinks on a cruise and felt so compelled to drop a comment? Sounds like a classic goober move to me.

' src=

May 30, 2019 at 1:48 PM

Sailing on the RCCL Liberty of the Seas this upcoming week. It’s my first cruise in 19 years! Just bought 2 750ml bottles of corked and caged beers that look pretty much like wine. Hopefully they will make it through. I just want to sit on my balcony and sip on a beer before dinner a couple nights. Will update after the cruise to see if it worked.

June 2, 2019 at 5:41 PM

Awesome! Hope you have a great cruise and enjoy those beers on your balcony! I’d say it’s a pretty good chance those two caged bombers will make it onto the ship, but certainly no guarantees, of course. Let us know how it goes and enjoy the cruise! 🍻

' src=

April 28, 2019 at 1:29 PM

Your blog is full of great information! My friends and I are planning a Norwegian (Encore) cruise from NYC to Bermuda and some want the premium beverage package and others don’t. I drink only water and I might have a couple alcoholic drinks during the week. The “free” drink package (HaHaHa – you are forced to pay 20% gratuity) does not include bottled water! This is probably not worth it for me, but was wondering how much an average drink would cost? And, is tap water okay to drink?

May 4, 2019 at 4:44 PM

Yes, the tap water is A-ok to drink. That’s what we always drink ourselves, right out of the bathroom sink. And it’s simply chilled tap water that’s served in the restaurants. Unfortunately, NCL doesn’t allow passengers to bring on bottled water anymore, so you’ll either have to pay for it on the ship or drink the tap water. Note, NCL does serve free lemonade and iced tea too. If just sticking to water and the occasional alcoholic drink, you’ll likely be better just buying them individually rather than buying a drink package. Drink prices vary by ship and can even change from sailing to sailing. Yet with NCL, expect to pay somewhere in the ballpark of $7-$14 for a drink, plus automatic gratuity. So do the math and figure it out what may work best for you and your cabin mate.

' src=

December 10, 2018 at 2:52 PM

Just got back from a short 5 night on Majesty of the Seas. I bought the Deluxe Beverage Package and (as you list above) that includes drinks up to $12. However, I ordered many high end scotches which were 4 or 5 dollars over that as well as some specialty martinis for my wife (who didn’t have a beverage package…and often times at the same time) and wasn’t charged a dime. Is this just at the discretion of the particular ship we were on?

December 22, 2018 at 12:02 PM

Hmm, not sure. That’s kinda strange. But that’s great! Normally most beverage packages will require that passengers sharing a cabin all have a beverage package. So not sure how you may have gotten around that. But if so, sometimes the bartenders will be lenient with people on the beverage packages. The bartenders and drink servers earn a share of gratuities for serving drinks, whether you’re on a beverage package or not. So it’s in their financial interest to serve as many drinks as possible, in which case they may turn a blind eye to serving multiple drinks (and for other people), even though it’s technically against the rules of the beverage package. You benefit and so do they. That’s the only thing I can think of, unless there was otherwise some mistake or misunderstanding.

' src=

April 7, 2019 at 4:56 PM

Hiya 4 couples are planning to go on a Caribbean cruise on MSC. What do you think if we buy only 4 drinks packages (assigned to two cabins 2+2) These 4 would get free drinks to the other 4… Do you reckon we would be caught doing this? Cheers Pedro

April 9, 2019 at 9:33 AM

It may or may not work out. Really, it just depends on two things: (1) how lenient the staff is on that particular ship and (2) to the extent that you’ll be doing this. If it’s just discretely sliding a few drinks to friends here and there, you’ll likely be fine. But constantly doing it would be cumbersome and may raise suspicions. You’re only allowed to order one drink at a time. So it would be a pain to order a drink, give it to a friend, then wait a few minutes or go to a different bar to order another drink. Also ordering drinks during dinner could be problematic, as it would be very evident at the dinner table what you’re doing.

' src=

July 12, 2019 at 4:22 PM

I wanted to piggie bank off this question…. we are traveling on a carnival ship for a family vacation. My husband is a hard liquor drinker, I’m more of a cocktail drinker. It would make sense for me to get the drinking package but not so much for my husband…. carnival has a policy that requires all adults in a cabin to purchase the drinking package. We are willing to pay 414 for 1 drinking package but over 800 for both is just too much. Any suggestions on how to get around this? Btw we do have 2 cabins, 1 for our kids (17 and 14 year olds) and 1 for us in case that’s helpful…..

July 13, 2019 at 1:11 PM

That requirement is a tough policy to get around. We know passengers who have been successful in skirting this rule when citing health reasons that the second person can’t drink alcohol. But that’s really the only way I’ve ever heard of them allowing one person to purchase a drink package without the other adult in the cabin doing so. Even then, it’s ultimately up to the cruise line and they still may not allow it. $800+ is definitely a lot to spend on drinking for the week, so we feel your pain. If you and the hubby wouldn’t average at least 15 drinks or so collectively, each day, between the two of you, it could prove more worthwhile to just buy per drink and use some of these other tips along the way. The drink packages can be soooo nice to indulge in. But sometimes it may not prove worthwhile.

' src=

July 17, 2019 at 8:50 PM

Go online and buy the plastic flask! I’ve never been caught boarding with that!

' src=

July 29, 2019 at 3:52 PM

TO: Canada says Where did you put your flask so it wan’t noticeable ?

Go online and buy the plastic flask! I’ve never been caught boarding with that!

' src=

November 26, 2018 at 11:44 PM

hello My husband and i are going on our first cruise in Alaska, we are wanting to get a drink package and unsure which one to get the is standard, classic and premium. we both like our drinks beers wines spirits and cocktails and also like our premium coffees. my question is any suggestion to what package we get?

December 1, 2018 at 5:09 PM

I’m assuming you’re cruising with Celebrity, in which case the premium package will likely be the best bet. Celebrity’s premium beverage package is the only one that also includes specialty coffees. You’ll also be able to drink most all the top-shelf liquors, better wines, and craft beer. Of course, you’ll be paying a premium for this premium package. The classic includes still includes a decent assortment of cocktails and liquors, under $9, but no specialty coffees. The standard can be pretty restrictive since it keeps you $6, which can be difficult to do with the price of Celebrity’s drinks. So really it just depends on your budget and needs. But if you can afford it and think that you’ll drink a fair amount, the premium package would certainly be the way to go.

' src=

January 24, 2019 at 4:12 PM

Carnival’s CHEERS! progam also includes the premium coffees (and frappes, and spiked hot chocolate, milkshakes, etc) on ships that have the coffee shops on board.

' src=

March 27, 2019 at 11:59 AM

So does Royal Caribbean…yay!!

' src=

September 27, 2018 at 7:25 AM

I am not a heavy drinker but consume a gallon+ of water,lemonade,tea daily,are there nonalchol drink packages? Are they worth it? In Chicago there are Tiki boat booze cruises on the lakefront,a friend Captians them on occasion. Best beach bar-BVI’S, just a lean to with a refrigerator,really cute girl bringing me beers,turns out she wasn’t working there but I was buying her beers too! So worth it and the look on my face when I found out later made everyone else howl with laughter.

September 29, 2018 at 4:19 PM

Good news: most all cruise ships have water, lemonade, iced tea, available for free around the clock. So no drink package needed for that. Sodas will cost extra and there are packages for that. But if you’re good with lemonade, tea, and water, then no need for the package. It’s almost always available in the cafe. They’ll serve water automatically in the dining rooms, but will have ice tea and sometimes lemonade too upon request. That’s funny about the beach bar story – lol!!

' src=

September 11, 2018 at 2:12 AM

Question: RE: NCL Escape NYC to Bermuda Oct 2018 … does anyone know if they still are offering 6 for 5 buckets of beer? Saw a 2017 comment that they don’t anymore, another after that they do. Nothing 2018 though.

Looked on posted bar menus (not sure dates), don’t see any mention of buckets. Also saw a comment somewhere that there is a $5 deposit for bucket? True? And are there only particular bars on the ship where you can get them? If so which?

John, et. al, many thank for this and your awesome other blogs! Hope the trip is going fantastically! We are about to do our first. Can’t wait! 🙂

September 13, 2018 at 2:41 PM

I can’t confirm from first-hand experience whether or not the Escape still has beer buckets. But when we last sailed with NCL on the Bliss in April, I’m fairly certain they did on that ship, on the lido deck bars around the pool. I’d be surprised to learn if the Escape has done away with beer buckets, but it could be true. Will leave this comment up to see if there’s anyone who has been on the Escape recently may be able to confirm. Enjoy you upcoming cruise to Bermuda! 🙂

September 13, 2018 at 10:19 PM

Ok, just saw the “What It Was Like To Travel Entirely Around the World Without Flights” blog, so guess that answers my question 😀 Sorry, should have read more before asking.

Should you guys happen to be in NYC sometime, drop us a note, my wife & I will take you out for (FREE!) drinks 😀

' src=

September 3, 2018 at 9:07 PM

Than you for these amazing tips! who doesn’t love drinks right? especially when they’re cheap!

September 6, 2018 at 1:01 PM

Yup, that’s right!

' src=

August 8, 2018 at 8:02 AM

I have never been on a cruise before but will use these hacks if I get to be on one anytime soon.

' src=

April 22, 2018 at 10:10 PM

There are other ways to get free drinks on ships that come to mind. There are art auctions on board most ships and wine is almost always offered. Find the bar and help yourself as they are free to enjoy. You don’t have to stay for the auction as the prices are generally inflated. Another way is the ship party to introduce the ships staff. One for early and one for late dining people. Why not go to both and get free drinks. Take a few with you. Also if you have sailed before on the ship ask about a party for past travelers. It is worth a try as the food is better and the drinks free. Have fun.

May 9, 2018 at 11:35 AM

Yes, those are all great ways to get free drinks on a cruise ship, which we detailed in our other post: How To Get Free Drinks on a Cruise Ship: http://www.roamingaroundtheworld.com/how-to-drink-for-free-on-a-cruise/

We tried to keep this post pertaining just to cheap drinks. But free drinks is better than cheap drinks! 🙂

' src=

March 5, 2018 at 12:05 AM

this is an awesome cruise hack!will surely take note of this, I hope someday… I can use this…thank you so much!

' src=

March 20, 2018 at 10:44 AM

Our pleasure, so happy that you’ve found our cruise hacks to be helpful!

' src=

September 8, 2017 at 5:01 AM

Awesome! I will be having my first cruise ship with my hubby this September. There will be a lot of drinks that might be pricey however you can some cheap ones as well. Anyways, thank you so much for sharing this great tips.

September 9, 2017 at 10:19 AM

Fantastic! We hope you have a great first cruise full of inexpensive drinks! Just be careful… most people’s first cruise ends up being the first of many, hehe!

' src=

September 5, 2017 at 3:06 AM

Good information. My husband and I have been on a cruise and loved it. We definitely want to take our kids.

' src=

August 21, 2017 at 11:39 AM

I think I’d have to drink a lot to get $50 worth of alcohol consumed and at least try to get my moneys worth. I guess if some of them are high end drinks that cost a lot, I could do it with fewer drinks, but I can’t imagine drinking that fifty dollars worth of beer per day.

August 21, 2017 at 5:26 PM

It all depends how much you drink. For heavy drinkers it’s totally worth it, and then some. Other people, not worth it at all. The important thing is to do the math and figure out if it’s worth it for the amount you drink. $50 worth of beer may seem like an insane amount. But beers are usually around $6 on a cruise ship. So if you drank 8 beers in a day, that would make up the cost. Still even 8 beers in one day seems like a lot. But when you’re lounging by the pool, then have a few drinks during a long dinner, and then go hang out the at the bar later, it all can add up! So it all depends.

' src=

June 16, 2017 at 6:42 AM

It’s funny how people migrate to the commercial establishments while in port (i.e. Senor Frogs, TGIF) The real treats are the little hidden gems where the waiter / bartender will actually strike up a conversation with you.

June 20, 2017 at 4:19 PM

Agree 100%! Give me a little hole-in-the-wall any day over any of those major chains. Senor Frogs seems to be in almost all the major cruise ports these days and they really aren’t too different from one another. We always prefer (and recommend) to check out the local flair of a port!

' src=

May 23, 2017 at 2:48 AM

The easiest way to get cheap drinks is to sail with a line that includes drinks in its fares. Seabourn Crusie Line, Silversea, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Crystal and Viking Ocean are good places to start.

May 24, 2017 at 9:18 AM

Yes this is true. But those lines you’ve mentioned tend to be extremely expensive, so you are pretty much paying for those drinks with the high price of the cruise itself. I would absolutely love to go on any of those cruise lines though.

' src=

December 12, 2019 at 8:35 PM

NCL for the win in this regard.

May 11, 2017 at 3:34 AM

I have never been on a cruise and most likely never will go on one. I am not a water lover and with my luck the ship would sink when I was on it. My brother in law and his wife are going on their 5th cruise soon but its just not for me

May 16, 2017 at 12:32 PM

Cruise aren’t for everyone but most people do really enjoy them. It’s funny, one of the biggest barriers to cruising is for people to actually take their first cruise. There’s a static in the cruise industry that is something like well over 90% of first-time cruisers say they want to return for another cruise. Cruising can be great! Don’t knock it, ’til you try it. 🙂 You should consider joining your brother-in-law and wife one day.

' src=

May 10, 2017 at 7:05 PM

hello, going on Norwegian w family, i am a seasoned absolute and orange drinker, only one out of 6 of us, travel agent said i cant get drinking package? in june. is this true anyone? and im an early riser, 5-7am normally go to work, but on the ship id like to go drink, 6′.8′ 365 so it takes a bit for me personally. any idea’s or is that accurate that drink spacial is not available ?even if i got it for my wife as well,i myself would make it up by lunch @12.50 ive read per drink. sounds crazy but its not at all. any help any advice? i already paid for trip and for all others but at 13.00 basically its 500.00 a day easy everyday, ( for me anyway) TY

May 10, 2017 at 7:20 PM

Hi Bill, That is strange to hear the travel agent has told you that you can’t get the drink package. It may not be available as a free perk (as it sometimes is), but it most definitely should be available for purchase. The only reason I can think of why it wouldn’t be available for purchase is if you happen to be cruising on the Norwegian Sky, in which case, a drink package is automatically included for that ship only, so you have nothing to worry about. If not on the Sky, then I would suggest logging into your onboard account where you can view add-ons to purchase. Yes, you would be required to purchase it for all adults in the cabin, so your wife would need to purchase it as well. It sounds like the drink package would be well worth it for you, so I would suggest you purchase it, which you most definitely should be able to do. If you can’t find it online and your travel agent isn’t being any help, I’d suggest calling Norwegian Cruise Line directly. I’d imagine they’d be happy to sell you any add-on like a drink package. You can also purchase the drink package once you get on the ship, but it’s usually sold at a slight discount if you buy it before you set sail. Hope that helps and have a great cruise full of many Absolute & Orange. 😉

May 10, 2017 at 8:20 PM

Thank you so much! I thought that was strange,(told her dont care about free this and that, just give me the package) i told her im willing to pay for all of us, once in a lifetime trip, it was like she disproved of my request??! normally i would too! if it wasn’t vacation. just trying to do a nice thing for family and in-laws and really makes so much scene after reading your response and so appreciated. The ship is breakaway out of NJ/NY mid June, like i said, be happy to pay for package, she said NO to any alcohol package. they all end in April? Only during winter for incentives do they offer that?. Again it seems ridicules, but this is the case. i will call norw tell them as you suggested,the situation? agree? then i guess call travel agent, ask for owner, call there bull…poop and talk to her boss? sound like an OK course of action? TY also started this 11-12 months ago, looks like im paying same price(according to present pricing) as if i started a week before departure. it was a lot of money for me and feel like i was wronged. you’ve had the best news in 11 months,it’s still possible for package and savings. Ty Bill i am grateful your time and advice!

