On Carnival Cruise Line What Drinks Are Free? Here’s Your Complete Guide

By Alan
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Cruising can be expensive. So it’s no surprise that many cruisers are careful with their budget and want to know exactly what they are getting with their cruise. In our latest guide, we’ll be helping you with the question: “On a Carnival Cruise what drinks are free?”

While alcohol and certain specialty beverages normally come with a fee, you’ll be pleased to know that Carnival Cruise Line offers a variety of free drink options (including free booze!) for you to enjoy during your cruise. So let’s take a look and discover exactly what drinks are free on Carnival.

What Drinks are Free on Carnival Cruises – The Full List

Alan and Morag Hutchison of Cruise Nonstop on deck of cruise ship enjoying a glass of wine as the sun sets
Yours Truly Enjoying a Wine on Deck – It Wasn’t Free 🙁

When you’re setting sail with Carnival Cruises, you can look forward to a variety of free drinks available throughout your journey, ensuring you stay refreshed without reaching for your wallet.  The following drinks are all free of charge:-

Tap Water

Tap water is available at any bar, in your stateroom, at the buffet, and on request in the main dining room and specialty dining rooms.  Now I know some of you may screw your face up at the thought of drinking tap water, but the tap water on cruise ships is usually of the highest quality due to the processes used to provide it onboard.

You can also safely use the water from the tap in your stateroom. On the last Carnival cruise we were on, the tap water was honestly just as good as any bottled water.

Coffee

Basic filter brewed coffee can be found in the buffet restaurant. Just watch for the coffee vending areas. They will offer both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.

You can also request a standard coffee in the main dining rooms and specialty dining rooms.

Hot Chocolate

If you prefer something sweeter, hot chocolate is also usually available. Don’t get too excited though. It’s made from a packet. You’ll be able to find the hot chocolate sachets beside the Tea bags and close to the hot vending stations.

Stick the mix in the cup, pour on the hot water and Bob’s your Uncle.  Take a top tip from me – add some milk for a creamier flavor.

Hot Tea

I’m from the United Kingdom, so hot tea is very commonly drunk here. Thankfully Carnival provides a reasonable selection of teas and hot water to make a nice brew. If you like what is known in the UK as “Builder’s Tea” you might want to bring your own Tetley or Yorkshire tea bags though.  My wife Morag says that the Early Gray tea on board was “okay”.

Iced Tea

For those of you who prefer your tea cold, you are in luck. There are Iced Tea vending areas in the buffet and you can request Iced Tea in any of the dining rooms free of charge. By default the iced tea is unsweetened, but they usually bring some sachets of sugar when they deliver it to your table.

Lemonade

Lemonade is readily available throughout the day.  On many cruises I’ve been on I find the lemonade too sharp, but Carnival’s version of it was very refreshing. Just look for the drink dispenser areas in the buffet and on the pool deck.

Orange Juice

Okay, this is where things turn a little sour (See what I did there LOL). The orange juice that you will find available at breakfast times in the buffet and in the main dining room is not “real” orange juice – it’s made from a concentrated mix and it’s definitely not like any proper Orange Juice I’ve drank in my life.

Think of it more as an orange juice “flavored” drink.

Tomato Juice

Tomato juice is free at breakfast time, but only if you visit the main dining room or order room service.

Apple Juice

Apple juice can be found at the drinks dispensers in the Lido buffet during the breakfast service. Like the “Orange” juice it is also made from concentrate, so your taste expectations might be a little disappointed it you are used to proper apple juice.

Grapefruit Juice

Grapefruit juice is available during breakfast times in the main dining room and via room service. 

Chocolate Milk

Chocolate milk is readily available in the Lido Buffet during breakfast times. I have seen it occasionally at lunchtime as well, but not always.  It’s served in little cartons which are identical in shape to the milk cartons.  

You can also ask for chocolate milk at any serving in the Main Dining Room.

Milk – Full Fat or Skimmed Milk

If like me you like to have cereal in the morning, you’ll be looking for milk to put on your flakes. There are a couple of places to find milk in the Lido buffet.  Close to the drinks dispensers you will usually see stainless steel or glass jugs or flasks. These are meant for the coffee drinkers, so you may get the odd scowl if you empty the jug into your bowl of cornflakes.

