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Drink package or ala carte?

Drink package or ala carte?

Old Mar 29, 2024, 7:48 am
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Drink package or ala carte?

I am an infrequent cruiser and am currently debating whether to buy the drink package for an Alaskan cruise this summer with Princess.

This site shows that I would save about $100 based on a consumption level that is somewhat generous but not necessarily unreasonable for a vacation.

https://cruisespotlight.com/drink-package-calculator/

I enjoy moderate alcohol consumption but wonder whether a pre-paid package becomes an incentive to drink more than I might otherwise.

For those who have bought the packages did it cause you do drink more? Does the 15 drink per day limit become a target to meet instead of a restriction? Does anyone regret buying them? Do they encourage irresponsible consumption by other passengers?
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Old Mar 29, 2024, 9:44 am
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Originally Posted by Heyden
I am an infrequent cruiser and am currently debating whether to buy the drink package for an Alaskan cruise this summer with Princess.

This site shows that I would save about $100 based on a consumption level that is somewhat generous but not necessarily unreasonable for a vacation.

https://cruisespotlight.com/drink-package-calculator/

I enjoy moderate alcohol consumption but wonder whether a pre-paid package becomes an incentive to drink more than I might otherwise.

For those who have bought the packages did it cause you do drink more? Does the 15 drink per day limit become a target to meet instead of a restriction? Does anyone regret buying them? Do they encourage irresponsible consumption by other passengers?
You might find yourself drinking a bit more with a package than if you paid by the drink. Personally I didn’t try to hit the 15 drinks per day but I suppose some do. What I really liked is not having to give them my room key/identification card each and every time I asked for a drink. While the process differs from cruise line to cruise line it just seems like less of a hassle when I already thought I was being nickeled and dimed to death. That got to us so much that we switched over to all inclusive cruise lines a few years ago.
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Old Mar 29, 2024, 10:00 am
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I suggest you google drink prices for individual drinks and see what the cruise line charges for what you drink. Multiple that by the number you will drink per day. Its a simple math equation.

Keep in mind you might drink more on sea days than port days
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Old Mar 29, 2024, 10:04 am
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Originally Posted by Heyden
Does the 15 drink per day limit become a target to meet instead of a restriction? Does anyone regret buying them? Do they encourage irresponsible consumption by other passengers?
Behavioral economics strongly suggests package purchasers will drink more than if paid by the serve. Bon voyage.
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Old Mar 29, 2024, 11:49 am
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Princess

Originally Posted by Heyden
I am an infrequent cruiser and am currently debating whether to buy the drink package for an Alaskan cruise this summer with Princess.

This site shows that I would save about $100 based on a consumption level that is somewhat generous but not necessarily unreasonable for a vacation.

https://cruisespotlight.com/drink-package-calculator/

I enjoy moderate alcohol consumption but wonder whether a pre-paid package becomes an incentive to drink more than I might otherwise.

For those who have bought the packages did it cause you do drink more? Does the 15 drink per day limit become a target to meet instead of a restriction? Does anyone regret buying them? Do they encourage irresponsible consumption by other passengers?
IMHO, the Princess Plus package is the best value on the cruise market today. For $60 per person per day, you get not only the drinks, but also crew gratuities, wifi, and more are included. If have seen other lines charge upwards of $130 per person per day for the drinks alone.
Honestly, after you factor in the wi-fi and gratuities, you only need a few drinks a day to justify the price. And specialty coffees and fresh pressed juices and soft drinks are included too.

Whether it will cause YOU to drink more, I cannot say. I will say that I go through at least one latte a day, a fresh pressed juice, a cocktail or two and I consider me and Princess even for the day
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Old Mar 29, 2024, 12:09 pm
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Economically, based on what most cruise lines charge for drinks, it makes sense for us to buy a package. The last non-inclusive line we sailed was Oceania and they had some great price packages available, so we got one with drinks & gratuities, I think (was 2019 so details are starting to get hazy ;-) ) Might I have 1 or 2 more drinks? Sure, but I'd rather that than pay more than I need to for the drinks I'm planning to have anyway.
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Old Mar 29, 2024, 5:33 pm
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It really depends on how much you plan on dri nking and what type of drinks. Alchohol vs non-alchohol. Most ships will sell both types of packages.

For the alcohol they will probably sell two versions. This will very much depend on what drink you can get "for free" on the package. It can be really difficult to get an actual drinks menu with prices of all the drinks. We decided that we didn't drink enough to buy a package last time. I like soft drinks so took a 12 pack of cans on board to keep in the cabin and just bought a couple while out and couldn't be bothered to get one from the cabin.

Most likley you can buy a drinks package at anytime during the cruise. this will be prorated to the number of days left.

I found the tips/wifi/drinks prepaid to be bad value on Celebrity. Mainly because the wifi was only good for checking email and I needed to pay to upgrade to something useful, didn't drink enough to pay for the drinks package. They actually tried to pass off a margarita made with beer on the basic drinks package. It was horrible and you could always pay the difference in price between the free drink and the "premium" drinks. Just too complictaed to be bothered since you never really knew what was "free" and what had an extra charge. I always prepay tips because we don't eat in the main restaraunt where you are expected to leave ectra tips for the waiters anyway.