September 11, 2018 at 1:56 AM

Wow, this sounds wrong! I know this post is a bit old (last year), but I recently booked NCL NYC to Bermuda for October, 2018, and I definitely have this option (and many more.) However, a few things to note: It’s not necessarily just those in your cabin that must also get the drink package … my understanding is: if the travel agent booked your entire GROUP together, then ALL in the group must get the package … want or not. Children must get the soda package, adults the drinking package.

I decided to opt out because my wife NEVER drinks more than 3 glasses of wine / mixed drinks (max!!) a day. I, on the other hand, drink like a fish 😀 Well, not completely .. have to also consider days at port where I only plan to drink in the eve (we’ll be cruising around the island during the day.) So, the math doesn’t add up for us:

UDP costs 106.80 / person w/ 20% gratuity * 2= 213.60/day * 7 days = $1495.20

Look at costs, as explained in this blog. 6 for 5 beer. Buy a bottle of wine instead of glasses (1 bottle = 6 typical glasses) Possible free drinks (other article) and purchase from duty free on last day. Not buying so much (on board) on days in port (3 out of 7)

The math just doesn’t work. I can get MORE alcohol for less by NOT getting the plan.

I also checked the corks and Caps package … might be closer to working since that actually includes some juices, which my wife DOES drink a lot. I have to look closer … this one is harder since I/we also want our mixed drinks. But, I’m thinking even that doesn’t work for us.

If your travel agent didn’t explain all this to you, s/he did a mediocre job!! (or worse!)

John: THANK YOU BOTH so much for these posts!!! They are SO very helpful. I actually figured out the advantage of buying by the bottle 2 min before reading this blog, but you gave me even more to think about! AWESOME!!

I hope your trip is continuing wonderfully. I’m so jealous! 😀

' src=

June 20, 2019 at 9:55 PM

Because I am diabetic I have been advised not to drink so on our last cruise with celebrity my hubby was able to get the drink pkg. even though we were not buying one for myself.

May 3, 2017 at 3:37 AM

I’ve always heard amazing things about cruises but have never been on one. Seems like a great way to travel and have an adventure on a budget.

May 3, 2017 at 5:15 PM

I most definitely is! That’s one of the reason we like cruising so much. Many people view it as a luxury experience that is out of reach. It can be, but with the right planning, it can also be a very affordable way to see many different places.

' src=

November 5, 2016 at 2:17 AM

Hope you are having an awesome day!

That was a superb blog!!! Thanks for sharing

Have Nice Day

I am waiting for next posting.

Keep Smiling!!!

November 10, 2016 at 12:49 PM

Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for letting us know. We’re smiling 🙂

' src=

November 1, 2016 at 2:51 PM

Wow! Alcohol for under $6 a person? That’s impressive! Taste-tasting events seem so fun. These are all excellent, informative tips!

November 3, 2016 at 10:53 AM

It’s always nice to find drinks under $6 and it’s absolutely possible, particularly with happy hours! 🙂 And those tasting events can be so much fun! Glad you found these tips informative – cheers!

' src=

October 26, 2016 at 1:44 AM

Spot on advice about not buying wine by the glass. It’s never a good deal.

November 3, 2016 at 11:01 AM

Yup, never a good deal unless you’re literally only planning to have one glass during the entire cruise …and who would do that, lol! We always recommend buying by the bottle if not an entire wine package. 🙂 Cheers!

' src=

June 7, 2016 at 11:52 AM

Awesome advice! I’m a cruise writer and I appreciate the research and dedication you put into this article. Well done!

June 8, 2016 at 12:22 PM

Thanks so much! It really means a lot coming from a cruise writer! 🙂

' src=

May 20, 2016 at 8:14 AM

Very nice article on Getting Cheap Drinks. Surely this would help voyagers like me.

Keep posting.

May 27, 2016 at 11:33 AM

Yup! We’re always looking for ways to cut costs on our drinking budget! Always glad to help likeminded travelers!

' src=

March 24, 2016 at 4:41 PM

Thanks for the tips about how to get cheap drinks on a cruise ship! I think that these tips could apply to anyone wanting to get cheap drinks. Especially, your tip about happy hour. Most restaurants have happy hour and their drinks are cheap during that time.

March 26, 2016 at 9:23 PM

Yup, happy hour can always be a nice bargain, whether on a cruise ship or in a restaurant. We love happy hours!

' src=

June 25, 2014 at 7:36 PM

this is how we used to do it, when we went on a cruise, lots of fun and for sure saved on your wallet.

February 12, 2016 at 2:24 PM

Glad to hear there are some like-minded people out there drinking for cheap on cruises! 😉

' src=

June 9, 2014 at 2:54 AM

If you are a wine aficionado – take a wine cruise to top wine producing countries like France, Spain and Italy.

June 9, 2014 at 3:27 AM

Oooh, that sounds like a fabulous idea! Spanish reds, French Chardonnay, Italian Pinot Grigio all right from the source! Cheers!

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Don't subscribe All new comments Replies to my comments Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.

Protect Your Trip »

Cruise drink packages: your options by cruise line.

Discover what's included and excluded, to decide what pick is right for you.

Cruise Drink Packages

Cocktails in front of the pool on the lido deck of a Princess Cruises ship.

Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Explore cruise offerings for cocktails, wine, beer, soda and more.

Cruise drink packages can provide incredible value for people who plan to regularly imbibe on their voyage and want the convenience of an unlimited open bar package – whereas they may not be a good deal for light drinkers. Other options include alcohol-free drink packages, which let cruisers indulge in soft drinks, hot chocolate, specialty coffees and a range of other nonalcoholic beverages.

Whether or not to get the drink package is a question all cruisers face, and there's no perfect answer for everyone. Read on to learn about the drink packages offered by the major cruise lines and what each beverage package includes.

Expert tip: The price of each beverage package will vary from sailing to sailing and may change at any time. Also note that cruise drink packages are almost always nontransferable and nonrefundable, and that everyone in your cabin needs to buy a package. If kids are cruising with adults who purchase an alcoholic drink package, a nonalcoholic package must be purchased for them.

Carnival Cruise Line

Celebrity cruises, disney cruise line, msc cruises, norwegian cruise line, princess cruises, royal caribbean international.

A glass of wine and a book on a table on a Carnival Cruise Line ship.

Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line

Cheers! Beverage Program

What it includes: All spirits (including cocktails) are included. Beer and wine by the glass are also included in this package if they cost $20 or less on the menu. Individuals also get unlimited nonalcoholic frozen cocktails, energy drinks, specialty coffees, bottled water, hot tea and other nonalcoholic drinks. This package comes with 25% off the following categories: spirits or wine by the glass that cost more than $20, the menu price for wine or Champagne by the bottle, and beverage seminars and classes.

What it doesn't include: Beverages not included in this package are limited to: drinks in souvenir glasses, full bottles of liquor, drinks offered on the gangway, drinks delivered through room service or in the cabin's minibar, larger shared drinks, and beverages sold in enomatic wine machines. The Cheers! Beverage Program also does not cover food items and drinks offered through special promotions that relate to merchandise, cigars or cigarettes.

Cost: Starts at $59.95 per day, per person

Additional details: This drink package can be offered on all Carnival Cruise Line sailings, including ships like the Carnival Venezia, Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration. Individuals must be at least 21 years old to buy this package for their cruise. It can be purchased before embarkation or once on the ship. Note that, for sailings out of New York and Texas, this package doesn't kick in until 6 a.m. the day after departure.

Bottomless Bubbles

What it includes: All-you-can-drink soda and juice are included.

What it doesn't include: Specialty coffee drinks, energy drinks, alcoholic beverages and all other drinks not specifically listed in the package are not included.

Cost: Starts at $9.50 per day for adults and $6.95 per day for kids

Additional details: This package doesn't include drinks delivered through room service or available in the cabin minibar. It's available to be purchased before or during the cruise; if purchased after a sailing departs, Bottomless Bubbles is nonrefundable.

Book a Carnival Cruise Line sailing on GoToSea, a service of U.S. News.

A martini glass on a Martini Bar menu in Grand Plaza on Celebrity Cruises Edge.

Steve Dunlop | Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Classic Drink Package

What it includes: This package includes liquors, cocktails, frozen drinks, wines by the glass and beers up to $10. Wines by the bottle qualify for a 15% discount.

What it doesn't include: This package doesn't include energy drinks, soda, specialty coffees or any other beverages not specifically listed in the package.

Cost: Starts at $89 per day, per person

Additional details: This package can be used at the ship's bars, in the main dining room, and in casual dining and specialty restaurants. Drinks in the in-room minibar or delivered via room service do not qualify. You can only order one drink at a time with any of the Celebrity Cruises drink packages.

Premium Drink Package

What it includes: This package includes everything in the Classic Drink Package, in addition to: specialty coffees and teas, craft and artisan beers, Coca-Cola products, bottled water, and wine by the glass up to $17 per serving. It also comes with a 20% discount on wine by the bottle.

What it doesn't include: Drinks that cost more than $17 per glass are not included.

Cost: Starts at $109 per day, per person

Additional details: This package can be used at bars, in the main dining room, and in casual dining and specialty restaurants. Drinks from the minibar or room service are not covered by the package.

Zero-Proof Drink Package

What it includes: This drink package comes with a range of nonalcoholic drinks, including premium bottled water such as San Pellegrino and Panna, organic teas, specialty coffees, Red Bull energy drinks, frozen smoothies, Coca-Cola products, mocktails, Vitamin Water drinks, bottled iced tea and more.

What it doesn't include: Alcoholic beverages are not included in this package.

Cost: Starts at $30 per day, per person

Additional details: This package can be used at bars, in the main dining room, and in casual dining and specialty restaurants. Minibar and room service drinks do not qualify.

Find a Celebrity Cruise on GoToSea.

A couple holding cocktails walks by a bar on a Disney Cruise Line ship.

Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line is unique because it does not offer traditional drink packages you can purchase pre-cruise or on the day of embarkation. Not only that, but all Disney cruises include the following beverages at no additional charge:

  • Soft drinks, coffee and tea during meals
  • Nonalcoholic beverages offered at drink stations throughout the ship
  • Soft drinks served at the Vibe lounge for teens

Disney also lets cruisers prepay for specialty packages of wine, Champagne, beer or seltzers, although available packages can vary by departure port. As an example, cruise passengers departing from Port Canaveral, Florida, can pre-purchase a seven-bottle premium wine package for $330, a six-pack of beer for $36.25, or a six-pack of Truly seltzers for $32.50, among many other options.

Explore Disney Cruise Line deals on GoToSea.

The Wine Cellar on MSC Cruises Seashore ship.

Courtesy of MSC Cruises

Easy Package

What it includes: This package includes select cocktails, nonalcoholic cocktails and mixed drinks, one brand of each type of spirit, house wines, draft or bottled Heineken, fountain soda, canned soda, fruit juices by the glass or bottle, bottled water, hot tea, specialty coffees, hot chocolate and beverage gratuities.

What it doesn't include: This package doesn't include brand-name spirits or beers other than Heineken, or any other drinks not specifically listed in the package.

Cost: $322 per sailing, per adult for seven-night itineraries

Additional details: This package can be used at bars, lounges, buffets, in the main restaurants and on MSC Cruises ' private island. It does not apply in the in-room minibar or specialty restaurants.

Easy Plus Package

What it includes: The Easy Plus Package gives cruisers access to a broader range of drink options that cost up to $10 (or 9 euros), so more alcoholic brands are included overall. Drinks that qualify include frozen drinks and cocktails, protein shakes, spirits, draught and bottled beers, nonalcoholic cocktails, bottled water, various hot drinks, wines by the glass and gratuities. A 10% discount on bottled wine purchases on board also applies.

What it doesn't include: This package doesn't include brand-name spirits, and beer options vary. Drinks that cost more than $10 (or 9 euros) are not included.

Cost: $427 per sailing, per adult for seven-night itineraries

Additional details: This package can be used at bars, lounges, buffets, in the main and specialty restaurants, and on the cruise line's private island . Drinks in the signature venues are not covered.

Premium Extra Package

What it includes: This drink package covers a wider range of brand-name alcoholic beverages that cost up to $16 (or 14 euros). Beverages that qualify can include pretty much any drink you can purchase on the ship with very few exceptions. Covered drinks include: premium cocktails, all nonalcoholic cocktails and drinks, protein drinks, premium spirits, fine wine by the glass, Champagne by the glass, draft and bottled beer, bottled water, specialty hot drinks, and gratuities. A 25% discount on bottled wine purchases on board also applies.

What it doesn't include: Drinks all over the ship that cost more than $16 (or 14 euros) are not included.

Cost: $595 per sailing, per adult for seven-night itineraries

Additional details: This package can be used everywhere except in MSC's signature venues.

Alcohol-Free Package

What it includes: This drink package includes most nonalcoholic beverages on the ship, including mocktails, fresh fruit drinks, protein drinks, energy drinks, sodas, flavored water, hot drinks, soft serve ice cream and gratuities.

What it doesn't include: Alcoholic drinks offered on the ship are not included.

Cost: $196 per sailing, per adult or $133 per kid for seven-night itineraries

Additional details: The nonalcoholic package can be used at bars, lounges, buffets, in the main restaurants and on MSC Cruises' private island. It does not apply in the in-room minibar or in specialty restaurants.

Compare MSC Cruises on GoToSea.

A bartender pouring cocktails on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship.

Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Unlimited Open Bar Package

What it includes: This package includes drinks all over the ship that cost $15 or less, such as cocktails, spirits, beers and wine by the glass. Unlimited soft drinks and juices are also included, and cruisers get 20% off bottles of wine and Champagne purchased on board.