You can also find small half-pint cartons of full-fat and skimmed milk in the Lido Buffet.

You can find milk in the Lido Buffet during all meal serving times.  You can also ask for milk in the Main Dining Room.

A dinner menu from the main dining room on Carnival Cruise Line
Any of These Drinks Can Be Ordered in the Main Dining Room

VIFP Club members can Also Score Some Additional Free Drinks

As a Carnival VIFP Club member, you’ll get access to a variety of special perks including some free drinks and the occasional free party! Are you excited? Well don’t get too excited it’s not like the 4 free alcoholic drinks that Diamond members get with Royal Caribbean. Yeh, I know that sucks!

But all VIPF Members Red and above (which basically includes everyone who has completed at least one sailing with Carnival) get a FREE 1.5 liter of bottled water.  I did warn you not to get too excited LOL.

Gold Members Get One Free Alcoholic Drink

If you’ve sailed with Carnival a few times and have reached the Gold level, you will be entitled to one free alcoholic drink on any cruise of 5 days or more.  You can redeem this at any bar on the last evening of the cruise after 5 pm.

Platinum and Diamond Member Advantages – Free Bubbly

This is where things get a lot better in terms of bagging more free drinks. But like the free perk for Gold members, it’s only available on cruises for 5 days or more.  That’s when you will be invited to the Platinum and Diamond VIFP Party where you will be greeted by the cruise staff and given a nice free glass of bubbly or a mimosa. Play your cards right with your wait staff and you may even get 2 or 3 glasses during the party.

For Diamond members, there will be a special event like this on every sailing – not just the cruise over 5 days.

On sea days, you will also be entitled to one complimentary beverage at the Seaday Brunch service in the Main Dining Room.

There are Free Alcoholic Drinks at VIFP Events

Other Carnival Cruise Line Special Events With Free Drinks

You’ll find that special events on a Carnival cruise offer more than just fun and entertainment; they also include opportunities to enjoy complimentary beverages.

Art Auction Celebrations

At the art auctions on board, you get to appreciate various artworks and they even offer free drinks for attendees. Free champagne is usually on offer if you attend the first auction on the cruise.

The art auctions are actually a fun way to spend a couple of hours. Just don’t be tempted as the prices of auctions on cruise tend to reach higher levels than they might on land – do your own research!

Understanding Carnival’s Drink Packages

So if Carnival Cruise Line’s list of complimentary drinks doesn’t excite you, then you might want to consider purchasing one of their drinks packages.

There are two packages to choose from. The Bottomless Bubble program, which is for unlimited soda, soft drinks, and juice, or the “Cheers!” package which includes alcoholic drinks, cocktails and specialty beverages.

The Bottomless Bubbles package is ideal if alcohol isn’t on your to-drink list but you appreciate the simplicity of unlimited sodas and juices. It’s a sensible choice for families or anyone preferring to steer clear of alcohol.

Regarding budget, the cost of the Cheers package starts at $59.95 per person per day while Bottomless Bubbles stands at $6.95 per day for children and $9.50 per day for adults.

To decide if a drink package is right for you, consider your typical daily consumption. If you enjoy multiple beverages throughout the day, a drink package could be a cost-effective move.

PackageCHEERS!Bottomless Bubbles
Price (Adult)$59.95$9.50 / day
Price (Child)N/A$6.95 / day
IncludesAlcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, some restrictions.Unlimited soft drinks and juices.
RestrictionsMax 15 alcoholic drinks per day, other conditions apply.Non-transferable, one drink at a time, served by the glass.

Carnival Drink Prices can be expensive, but not as expensive as some cruise lines. To work out if a drinks package would be right for you you may want to read this article which features Carnival drink prices and bar menus.

Bringing Personal Beverages To Enjoy Onboard – What is Carnival Cruise Line’s Policy?

Carnival pride cruise ship docked in Norway. Passengers walking towards it ready to get back on board.
Carnival Pride Docked in Norway

When you’re packing for your Carnival Cruise getaway, you might wonder what personal beverages you can bring onboard. Well, you’re in luck, because the cruise line offers some flexibility that can help you save money and enjoy your favorites.

