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Are Cruise Drink Packages A Good Deal or a Mistake?

On our recent cruise, we decided to skip the full cruise drink package even though it was a REALLY good price per day. Did we make a BIG MISTAKE or did we save money? Let's do the math on the cruise drink package vs. ala carte pay by the drink to find out.
Watch the video episode above or read the article below.

Let's talk about the cruise drink package. We recently took a seven night cruise on the Carnival Mardi Gras. And on this cruise, we decided not to get the full drinks package. And it was actually reasonably priced it with $52 per day about per person for the seven nights.

Whether or not to get a drinks package on a cruise is probably a bigger debate among cruisers than the ship itself or the itinerary you're going to sail. In this particular case, we opted not to get it and instead we decided to pay a la carte for all of our drinks. Soft drinks, mocktails, specialty coffees and alcohol.

Now, when you're considering drink packages, you got to look at two things.

One, what is the price per day? And keep in mind that most cruise lines are going to make you pay for that same drink package for all of the adults in the cabin. Carnival's full drink package on this voyage was running $52/day per person or $104/day for the cabin.

When looking at various drink packages I always look to see if specialty coffees are included.

Some drink packages do not include the coffee, so you're still going to pay out of pocket for lattes, cappuccinos and such. Personally I'm going to get about three or four coffees probably per day on a ship. We were able to go online and look at Carnival bar and coffee menus to see the current pricing onboard the ships.

And based on the type of drinks that were on there we figured I would probably spend $40-$50/day on all my beverages. Now Rebecca decided she didn't want to drink many cocktails on this cruise because of all the sugar that's in those drinks. She estimated she would be spending about $20 a day for her drinks. All total, we estimated about $70 per day for both of us while onboard the ship.

With the Carnival Drinks Package priced at $52/day per person, the math showed $728 for the week for both of us. Then you add the 18% gratuity on top and the grand total would have been $859 for both of us.

With the drinks package we obviously don't have to even think about cocktails, coffees, and soft drinks during the entire cruise, just go get whatever we want.

Once onboard the ship, we didn't restrict ourselves at all, we just purchased whatever we felt like without a concern for the ala-carte pricing. I ordered multiple coffees and cocktails per day while Rebecca would get a few drinks during the day and maybe a mocktail at night.

We spent a total of $283.18 on all of our drinks over the 7 day cruise.

Subtract that from the $859 we would have spent on the Carnival Drinks Package and we saved $575 by not getting the drinks package. We did that by running the math BEFORE blindly buying the package.

Don't blindly buy into a drink package 'because that's what people do on a cruise.' Run the math!

Figure out how much you think each person in the party might drink, find the cruise line bar menus and run the math on how much you might spend per day. If it doesn't add up to the drink package, skip it and buy your drinks ala carte.

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Where’s Walter Travel is your Independent Travel Advisor for cruises, theme parks, group travel, destination weddings and special event travel.


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