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Annie43

Is it possible to cruise without a drink package?

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We are going on an 11 day Southern Caribbean cruise (yay!) It has been several years since we last cruised and beverage package prices are crazy — over 1200 dollars for the two of us! So..... a few questions:


Does Royal offer drink coupons for Crown and Anchor Platinum level members?

Are drink coupon “cards” offered on the Serenade of the Seas?
Are there any events where free drinks are offered? Art auctions with free champagne, lol? 
Does anyone know the prices of drinks on the Serenade of the Seas?

 

We are planning to bring two bottles of wine on board.  Any other suggestions?

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There is one drink coupon for a discount.

 

Drink cards may or may not be offered during the cruise, and if they are offered they usually show up in the last half of the cruise.

 

The art auction still offers free champagne.

 

Basic mixed drinks around $9-$10.  Fancy (upper shelf, blender, frozen) around $12-$14,  Add 18% to these numbers for tip.

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…………….and MOST people cruise without a beverage package.  Just buy and pay for a drink when you feel like a drink.

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We tried it once thinking one last thing we could prepay and not worry about. We didn’t  feel it was worth it. My husband is pretty big drinker and he will hammer them the first couple of days but then he slows down a lot. Plus all the port days you’re not even on ship.  I tended to drink more than I normally would feeling like I needed to get my money’s worth which just made me really tired! 

 

We take Brita filter water bottles for water and 2 bottles of wine. Not fancy coffee drinks. Then buy drinks we want. It all depends what works for you.

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We never buy a drink package. Math simply does not work out for us. As a couple each of us only drink two or three drinks per day.

Agree with Merion_Mom.

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We were on a 15 day TA last year and did not purchase a drink package.  Worked out very well as we are Blackjack players and Celebrity offered free drinks to active players.  Most we paid for was wine at dinner.   

 

Coming up next month for a 7 day aboard Symphony. We worked that a drink/refreshment package combo would cost us $550.00 if we purchased earlier.  No way would we drink that much on a 7 day cruise.  We will bring a couple of bottles of wine with us for dinner.  I am mostly a one drink person and DH not much more.

 

One of my cousins bought the package and figured out you needed to drink 5/day to break even.  As Diamond members, we are entitled to 3 drinks/day each, plus free drinks in the Diamond Lounge.  That should be plenty for us.

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Your title made me laugh(: Of course it's possible!  We just did it.  We opted to pay as we go.  Immediately upon boarding, we were given champagne.  There is also the art auction.  We did the drink of the day, which was usually $8-$9.  We did have our wine we brought and ended up buying a couple of other bottles.  All in all we spent a couple hundred on alcohol and did not feel deprived.

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For me it really varies with the cruise (# port days, warm or cool weather), cruise line, cost of package, and inclusions.  On NCL, I would never ever consider paying. It doesn’t include bottled water or specialty coffee, and no way can I drink $99 plus tips per day. However, paying just the tips on their “free” drinks makes sense...that’s just a few drinks.

 

For my upcoming RCCL cruise, we decided it was worth it. 7 days, warm weather, only three ports (one of which is Coco Cay), and got it for $48 plus tips per day. With coffee and water included, we figure 2 coffees @ $5, 2 waters @ $5, a glass or two of wine with dinner @ $10, and a few cocktails @$12 is the minimum  we would buy, so it was worth it.  And we would have bought at least the soda package, so there’s more $ per day as well.

 

I drink a lot less without it, but it’s not to the detriment of enjoying the cruise.

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I've never gotten a booze package.  I usually just get a soda package, but mainly because I don't drink coffee -- I get my caffeine via Diet Coke.  

It's totally possible to cruise without any drink package at all, though.  Just buy a drink if you want one, and don't when you don't. 

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Sure it’s possible. We all sailed without drink packages until they were introduced. 😀

 

We have only sailed with a drink package once, and it was because it was included in the price (Aurea experience on MSC). We found ourselves consuming considerably more because we had the drink package (not only alcohol, but sodas, bottled water, and specialty coffees). But our normal consumption on other cruises is usually around $200-$300 for our family of 4, so for us a drink package isn’t a good value. 
 

I guess it all depends on how much you normally consume to determine whether a drink package is for you. Depending on which package you select, you may need to consume 10-15 drinks a day to make the drink package worth it . 