What it doesn't include: This package doesn't include alcoholic beverages that cost more than $15 per glass.

Cost: Starts at $109 per day, per person; cruisers can get this package automatically added to their sailing with the "Free at Sea" promotion.

Additional details: A 20% service charge is added to each drink, and this package can be used all over the ship and on Norwegian Cruise Line 's private island.

Premium Plus Beverage Package

What it includes: This package is an upgrade from the Unlimited Open Bar Package you can buy or get included with the "Free at Sea" promotion. It comes with a broader selection of drinks that can cost more than $15, including spirits, cocktails, beer and wine by the glass. Guests can also enjoy the cruise line's brand of rose Champagne by the glass plus select premium bottles of wine at dinner. Also included are unlimited soft drinks, juices, bottled water, energy drinks, specialty drinks and Starbucks drinks. Premium Plus also comes with a 40% discount off bottles of wine and Champagne not included in the package.

What it doesn't include: This package includes all drinks by the glass offered on Norwegian vessels.

Cost: Starts at $138 per day, per person; cruisers can upgrade from the Unlimited Open Bar Package for $29 per day.

Additional details: A 20% service charge is added to each drink. Use this package all over the ship and Great Stirrup Cay.

Hawaii Beverage Package

What it includes: This package is for Hawaii sailings only, which applies to the Pride of America . Drinks up to $15 per glass are included, such as cocktails, spirits, wine by the glass, beer, bottled water and soft drinks. Starbucks drinks also count toward the package during meals.

What it doesn't include: This package doesn't include drinks that cost more than $15 per serving.

Cost: $109 per day, per person

Additional details: A 20% service charge is added to each drink, and this package can be used all over the ship.

Unlimited Soda Package

What it includes: True to its name, NCL's unlimited soda package comes with bottomless soft drinks like Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Fanta and more.

What it doesn't include: This package only includes unlimited soft drinks, so no other drinks qualify.

Cost: $9.95 per day, per person

Additional details: A 20% service charge is added to each drink. This package cannot be purchased on cruises that are two days or less.

Unlimited Starbucks

What it includes: This package includes any drinks you can dream up at Starbucks, including Frappuccino beverages, lattes, classic coffees, teas and more.

What it doesn't include: No other drinks are included in this package.

Cost: $12.95 per day, per person

Additional details: A 20% service charge is added to each drink. You must be at least 18 at the time of the sailing to purchase.

Find a Norwegian Cruise Line itinerary on GoToSea.

cheap cruise with drinks

Tips on Trips and Expert Picks

Travel tips, vacation ideas and more to make your next vacation stellar.

Glasses of wine on a bar countertop on a Princess Cruises ship.

Plus Beverage Package

What it includes: This package includes beverages up to $15. Included in the package are cocktails, wine by the glass, specialty coffees, beer, fountain sodas, bottled water, smoothies, juice bar drinks, mocktails and specialty cocktails curated by Rob Floyd. In total, 50 spirits, 25 wines by the glass and 25 different beers qualify. Cruisers also get 25% off bottles of wine, large bottles of water and cans of soda.

What it doesn't include: This package doesn't include large bottles of water or cans of soda; you get a discount instead. Drinks over $15 also do not qualify.

Cost: $64.99 per day, per adult

Additional details: This Princess Cruises package is offered for purchase before the cruise and on embarkation day, but it is not available for pre-purchase within three days of sailing. It can be used all over the ship, although minibar items and drinks in souvenir glasses do not qualify.

Premier Beverage Package

What it includes: This package includes beverages up to $20, as well as everything that the Plus Beverage Package covers. Premium wines by the glass like Duckhorn, Stag's Leap, Grgich Hills and Cattier Champagne are included in this package, as are Woodford Reserve bourbon and Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Select whiskey. In total, 75 spirits, 40-plus wines by the glass and 20-plus high-end cocktails qualify. Cruisers also get 25% off bottles of wine and rare specialty wine, large bottles of water and cans of soda.

What it doesn't include: Some wines do not qualify, nor do large bottles of water or cans of soda, although discounts apply.

Cost: $84.99 per day, per adult

Additional details: This package is offered before the cruise and on embarkation day, but not for pre-purchase within three days of sailing. Minibar items and drinks in souvenir glasses do not qualify.

Zero Alcohol Package

What it includes: The Zero Alcohol Package comes with premium and specialty coffees, teas, fountain sodas, fresh juices, smoothies, hot chocolate, mocktails, bottled water and Red Bull energy drinks.

What it doesn't include: This package does not include alcoholic beverages or any other drinks not specifically listed.

Cost: $29.99 per day, per adult

Additional details: This package is offered up until three days before the cruise as well as on embarkation day. You cannot use it at the in-room minibar or for souvenir glasses.

Classic Soda Package

What it includes: Enjoy sodas, fruit juices, mocktails and smoothies throughout the sailing.

Cost: $14.99 per day, per adult

Additional details: This package is available for purchase until three days before the cruise or on embarkation day. Minibar items and souvenir glasses are excluded.

Explore Princess Cruises deals on GoToSea.

Martinis on a bar on a Royal Caribbean International ship.

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

What it includes: Royal Caribbean's Classic Soda Package includes Coca-Cola Freestyle beverages, Coca-Cola drinks served in a souvenir cup and all fountain soda on an unlimited basis.

What it doesn't include: No other drinks are included in this package, including alcoholic drinks.

Cost: Varies

Additional details: An 18% gratuity is added to drink packages on most Royal Caribbean sailings. Drink packages work at cruise ship bars, lounges, the main dining room, the Windjammer Cafe and the line's private destinations. Drinks delivered through room service or available in the minibar are not covered.

Refreshment Package

What it includes: The Refreshment Package includes everything in the Classic Soda Package plus premium coffees and teas, juices, bottled water, mocktails and milkshakes at Johnny Rockets.

What it doesn't include: Alcoholic drinks are not included in this package.

Additional details: An 18% gratuity is added to Royal Caribbean drink packages on most sailings. Drink packages apply across cruise ship bars, lounges, the main dining room, the Windjammer Cafe and the line's private destinations. Room service and minibar beverages do not qualify.

Deluxe Beverage Package

What it includes: This package includes everything you get in the Classic Soda and Refreshment Packages, plus alcoholic beverages. The Deluxe Beverage Package is inclusive of cocktails, spirits, liqueurs and beer.

What it doesn't include: This package excludes drinks in Starbucks venues on Royal Caribbean sailings.

Additional details: An 18% gratuity is added to drink package drinks on most sailings. Drink packages work at cruise ship bars, lounges, the main dining room, the Windjammer Cafe and the line's private destinations. You cannot use this package for room service or minibar drinks.

Compare Royal Caribbean International cruises on GoToSea.

STAR Restaurant Bar on a Viking cruise ship.

Courtesy of Viking

Viking's river and ocean cruises offer complimentary beverages on board – even alcoholic beverages during meals. Specifically, guests can enjoy house wines, beers and soft drinks on the ship during lunches and dinners. Specialty coffees and hot teas are also available around the clock.

Guests who want more access to drinks can purchase the one available upgraded drink package through Viking. Also note that Viking lets guests bring your own alcohol on board the ship ahead of time, which you can consume without any added fees.

Silver Spirits

What it includes: For both ocean and river sailings, this package includes an open bar with local wines by the glass, cocktails, beers, specialty coffee drinks, juices and more throughout the day and outside of mealtimes.

What it doesn't include: This package includes almost all potential beverages offered on Viking sailings. For ocean sailings , the package excludes Champagne and drinks that cost more than $18.

Cost: $25 per night, per person

Additional details: Drink packages are not available on river cruises that travel through Egypt.

Book a Viking cruise on GoToSea.

Frequently Asked Questions

Drink packages can be worth it on a cruise if you consume enough beverages to justify the cost of a package. If a drink package you're considering costs $85 per day, for example, you can try to estimate whether you would drink enough alcoholic drinks, specialty coffees and sodas to add up to or exceed this cost.

If you're a light drinker, these packages may not be a good deal for you at all.

Because drink packages are frequently discounted before a cruise, it makes sense to buy one pre-departure if you can. Also note that some cruise lines only offer drink packages on the day of embarkation and stop offering them for the rest of the cruise.

Cruise drink packages can never be shared. With all the major cruise lines, each guest in your cabin must purchase a package.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Holly Johnson is a professional travel writer who has covered cruises and other family travel for more than a decade. She has cruised more than 30 times across most of the major cruise lines and has ventured on itineraries around the world. Johnson used her personal experience and research expertise to curate this article.

You might also be interested in:

  • First-Time Cruise Tips: Mistakes to Avoid
  • Cruise Packing List: Essentials for Your Next Cruise
  • The Top All-Inclusive Cruises
  • How Much Does a Cruise Cost?
  • The Best Cruise Insurance Plans

Tags: Travel , Cruises

World's Best Places To Visit

  • # 1 South Island, New Zealand
  • # 4 Bora Bora

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

You May Also Like

Where to celebrate black history month.

Suzanne Mason Feb. 7, 2024

cheap cruise with drinks

The Best Luggage Brands

Rachael Hood Feb. 6, 2024

cheap cruise with drinks

The Best Soft-sided Luggage Picks

Erin Evans , Rachael Hood , Catriona Kendall and Amanda Norcross Feb. 6, 2024

cheap cruise with drinks

The Best Hotels in the USA

Feb. 6, 2024

cheap cruise with drinks

The Best Carry-on Luggage

Erin Evans , Rachael Hood , Catriona Kendall , Amanda Norcross and Leilani Osmundson Feb. 5, 2024

cheap cruise with drinks

Best New Orleans Swamp Tours

Marisa Méndez Feb. 2, 2024

cheap cruise with drinks

The Best New York City Tours

John Rodwan and Ann Henson Feb. 2, 2024

cheap cruise with drinks

The Most Famous Landmarks in the World

Feb. 1, 2024

cheap cruise with drinks

Bereavement Flights: Discounted Fares

Erin Vasta Feb. 1, 2024

cheap cruise with drinks

Best Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours

Holly Johnson and Ann Henson Jan. 31, 2024

cheap cruise with drinks

  • Favorites & Watchlist Find a Cruise Cruise Deals Cruise Ships Destinations Manage My Cruise​ FAQ Perfect Day at CocoCay The World’s Biggest Weekend Crown & Anchor Society Cruising Guides Gift Cards Contact Us Royal Caribbean Group
  • Back to Main Menu
  • Search Cruises " id="rciHeaderSideNavSubmenu-2-1" class="headerSidenav__link" href="/cruises" target="_self"> Search Cruises
  • Cruise Deals
  • Weekend Cruises
  • Last Minute Cruises
  • Family Cruises​
  • 2024-2025 Cruises
  • All Cruise Ships " id="rciHeaderSideNavSubmenu-4-1" class="headerSidenav__link" href="/cruise-ships" target="_self"> All Cruise Ships
  • Cruise Dining
  • Onboard Activities
  • Cruise Rooms
  • The Cruise Experience
  • All Cruise Destinations " id="rciHeaderSideNavSubmenu-5-1" class="headerSidenav__link" href="/cruise-destinations" target="_self"> All Cruise Destinations
  • Cruise Ports
  • Shore Excursions
  • Perfect Day at CocoCay
  • Caribbean Cruises
  • Bahamas Cruises​
  • Alaska Cruises
  • European Cruises​
  • Mediterranean Cruises​
  • Cruise Planner
  • Book a Flight
  • Book a Hotel
  • Check-In for My Cruise
  • Required Travel Documents
  • Make a Payment
  • Redeem Cruise Credit
  • Update Guest Information
  • Beverage Packages​
  • Dining Packages​
  • Shore Excursions​
  • Transportation
  • Royal Gifts
  • All FAQs " id="rciHeaderSideNavSubmenu-7-1" class="headerSidenav__link" href="/faq" target="_self"> All FAQs
  • Boarding Requirements
  • Future Cruise Credit​
  • Travel Documents​
  • Check-in​ & Boarding Pass
  • Transportation​
  • Perfect Day at CocoCay​
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Celebrity Cruises

girl surfing in flowrider hp jumbotron 1920 1080

Up to $600 onboard credit

+ 60% off second guest, + kids sail free*, the best cruise deals & special offers.

perfect day up up and away

PERFECT DAY AT COCOCAY

WEEKEND GETAWAYS

STARTING FROM 

John Beach Palm Trees, Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas

CARIBBEAN CRUISES

Spain Tenerife Canary Islands Puerto de Santiago Sunrise

europe cruises

whale alaska square tile

ALASKA CRUISES

Kid in waterslide Leaderboard 1560 260 FAM NF 2x

KIDS SAIL FREE

Kid in waterslide Portrait 900 1080 FAM NF 2x

NEWEST. BOLDEST. BEST.

Star of the Seas Aft Aerial

STAR of the seas

Utopia of the Seas Aft Aerial

UTOPIA of the seas

Icon of the Seas Aerial View HP Jumbotron 1920 1080 FAM NF 2x

ICON of the seas

Boats docked on the pier at Darling Harbour in Sydney, Australia

up to $600 onboard credit

Plus 60% off second guest and kids sail free*

{{error.text}} {{error.link.label}}

Web Banner 1300x220

LAST CALL ON CRUISE DEALS

Score big savings on last minute cruises

HP Mobile 750 910 FAM NF 2x1

SAIL FROM LOS ANGELES

ENSENADA CRUISES

Up Up and Away, Aerial View of the Island., Perfect Day at Coco Cay

SAIL FROM FLORIDA

View of the Coast Port, Roatan, Honduras

SAIL FROM GALVESTON

Western Caribbean

gift card holidays mobile banner

GIVE THE GIFT OF ADVENTURE

New Gift Cards Now Available

gift card holidays mobile slant

Vacation Financing

Booking a cruise has never been easier with flexible payment methods and payment options..

cheap cruise with drinks

  DISCOUNT CRUISE DEALS. SIGN UP FOR CURRENT PROMOTIONS

Sign up to receive information about our special offers and deals. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more details about how we use your information, view our Privacy Policy .