Last edited by MoreMilesPlease; Mar 29, 2024 at 5:40 pm
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Old Mar 29, 2024, 9:03 pm
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Is it possible to buy a drink package for one person (15-drink daily max) and then "share" a couple of them with a spouse?

I imagine under the Terms & Conditions this could be (1) permitted, (2) prohibited, or (3) prohibited but not strictly enforced.
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Old Mar 29, 2024, 9:07 pm
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Originally Posted by SPN Lifer
Is it possible to buy a drink package for one person (15-drink daily max) and then "share" a couple of them with a spouse?

I imagine under the Terms & Conditions this could be (1) permitted, (2) prohibited, or (3) prohibited but not strictly enforced.
Unless there are minors, most cruisecos force everyone in the cabin to buy the same pacage. There are some exceptions.


Never been tempted by these packages due to value/cost-quality proposition.
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Old Mar 29, 2024, 10:17 pm
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To directly answer the questions posed by the OP:
I do think I drink more when buying a package vs. paying by the drink, but I go from having one or two drinks per day to having 3-4 (on port days) or 4-5 (on sea days). The 15-drink limit has no relevance to me, and I have had no regrets buying packages (but I don't always buy them). Regarding the irresponsible consumption, I have only once or twice had a (very mild) negative experience over 60+ cruises (probably 40 or so cruises since drink packages started becoming available).

My general guidelines for choosing when to buy a drinks package:
- Royal Caribbean: Never, as my status gets me 5 free drinks per day - generally beyond what I wish to consume.
- Celebrity: Pretty much never, as my status gets me free drinks during their two-hour "happy hour", again, more than I would enjoy.
(The only exception was when all of their fares included their basic package for a cruise with an ideal itinerary for me.)
- Princess: Sometimes, depending on cruise length and number of ports. The higher the ratio of sea days to port days, the more likely I am to buy their Plus package.
- Norwegian: not sure, although I do not expect to cruise with them again.
- Lines with included drinks but a package to upgrade to pricier alcohol: never.
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Old Mar 30, 2024, 6:03 am
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Originally Posted by YVR Cockroach
Unless there are minors, most cruisecos force everyone in the cabin to buy the same pacage. There are some exceptions.

Never been tempted by these packages due to value/cost-quality proposition.
From what I can read Princess, the line I'll be cruising with, doesn't require everyone in the cabin to take the package. If it did then the decision would be easier. The issue might be however if I order a bottle of wine as part of the package can I share it with my wife?

The value proposition changes depending on how much you drink but even in my younger and wilder days 15 drinks per day for a week wouldn't happen.
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Old Mar 30, 2024, 12:18 pm
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Princess - at least in the past - used to sell packages of wine (3 or 6 bottles) on a (presumably) per cabin basis. Might be better going for that. Or if it is still offered, bring your own onboard as it may be cheaper even after the corkage fee (may not be applicable as I understand the corkage fee has been increase significantly).

I couldn't find any terms explicitly specifying everyone had to buy the same package (barring age) but couldn't find anything explicitly stating that everyone didn't have to, either.
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Old Mar 30, 2024, 2:47 pm
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Originally Posted by Heyden
From what I can read Princess, the line I'll be cruising with, doesn't require everyone in the cabin to take the package. If it did then the decision would be easier. The issue might be however if I order a bottle of wine as part of the package can I share it with my wife?

The value proposition changes depending on how much you drink but even in my younger and wilder days 15 drinks per day for a week wouldn't happen.
If you choose the Plus or Premier packages, Princess requires the first two in the cabin to have it. 3rd and 4th are optional.
If the second passenger is a child, they are required to take it too. By the time you add up gratuities, wifi, soft drinks, milk shakes,extra desserts, etc. it's still not an bad deal, just not as good.

Exmple 1: 2 adults, 1 kid in the cabin. You can buy Plus just for the 2 adults
Example 2: 2 adults, 2 kid2 in the cabin. You can buy Plus just for the 2 adults
Example 3: 1 adult and 1 kid in cabin. You must buy Plus for both.

If you have the Plus package, you are usually better off buying wine by the glass as it comes from your 15 drinks a day allotment. Buying a bottle just gets you a percent off.

Now if you are talking beverage only packages, not within Plus or Premier, the math is very different (and not as good IMHO). But the general rules as to who has to buy are the same.
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Old Mar 30, 2024, 3:58 pm
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I'm not familiar with Princess' drink package parameters as we usually sail with X and RCI. Personally, I would get a package if just for the convenience if I could get somewhat close to break even. But based on my habits, I find the math pretty hard to get close to break even, particularly when factoring in port days as others have also alluded to. YMMV of course.
A couple of tips and tricks might be:
X occasionally has sales on drink packages prior to sail date. Maybe watch to see if Princess does also?
I think some cruise lines allow you to buy a drink package mid-cruise, pro-rated for the remaining days of the cruise.
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Old Mar 31, 2024, 6:16 am
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Originally Posted by Heyden
<snip>I enjoy moderate alcohol consumption but wonder whether a pre-paid package becomes an incentive to drink more than I might otherwise.
Well of course it does. That is almost a given.

Regards
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