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We never get a package. Being Diamond, we can have a few drinks in the evening. Don’t usually drink during the day, maybe one. Might purchase a bottle of wine or two in the dining room if the bottles we bring run out. Don’t drink either soda or coffee (I bring my own preferred tea bags). Have absolutely no problem drinking the ship’s water and bring sports bottles to take it on excursions. Mostly drink iced tea or water with meals. I think our total alcohol bill on our last cruise was maybe $250. 

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We did one cruise without a drink package.  We did end up drinking less.

 

But I did miss the convenience.  Without the package, you have to sign the slip for every drink.  And you need to keep an eye on your account to make sure you are not being charged for drinks you did not order/drink.

 

So even if a few days I do not break even, I still prefer the package.

 

And you don't need to "hammer down" drinks to break even.

 

Fresh squeezed OJ with breakfast.  Maybe a latte or two.

 

2 - 3 drinks over the day around the pool.


A cocktail before dinner, a glass of wine with dinner, maybe 2.  And a frozen drink for the show.

 

WELL over the package price, even if you skip one or two.

 

On port days, you miss the drinks during the day.  You still have breakfast and dinner/evening.  And even that is close to break even or even above.

 

And you can even make some of them non-alcoholic.

Edited by SRF

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I am big on looking for hacks, so on our most recent RC cruise was looking at this situation.

 

There are a few events which give you a small amount of free alcohol - read the cruise compass carefully every day, every line to see what exactly they are giving you free, and what is an extra cost; small mimosas during one of the party events and small tastes during various shop events, of course designed to lure you into buying package liquor but not at all necessary.  If you go to the art auctions they usually give out small glasses of free champagne to show up and pretend you are excited about people overpaying for printed posters of actual art (a/k/a signed lithographs, and other fancy terms for reproductions of original work).

 

We did a martini making class on our last sea day which was an extra fee (I think $25 per person plus gratuity) but it was a great value as it included four VERY STRONG martinis of different types made with mid-level call brand liquors, which I believe would vary by bartender preference. But we had a classic gin martini (I think it was Bombay gin) which was really straight liquor, a lavender lemondrop martini (I think they used Absolut citron) and he made a little too much so he topped us all off, a chocolate vodka martini, and an espresso martini, which I really don't know what was in it, being not much of a drinker, and completely drunk after the first three.   I would say it was probably, at cruise prices, about $50 worth of booze in just over an hour's time. 

 

We saw a couple of other similar activities in the cruise compass on sea days but didn't partake so I don't know how the value compares, how much you got or the prices.  They were typically offered mid-afternoon and focused on a certain type of alcohol, i.e. rum, tequila, etc.

 

Personally I cannot imagine drinking enough to justify the package prices. I would be constantly drunk / hungover / missing out on most of the actual cruise if I drank that much / but of course that is an individual decision. 

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Just of the Symphony 2weeks ago

We found that most times when we ordered 2 drinks,  with tip it was just a hair over 25.00

We enjoyed the Sangria in Vintages and they were 12 each so that ran us just over 25

Non specialty beers were around 7 and Truly spiked seltzer, 8, these came close to 20

So for 4 drinks a day we were just over 100 a day.

Is you cruise port intensive? Obviously, being off ship a good part of the day you won’t be drinking onboard

We ordered water for our cabin precruise and brought on two bottles of wine

Onboard my husband talked to someone who brought on 4 bottles

He had 2and his wife had 2, they went through security  aopart and not as a couple

We had gifts cards from Christmas we used at the Starbucks inboard.

Most mornings we ordered coffee, tea, juices, fruit, etc from room service so we did not have to go search out coffee first thing. 😊

 

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I never get it - just pay by the drink when I feel like having one.  I'm mostly a light beer drinker, not into sugary or fancy drinks, smoothies, fresh-squeezed OJ or soda.  I drink one specialty coffee a day and on ships with Starbucks, I bring the multitude of gift cards that we've accumulated over the years.  My husband doesn't drink at all and we're typically with my teenagers - I'm not interested in heavy drinking in front of them.  

 

It's never been a big deal for me to sign receipts.  Takes all of a second to glance at the drink/amount to make sure it's correct and sign.  The argument of "convenience" was never enough to justify the cost of the package.