  GREAT CRUISES NEAR ME

Miami Beach Buildings

CRUISES FROM

Texas Galveston Carnival Pier

CAPE LIBERTY

Sunset Skies Mountain Views, Seattle, Washington

top cruise destinations 

Symphony  and Navigator of the Seas at Perfect Day

THE BAHAMAS

Woman Hiking in St Kitts

THE CARIBBEAN

HP_Mobile_Island_Family_Surf_Cozumel_Mexico

AMAZING SEASONAL CRUISE DEALS  

Costa Rica Punta Arenas Surfing

SPRING CRUISES

Palm Trees on a Sunny Day

Summer CRUISES

Couple Splashing in the Ocean

fall CRUISES

Santa Driving a Jeep in the Caribbean

winter CRUISES

Royal Caribbean Cruise Deals Guide

When it comes to planning the ultimate getaway, there are so many reasons why cruise vacations rank among the most popular travel options. First of all, they’re completely stress-free. On a cruise vacation, all the planning is taken care of by the cruise line — from the destinations you sail to and the shore excursions available at each port, to a full range of entertainment and activities happening onboard every day. If you’re not a planner, or if the only things you’re looking to focus on during your getaway is savoring great food, relaxing, and soaking up the sights, cruise vacations are the way to go. A cruise vacation is also a great option if you’re traveling with the whole family, especially when you opt for a Royal Caribbean cruise. All of the ships in this cruise line’s fleet offer family-friendly experiences for guests of all ages. Even little ones will find plenty of ways to play with spaces and activities designed for tots to tweens. One of the top reasons savvy travelers love cruising, though, is because of the incredible value it offers. With Royal Caribbean, your cruise fare includes access to most of the ship’s attractions, select dining venues and all of the entertainment onboard. If you want to make your experience even more all-inclusive, you can opt for beverage and specialty dining packages that cover drinks and dinner at some of the most exclusive restaurants in the fleet. On top of all that, the cruise line presents frequent limited-time offers and seasonal sales, making it easy to score big savings when booking your vacation.

I’m ready to start planning my cruise — how can I score the best deals?

Whether you’re looking to book a short getaway or a longer adventure to far-flung destinations, Royal Caribbean makes it easy to save big on everything from your cruise fare to special experiences onboard and onshore. The first step to making sure you get the best deals is to join the cruise line’s email list. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll receive regular updates on all the latest offers, like deals by destination , kids sail free promotions and flash sales. The savings don’t end when you book your cruise, though. Once you’ve made a reservation, you’ll also receive notifications about special offers for onboard experiences — like discounts on beverage and specialty dining packages, shore excursions, spa services, and more via My Royal Cruise .

Does it pay to plan ahead, or should I wait until the last minute?  

It’s an age-old question — does the early bird really get the worm, or are there perks to taking a “wait-and-see” approach? If you’re booking a cruise vacation, you’ll find there are benefits to both strategies. Planning ahead is a great way to score big savings , as Royal Caribbean often runs early saver deals to guests booking well in advance. It’s also pretty safe to assume prices usually go up as availability goes down the closer you get to your sail date, so booking ahead is a surefire way to lock in a great rate. That said, booking a cruise at the last minute can also yield some unexpected savings — but only if the itinerary you’re interested in hasn’t sold out yet.

If you can be flexible when it comes to your travel dates, you’ll have your pick of unbeatable savings. Popular vacation dates — like the holidays , spring break , summer vacation and week long cruises — sometimes see the highest prices (though you might get lucky with a seasonal sale). If you have the flexibility to travel during the shoulder season or off season, you’ll likely enjoy big savings on popular stateroom categories , like Balconies and even Suites. The deals don’t only apply to your cruise fare, though. Once you’ve booked your vacation, you could easily unlock discounts and specials on add-ons, including beverage and dining packages , Voom® high speed internet, shore excursions, and amazing experiences not included in your cruise fare — like a day of pampering at Vitality SM Spa, a behind-the-scenes tour of the ship’s galley followed by brunch, VIP seating at shows, and much more.

How can I maximize the value of my cruise vacation?

There are plenty of ways to get more bang for your buck when you sail on a Royal Caribbean cruise. Every ship in the fleet offers a range of delicious complimentary dining options , but you can dig into even more crave-worthy flavor by purchasing a Specialty Dining Package for less ahead of your cruise. Add a Specialty Beverage Package — which includes unlimited alcoholic beverages, soda, and more — and your experience is as close to all-inclusive as it gets. And with so many complimentary shows and attractions onboard, you can easily fill every sea day without spending a single dollar extra.

Royal Caribbean also offers deals based on departure ports  and destinations, so if you’re a flexible traveler looking for great savings, you can plan your next vacation around which itineraries are on sale. Just check your email or visit RoyalCaribbean.com/cruise-deals to stay up to date on promotions, sales and special offers. You can even browse sailings and deals by homeport, destination and season, so you can rest assured you’re getting the best possible deal no matter when or where in the world you choose to set sai.

Ready to start planning your next getaway? Start exploring cruise deals now.

Explore more.

Alaska cruise travel Glacier Bay vacation.

My Personas

Code: ∅.

  • The Cost of Drinking on a Cruise

A bar onboard a cruise ship fully stocked with different types of alcohol and beverages

The all-inclusive nature of a cruise vacation is perhaps its biggest attraction – inclusive of accommodations, food and many activities for a single price whilst cruising to far-off exotic destinations. It’s the perfect hassle-free vacation style for many people who crave the easy life and no-nonsense trip planning. The only thing missing is the free booze. Those endless poolside piña coladas can soon add up. Cruises undoubtedly offer superb value for money, but a few drinks each day can seriously blow your planned vacation budget out of the water. If you have a taste for beer, wine or hard liquor you could effectively see that ultra-cheap short cruises almost double in price. There is no getting away from the fact that shipboard drinks are expensive, even before gratuities are factored in. From $8 beers to $15 cocktails, drinking on a cruise can easily rack up an onboard bill of hundreds of dollars.   

Sure you can abstain, but where is the fun in that? You can still enjoy your guilty pleasures without the worry of a huge bar tab with a little creative planning. Check out our insightful tips to make your dollars go that much further with drinks on cruises, and the all-important question of whether a prepaid drinks package or a-la-carte pricing is best for you.

Are there any free drinks on cruises?

Can i carry alcohol and beverages onboard the cruise ship, the truth about cruise line beverage packages, do i need to buy a beverage package on my cruise, inclusive drinks on a luxury cruise, tips about drinking on your cruise vacation, raising your glass without the sticker shock.

Tea, coffee, tap water and non-carbonated drinks are often free for all passengers throughout the cruise in certain areas of the ship, but alas, you’ll have to shell out cash for your favourite alcoholic drinks on cruises. However, there are a few creative ways to score free drinks. If you can sit through the art auction, you can happily sip free wine or score free drinks (and nibbles) on cruises at the captain's cocktail party, which is usually open to all passengers on or before formal night. 

Perhaps the best way to drink for free is to show your loyalty. Once you have taken a cruise with a line, you will be enrolled in their loyalty program, which unlocks a whole range of opportunities for free or cheaper boozing, depending on your tier status. This could entail invites to welcome-back parties and other social events with free drinks, or discount coupons for half-price drinking on a cruise.

Sign up and we'll send the best cruise deals to your inbox.

The simple answer is almost always no. However, that doesn’t deter hundreds of cruisers every year from trying to sneak bottles of scotch, rum and vodka aboard in a variety of creative ways. A quick browse of YouTube will find dozens of videos promising success with their sneaky booze smuggling hacks, but the simple fact is the cruise lines are aware of every trick out there. The penalty for getting caught? First up the embarrassment factor of being treated like a naughty school child is perhaps not the best way to kick off a cruise vacation. The illicit bottles will be confiscated until the end of the cruise and quite possibly you may never get them back. In the worst case scenario, there is even the threat of getting kicked off the ship which is perhaps unlikely, but worth keeping in mind before you hatch your smuggling plan.

There are some exceptions to the no-booze in bags rule. For many people, a cruise trip is a special occasion – perhaps an anniversary, birthday or even a honeymoon. A bottle of wine or Champagne is permitted on some lines to toast the occasion, although you may be liable for the corkage fee if imbibing in one of the shipboard restaurants. Bringing your own bottled water, soda and juice is allowed on some cruise lines although quite strict limits are set.

Alcohol Polices for Cruise Lines

It sounds pretty enticing. Pay once prior to sailing and enjoy unlimited booze for the duration of your cruise. It’s easy to see the appeal of an ‘all you can drink’ package - no more worrying about running up a huge bar tab. Simply head to the bar, order what you like and enjoy. If you like a tipple, surely it’s a no-brainer. But not so fast… Not all prepaid drinks packages are made equal and each one has its own restrictions. Is an inclusive alcoholic beverages package right for you? That depends. Firstly, let’s look at the cost. They run for $50-60 per person per day (plus service charge), which means you will need to down quite a few drinks a day to make it worthwhile financially. Based on $10 cocktails, you would need to drink at least 6 each day. You’ll need to do the math to work out whether unlimited drinks on cruises offer any cost benefits, or check out one of the online drinks package calculators . Also factor in port of call days. You are required to buy the beverage package for every day of your cruise but you will likely not make full use of it with a full-day excursion on shore.

There are also a number of other restrictions to bear in mind before diving in and booking that booze-inclusive package. Most drinks packages have a unit cost upper limit of $12-$15 per drink, depending on the cruise line’s policy. If your favorite tipple is a more expensive premium single malt Scotch, you will have to pay the difference in price. Although wine by the glass is covered, whole bottles of wine are not, but there are sizable discounts offered for wine bottle purchases (up to 40%). Some lines also offer dedicated wine packages. 

What about teetotaler cruisers and kids? There is a range of prepaid packages for you too. In fact there are even more non-alcoholic options available on most cruise lines, including Carnival Cruise Line’s ‘Bottomless Bubbles,’ Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line.  It starts with the soda package which is self-explanatory. You get unlimited refills at the soda fountain starting at under $10 a day depending on the line, and often involve a discount rate for kids. Regular and premium non-alcoholic drinks packages invariably bundles iced tea, fresh juices, specialty coffees, and mocktails for around $20 a day.  Other beverage packages include coffee-only and bottled water only options. 

If you decide to opt for one of the inclusive beverage packages, plan ahead and book it in advance to snag a discount. Most lines offer cheaper rates if booked in advance which can save you 10%-30%. From time to time, cruise lines roll out great cruise vacation deals which bundle a cheap base cruise fare with one or more added perks. Oftentimes this includes a free drinks package, or onboard credit.  A well-timed booking could you save a ton of money .

People sitting at a table enjoying their drinks on a cruise

Beverage packages are not compulsory but there are very distinct rules governing what you can and cannot do with them. There is the obvious temptation to pay for one package and surreptitiously share it with your cruisemates. This is forbidden by virtually all lines, which mandates that if one person orders an alcoholic inclusive beverage package, every adult above drinking age in the same stateroom must also. This combats sneaky sharers but also makes it less attractive if your significant other is either a teetotaler or just a light drinker.

Another significant drawback for some cruisers is that drinks packages have to be purchased for the entirety of the cruise. So, consider this scenario: you have a big blowout on the first night and wish to take it easy the following day to nurse a hangover, so you are unlikely to get the cost benefit. Occasional drinkers are usually better off ordering a la carte.  

Start our FREE cruise price alerts to never miss a deal again.

Cruise Lines Beverage Package Cost

Only the ultra-luxury cruise lines offer a true all-inclusive product which means no bloated bar tab to pay off on checkout. Simply order what you want and enjoy. These lines, which include Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Silversea and Crystal Cruises, include gratuities and all alcoholic and soft drinks in the cruise fare, including Champagne, so overall, it’s a more civilized, hassle-free and transparent way to cruise – for a price. Obviously, you are not selecting a cruise on a high-end line simply to avoid high drinks prices. It’s not just mainstream label drinks included; you also get high-end whiskies and premium wine vintages.  

Premium lines like Azamara Club Cruises adopt a slightly different drinks policy with standard spirits, international beers, and a small selection of wines included in the cruise fare. There is the option to upgrade to a premium beverage package offering high-end liquors, Scotch and Champagne by the glass. There is also a Wine Connoisseur Package. On Oceania Cruises you get complimentary still and sparkling water, soft drinks, specialty coffees and teas with a choice of two alcoholic drinks packages. Enjoy unlimited drinks during lunch and dinner or at any time throughout the day.

An extravagant cocktail at the bar of a luxury cruise line

  • Drinking responsibly:  You’re on vacation, the sun is shining and you’re cruising leisurely to an exotic location. What’s not to love about cruising? You’re in vacation mode with a celebratory mood so the drinks are flowing more than usual. However you don’t want to go overboard – figuratively and literally. There is the ever-present risk of drinking to excess with a prepaid beverage package. You’ve paid upfront and now you can relax without having to worry about the cost. Sure, you want to get your money’s worth but too many booze-filled late nights can severely hamper the overall cruise experience. There is nothing worse than fighting off a raging hangover during an eagerly awaited shore excursion.  While you may come across the occasional group of boisterous boozers in a bar, the cruising fraternity is generally laid back and responsible enough to realize when enough is enough. 
  • Drinking on a budget:  You’ve decided an alcoholic drinks package is not for you but there are still dollars to be saved with a well-planned drinking strategy. Savvy cruisers like a tipple but know just how to get more bang for their buck. Rule #1 is to look out for the various happy hours in your ship’s bars. Generally speaking, there will likely be pre- and post-dinner drinks deals, from around 5-6pm and then again from 10pm-midnight. They could range from half-price on the first drink, BOGO specials or any number of other incentives. Check out the daily newsletter for advertised happy hours, although sometimes other ad-hoc cheap deals may only be advertised in the bar itself.  Liquor tastings take place on most cruises offering freebies (or heavily discounted drinks) or join a cocktail-making class for a fee and once you’ve made your cocktail masterpieces, you get to drink them, which works out at half-price or less per glass compared to normal bar service. 
  •  Drinking age: The minimum age limit for drinking alcohol is 21 departing a cruise from a US port, however guests aged 18 to 20 may drink provided a parent or guardian (who must be aboard the ship) signs a declaration form giving permission. In this instance, under 21s may drink only when the ship is in international waters. So for cruise ships sailing in Hawaii or Alaska the age limit is strictly 21.  

The various policies and restrictions to the different drinks packages can mystify even the most experienced cruisers. In short, there is no simple one-stop solution for all, so it takes careful planning and the ability to accurately calculate your expected budget for drinks. Whether a la carte or an all-in drinks package, you have plentiful options. It’s important to note that you are on vacation, and worrying too much over every dime will detract from the overall mood. Go ahead and do the math, plan your strategy, but be spontaneous too. Sometimes it’s good to just go with the flow.  We have highlighted just a few ways to save on the cost of drinks but there are many other creative ways to keep your costs down – check back for a dedicated article on the best hacks to get cheap drinks on cruises .

Check out these articles for more information on the costs of cruising:

How much does a cruise cost, what is included in your cruise fare.

  • Top 10 Tips on How to get the Best Cruise Deals

Sign up for the best deals!

Sign up and we'll send you the best deals to your inbox - 100% FREE.