For Sailings Outside Europe

Wine or Champagne: If you’re celebrating a special occasion or just prefer your own wine selection, you’re allowed to bring one bottle of wine or champagne (750ml) per adult in your carry-on luggage. Remember, if you pack it in your checked bags, it might not make it through and could be confiscated.

Non-alcoholic Drinks: For other thirst-quenchers like soda or bottled water, there’s good news too. You can bring a small quantity of non-alcoholic beverages, but there are some conditions:

  • Drinks must be in cans or cartons.
  • They should be unopened and sealed.
  • Pack these in your carry-on luggage as you board the ship on embarkation day.
Allowed ItemsQuantity Allowed
Wine or Champagne1 bottle (750ml)
Non-alcoholic beverages12 cans or cartons

While enjoying your own drinks, remember that open containers of alcohol will not be allowed outside your cabin. However, feel free to indulge in your personal selection within your room.

If you decide to have your wine or champagne in a restaurant or the dining area, a corkage fee may apply.

We regularly take drinks from our room and have never been challenged on this or asked to pay a corkage fee, but your mileage may vary!

For Carnival Cruise Lines Sailings In Europe, There Are No Restrictions on Bringing Alcohol On Board

A supermarket display of beers in a Norwegian store
European Prices Can Be Expensive – But It is Cheaper Than On Board

If you are lucky enough to be cruising with Carnival in Europe, you are in luck. There are basically no restrictions (within reason) on the amount of beverages or alcoholic beverages you can bring on board. This applies not only to the embarkation port but also to the ports of call on board.

Now, not a lot of people do not realize this and you will see multiple arguments on Facebook groups and discussion forums arguing that Carnival says you cannot.

Trust me you can! However, if you call Carnival and ask they will give you the official party line of only one bottle of wine etc. That’s because they do not want to lose money!  

If you don’t believe me, here’s the notice on the ship on our last cruise in Europe with Carnival.

A notice displayed on entry to Carnival Cruise Ships in Europe showing Beverage polciy which allows alcohol to be brought on board
Carnival Cruise Line’s European Policy for Bringing Drinks Onboard

I’ve also had this confirmed by multiple guests on European cruises over the last two years.  We brought a ton of booze onto the ship and topped it up at each port. We saved a ton of money as a result. 

Why do they allow this in Europe? I’m not 100% sure, but I think they may have had a legal challenge under European Competition laws which are very strict, and they’ve had to back down on their policy. 

The same policy applies to any cruise lines owned by Carnival Cruise Holdings, including Carnival, Princess, Holland America, Seabourn, Cunard, Aida, Costa, and P & O Cruises.

On a carnival cruise what drinks are free? Here’s The Summary

So there you have it. Now you know what drinks are included with your cruise fare on Carnival Cruise Line. I’ve also given you details of their drinks packages and links to the individual prices of drinks on board.  That should help you with your budgeting and hopefully help you decide where best to spend your hard-earned cruise dollars.

Here’s a quick summary of the full selection of complimentary beverages:- 

During breakfast, which runs from 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM, you can enjoy:

  • Orange juice
  • Apple juice
  • Tomato juice
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Whole Milk and Skimmed milk
  • Chocolate milk
  • Hot tea
  • Coffee
  • Decaffeinated coffee

If you’re not an early bird, there’s no need to worry. All day long, you can sip on:

  • Iced tea
  • Lemonade

In the dining rooms, you’ll always be able to request:

  • Milk
  • Skim milk
  • Chocolate milk
  • Lemonade
  • Fruit Juices

At any time you can also order any of these items from the room service menu.

Hopefully, that’s quenched your thirst a bit and got you in the mood for a cruise!  Well now is the time make sure you’ve got all your cruise essentials and don’t forget those cruise outfits!

One last thing! If there is any drink on board that you’ve seen free of charge and I’ve missed it, please do let me know in the comments below and we’ll get it added – thank you so much!

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Alan took his first cruise in 1991 and has been cruising ever since. When he is not writing articles for CruiseNonstop.com you'll find him either on a cruise ship (he's the guy in the kilt), or on the golf course!

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