 

It depends on your drinking M.O., the length of the cruise, amount of port days...my family just went on a 5 night/2 port days cruise back in December.  Lots of big drinkers in our group but only one couple did the BOGO drink package deal (paid around $700 for the 2 of them).  The weather was chilly & cloudy and not really pool weather, so on sea days I think it was harder for them to find opportunities to utilize their package.   It was funny to watch them on the last night, trying to get their money's worth out of it 😂  The next morning the rest of us compared drink totals and no other couple came close to the drink package price (although everyone also carried on their 2 bottles of wine per stateroom).

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I've cruised with and without the drink package on 7 day cruises.  My husband and I are moderate drinkers.  We've gotten the package when it's around $48pp/day and I figure we need to drink around 5-6 drinks/day each to break even.  Now of course when you figure in bottled water, speciality coffee drinks, and soda, the number of alcoholic drinks needed goes down.  On a 7 day cruise with 3 sea days that makes sense for us.  On port days we tend to drink less.  I don't think I'd ever buy the drink package on an 11 day cruise as there's just no way I can sustain drinking the amount of alcohol needs to come out ahead on that one.  I'd suggest bringing 2 bottles of wine aboard. If you indulge a few days on ship alcohol and then only have a couple of drinks the remaining days you'll spend less then buying the pkg.  You can always check your bill too to see where you're at in your spending and adjust as needed.

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2 hours ago, momofmab said:

It's never been a big deal for me to sign receipts.  Takes all of a second to glance at the drink/amount to make sure it's correct and sign.  The argument of "convenience" was never enough to justify the cost of the package.

 

It is not checking the receipt, it is keeping up on your shipboard account to make sure you were not charged for extra drinks.  And many reports here on CC about that happening.

 

I would not justify it on that basis alone, but when on sea days I am $20+ ahead each day, a couple of port days when I am $5 - $10 behind, but still have the convenience of not dealing with receipts is worth it TO ME.   

 

If it is not worth it to you, that if fine.

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15 minutes ago, SRF said:

 

It is not checking the receipt, it is keeping up on your shipboard account to make sure you were not charged for extra drinks.  And many reports here on CC about that happening.

 

I would not justify it on that basis alone, but when on sea days I am $20+ ahead each day, a couple of port days when I am $5 - $10 behind, but still have the convenience of not dealing with receipts is worth it TO ME.   

 

If it is not worth it to you, that if fine.

 

Never said anything about whether checking receipts was "worth it" - just stated that dealing with receipts doesn't weigh in as enough of an inconvenience (to me) to justify getting the drink package.  Never had a problem with bogus drink charges but since I'm only looking at 3-4 drinks a day on a sea day (if I'm by the pool) and maybe one drink with dinner on a port day, it's not hard for me to keep track.  I don't partake in all the extraneous non-alcoholic fee-based drinks so again, not hard (for me) to monitor my bill. 

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We have never had a drink package and been fine. In fact my wife didn’t even have a soda package on our last two cruises. The only reason it works for us though is on our last couple of cruises we probably averaged 5 adult drinks each, and for our current booked cruise adding a 1000 for the beverage package didn’t make sense. For some it does though. 

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This is all very interesting. I didn’t realize that Starbucks gift cards can be used on the ship. Our cruise has six port days and four sea days. Thanks so much for letting me know about the opportunities for “free” drinks.  Are the drinks at the top tier event (we are Platinum) free? 
 Thanks again for your help!

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6 minutes ago, Annie43 said:

This is all very interesting. I didn’t realize that Starbucks gift cards can be used on the ship. Our cruise has six port days and four sea days. Thanks so much for letting me know about the opportunities for “free” drinks.  Are the drinks at the top tier event (we are Platinum) free? 
 Thanks again for your help!

 

Whatever they are serving is free.  Like champagne, rum punch, etc.  No choice beyond what they have on their trays.

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The next time we do a long cruise, we will definitely skip the package due to cost.  We will carry on water and wine.  I will sacrifice and just have free coffee, instead of the “good stuff”.  I will not try the “interesting” drinks that I’ll likely not like.  And, hopefully we’ll be diamond by the, so we can do the free happy hour 🙂

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Hi  We are new to RC.  If we bring the 2 allowed bottles of wine, is there a corkage fee?

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2 minutes ago, Bery said:

Hi  We are new to RC.  If we bring the 2 allowed bottles of wine, is there a corkage fee?

 

You are subject to a corkage fee if you bring the bottles to a public venue, but the crewmembers seem reluctant to impose the fee.

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