Related pages

  • How Much Does a Cruise Cost?
  • What Is Included in Your Cruise Fare?
  • 13 Guaranteed Ways to Save on Your Cruise
  • The Smart Cruiser’s Guide to Tipping on a Cruise

Latest price updates

  • Port Overview
  • Transportation to the Port
  • Uber & Lyft to the Port
  • Dropping Off at the Port
  • Cruise Parking
  • Cruise Hotels
  • Hotels with Parking Deals
  • Uber & Lyft to the Ports
  • Things to Do
  • Cozumel Taxi Rates
  • Free Things to Do
  • Restaurants Near the Cruise Port
  • Hotels & Resorts With Day Passes
  • Closest Beaches to the Cruise Port
  • Tips For Visiting
  • Shore Excursions
  • Cruise Parking Discounts
  • Hotels with Shuttles
  • Which Airport Should I Use?
  • Transportation to the Ports
  • Dropping Off at the Ports
  • Fort Lauderdale Airport to Miami
  • Inexpensive Hotels
  • Hotels near the Port
  • Hotels With Shuttles
  • Budget Hotels
  • Carnival Tips
  • Drink Packages
  • Specialty Restaurants
  • Faster to the Fun
  • More Articles
  • CocoCay Tips
  • Norwegian Tips
  • Great Stirrup Cay
  • Harvest Caye
  • How to Get the Best Cruise Deal
  • Best Time to Book a Cruise
  • Best Websites to Book a Cruise
  • Cruises Under $300
  • Cruises Under $500
  • Spring Break Cruise Deals
  • Summer Cruise Deals
  • Alaskan Cruise Deals
  • 107 Cruise Secrets & Tips
  • Tips for First-Time Cruisers
  • What to Pack for a Cruise
  • What to Pack (Alaska)
  • Packing Checklist
  • Cruising with Kids
  • Passports & Birth Certificates
  • Bringing Alcohol
  • Cruising with a Disability
  • Duty-Free Shopping
  • Cruise Travel Insurance
  • Things to Do on a Cruise Ship
  • What Not to Do on a Ship
  • News & Articles

Cruzely.com | Everything Cruising

7 Tips for Drinking Cheap(er) on a Cruise

It’s the worst-kept secret in cruising.

Everyone knows that the cruise lines offer mouthwatering fares (sometimes less than $50 per day) for a vacation that includes food, transportation, and lodging to some of the most beautiful ports in the world.

Trying to buy all these separately (including flights to gorgeous port cities) would oftentimes run much more money. So how can the cruise lines offer so much value for such a low price?

They make up for it by selling you things once you are on board the ship. You’ll notice it the second that you set foot on deck. From art auctions to shore excursions to gift shops and bingo tournaments. Everywhere you look will be an opportunity to spend money.

And nowhere is that more evident than at the ship’s bars .

Sure, back on shore a cold beer at the grocery store may only be a buck or two. But on the ship, expect to spend $6-8 for a brew. That’s not to mention the costs for margaritas, rum runners, hurricanes, and all the other fruity tropical drinks that will be calling your name the instant that the warm Caribbean sunshine hits your skin. These drinks can easily run $12 a piece.

There’s no way around it. If you want to drink on your cruise, then you’re going to pay for it. But that doesn’t mean you have to get fleeced just for wanting to hit the bar.

To help you out, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite tips to help you drink without breaking the bank…

1. Look for value

Remember when you were in your college days and you used to do the math to figure out how much alcohol you were getting for your dollar? You want to get back in that mode on the ship to save bucks on cruise ship drinking.

Maybe it means upgrading the size of your drink for just a couple of bucks — but getting a lot more to drink. Or you can decide to go for a cocktail with more booze that costs the same as a less-alcoholic drink.

No matter how you slice it, be on the lookout for ways to increase what you get without having to pay more for a second drink.

2. Sneak booze aboard

Some people get offended when we suggest sneaking your favorite drink on board, and it is decidedly against the rules . That said, we are all adults. If you want to risk getting caught bringing your favorite drink aboard, we won’t stop you.

These days there are tons of tutorials on YouTube about how to smuggle booze on the cruise ships. In about 15 minutes you can have everything you need to know to try your luck.

Keep in mind that the cruise lines are strict about trying to sneak on contraband. If you are caught, you could get in trouble. At the very least they will confiscate the alcohol. Still, there is no better way to drink on a budget than to bring it from home.

3. Share a drink

Would you rather buy two drinks for double the price, or simply get a larger one and share? It’s a great way to save money if you and your traveling partner don’t mind drinking after each other and have the same tastes.

Sharing a drink can be especially useful if one or both of you are lightweight drinkers. Why pay $12 for an entire drink when you would realistically only drink half of it?

4. Take advantage of cruise line alcohol policies

When it comes to beer and liquor, all the cruise lines are the same — they don’t allow you to bring it aboard. But when it comes to wine and champagne, they offer more relaxed policies.

Many cruise lines will let you bring on 1-2 bottles of wine/champagne per person or per cabin. Read up on your cruise line’s policy here and take full advantage . Even an entry-level bottle of wine on a ship could cost $30-50 a pop. Bringing your favorite vino could easily save you $100 on the trip.

5. Avoid the drink packages

All the cruise lines will offer something tempting — “all you can drink” alcohol packages. For anywhere from $60-100 a day, per person, you can drink what you want on the ship. Want to down beers from noon to midnight? There’s no worrying about the bill with these drink plans.

But what seems enticing may actually end up costing more. It’s important you do the math before you buy.

First, drink packages have to be purchased for the entirety of the cruise. So if you decide to take it easy on the drinks one day, then you’re still paying the same amount, even if you don’t get your money’s worth.

Second, these packages are priced to where you have to drink large amounts to breakeven on the day. Say a beer is $7 and you bought a plan for $60 per day. You’d have to drink nine beers every day before you came out ahead.

Finally, there is no sharing. You may think you can just buy drinks and share them with your partner in order to get your money’s worth. With drink packages, you aren’t allowed to buy drinks and then give them to someone else.

While there is no real way for the cruise lines to enforce this rule (unless you do it right in front of a crew member), some lines will make you buy the drink package for every adult in your cabin if any single member buys it. That’s a bummer if the other person in your group barely drinks.

If you want to see if the drink package works in your favor, you can input what you think you’ll drink into our drink package calculator .

6. Get the Drink Package

Did we just say to avoid the drink package? For many people, that’s a smart idea. But for others — including those who want to drink a lot of booze or simply like to have other drinks like specialty coffees or bottle water throughout the day — the drink package actually works in their favor.

If you plan to drink a lot, the package can put a cap on your costs and help you budget better. Still, it’s important to do the math behind the package before purchasing.

One thing to keep in mind: For many people, having the drink package on a shorter cruise can make sense. Longer trips make it harder to keep up the marathon for day after day.

7. There’s cheap booze on shore

Want to get your fill for super cheap? Head to land on port days and drink at a bar or restaurant on shore. The spots near the cruise ports cater to tourists and will often have cheap drink specials to lure you in. It’s way cheaper than drinking on the ship, and unlike when you’re sailing, you know that if the ground moves underneath your feet, then you’ve had too much to drink.

Popular: 39 Useful Things to Pack (17 You Wouldn't Think Of)

Read next: park & cruise hotels for every port in america, popular: 107 best cruise tips, secrets, tricks, and freebies, related articles more from author, can i bring marijuana on a cruise, worth it 15+ questions & answers about the carnival cheers drink package, answered: can you smoke or vape on a cruise (and more questions), 12 naughty cruise tips adults will want to know, 12 must-have cruise casino tips to know before you play, cruise line drink package calculator, leave a reply cancel reply.

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Two Women Allege Drugging and Rape During Bahamas Port Stop

11 rude things never to do on a cruise (according to real passengers), should you prepay gratuities on a cruise, hotels with cruise shuttles for every major port in america, 107 best cruise tips, tricks, secrets, and freebies, 39 useful things to pack for your cruise (including 17 you’d never think of).

  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms & Conditions

clock This article was published more than  1 year ago

Love that cheap cruise price? Don’t forget the boatload of fees.

Taxes, port fees, tips, drinks and activities can quickly add up.

cheap cruise with drinks

Colleen McDaniel remembers being on her first cruise more than 20 years ago when someone offered her a drink of the day.

“I was like, ‘Great,’” she remembered, and didn’t think about it when they asked for her room card. Only later did McDaniel, now editor in chief of the cruise news and review site Cruise Critic, realize that she had been charged for the drink — an early introduction to the way expenses can pile up after the cruise fare is paid.

Cruise executives love to tout the value of a cruise: Pay one price and your lodging, food, entertainment and visits to multiple ports are included. As gas prices soared last summer, taking a cruise cost less than filling some tanks . But there are a host of added fees — some optional, some mandatory — that can come as a big surprise to new cruise travelers, especially on big-ship lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian.

And as costs on land have increased over the past year, so, too, have many fees on cruise ships. Several cruise lines in recent months have announced that they are increasing automatic gratuities, hiking prices for WiFi or charging more for room-service delivery.

Travel adviser Ted Blank , who is affiliated with Travel Leaders, said he prepares clients with a couple of main messages. The first is touting the value of a cruise compared with a land vacation.

“And then I say, ‘But it’s important to understand that cruising isn’t an all-inclusive vacation, unless you get to really the luxury level of cruising,’” he said. “Many things are included in the price, but you need to kind of plan for and budget for additional costs that you’ll incur in the course of the vacation.”

Cruises see booking spike as vaccine rules drop

Some of the charges are unavoidable, but most are discretionary add-ons. And they can increase your costs by hundreds of dollars.

Tanner Callais, founder and editor of the online cruise information resource Cruzely , said that, for a theoretical cruise fare of $300, travelers should know that prices are shown with the expectation that two people will be in a cabin, each paying that amount. That price will also be for the lowest-priced inside cabin, with balcony rooms commanding higher prices. Then port fees and taxes might cost between $100 and $200 more, and there are still tips to add before moving into optional territory.

Some beverages are included in the price of a cruise. (Think regular coffee and tea, lemonade, juice and water.) But on most non-luxury lines, sodas, fancy coffee drinks and alcoholic beverages all cost extra.

For those who don’t want to shell out each time they order a Coke, beer or cocktail, cruise lines sell drink packages. Some lines have packages that cover bottled water or Starbucks, while almost all offer soda or alcohol-and-soda deals. Carnival’s booze-included package starts at $59.95 a day and must be purchased by all adults in a room; Norwegian Cruise Line’s alcoholic drinks deal starts at $109 a day with the same rule.

One side effect of cruise covid rules: Norovirus has plummeted

McDaniel said drink packages are one of the most common add-ons that cruise lines offer as a booking incentive, so travelers can often avoid paying that price if they find the right deal.

It’s possible to go on a ship and not pay extra for meals — but cruise lines have added a significant number of alternative dining options to tempt passengers to part with their money.

Danny Genung, CEO of the travel agency Harr Travel, said that he and his wife rarely spent any extra money on their first 100 cruises and that his father would never pay extra to dine on a ship. But, he acknowledges: “There’s amazing specialty restaurants on board. There’s plenty of places to upgrade.”

The demise of cruise formal nights

Cruise lines typically offer steakhouses, sushi spots, teppanyaki restaurants, seafood options and more for extra charges. Many also offer dining packages for passengers who know they’ll want to sample several. Main dining rooms and buffets, and often pool bars, pizzerias and other casual fare, are included in the cost of the cruise.

Several lines have also added delivery fees or per-item charges for room service in recent years.

Exploring on shore

A cruise is not just about the ship, of course, but going out and about on port visits can cost extra.

Travelers can book cruise-sponsored excursions, third-party outings or strike out on their own. Excursions can be relatively basic (a $50 trolley tour in Cozumel, Mexico) or quite costly (dog sledding in Juneau, Alaska, for $650 a person).

“In the Caribbean, one of the cheapest things you can do is just head to the beach,” said Callais, which might not cost more than transportation.

Meet the people who can’t wait to get back on a cruise ship

Onboard activities

McDaniel said many activities on board are free: using the gym, hanging out in the pool, playing miniature golf. But many also come with a fee, including some escape rooms, laser tag activities, go-kart rides or arcades.

Additionally, many exercises classes, which are often limited in number, will also cost extra.

Surfing the web

Want to show off your dance-party skills on Instagram? It’ll cost you. Want to stream your favorite show on your phone during a cruise? That will cost even more. Onboard WiFi has improved over the years, but it’s still a hefty expense.

On Carnival, for example, prices will increase next week from a range of $10.20 to $17 per person, per day, depending on the usage, to $12.75 to $22 per person, per day.

Virgin Voyages gets its sea legs

Taxes and port fees

This one is unavoidable.

“That is part of the cruise fare,” Genung said. “Nobody’s not paying that.”

The cost varies depending on location, but for a seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean that costs $533 per person, for example, port fees and taxes add another nearly $141 per person.

Cruise lines add an automatic daily gratuity to passengers’ bills, though travelers can opt to pay those in advance for budgeting purposes. Tips can be adjusted on board.

Many operators have recently increased the daily service fees; Norwegian, for example, now adds a charge of $20-25 per person, per day, depending on the category of room, up from $16-20 a day.

Carnival is increasing the daily per-person charge to $16-18 a day on April 1, up from $14.50-16.50.

Callais said gratuities are also automatically added to drinks, the bill at specialty restaurants or spa services.

Genung said he tells clients to expect those gratuities to be part of a trip.

“Everybody in the hospitality industry works hard,” he said. “Nobody works harder than those working at a hotel or resort or cruise ship.”

More cruise news

Living at sea: Travelers on a 9-month world cruise are going viral on social media. For some travelers, not even nine months was enough time on a ship; they sold cars, moved out of their homes and prepared to set sail for three years . That plan fell apart, but a 3.5-year version is waiting in the wings.

Passengers beware: It’s not all buffets and dance contests. Crime data reported by cruise lines show that the number of sex crimes has increased compared to previous years. And though man-overboard cases are rare, they are usually deadly .

The more you know: If you’re cruise-curious, here are six tips from a newcomer. Remember that in most cases, extra fees and add-ons will increase the seemingly cheap price of a sailing. And if you happen to get sick , know what to expect on board.

cheap cruise with drinks

cruise news

  • Cruise Advice

7 Ways to Drink Cheap on Your Cruise

Heather Baxter

Heather Baxter

  • March 2, 2016
  • • 3 min read

cheap cruise with drinks

Contents Show

We’ve all been there — you get your final statement on the last night of the cruise and nearly fall over trying to understand how you drank that much alcohol. Those frozen drinks on the lido deck and late nights at the piano bar add up quickly! Fortunately, there are a few ways to slim down your bill without cutting out the booze.

Carnival miami vice drink

7 Tips for Drinking Cheap on a Cruise

1. bottle service.

