How Much Are Drinks On Norwegian Cruise Line? We Compare Drinks Prices

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When working out the cost of any cruise vacation, it’s important to know what all your potential costs might be. That’s why it’s useful to know what Norwegian Cruise Line’s drink prices are like before you book.

that way it makes it easier to work out how much spending money you might need to budget for, and decide whether it might be a better idea to go with NCL’s Free At Sea package which includes all-inclusive drinks up to $15 in value (which is most of the standard drinks on the menu).

To also let you know the range of drinks on board we’ve also pulled together some examples of bar menus as well.

How Much Do Drinks Cost On Norwegian Cruise Line

The Skyline Casino Bar on Norwegian Joy

Drink prices on NCL are “similar” to what you might find on other cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Carnival.

That being said, the drink prices cannot be described as “cheap”. They are quite the opposite.  Expect to pay anything from $10 to $14 for a cocktail, for example.  A 20% gratuity is then added as well, which take that price to a range of $12 to $16.80.

As the gratuity is added to all bar prices, any bar prices I quote from now on will include the gratuity, so that you can see the full impact on your pocket.

For a beer or lager, expect to pay from $7.20 for a Bud Light, to $10.80 for a draft Stella Artois, for example.

Compare that to Royal Caribbean and Carnival, NCL is actually cheaper, as both Royal and Carnival’s starting price for a beer with gratuity is $8.84.

For a glass of wine expect to pay from $10.80 a glass rising to $30 for a glass of Champagne from the “Premium Plus” menu.

Again this is less expensive than Carnival Cruise Line whose starting price for a glass of wine is $12. However, on Royal Caribbean, the wine prices start from $9.60.

For liquor like vodka, gin and whiskey, you’ll be paying from $10.80 a shot, but that price will include your mixer.

Examples of NCL Bar Menus

If you’d like to check prices for your favorite drink, I’ve compiled some photographs of NCL’s Bar Menus.  These examples all came from our recent trip on the fabulous Norwegian Joy.  You can read our full Norwegian Joy Review here.

To view the menu’s at full size – simply click on them and you’ll see the larger, easier to read version in a new tab.

The “Standard” Bar Menu

Norwegian Cruise Line, seems to have a “standard” bar menu that is present at many of the bars on the ship.

We found this same particular bar menu in the following bars:-

  • The Social
  • The Mixx
  • The A-List Bar
  • The Cavern Club
  • The Observation Lounge
  • The Atrium Bar
  • Skyline Casino Bar

The District Brewhouse

The District Brewhouse on Norwegian Joy had a very impressive selection of drinks available. They had up 20 drinks available on draft at any one time.

They also did a great job on their cocktails as well. 

The Maltings Whiskey Bar 

As you would expect, the Maltings Whiskey Bar had an impressive range of Scotch whiskies to try as well as Bourbons and Ryes.

They also had a taster “flight” allowing you to sample three different Macallan Single Malts.

Q Texas Smokehouse

The Q Texas Smokehouse is really a specialty restaurant venue, but as the very popular house Country and Western band played in there each evening, the bar itself was always busy.

Surf Bar / Wave Pool Bar / Spice H20 Bar

The Surf and Wave Pool bars shared the same menu, as did the Spice H20 bar.

The Local Bar & Grille

The Local was another popular venue featuring it’s own bar menu.  

Sugarcane Mojito Bar

As you would expect, a Mojito bar would have it’s own specialty drink, and the Sugarcane didn’t disappoint.

Should You Buy NCL’s Free At Sea Drinks Package?

When looking at drink prices on board any cruise ship, there always comes a point where you need to do some sums and work out whether it make more sense for you to purchase the drinks package before you board.

Norwegian Cruise Line, have two different alcoholic drinks packages. The “Open Bar” Premium Package and the “Premium Plus” package.

The first of these covers drinks up to $15.  Drinks that are priced above that fall into the “Premium Plus” selection.

If you have spent any time at all looking at cruise with NCL, you will have came across their “Free At Sea” promotion, which includes the standard drink package offer. 

Usually, the Free At Seas promotion also includes some Free Internet Access (usually 75 or 150 minutes, depending on the length of the cruise), a Shore Excursion credit, a specialty dining credit, and other marketing perks like 3rd and 4th guests “free”.

While it might seem like an exciting deal, this package applies a mandatory 20% gratuity fee on the actual value of the drinks package and the dining package, which you’ll need to pay out-of-pocket when you book your cruise. 

So when they say “Free”, it’s not 100% free. There is still an extra cost to pay.

To give you an example. For a one week cruise, currently NCL’s “Free At Sea” package will actually cost me an additional $305.20 drinks package gratuity for our stateroom (2 guests), as well as $23.60 for the specialty restaurant gratuity.

So, in real terms that “Free At Seas” drinks package is costing $21.80 per person per day.  So if my wife an I are likely to drink at least 3 alcoholic drinks a day, I am already saving money.

For me, the Free At Sea package is an absolute no-brainer. In fact, I don’t think I met anyone on our last cruise who didn’t have it.

How Does NCL’s Drinks Prices Compare To Other Cruise Lines?

A Bloody Mary and a Chocolate Martini at the Pool bar on an NCL Cruise

As I mentioned above, NCL’s are a little bit less expensive for most type of drinks than Royal Caribbean or Carnival.

When it comes to drink packages, the difference is even more apparent.

Royal Caribbean typically use variable pricing, so it’s impossible to work out their “standard” drinks package price, but it’s typically in the region of $70 per person per day plus gratuity on top of that.

Carnival is easier to pin down. Their Cheers drink package starts at $59.95 per person per day plus 18% gratuity on top of that. Their package also limits you to 15 alcoholic drinks per day.  Neither Royal Caribbean or NCL impose any specific limit.

As you can see NCL really do offer a great deal here, compared to their peer cruise lines.


There you have it. You now have a decent handly on what drinks might cost on Norwegian Cruise Line ships.

I hope that helps you budget for your cruise and also help you to decide if purchasing the Free At Sea package might prove worthwhile or not.  It’s always a personal choice, but I hope I’ve helped you to work out if it makes sense for you and your family or not.

Either way, here’s a hearty “Cheers” to your next cruise vacation! Enjoy!

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Alan took his first cruise in 1991 and has been cruising ever since. When he is not writing articles for 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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