3 Royal Caribbean Drink Package Tips Every Cruiser Needs to Know
For many cruise passengers, a cruise would not be complete without consuming a few (or more than a few adult beverages). Cruise ships have bars pretty much everywhere and whether you’re at dinner, a show, the pool, or even the spa, the beverage of your choice is never far away.
On a Royal Caribbean International (RCL) Cruise (much like cruises on rivals Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) ) most drinks cost extra. Aside from water, some juice-like drinks, milk, coffee, and tea you pay more for drinks. That’s not just limited to alcoholic beverages, it also includes soda, fresh juice, bottled water, and specialty coffees.
Because of that, many cruise passengers buy a drink package, and Royal Caribbean has three options:
- Classic Soda: This includes unlimited soda from any bar, restaurant, or Coca-Cola Freestyle machine.
- Refreshment Package: In addition to soda, this package adds specialty coffee (except at Starbucks kiosks), bottled water, fresh-squeezed juice, and non-alcoholic mocktails.
- Deluxe Beverage Package: This package gets you everything in the previous two offers as well as unlimited alcoholic beverages.
You don’t technically need any of these packages to enjoy your cruise, but with a bottle of water costing $3.25 and alcohol ranging from $6 beer specials to $14 mixed drinks (pricier ones with high-end liquor will cost you more) getting one makes sense for many cruise passengers. Before you board a Royal Caribbean cruise, if you plan on drinking alcohol, it’s important to know these three things about the Deluxe Beverage Package.
Buy Royal Caribbean’s Deluxe Beverage Package Before You Cruise
In nearly every case, it’s cheaper to buy the Deluxe Beverage Package before your cruise. The problem is that Royal Caribbean uses variable pricing for the offer so the price you pay can be very different depending upon when you buy.
The Deluxe Beverage Package costs between $55 and $110 per day, per passenger and it must be purchased by every person 21-and-over staying in the same cabin. If there’s a reason an adult can’t drink alcohol, you will have to call the cruise line to get an exception and the person not getting the Deluxe package will have to buy the Refreshment Package.
Generally, if you see the package at around $70 per day or less, that’s a good time to purchase it. If you see a lower price, you can cancel your original order and buy it again (but you will have to wait for a credit card refund).
If you wait to buy it onboard, you will generally pay a higher price even though it’s often marketed as “buy one, get one half off.” It’s also important to remember that you will also pay an 18% gratuity fee on the package.
Know Your Royal Caribbean Drink Package Math
While $70 per day (or more) seems like a lot, it’s often a deal even for fairly modest drinkers because drinks add up quickly. A typical day for a modest drinker might look like this:
- 8 a.m. orange juice $6
- 9 a.m. Cappucino $5
- 11 a.m. bottle of water $3.25
- 12:30 p.m. soda $3.25
- 1:30 p.m. mixed drink $14
- 2:30 p.m. bottle of water $3.25
- 6 p.m. glass of wine $12
- 8 p.m. mixed drink $14
- 9 p.m. bottle of water $3.25
- 10 p.m. mixed drink $14
- 11 p.m. bottle of water $3.25
That leads to a total of $75 and that’s someone who only had four alcoholic beverages. If you’re likely to have that many (or more) or like your specialty coffee and /or milkshakes, you will often be saving money even if the price goes above $70 per day.
There’s also real value in having the peace of mind of not having to keep track or stick to a budget while you are on vacation.
Here’s When to Buy the Royal Caribbean Drink Package
Since the price of the Deluxe Beverage Package changes (it can literally change prices on the same day) there are some tricks that can help you find the best time to purchase it. The challenge is that Royal Caribbean has its own (very secret) formula for setting the price, so no one method works every time.
In general, however, it’s best to buy the Deluxe Beverage Package during one of the cruise line’s holiday sales. Usually, for every major holiday, the cruise line offers a sale on onboard amenities. The Black Friday sale (which usually starts before Thanksgiving) is often the biggest sale of the year, but experiences can vary.
You should ignore the percentage off that the cruise line touts and focus on the bottom line price. And, since you can buy the package as soon as you book your cruise, you may get multiple “sale” opportunities that all offer different prices. To pay the least, you have to be vigilant and willing to cancel an existing order and buy the package again.