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Unlimited Beverage Option


pete85338
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Going on a cruise Dec 30 - Jan 3. First time for me being on a cruise and the first time in 15+ years for my girlfriend. Neither of us are big drinkers but enjoy a few cocktails. My question is if the unlimited beverage options is worth it. For this cruise, it is $419/person. If you just pay for drinks as you go, are they expensive? What is average cost of soda, water, etc? My initial thought is that if it is similar to Las Vegas ($5 for soda/water, $20 for cocktails) then it would be borderline that the unlimited. package would be worth it. 

Thanks in advance for any advice.

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Not really.  When you purchase the drink package - it automatically adds gratuities to your cruise total.  It is the same with the Specialty Rest. package.  Even if it is part of the Free at Sea package.  The water for puchase is only filtered watered - not spring and it is NCL's own brand.  It comes in a plant based container and does not taste good.  Better off bringing a refillable bottle and  lemon/lime  and ice. When you stop in a port - you can buy water or soda and bring it back on the ship.

My husband and I cruise a lot and we do not drink - we drink water with lots of ice & lemon (free) and I drink lots of Iced tea(free).  

You can deny both of these packages when you book your cruise and see the overall total of your cruise go down a few bucks.  Also there are many liquors and cocktails that have an extra charge depending on what you drink. 

Have fun.

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I would not get the whole package if I were not heavy.  I am okay with pay-as-you-go drinks.  If there is a drink I am especially looking to get, I'd wait once I get off to the port, the price is much cheaper.  All the extra orders on the cruise will have added gratuities so always keep this in mind when ordering.  Enjoy your cruise!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Alcoholic drinks are generally from $9 to $15, with some wines and whiskeys a little more, like $16-19.  The drink package includes everything up to $15. So, you can do a basic calculation based on what the package costs and how many drinks a day you purchase.  We got the drink package as a promo, and it didn't really reduce the cruise price much to delete it, so it was well worth it for us. YMMV.

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  • 1 month later...

My wife and I are taking the Mexican Riviera Cruise on the Norwegian Bliss November 13-20, 2022. We always take the "free" drink package because alcoholic drinks are so expensive on cruise ships. We feel that if the two of us have 3 drinks per day at average price of $12 plus 20% gratuity ($14.40 x 6 = $86.40 x 7 days = $604.80) we will more than recoup the Beverage Service Charge of $277.20 we paid when we booked the cruise. 

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22 hours ago, DeanneB said:

They say the NCL Package is the most expensive in the cruise industry. That is saying a lot.  https://www.cruisehive.com/norwegian-cruise-line-to-increase-price-on-beverage-packages/82251 

Well yes and no @DeanneB.  True, NCL's Unlimited Open Bar Beverage Package (if purchased outright) is currently priced at $99 per person per day, excluding gratuities, and will increase to $109 per person per day in January.  Now let's compare the outright price of an equivalent beverage package on RCCL and CCL.

  • RCCL:  The Deluxe Beverage package costs between $48 - $79 per guest, per night (excluding gratuity) if purchased in advance. The price will be higher if purchased onboard, usually between $63 - $89.00 per guest, per night, again excluding gratuity.
  • CCL:  CCL's Cheers package is $51.95 to $54.95/person/day (excluding gratuity) if purchased in advance and $56.95 to $59.95/person/day (excluding gratuity) if purchased onboard.

So yes, on the surface, NCL is more expensive.  But, a majority of NCL's clients receive their beverage package as part of a bundled "Free At Sea" package for the price of $19.80/person/day, which is equivalent to the 20% gratuity they charge on the package.  Looking more deeply:

  • Only NCL knows what beverage package cost is buried within every one of their cruise fares, if any.
  • Individual drink pricing varies between the three major cruise lines, so it is tough to compare on a per drink basis.
  • RCCl's package covers drinks up to $13/ea; NCL's up to $15/ea and CCL's up to $20/ea with a drink limit.

And then there is the fact that NCL, CCL and RCCL have fundamentally different pricing models for their cruises and amenities.  Thus far, analysts tell us NCL is doing better financially when compared to their competition, still achieving booking goals despite higher pricing.  That is good for shareholders, but maybe not so good for casual cruisers.

So this a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison.  I maintain that cruisers ought to evaluate the cost of their cruise vacation based on the total of the costs, direct and indirect, vs. the experience they will receive, to assess the 'best value' for their cruise dollar.  Evaluating this solely upon the beverage package price (which I know you did not assert) is false economics IMHO.

Cheers!

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@HuliHuli I appreciate the idea and the comparison.  You are right, I also forget to take into consideration that the Drink package is usually bundled as a promotion.  If we are just plainly, talking about the price, the NCL drink Package is the most expensive  But if purchased as a bundle or with a promotion the price is significantly reduced to the price of the gratuity.  If one also purchased Balcony and above cabins, one gets all of the NCL promotions.  So I guess it boils down to timing when the promotion is offered and the type of cabin you are to purchase.  The more money you spend on your cruise, the more "free" promotions they will give you.

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