Some cruise lines offer bottle service, meaning you can have bottles of liquor delivered to your room for much less than what it would cost to buy the same amount of alcohol at the bar.

If you’re smart enough to bring your own 12-pack of soda with you at embarkation, you can mix your own drinks in your cabin and save some money from tipping a bartender, too.

2. Beverage Packages

Most cruise lines offer beverage packages for $60-80 per day that are all-inclusive, so you can order drinks and never worry about a bill.

For example, Carnival’s Cheers! package includes all alcoholic drinks with a $20 or lower menu price; soda; specialty coffee, lattes, and cappuccinos; and other drinks such as energy drinks, juices, coconut water, Gatorade, etc.

Make sure to read the fine print, though, as each line differs in what its packages may offer. For example, on most lines, everyone in the same cabin who’s old enough must purchase the beverage package, while kids in that cabin must purchase a soda/nonalcoholic package.

3. Liquor Tastings

Check your daily cruise itinerary for when the ship hosts a liquor tasting, and be sure not to miss it.

The hosts are always more than generous with giving you all the shots – I mean, tastings – that you request, and they never seem to mind whether or not you even end up buying a bottle (but of course, you usually do, and why not? It’s duty-free!).

liquor tastings cruise ship

4. Drink Up in Port

A lot of shore excursions and all-inclusive beach breaks offer an open bar. Drink up! If the drinks are unlimited, they’re usually not very strong, so take advantage of them. Frozen drinks tend to contain less alcohol, so stick to bottled beer and liquor to really get your money’s worth.

Keep in mind, even if you’re just hanging out in the port, it’s easy to find a local bar or restaurant port serving cheaper drinks than the ship.

READ MORE:  The Pros and Cons of Future Cruise Credits

5. Mixology Class

If you’ve cruised on a Carnival ship with the beloved Alchemy Bar, you may have heard of the mixology class offered by Carnival’s “cocktail specialists.”

The mixology class is just $20 and gets you four martinis and two shots in addition to valuable cocktail knowledge. What’s that saying? Give a man a drink, get him tipsy for a day; teach a man to mix the drink, and keep him tipsy for a lifetime.

torshaven lounge mixology viking sky

6. Bring Wine Onboard

It’s important to remember that many cruise lines have policies that allow each passenger to bring one bottle of alcohol aboard.

This small luxury can be a great way to save money, as purchasing your preferred drink from a large-scale retailer like Total Wine or even your neighborhood grocery store will likely be significantly less expensive than what you would pay for the same bottle on the cruise.

The price difference can be substantial, giving you more flexibility to enjoy your vacation without worrying too much about the costs.

7. Gift Cards

If you know you’re cruising in advance and it’s a special occasion, have people buy you cruise line gift cards instead of presents. This way, you can use the gift card as a bar card.

But you don’t have to celebrate a special occasion for this to work; you can buy the gift cards yourself in advance and essentially have your onboard expenses paid for. Who doesn’t want their vacation paid for in full?

How do you drink cheap on a cruise?

READ NEXT:  6 Cruise Ship Spots With Gardens & Greenery

Featured Photo: Flickr/ Madonovan

Pin this! ↘︎

#drinks #cocktail #alcohol #drink #cruise #cruising #cruiseship #tips #traveltips #moneytips #budget #savemoney #vacation #island

Recent Posts

Msc cruises secures agreement for $100 million terminal in galveston, cdc probes mysterious illness aboard cruise ship, gwen stefani named godmother of carnival’s newest cruise ship, bahamas implements new tax on private cruise line islands, share this post, related posts.

An MSC Cruises cruise ship setting sail from the Galveston cruise terminal in the ocean.

Docked Carnival Ship Strikes Cruise Pier in Jamaica

Norwegian Gem cruise ship in the ocean, providing exceptional service for Jacksonville residents.

Norwegian Gem Set to Launch Cruises from Jacksonville in 2025

Cruise Radio header

Bringing you 15 years of cruise industry experience. Cruise Radio prioritizes well-balanced cruise news coverage and accurate reporting, paired with ship reviews and tips.  Learn more  about our team . 

Quick links

Cruise Radio, LLC © Copyright 2009-2024 | Website Designed By   Insider Perks, Inc

TheTravel

10 Cheap Cruises Ranked By Their 2024 Prices

  • Cruising offers an affordable and all-inclusive vacation option, with prices as low as $27.25 per person per night.
  • Travelers can explore beautiful destinations like Alaska, the Caribbean, Mexico, and the Bahamas on budget-friendly cruises.
  • These cheap cruises provide luxury amenities, including open bars, water parks, multiple restaurants, and entertainment options.

The cruising world is one that travelers find hard to leave. With 24/7 food and restaurant opportunities, water parks, gyms, infinity pools, casinos, bars, and more, cruising is like going to a floating, all-inclusive hotel. While some cruise lines can be expensive, there are a few out there with some unbelievable deals that take their passengers on cruise ship voyages through Iceland's untamed beauty , cruises in the U.S. Virgin Islands , unique cruises in Greece , and the Caribbean's best-kept secrets, just to name a few.

The average cost per hotel room (excluding food) is predicted to be around $155 per person, per night, in 2024 . Still, in the land of cruising, travelers can enjoy an all-inclusive vacation for just $27.25 per person per night (the cheapest cruise on this list) or $95 per night (the most expensive 'cheap' cruise on this list).

For travelers looking to set sail and explore the world on a budget, these are the cheapest cruises to go on in 2024 (ranked by their 2024 prices), listed from cheap to 'super cheap'.

Related: 20 Biggest Cruise Ships In The World As Of 2023

7-Night Alaska Cruise

Total cost per person for 7 nights: $669.

This 7-night cruise departs from Seattle, Washington, and takes its passengers to Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay National Park, Ketchikan (Ward Cove), and Victoria, British Columbia. This is the cheapest cruise on offer for exploring the Alaskan waters.

The Norwegian Encore cruise line is one of the only ships that offer an open bar as part of the total price. It boasts an impressive 16 passenger decks, making it a cheap yet luxurious Alaskan vacation alternative.

  • Cruise Ship: Norwegian Encore
  • Book it here: 7 Night Alaska: Glacier Bay, Skagway & Juneau on Norwegian Encore

10-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise

Total cost per person for 10 nights: $509.

This 10-night cruise is the ultimate Caribbean getaway; offering the cheapest way to experience the length of the Eastern Caribbean, including stops in Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (the Cruiseline Private Island), Grand Turk Island in Turks & Caicos, and Amber Cove (Puerto Plata), Dominican Republic.

This cruise comes in at just $51 per night, making it one of the cheapest Caribbean cruises (and vacations) to go on. The Carnival Venezia also offers more restaurants (8), outside rooms (1249), and passenger decks (15) than other cruise ships for the same price, making it one of the most cost-effective options.

  • Cruise Ship: Carnival Venezia
  • Book it here: 10 Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise

Related: Three Super Cheap Cruises Worth Booking In 2024

7-Night Caribbean: Great Stirrup Cay & Cozumel

Total cost per person for 7 nights: $479.

This 7-night Great Stirrup Cay & Cozumel cruise around the Caribbean is the cheapest cruise line with an all-inclusive mini-water park in 2024.

The ship houses 2 pools and 5 whirlpools, a Kids Aqua Park, which includes a kid-size pool and slide, splash area, fountains and sprays, and 3 multi-story water slides, including the thrilling Epic Plunge.

  • Cruise Ship: Norwegian Epic Cruise Line
  • Book it here: 7 Night Caribbean: Great Stirrup Cay & Cozumel

7-Night Mexican Riviera Cruise

Total cost per person for 7 nights: $469.

This 7-night Mexican Riviera Cruise that takes passengers to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas in Mexico is the cheapest cruise departing from California.

The average price to visit and tour Mexico is $997 per person for 7 days , making this cruise an excellent all-inclusive alternative, costing half of the average price, with luxury amenities.

  • Cruise Ship: Carnival Panorama
  • Book it here: 7 Night Mexican Riviera Cruise

The cheapest cabin for this cruise is the interior cabin - bear this in mind when booking.

6-Night Pacific Coastal Cruise

Total cost per person for 6 nights: $451.

This 6-night Pacific Coastal Cruise is another one of the cheapest 2024 cruises; it takes its passengers on a cost-effective journey one-way to discover the West Coast of Canada and the United States from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Los Angeles, California. The cruise explores sights in Vancouver before moving on to Victoria, British Columbia, San Francisco, California, Catalina Island, California, and ending in Los Angeles, California.

On the route, this affordable cruise ensures that entertainment, food, exercise, and more are all covered with its state-of-the-art facilities that aim to cost less than what passengers usually spend at home.

  • Cruise Ship: Brilliance of the Seas
  • Book it here: 6 Night Pacific Coastal Cruise

Related: 10 Luxury Cruise Lines, Ranked By Passenger Review

11-Night Caribbean & Bahamas Cruise

Total price per person for 11 nights: $369.

Easily rivaling even the best Caribbean island hopping cruises , this cheap, extensive cruise takes its passengers to Port Canaveral (Orlando), Florida, Cozumel, Mexico, Costa Maya (Mahahual), Mexico, Ocean Cay Marine Reserve in the Bahamas (a Cruise Line Private Island) and Miami, Florida for just $34 per person per night.

Dining, entertainment, bars, and sports zones are all included in the price, making it one of the amazing yet cheap family cruises for 2024.

  • Cruise Ship: MSC Meraviglia
  • Book it here: 11 Night Caribbean & Bahamas Cruise

5-Day Eastern Caribbean Cruise

Total for 5 days per person: $349.

This cheap almost-week-long Eastern Caribbean voyage takes passengers from Port Canaveral in Orlando to Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos Islands before heading to Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic and ending back in Port Canaveral.

The cruise includes amazing stage shows, live musical performances, stand-up comedy, clubs, bars, and lounges featuring DJs spinning, karaoke, piano sing-alongs, and more. On board, guests can also enjoy parties, game shows, and trivia contests.

There are also great options for all six meals — breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and late-night snacks at the full-service Main Dining Room or the casual Lido Restaurant. These amenities make it one of the cheapest entertainment-filled cruises for 2024.

  • Cruise Ship: Carnival Freedom
  • Book it here: 5 Day Eastern Caribbean Cruise

4-Day Baja Mexico Cruise From Los Angeles

Total cost for four days per person: $229.

The Carnival Radiance takes its passengers on the cheapest trip to Mexico from Los Angeles they'll ever find. Stops along the way include Catalina Island, Ensenada, and Long Beach in Los Angeles.

From endless taco trains to never-ending burrito buffets and all-one-can-drink tequila, this all-inclusive Mexican fiesta is the cheapest way to spend a vacation in Mexico.

  • Cruise Ship: Carnival Radiance
  • Book it here: 4- Day Baja Mexico Cruise From Los Angeles

2-Night Margaritaville At Sea Paradise Cruise

Total cost for 2 nights per person: $148.50.

This 2-night cruise through the Florida seas departs from Palm Beach, Florida, and takes its passengers on an all-inclusive, relaxing getaway. This cruise doesn't have any island extras that passengers need to budget for, making it one of the cheapest cruises to book in 2024.

Passengers won't need to worry about paying for anything more once they're on board.

  • Cruise Ship: Margaritaville at Sea Paradise
  • Book it here: 2-Night Florida Cruise 2024

4-Night MSC Bahamas Cruise

Total cost for 4 nights per person: $109.

Not only is this one of the most affordable Bahamas cruises , but it also comes in as the cheapest cruise for 2024. This ultimate budget-friendly cruise is the 4-night MSC Seashore Bahamas Cruise, which takes its passengers on a journey to the luscious Bahamas. The ship departs from Miami and stops over at Nassau and Freeport before heading back to Miami.

The only thing not included in this all-inclusive vacation is a Wi-Fi and on-board credit package. The MSC Seashore is one of the biggest MSC cruise ships, with multiple amenities while also being the cheapest to offer such amenities.

  • Cruise Ship: MSC Seashore
  • Book it here: 4-Night Bahamas Cruise 2024

10 Cheap Cruises Ranked By Their 2024 Prices

cheap cruise with drinks

13 best all-inclusive cruise lines

Janice Wald Henderson

Editor's Note

All-inclusive cruising sounds alluring — until you realize that this phrase can mean different things to different cruise lines.

Generally speaking, all-inclusive in the cruise world means that the fare you're quoted includes the cost of your room on a ship (based on double occupancy), port fees and taxes, most meals, gratuities, and alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.

The most inclusive cruise lines also offer complimentary Wi-Fi, airfare (economy, chartered or business class), all specialty dining (rather than only at select venues) and shore excursions — pretty much everything short of spa and salon treatments, ultrapremium wines and spirits, and purchases such as cigars.

As you might expect, all-inclusive cruises are typically found on luxury or upscale cruise lines and are priced higher because they include so much.

For more cruise guides, news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

Beyond the truly all-inclusive cruise lines, some more affordable lines offer pricing packages that are more inclusive than the average big-ship cruise. You may be able to opt into an inclusive fare package for a higher cruise fare or get one free as a booking perk.

On some cruise lines, the highest-priced suites come with so many amenities as to make those fares all-inclusive. If you're just looking for all-inclusive alcohol, nearly every cruise line that doesn't already include alcohol in its fares will sell you an all-inclusive drink package that lets you have an open bar experience on board.

Here, we share the 13 best all-inclusive cruise lines where you can enjoy your cruise without ever pulling out your wallet.

All-inclusive cruise lines

Five lines stand out for having the most inclusive cruise fares in the industry. With so many things included in everyone's base fares, you'll mainly pay extra for spa treatments, souvenirs, some shore excursions and ultra-premium drinks.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

cheap cruise with drinks

Regent Seven Seas Cruises surely ranks as the most all-inclusive luxury line. Just be warned: With so much bundled into the fare, its prices are usually loftier than its competitors.

If tasteful opulence is your style, you will love Regent. Generously sized, all-suite accommodations feature spacious verandas. The multimillion-dollar art collection (think Picasso and Chagall) onboard the newest ships Seven Seas Explorer, Seven Seas Splendor and Seven Seas Grandeur astonishes; you will sail amid multiple museum-quality pieces.

This line's cruise fares include nearly every cruise-related travel expense: business-class airfare on intercontinental flights (economy airfare for domestic flights), transfers between your airport or hotel and the ship, all alternative dining (Chartreuse for Parisian-inspired fare and Pacific Rim for Asian-fusion cuisine are standouts), unlimited beverages, valet laundry service, crew gratuities, Wi-Fi and most shore excursions. Complimentary shore excursions are unlimited, so you can join a couple every day you're in port.

