8 Reasons Why Cruise Ship Beverage Packages are a Waste of Money

Are you going on a cruise but you’re not sure if you should buy the cruise drink package? Cruise beverage packages can be quite expensive, ranging from $60 to over $100 per person per day. It can potentially cost as much as your cruise fare! So, should you buy the cruise beverage package? Here are reasons why cruise drink packages are a waste of money. Also, I’m sharing my travel website password tracker as a free printable below.

Reasons Not to Buy the Cruise Drink Package

1. Back-to-Back Port Days

Buying a cruise beverage package may not be a good idea if you have a busy itinerary filled with port days. Since you are off the ship most days, you likely won’t have the time to drink. 

For example, if you’re on a Mediterranean cruise, you may not get your money’s worth from a drink package. You’ll be out and about on shore excursions in the morning and back for dinner in the evening. This leaves you with a limited amount of time for alcoholic beverages during dinner and after. 

Plus, you’ll probably have an early start the next day, so you’re probably not going to be hanging out at the bar until late at night. Remember, depending on the price of your beverage package, you have to drink 5 to 9 alcoholic beverages a day to make it worthwhile!

Cruise Ship Beverage Package a Waste of Money

2. Not Everyone in Your Cabin Drinks

If you’re planning to go on a cruise and wondering whether to buy the drink package, there’s one main reason why you might decide against it. On most cruise lines, every adult in the cabin is required to buy a beverage package, even if not everyone drinks alcohol. 

If you or someone in your group doesn’t drink a lot of alcoholic beverages, it may not be worth it to get the cruise beverage package. You’d be better off ordering drinks a la carte instead of buying the package.

3. The Wine You Brought Is Enough

Most cruise lines allow passengers to bring wine onboard the ship on embarkation day. For example, Carnival allows one bottle of wine or champagne per adult, while Disney allows two bottles of wine or champagne per adult. 

If the wine you brought onboard the ship is enough for you, then you don’t need to buy a beverage package on the cruise ship; that’s just wasting money.

4. The Private Island is Not Included

When buying a cruise drink package, don’t assume it includes the drinks you order on the cruise line’s private island. Some cruise lines include their private islands, while others don’t. 

For example, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Unlimited Open Bar Package and Premium Plus Beverage Package will allow you to order drinks at their private island Great Stirrup Cay, but not at Harvest Caye. 

While, Royal Caribbean’s Deluxe Beverage Package covers both their private islands, CocoCay and Labadee. If you are making a stop at one of the private islands, you should double check to see if your drink package includes that island.

5. You Have Loyalty Status

You may not want to buy the cruise drink package if you’ve earned a high loyalty status on your cruise. This is because you’re likely to be invited to at least one loyalty reception. These receptions typically have an open bar with free wine, cocktails, and champagne. Some cruise lines may even invite you to more than one of these receptions. 

Whenever I attend these receptions, I always make the most of the free drinks by ordering an extra “to-go” drink that I take with me to my next activity. Remember, cruise ships don’t have an open bottle rule, so you can walk around the ship with your glass of wine. 

If you’re going to these receptions with unlimited drinks anyway, it’s a waste of money to buy the cruise ship’s beverage package.

Cruise Ship Beverage Package a Waste of Money

6. Your Favorite Premium Brand is Not Included

If you’re someone who’s quite selective with your alcoholic drink choices, then buying the cruise drink package might not be the best idea for you. The reason is that certain premium brands of whiskey or wine may not be included in the package, which can be quite frustrating. 

For example, Carnival’s Cheers beverage package is capped at $20 per drink, if you go over you pay the difference. You may end up having to pay extra just to have your preferred brand of bourbon!

Some cruise lines offer different levels of beverage packages, like Norwegian cruise. It has two tiers: a $109 per person package and a $138 per person package that includes premium brands. Double check with the cruise line to see which brands are included in the drink package. 

7. You’re On a Budget

If you’re on a budget, buying a drink package for your cruise might not be the best idea. These packages can be quite expensive, and they add up quickly. For example, at Carnival Cruise, the cheapest drink package starts at $60 per person per day, while at Norwegian Cruise, it starts at $109 per person per day. And don’t forget about the 18-20% gratuity that you’ll need to add on top of that. 

Plus, keep in mind that you’ll be charged for the drink package for the entire duration of your cruise. In some cases, the drink package can be almost as expensive as your cruise fare! So, if you’re on a budget, you definitely don’t want to double your cruise fare by adding a drink package. Besides, you can get free drinks on the cruise ship if you just know where to look. Check out my tips on 10 ways to get free champagne and drinks on a cruise

8. You are Not Big Drinkers

If you don’t drink a lot of alcohol, there is a compelling reason not to buy the cruise drink package. The beverage package becomes cost-effective if you drink 5 to 9 alcoholic beverages in a day. 

But if you cannot imagine drinking that much alcohol, it doesn’t make sense to buy the beverage package. Even if you think you can make up for it by drinking specialty coffee and smoothies, you still need to drink a lot to break even. You are better off ordering a la carte.

If all you need is a cocktail by the pool, a glass of champagne before dinner, and a glass of wine during dinner, then you can skip the beverage package. I suggest getting your champagne for free at the art auction and ordering the happy hour cocktail by the pool. Check out my guide: 13 ways to get free things on a cruise.

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