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Cruise line drink packages and whether or not you should buy one are a subject of sometimes intense debate among frequent floaters. On one hand, it’s nice to know exactly how much you are paying up front. On the other, unless you are lucky to find a fare that includes a drink package as an incentive to book, they can be pricey.
For example, the top shelf package on my forthcoming September Mediterranean cruise is pricing at a whopping $98.99 per person, per day! (Trust me, that package will probably go on sale at some point.) That’s not small change, especially on a 10-night cruise, and is the highest price point I’ve seen for one of these packages. For the curious, that comes to about $2,375 with gratuities added for 2 of us!
Drink Packages Aren’t Just About the Cost
A more typical price is $65 to $75 a night (plus gratuity), which is closer to what I paid on a short Bahamas cruise in August. That’s a price that is easy to justify for me, even though I have never calculated my drink costs “to the penny” to make sure I’m breaking even or “making money.” For me, it is always about the convenience of not keeping up with receipts, and knowing as much of my cruise costs up front as possible.
In reality I’m probably coming out OK financially, especially on shorter “party” cruises where I’m most likely to maximize alcohol consumption. You may feel more strongly about achieving a good return on your drink package investment, so check your math and do what’s best for you when it comes to purchasing a drink package for your cruise.
Has Being Loyal to Royal Made Drink Packages a No-Go for Some Frequent Floaters?
Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society is a very good cruise line loyalty program. Like most loyalty programs, the more you cruise, the more perks you receive. Among the best perks are vouchers for complimentary alcoholic (and certain non-alcoholic) beverages starting at the program’s Diamond level.
Specifically, Diamond members receive four drinks, Diamond Plus members receive five, and Pinnacle Club, the program’s highest level, receive six drinks with the current program. Considering drinks can be valued up to $14, that’s a considerable benefit. In my case as a Diamond Plus member, up to $70 per day! I may not calculate my drink package ROI to the penny, but five “free” drinks is almost too much value to ignore.
I’m a “man of a certain age” now, and no longer drinking like a youthful spring breaker. For me, the benefits of being “Loyal to Royal” now outweigh the convenience and certainty of buying a drink package in advance for many Royal Caribbean cruises.
If you are a higher tier elite member of Royal Caribbean’s loyalty program, does their excellent complimentary drink benefit impact your decision-making when considering a drink package for your cruises? – MJ
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