Related: Regent Suite: The $11,000-a-night cruise ship suite that's bigger than a house

Guests in Concierge Suites and above can count on a one-night fancy hotel stay pre-cruise, with transfers, breakfast and porterage. Select itineraries also offer two- or three-night land programs for free.

What is extra? Spa and salon treatments, hands-on cooking classes in a state-of-the-art culinary workshop, small group or special-interest shore excursions, the fanciest wines and liquors, cigars and sundries.

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours

cheap cruise with drinks

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, an upscale cruise and tour company known for its luxurious riverboats, now operates two 228-passenger "adventure yachts" — Scenic Eclipse and Scenic Eclipse II.

These stunning ships are as sleek and sexy as any private yachts custom-built for a billionaire. Think of each as a bliss factory, churning out one mind-blowing complimentary experience after the next. Plus, as ice-class expedition vessels, Scenic's yachts deliver adrenaline-charged activities that adventurous cruisers adore.

Among many inclusions, count on all-suite accommodations with verandas or terraces, butler service for every passenger, up to 10 dining experiences, alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, an in-suite minibar restocked daily, Wi-Fi, airport transfers and gratuities, both on board and for excursions ashore.

The included wines and spirits are particularly noteworthy, especially the more than 100 whiskeys. Belly up to one of nine bars and sip your way through the impressive collection.

Related: Luxury adventure cruise ships you have to see to believe

Most exploration toys, such as Zodiacs, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, are complimentary. Scenic Eclipse even carries e-bikes, an inflatable trampoline and water skis. Up to 15 onboard expedition experts (20 in polar regions) lead complimentary adventure and enrichment programs on and off the ship.

You will only pay extra for Scenic Neptune, the ship's six-seater submarine, and for a ride on the two helicopters.

Count on divine dining experiences. Sushi@Koko's skilled chefs cut the finest sashimi, flashing knives as if the fish were an art piece. Lumière prepares meticulous modern French cuisine; linger pre- or post-dinner at its sexy Champagne bar.

Senses Spa is steeped in complimentary offerings. Relax on thermal loungers, awaken the senses in showers delivering aromatherapy and multiple jets, take meditation classes, and work out in the gym and yoga and Pilates studio. Unwind in women's and men's saunas, steam rooms and relaxation lounges, and soak away your cares in three plunge pools. You'll only pay for one-on-one fitness sessions and spa treatments.

cheap cruise with drinks

Seeking casually elegant — think exclusive, country club-like vibe — for an all-inclusive voyage? Meet the seven Seabourn ships, which play up luxury in a sophisticated yet laid-back style. (Seabourn Pursuit, the line's second expedition vessel, debuted in August.)

Seabourn's cruise fares include oceanfront suites with double vanities and living areas (many with private balconies), premium wines and spirits, Wi-Fi, specialty restaurants, 24-hour in-suite dining (served course-by-course), caviar whenever and wherever you like, and gratuities.

The only major add-ons to your tab are airfare and shore excursions, the fanciest wines and spirits, and spa and salon treatments.

Related: 5 secrets to getting a luxury cruise for less

Fine dining on Seabourn ships includes an array of complimentary gourmet restaurants, including a dedicated sushi spot and an alfresco restaurant focusing on international cuisine with a twist. The line is soon to replace The Grill by Thomas Keller with Solis, a Mediterranean restaurant focused on fresh and healthy cuisine, all made from scratch on board.

Seabourn has created a Mindful Living Program in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Weil, an esteemed pioneer in integrative medicine. The line offers complimentary classes with Dr. Weil-trained practitioners in guided meditation, as well as free Pure-Form yoga and Pilates group workouts.

Silversea Cruises

cheap cruise with drinks

Interested in nibbling complimentary caviar and sipping fine Champagne on all seven continents? You are not alone. Silversea Cruises delivers that fabulous perk and much more in its impressive inclusions.

This luxurious Italian-inspired line offers two types of all-inclusive travel, "Port-to-Port" and "Door-to-Door."

Port-to-Port includes all-suite accommodations, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, tuxedo-clad white-gloved butlers for all passengers, basic Wi-Fi, gratuities, laundry room usage and meals in most dining venues, including 24-hour room service with dinner served course-by-course. It also includes one complimentary shore excursion per port; the rest are available for purchase.

You will pay extra for spa treatments, cigars and other purchases like the most exclusive wines and spirits.

Related: 7 compelling reasons to book a luxury cruise

Expedition sailings include extra perks in their Port-to-Port fares, such as all in-country economy air travel and pre- or post-hotel night or day use, necessary equipment and gear, and expedition team-led shore excursions.

For all types of Silversea sailings, Door-to-Door travel includes all of the above plus international economy airfare (or an air credit), business-class upgrades and/or in-country flights for select itineraries, pre- and post-cruise hotel nights (depending on flight timing) and airport transfers by private executive car service. This choice aims to eliminate all travel stress, with Silversea handling every detail between your walking out your front door and returning home.

Some other points to note when contemplating Silversea and its benefits: Suites truly are suites, with separate living and sleeping areas. For instance, on the 596-passenger Silver Moon, a spacious entry-level suite rocks a cool 334 square feet. A veranda brings the total square footage up to 387 square feet.

If you book the biggest onboard suites, you are privy to even more freebies, such as valet laundry, unlimited premium Wi-Fi (for faster speed than the included plan) and dinner for two in the fabulous La Dame restaurant.

The ultimate luxury inclusion? Caviar is served whenever you like, wherever you wish to dine, with all the proper accoutrements.

cheap cruise with drinks

Luxury cruise line Crystal re-launched in 2023, bringing back an all-inclusive onboard experience on two vessels, the 606-passenger Crystal Symphony and 740-passenger Crystal Serenity .

Fares include all ocean-view rooms with butler service for all, fine dining in multiple venues (including one complimentary reservation at Umi Uma by Nobu Matsuhisa Restaurant and Sushi Bar and Osteria d'Ovidio per cruise of up to 11 days), in-suite dining, all beverages, Wi-Fi, a youth program on select voyages and crew gratuities (for housekeeping, bar and dining staff).

You'll be wowed by the friendly and intuitive service on board. With a crew-to-passenger ratio of 1:1, you'll feel pampered every moment of your vacation.

Crystal's signature activities are always complimentary, whether that's lounging around the gorgeous pool by day, challenging new friends to a game of pickleball, enjoying afternoon tea in the Palm Court, ballroom dancing with gentleman hosts or attending performances in the evening.

If you have to take out your wallet, it'll be for ultra-premium liquors, gourmet wine-paired meals in the Vintage room, cigars in the Connoisseur Club, spa treatments and shore excursions.

Cruise lines with more-inclusive fares

Four cruise lines cover more costs in their cruise fares than the average line, but not as many things as the truly all-inclusive lines. We refer to these lines as more-inclusive, not all-inclusive.

cheap cruise with drinks

If you love a port-intensive cruise on a smaller, upscale ship, Azamara might be the cruise line for you.

Cabins on its older ships are compact yet cozy, with a modern look, but you won't spend much time in them. That's because the line prioritizes getting you to multiple ports and spending as much time as possible on land, with longer stays and evenings ashore.

In keeping with the line's destination focus, Azamara offers a complimentary AzAmazing Celebration on board or ashore on nearly every cruise. These exclusive, no-cost events highlight local culture and performers, often with exclusive access to cool locations.

Related: The ultimate guide to Azamara

Also included in every Azamara guest's fares are nonalcoholic drinks (such as specialty coffees and teas, soda and bottled water), as well as an assortment of standard liquors, wine and beer. Crew gratuities and self-service laundry are also included in your fare.

However, you will still have to pay for premium drinks, Wi-Fi, specialty dining, spa treatments and tours.

Azamara does offer several extra-fee packages to make its inclusive fares even more inclusive. Its five "Experience More" packages bundle together extra-fee items (shore excursion credit, Wi-Fi, premium beverages, spa credit, laundry and/or Chef's Table dining) for a roughly 30% discount compared with purchasing those amenities a la carte.

cheap cruise with drinks

Whether you're sailing Viking 's ocean or river voyages, or the new Viking Expeditions, this cruise line delivers many inclusions for a company that insists it's not a luxury company.

Here's what Viking includes on ocean and expedition sails: one complimentary shore excursion in each port; Wi-Fi; alternative restaurant dining; 24-hour room service; thermal suite spa access; beer, wine and soft drinks with onboard lunches and dinner; specialty coffee, tea and bottled water; and self-service launderettes. If you purchase airfare through Viking, ground transfers are also complimentary.

River cruising also includes the above, except it does not offer alternative restaurant dining, thermal suite spa access, 24-hour room service or self-service launderettes on board.

Cabins are a notch above what you'll find on other premium ships. They come with upscale amenities, such as king-size beds rather than queens, and bathrooms with spacious glass-enclosed showers, heated bathroom floors and anti-fog mirrors.

Perhaps what passengers rave about the most is complimentary access to the Nordic Spa and that awesome thermal suite mentioned above. Breathe deep in the steam bath or sauna, freeze your you-know-what off in the Snow Grotto to wake up every cell (including those you never knew you had) and take a whirlpool, cold-water splash or plunge pool dip. Alternating hot and cold therapies invigorates your mind and body in the best ways.

Related: The 5 best destinations you can visit on a Viking ship

The complimentary alternative dining inclusions are mighty fine, too. Little feels better than sitting down to an incredible meal in Manfredi's Italian restaurant and not signing a room charge at the end. No corners are cut here for a complimentary meal. Pastas are excellent, but by all means, order the signature bistecca alla Fiorentina , a Florentine-style porcini-and-spice-crusted ribeye steak that makes meat lovers swoon.

The overstuffed house-made bread basket, served with aged Parmesan chunks and high-quality balsamic vinegar and olive oil, is worth the price of admission alone — if there were one in the first place.

Oceania Cruises

cheap cruise with drinks

Oceania Cruises sails smaller, upscale ships with a focus on fine dining and restaurant variety. It has recently made its cruise fares more inclusive with the introduction of Simply More pricing.

All cruise fares now include free round-trip airfare plus transfers, a shore excursion credit of $600 to $1,600 per cabin to use on the guests' choice of tours in port and a beverage package that covers a selection of wine, beer and Champagne at lunch and dinner.

Oceania already includes nonalcoholic drinks (soda, specialty coffee and tea, smoothies, juice), specialty dining (including meals by celebrity chef Jacques Pepin), Wi-Fi (two devices per cabin), fitness classes and shuttles into town in port.

Virgin Voyages

cheap cruise with drinks

Virgin Voyages ' goal is to reimagine the cruise experience, which means that it doesn't follow the typical rules of cruising. You'll find tattoo parlors, drag shows, balcony hammocks and a novel approach to fare inclusions.

Onboard Wi-Fi and crew tips — typically extra charges on most mainstream cruise lines — are included in everyone's cruise fare on Virgin. All of its ships' 20+ eateries are complimentary, from the vegetarian restaurant to the Korean barbecue joint, though you may have to make reservations in advance. Select nonalcoholic drinks (including soda, non-pressed juices and sparkling water) also do not incur extra fees. The line's creative and energetic fitness classes are also fee-free; other lines charge $15 to $20 for these.

Virgin does not offer an all-inclusive beverage package add-on and instead claims it offers fair prices for drinks. However, if you purchase a Bar Tab (essentially prepaying for drinks) , the line will throw in extra free money you can use on your bar bill.

Related: Too hip or just right? Here's what it was really like sailing on Virgin Voyages

Cruise lines with all-inclusive fare classes

A relatively new addition to the all-inclusive cruise fare world is the all-inclusive add-on package . Select cruise lines allow guests to opt into higher-priced fares that include more perks or purchase fare add-ons that grant them extra inclusions. The cruise lines claim that the extra fees are a savings on the a la carte price of the included amenities.

Celebrity Cruises

cheap cruise with drinks

Celebrity Cruises aims to be the cruise line for Gen Xers, and its newest ships are filled with dining variety, resort-worthy bars and plenty of places to grab a seat and gab with your girls, guys or significant other. Innovative cabins let fresh air in without creating under-used outdoor space. The line has also gotten creative with options for more inclusive fares.

Celebrity lets cruisers choose from two fare types: Cruise-Only or All Included. Cruise-Only fares get you the standard cruise amenities, such as meals in the main dining room and buffet, a short list of nonalcoholic drinks (drip coffee, iced tea, juice from a machine at breakfast) and traditional onboard entertainment.

Upgrade to the All-Included fare, and you'll pay more but get more inclusions. (Prices vary by ship, itinerary and sail date.) These fares cover a Classic Drinks Package and Celebrity's Basic Wi-Fi plan. The fares used to cover crew gratuities, but that perk has been phased out.

Alternatively, if you book upper-category cabins and suites, your base fares will include additional perks. Passengers in AquaClass accommodations receive exclusive access to the Blu restaurant, a complimentary thermal suite pass, free fitness classes and discounted spa packages.

Related: Everything you want to know about Celebrity cabins and suites

Suite guests receive a premium drinks package, premium Wi-Fi, 24-hour in-suite dining and specialty coffees, and exclusive access to the Luminae restaurant and suites-only lounge and sun deck. These fares include concierge and butler service, as well.

Windstar Cruises

cheap cruise with drinks

Windstar Cruises ' hallmark is casual luxury, so the line lets guests choose how inclusive they want their fares to be.

The line's base prices get you a nicely appointed stateroom, dining in multiple venues with menus by James Beard Foundation-affiliated chefs, and nonalcoholic beverages (such as soft drinks and specialty coffees). Take your pick from small, luxury cruise ships with spacious suites to motorized sailing yachts with gorgeous sails.

If you want one-and-done pricing, passengers can choose All-Inclusive Fares for an additional $89 per person per day. With this plan, guests receive complimentary Wi-Fi, prepaid hotel and beverage gratuities, and an unlimited beverage package, which includes all beers, 33 different wines by the glass, 40 house and select brands of liquor, cocktails made with the included liquors and minibar items.

Princess Cruises

cheap cruise with drinks

The Love Boat cruise line explores the world on big, but not too big ships, with a particular focus on Alaska sailings . It welcomes everyone from families with kids to retired couples with a variety of onboard offerings and inclusive fare options to suit a variety of budgets and preferences.

Princess Cruises offers its guests two ways to make their cruise experience more inclusive. The Princess Plus Package costs $60 per person per day and includes a Plus Beverage Package (covering drinks priced up to $15 each), Wi-Fi on one device per passenger, two meals at casual extra-fee restaurants, two fitness classes, two premium desserts, unlimited juice bar drinks, free room service delivery and tips for the crew.

