The Truth about Drink Package Price Increases

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When it comes to popular perks offered as a bonus to folks booking a cruise, drink packages have to rate pretty high on the list. Sometimes, we wonder if anybody on Norwegian or Celebrity ships is actually paying for booze by the glass! At the same time, however, there has been a pretty steady increase in the pricing for drink packages… which got us thinking.

When cruise lines offer you perks such as free wifi, pre-paid gratuities or that all-inclusive drinks package, they also make a show of how much you’ll be saving. For example, Celebrity’s spring sale offers not only discounted fares, but perks “for a value up to $2,100.” In this particular case, passengers get to choose two of four perks: the classic beverage package, unlimited internet package, prepaid gratuities, and up to $300 onboard credit.

How much one actually saves depends, of course, on the value of the perks chosen… and what The Price Is Right always refers to as the “actual retail price” of said perks.

So if a drink package costs $50 a day, but you’re getting it as a “perk” on your 7-night cruise, that is a savings of $350 per person. And every time a cruise line raises the price of the drink package, the “value” of the perk they are offering increases, too. If that drink package now retails for $75 a day, they can now proudly proclaim that you are saving $500. And saving $500 sounds a whole lot better than saving $350, doesn’t it?

In the end, a drink package’s true value can best be assessed as part of an overall deal. Maybe you can get a cheaper rate on a line that isn’t offering the drink package as a perk, but only as something purchased separately. One also has to take into account their “break-even” point. For some, that is the number of drinks one would have to consume per day in order to get the maximum value. But for others, it might be as simple as knowing that with a drink package, whether or not they get the maximum value, they won’t have to worry about receiving a booze bill at the end of the trip. Nothing puts a damper on a good time like having to run an internal tally every time one orders a drink.

Do you use the drink packages offered by your cruise? Do you prefer it as a perk, or as a separately-purchased package? How much is too much to pay for the package, per day?

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