One of the most popular add-ons for a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation is a drink package. While the cost of your cruise does include certain drinks, you will have to pay extra for alcoholic and select non-alcoholic beverages. Perhaps the biggest factor when debating whether or not to get a package is the overall cost.
Royal Caribbean offers three drink packages for guests to choose from: the Deluxe Beverage, Royal Refreshment, and Classic Soda Packages. The only package to include alcohol is the Deluxe Beverage Package, meaning it's the most expensive out of the three.
The second most expensive is the Royal Refreshment Package, as it includes all non-alcoholic beverages including sodas, mocktails, specialty coffee, energy drinks, and more. This leaves the Classic Soda Package as Royal Caribbean's cheapest drink package.
Royal Caribbean utilizes dynamic pricing for their drink packages, meaning that the price depends on the sailing
Purchasing a Royal Caribbean drink package means that you will pay a fixed rate to enjoy unlimited beverages throughout your cruise. The cost, however, is determined by numerous factors, including your ship, itinerary, and sail date.
As of 2024, the Deluxe Beverage Package ranges from $56 to $105 per person, per day, while the Royal Refreshment Package can cost anywhere between $29 and $38 per person, per day. The price for a Classic Soda Package is $12.99 to $15 per person, per day.
Regardless of which package you choose, you won't have a cap on daily beverages like some other cruise lines' packages, including Carnival and Holland America Line. Of course, it's important to know your limits, as bartenders have the right to refuse you service if you appear to be too intoxicated. Additionally, you can use them at every bar and restaurant onboard, with the exception of Starbucks' specialty coffees.
The Deluxe Beverage Package includes all cocktails, beers, and wines by the glass valued up to $14
In addition to alcoholic beverages, you will be able to enjoy unlimited soda, non-alcoholic cocktails, bottled still and sparkling water, specialty teas and coffees, Johnny Rockets shakes, and freshly squeezed juices. You will also get a 40% discount on bottles of wine under $100 and 20% off bottles above $100 in bars and dining rooms.
The Royal Refreshment Package is kind of like the Deluxe's younger sibling, as it includes all of the non-alcoholic options. If you are of legal drinking age and purchase this package, you'll have to pay for each alcoholic drink à la carte.
Finally, the Classic Soda Package includes just that: soda. You won't be able to order a mocktail by the pool or specialty coffee in the morning. Instead, you will be limited to the ship's soda offerings, unless you want to pay extra.
Most cocktails are $13.00-$14.00 onboard the ship
Those who decide to splurge on a Deluxe Beverage Package won't have to worry about paying for cocktails, beers, and the majority of wines by the glass. If you decide to bypass a drink package, it is important that you have a strong understanding of how much drinks onboard cost:
- The majority of liquors range from $9.99 to $13.99.
- Beer ranges from $7.49 to $7.99.
- Hard ciders, like Strongbow and Angry Orchard, are $7.99.
- Truly Hard Seltzers cost $7.49 each.
- Most glasses of wine range from $8.00-$14.00.
- Zero-proof cocktails cost $7.00.
- Specialty coffees at Cafe Promenade and Cafe Latte-tudes are $4.00 to $5.50.
Note that the above pricing doesn't include the automatic 18% gratuity.
Read more: Pros and Cons of a Royal Caribbean Cruise
To break even with a Deluxe Drink Package, you will have to consume at least 5-6 cocktails per day
The actual break-even point will vary based on how much you paid for your drink package. Assuming it's around $80, you'll have to drink 6 cocktails or 11 beers per day to get your money's worth. While this is absolutely possible, you need to evaluate whether it's a good deal for you and your travel party or not.
Perhaps this threshold will be easier to maintain on a shorter cruise versus a longer one. Similarly, if your itinerary consists of more days at sea or port days at Perfect Day at CocoCay or Labadee, Haiti, you'll have more opportunities to use the package than if you're spending all day ashore, as Royal Caribbean lets you use drink packages ashore at their private destinations.
If you are someone who enjoys stepping out of their comfort zone, you might appreciate the freedom that accompanies a drink package, as you will have the ability to try new drinks and simply order something else if it doesn't please your tastebuds.
There are certain instances where a drink package might not be of much use to you, such as if you're someone who prefers to save money and bring on limited quantities of alcohol on embarkation day. Royal Caribbean allows guests over the legal drinking age to bring one 750ml bottle of wine onboard with them. That, coupled with a few drinks here and there, could convince you to save the money you'd spend on a package and splurge elsewhere.
Additionally, if one guest wants a drink package, Royal Caribbean requires all adults of legal drinking age in the same stateroom to purchase one, too. If you are traveling with a friend or family member who isn't a big drinker, you might have to bypass it and order each drink individually!
Of course, they will make medical and religious exceptions. In this case, you'll have to call Royal Caribbean directly to book your package, as they'll most likely require you to purchase a Royal Refreshment Package for the non-drinker.
Read more: Are cruise drink packages worth it?
Diamond, Diamond+, and Pinnacle Club Crown & Anchor members get daily drink coupons that can be redeemed on alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
Once you have accumulated 80 cruise points, you will become a Diamond member within the Crown & Anchor Society. One of the biggest perks of reaching this milestone is the daily drink coupons. Diamond members get four per day that can be used on anything from soda to drinks valued up to $14. Upon reaching Diamond+ status, you'll get five, while those in the highest tier, Pinnacle Club, get six.
Note, however, that there are some exclusions. You cannot, for instance, redeem them at the Starbucks onboard. If you want a specialty coffee, you can use the voucher at Cafe Promenade or Cafe Latte-tudes. Drinks from the Bionic Bar aren't included, either.
To save money, you'll want to pre-purchase your package in advance
One of the best tips when it comes to saving money on a Royal Caribbean cruise is to purchase all of your add-ons in advance through the Cruise Planner. If the onboard price for the Deluxe Beverage Package for your specific sailing is around $100, it isn't uncommon to see deals leading up to your cruise that will save you anywhere from 10% to 40%.
Let's use my upcoming cruise onboard Quantum of the Seas as an example. At the time of writing, the Cruise Planner advertised the onboard price for the Deluxe Package at $95 per day, the Royal Refreshment Package at $38, and Classic Soda at $15 per day.
If I were to book now, I could save 30% off the Classic Soda Package, 10% off the Royal Refreshment Package, and 30% off the Deluxe, bringing the new daily price to $9.99, $33.99, and $65.99, respectively. After gratuities, this brings the cost for a 7-night cruise to around $545 per person. The Royal Refreshment Package would be $280, whereas the Classic Soda would only cost around $82.
Of course, the discount will vary based on what ship you are on and when you're booking. Royal Caribbean tends to have their best sales around Black Friday; however, that doesn't mean you won't find great deals throughout the year.
If you have already booked your package and recheck the Cruise Planner to see that the price has dropped, simply cancel the order and rebook. You'll be issued a full refund to the original form of payment.
Read more: 26 Royal Caribbean Tips & Tricks (2024)