Related: The 5 best destinations you can visit on a Princess ship

For a more all-inclusive experience, guests can purchase the Princess Premier Package at $80 per person per day. With this elevated program, passengers receive a Premier Beverage Package (covering drinks priced up to $20 each), Wi-Fi on up to four devices per passenger, tips for the crew, two meals per guest in the line's extra-fee specialty restaurants, unlimited meals in the extra-fee casual restaurants, unlimited premium desserts and juice bar drinks, free room service delivery, a photo package of three prints plus unlimited digital files and reserved theater seating.

Holland America

cheap cruise with drinks

Holland America is Princess Cruises' sister line and Alaska rival. It sails midsized ships around the world, catering to a mature cruiser who loves live music, fine dining and a classic cruise experience.

The cruise line also has a similar all-inclusive add-on to its sister. The line's Have It All fares include a shore excursion credit of $100, $200 or $300 per person (based on length of sailing); a Signature Beverage Package covering alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks priced up to $11 per drink; one, two or three comped meals in the line's specialty dining restaurants (based on length of cruise); and a Wi-Fi Surf Package, HAL's basic Wi-Fi package.

The cost to make your cruise all-inclusive is $55 per person per day, added to your cruise fare, and applies only to the first and second guests in each cabin.

Related: The 4 classes of Holland America ships, explained

Cruise lines with all-inclusive promotions

A few cruise lines take a different approach to all-inclusive cruising and offer inclusions as booking promotions . Depending on the current offer, you are entitled to a slew of included amenities or your choice of only a few.

Norwegian Cruise Line

cheap cruise with drinks

Norwegian Cruise Line is known for its anything-goes attitude: Eat where you want, dress how you like, enjoy the ship as you see fit. Its megaships are known for their variety of dining and drinking venues, as well as onboard attractions that include Broadway-caliber entertainment, go-kart tracks , laser tag, VR game rooms and crazy water slides. Many of the attractions come with fees, so it's easy to find yourself pulling out your wallet again and again on board.

To combat that, NCL has been running some version of its Free at Sea promotion for years, which offers complimentary amenities to make your cruise fare a little or a lot more inclusive. Depending on the current offer, you might be eligible for all the amenities or you might get a choice of some number of them depending on the type of cabin you book.

The included perks vary, but are usually an Open Bar beverage package (covering drinks up to $15 each), one to three free meals for two people in specialty restaurants on board (depending on type of cabin and length of cruise), a $50 shore excursion credit for one person in each port, 75-300 minutes of free Wi-Fi each for two people (based on length of cruise), and complimentary or $99 third and fourth guest fares on select sailings. Sometimes free airfare (buy one ticket and the second guest flies free) is part of the promotion, as well.

Note that guests must pay a 20% gratuity on the value of the Open Bar beverage package and the specialty dining package.

Related: The ultimate guide to Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian also offers a paid upgrade to the Free at Sea perks called Free at Sea Plus. This add-on would upgrade your perks to a Premium Plus beverage package (including all top-shelf liquors, beer and wine plus unlimited still or sparkling bottled water, Starbucks coffee and energy drinks), two extra specialty restaurant meals, a $50 excursion credit for two guests in every port (versus one) and an unlimited Wi-Fi package (no streaming).

The additional cost is $49 per person, per day, for adults and $29 for children; solo adult travelers pay $42 per person.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

  • The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A beginners guide to picking a cruise line
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • 15 ways cruisers waste money
  • 12 best cruises for people who never want to grow up
  • The ultimate guide to what to pack for a cruise
  • Write a Review
  • Cruise Tips

2025 Cruise Deals

cheap cruise with drinks

.css-5378hu{display:inline;font-weight:var(--chakra-fontWeights-bold);} $769 .css-18q6iyp{color:var(--chakra-colors-gray-base);font-size:var(--chakra-fontSizes-sm);padding-top:0.875rem;} pp — 6nt Caribbean Balcony from TX: exclusive $225 to spend onboard & no deposit due

Caribbean , from .css-nd89np{transition-property:var(--chakra-transition-property-common);transition-duration:var(--chakra-transition-duration-fast);transition-timing-function:var(--chakra-transition-easing-ease-out);-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;outline:2px solid transparent;outline-offset:2px;color:var(--chakra-colors-blue-base);cursor:pointer;}.css-nd89np:hover,.css-nd89np[data-hover]{-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;}.css-nd89np:focus-visible,.css-nd89np[data-focus-visible]{box-shadow:var(--chakra-shadows-outline);} galveston, jan 5, 2025 - feb 8, 2025, carnival dream, deal details.

cheap cruise with drinks

$5,999 pp — 17nt South America Luxe Balcony: $1000 OBC + $400 off, free air, drinks, excursions & $25 deposit

South america , from buenos aires, nov 29, 2025, viking jupiter.

cheap cruise with drinks

Look no further for your cruise deals in 2022 , 2023 and 2024 . Cruise Critic's Deal Score makes it easy to see exactly what the best deals are this year and next. Our score factors in price, upgrades, onboard credits, package discounts, and more so that you can quickly see just how much money you're saving on your next cruise.

Check out deals on popular cruise lines like Royal Caribbean , Norwegian , and Carnival or look for that discount on a pricey Holland America cruise. Or maybe you have a particular destination in mind, like a Caribbean cruise or cruise to Alaska . No matter which cruise line you love or which destination speaks to you, there's a deal out there for you.

Using our sort feature, you can explore cruise deals by what matters to you most. Whether you are looking for the best deal available , or the most popular , we make it easy for you to explore. Cruise Critic sources new cruise deals every week, so make sure to sort by new cruise deals to ensure you don't miss out on the latest offerings!

We know how important an impromptu getaway can be, so be sure to check out our constantly updated last-minute cruise deals. And if you're looking for a little pampering with your time at sea, you can check out our luxury cruise deals on lines like Regent Seven Seas , Azamara , and Viking . Trust us, that spoil-yourself cruise glow is even brighter when you're getting it for way less money.

Cruise Critic is not a booking agent and does not charge any service fees to users of our site. Our partners who list cruise pricing on Cruise Critic are required to provide prices for cruise only , per person, double occupancy, and are based on specific cabin types and sailing dates, and may not be available for all cabin types/sailings. Taxes, fees and port expenses not included. Rates are in USD and valid for US and Canadian residents only. Fuel supplement may apply. When you book with one of our partners, please be sure to check their site for a full disclosure of all applicable fees as required by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

For any cruises listed, Cruise Critic does not guarantee any specific rates or prices. In addition, average cruise prices are updated nightly.

Furthermore, Cruise Critic makes no guarantees for availability of prices advertised on our site. Listed prices may have blackout dates, qualifications or restrictions.

Cruise Critic is not responsible for content on external web sites.

More Filters

Destination, departure months, departure city, cruise line.

© 1995— 2024 , The Independent Traveler, Inc.

IMAGES

  1. 20 Proven Ways to Get Cheap Drinks & Free Alcohol on Cruises

    cheap cruise with drinks

  2. The perfect private canal cruise and drinks for any budget in Amsterdam

    cheap cruise with drinks

  3. 7 Ways to Drink Cheap on Your Cruise

    cheap cruise with drinks

  4. How to Choose a Cruise Drink Package

    cheap cruise with drinks

  5. 10 Best Cruise Alcohol Hacks & Tips to Get Cheap Drinks on a Cruise Ship

    cheap cruise with drinks

  6. 75-minute salonboat canal cruise with drinks and typical Dutch cheese

    cheap cruise with drinks

VIDEO

  1. Cruise Tips

COMMENTS

  1. 25 Best Tips to Get Cheap Drinks & Free Alcohol on Cruises

    But in 2023, as drink prices on cruises hover around $10, those poolside piña coladas will add up before you know it. Splurging every night on costly cruise cocktails can be a blast. But it'll also blast your onboard account before you can even say "mar-ga-ri-ta."

  2. How to get free or cheap drinks on a cruise

    Duty-free shops typically have great deals (along with free tastings). For example, they offer promotions like 20% off two bottles of whiskey, or two bottles of limoncello for $20. The catch is that the ship will hold your purchases until the last day of the cruise. In that case, save the best party for the last night.

  3. A Complete Guide to Cruise Line Drink Packages

    Costa Cruises Drink Packages Cunard Line Drink Packages Disney Cruise Line Drink Packages Holland America Line Drink Packages Margaritaville At Sea Drinks Packages MSC Cruises...

  4. Cruise Lines That Include Alcohol In Their Fares

    1. AmaWaterways River cruise line AmaWaterways features a selection of complimentary local wines and beers during lunch and dinner on itineraries in Europe, Africa and Vietnam and Cambodia....

  5. Cruise drink packages: A line-by-line guide

    At several of the biggest cruise brands, including Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America, the main drink packages that include all types of drinks cost about $60 per person per day. Other brands, such as Norwegian Cruise Line, charge as much as $138 per person per day for a top-tier package.

  6. Cruise Drink & Beverage Packages

    CRUISE BEVERAGE PACKAGES UPGRADE WITH A BEVERAGE PACKAGE THREE OPTIONS THAT RAISE THE BAR There are three ways to upgrade your cruise vacation with a Beverage Package. Enjoy unlimited fountain soda and Coca-Cola® Freestyle beverages by purchasing a Classic Soda Package.

  7. 14 Ways to Get Free (or Cheaper) Drinks on a Cruise

    Jan 18, 2024 Read time 7 min read At-sea alcohol prices are anything but cheap, yet savvy cruisers know how to keep from drowning in their bar bill. We polled our editors and readers to compile...

  8. I took the Margaritaville cruise. It's like basic economy at sea

    For $99, we could get the Boat Drinks package, a discount of 35 percent off 10 alcoholic drinks, but only on drinks that cost $12 or less. The $119 No Doubts Premium Drinks package covered 10 top ...

  9. Cruise Drink Packages: Your Options by Cruise Line

    What it doesn't include: This package includes all drinks by the glass offered on Norwegian vessels. Cost: Starts at $138 per day, per person; cruisers can upgrade from the Unlimited Open Bar ...

  10. Royal Caribbean drink packages: Prices, inclusions and what to know

    Water Package Royal Caribbean's Water Packages are available in 12- and 24-packs of one-liter bottles of Evian water. The bottles will be delivered to your cabin on embarkation day. JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

  11. Answered: Which Cruise Line Has the Cheapest Drink Package?

    Cheapest Overall Drink Package: Carnival. If you simply want the cheapest drink package purchased outright, then Carnival is the ticket. They offer two prices for the CHEERS! package. First is $51.95 per day (plus 18% gratuity on that amount) if you pre-purchase the drink package online before you cruise.

  12. Cruise Deals: Best Discount Cruises & Packages

    Up to $700 off + 60% off second guest + Kids sail free* SALE ENDS IN 17 hrs 39 mins 09 secs Book Now THE BEST CRUISE DEALS & SPECIAL OFFERS The best vacation of your life starts here. Score incredible offers and last-minute deals on thrilling weekend getaways to the tropics, weeklong Euro discoveries, bucket list adventures in Alaska — and more.

  13. The Cost of Drinking on a Cruise

    There are also a number of other restrictions to bear in mind before diving in and booking that booze-inclusive package. Most drinks packages have a unit cost upper limit of $12-$15 per drink, depending on the cruise line's policy. If your favorite tipple is a more expensive premium single malt Scotch, you will have to pay the difference in ...

  14. 7 Tips for Drinking Cheap(er) on a Cruise

    Bringing your favorite vino could easily save you $100 on the trip. 5. Avoid the drink packages. All the cruise lines will offer something tempting — "all you can drink" alcohol packages. For anywhere from $60-100 a day, per person, you can drink what you want on the ship.

  15. Tempted by that cheap cruise? Don't forget the extra fees.

    Carnival's booze-included package starts at $59.95 a day and must be purchased by all adults in a room; Norwegian Cruise Line's alcoholic drinks deal starts at $109 a day with the same rule.

  16. 8 best drinks to order with a cruise ship beverage package (and 3 to

    The most cost-effective option is to get a cruise line drink package free as a booking perk. If you can't do that, focus on these eight best drinks to order with a beverage package to get the most out of your alcohol budget. I'll also clue you into three drink types that will work against your plan to make that package worth the money.

  17. 7 Ways to Drink Cheap on Your Cruise

    7 Tips for Drinking Cheap on a Cruise. 1. Bottle Service. 2. Beverage Packages. 3. Liquor Tastings. 4. Drink Up in Port.

  18. 9 Ways to Get Free Drinks on a Cruise

    1. Free Beverage Perks Keep an eye out for special offers that include a free drink package. - Photo by Carnival Cruise Line When you book your cruise, look for special offers like a free beverage package or onboard credit. For example, Norwegian's "Free at Sea" deal offers a choice between five perks and a free open bar is at the top of the list.

  19. 10 Cruise Alcohol Hacks for Better Drinking on the Cheap

    1. Forgo the souvenir cup. The pool deck bar waiter approaches you with drinks of the day in souvenir cups shaped like monkeys or fish or emblazoned with the cruise line's logo. His "special"...

  20. Celebrity cruise drink packages: Cost, inclusions and what to know

    Classic drink package: $35 to $89 per person, per day ($42 to $106.80 with gratuity) Premium drink package: $56 to $129 per person, per day ($67.20 to $154.80 with gratuity) The gratuity is 20% and is added when you purchase the package. That eliminates any additional tip on individual drink orders unless you want to tip extra.

  21. 10 Cheap Cruises Ranked By Their 2024 Prices

    Cruising offers an affordable and all-inclusive vacation option, with prices as low as $27.25 per person per night. Travelers can explore beautiful destinations like Alaska, the Caribbean, Mexico ...

  22. What to Expect on a Cruise: Drink Packages on Cruises

    Many cruise lines post lists of the included drink types and brands on their websites, or you can ask for a list when onboard. The package fine print will often list price maximums for included ...

  23. 13 best all-inclusive cruise lines

    The line's Have It All fares include a shore excursion credit of $100, $200 or $300 per person (based on length of sailing); a Signature Beverage Package covering alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks priced up to $11 per drink; one, two or three comped meals in the line's specialty dining restaurants (based on length of cruise); and a Wi-Fi Surf ...

  24. 25 drinks to order if you have a cruise drink package

    1. Piña Colada What could be more classic than a piña colada on your cruise vacation?! Simply nothing is better. This classic frozen cocktail is a creamy pineapple and coconut drink, complete with plenty of rum blended throughout. If your package allows, try adding a dark rum floater to top it off, along with plenty of cherries! 2. Mojito

  25. BEST Cruise Deals & Specials 2025

    Caribbean. Royal Caribbean International. Last-Minute Deal. Ending in 2 days. $749 pp. — 4-Nt. Keys & Bahamas w/ Exclusive up to $200 to spend, 70% Off 2nd Guest Plus up to $600 Bar Tab, Free Wi ...