When planning your cruise, one of the first things you should think about is the Royal Caribbean Drink Package offerings.
For newcomers to cruising or new to Royal Caribbean, this can be confusing as there are a number of options available.
I’ve sailed with Royal Caribbean many times. I’ve cruised with the drink packages and without them, so I can give you my own perspective on whether they represent good value or not.
In this article, I’ll try to explain all of the different drink packages, and then cover all of the potential questions you might have.
Here’s what we are going to cover:-
Royal Caribbean Drink Package – Your Questions Answered
The Royal Caribbean Drink Package Offers – What Are They?
Royal Caribbean offers a number of drink packages to help you plan or budget for your cruise and also to potentially save you money.
The Royal Caribbean Drink Package Offers are:-
- Deluxe Beverage Package
- Refreshment Package
- Classic Soda Package
- Water Package
- Cafe Select Coffee Card
Each package is tailored to your specific beverage requirements and the type of drink variety you might like on your cruise.
The only package that includes alcoholic beverages is the Deluxe Beverage Package. So if you want a package that includes alcoholic drinks, this is the only one you will need.
Let’s look at each package in detail.
Royal Caribbean Drink Package #1 – The Deluxe Beverage Package
What’s included with the Deluxe Beverage Package?
The deluxe beverage package includes the following:-
All alcoholic beverages including beers, liquor, cocktails, and wine (by the glass)
All non-alcoholic beverages including canned and fountain soda, juices, premium coffee, teas, bottled water, mocktails, and milkshakes
If you prefer your wine by the bottle, the package provides you with 40% off all bottles below $100 and 20% for bottles above that price.
Although the package includes premium coffees, the package cannot be used at any of the onboard Starbucks locations.
You should also note that mini bar items are not included in the package or any cocktails in souvenir glasses.
Similarly, you can’t use the package for any orders placed using Room Service.
Royal Caribbean’s drink policy is that if any stateroom member purchased this package, then ALL adult stateroom members also have to buy it. There are however exceptions to this which I will explain later.
royal caribbean drink package price 2023 – How much does the Royal Caribbean Deluxe Beverage Package cost?
Now this is the million-dollar question. How much does the Royal Caribbean drink package cost? The short answer is IT DEPENDS!
Royal Caribbean uses a variable pricing model for its deluxe beverage package. It varies by ship, season, itinerary, and even the market you are in.
So for example, if you booked your cruise in the United Kingdom, the price you pay for your package might be different from someone in the United States. Even if you are on the exact same cruise.
The price will also vary depending on when you buy the package. Once you book your cruise, you will no doubt get regular emails telling you that there is a “must end soon” sale.
In my own personal experience, the Royal Caribbean drink package prices can vary enormously.
When we were on Brilliance of the Seas in the Summer of 2022 cruising the Mediterranean, the price we paid was just £275 GBP per person for the 7-night cruise. That works out at about $49 per person per day. That was a bargain!
Fast forward a few months to February 2023 when we were on Vision of the Seas for a 10-night Southern Caribbean cruise. The best price we saw for that cruise was $69 per day and that was a Black Friday deal!
Our next cruise is on the Wonder of the Seas later this Summer. The price I am seeing right now for that cruise is £74.61 GBP which is about $92 per day.
So as you can see the price varies a LOT!
What is the standard price of the deluxe beverage package, before any discounts?
There is no standard fixed daily price! You will not see a standard price quoted on the Royal Caribbean website.
Is there any limit on the actual price of drinks I can buy with the deluxe beverage package?
Officially the limit is currently $14 per drink. So if any individual drink is priced above this, you would need to pay the difference. The vast majority of drinks available at the bar fall within this price range.
The reason I say “officially” is that even though I’ve had all sorts of drinks with 3 or 4 different spirits as part of the cocktail, I’ve never been charged extra.
The only time I personally found the $14 limit an issue, was in the Main Dining Room when selecting a Wine for dinner. I just had to be a little selective to make sure it was included in my package.
How many drinks can you get on the Royal Caribbean drink package? Is there a daily limit?
You can have as many as you want. Unlike some other cruise lines, like Carnival for example (maximum 15 drinks per day), there is no daily limit on the Royal Caribbean drink package.
Of course, it is not an unlimited supply. There is a point where sense kicks in. If you are clearly intoxicated to the point that you could be doing yourself harm or causing a nuisance, they will refuse to serve you any more.
What brands of Alcohol are available with the Royal Caribbean Deluxe Beverage Package?
Different ships might feature more brands than others. It will also vary from bar to bar on the ship. However here is the official list that Royal Caribbean quotes on their own website:-
- Grey Goose
- Bacardi 8
- Captain Morgan
- Miami Club
- Bombay Sapphire
- New Amsterdam
- The Botanist
- 1800 Avion Silver
- Camarena Gold
- Patron Silver
- Del Maquey Vida Blanco Mezcal
Whiskey Brands and Scotch Whisky
- Chiva Regal 12 Year Old
- Dewars 12 Year
- Johnnie Walker Black
- The Glenlivet
- Buffalo Trace
- Canadian Club
- Jack Daniels
- Makers Mark
- Whistle Pig Rye
Brandy and Cognac Brands
- Hennessy VS
- Remy Martin VSOP
Can I order more than one drink at a time with the deluxe beverage package?
No. You can only order one drink at a time.
If you want to order a drink for your partner or a friend who also has the package, you will need to present Seapass cards for all of you.
Is it cheaper to buy a drinks package on board Royal Caribbean?
No. In my experience, the price has always been higher once you are onboard.
When is the best time to purchase the Royal Caribbean deluxe beverage package?
Strictly speaking, the best time to buy is when the price is lowest. This will be during one of the pre-cruise sales that they will keep emailing about. However, the problem is knowing if that is going to be the lowest price.
So, my advice is to buy it as soon as you can afford it. You will be charged for the cost immediately, even if your cruise is months ahead! Then if you see the price go lower, you can cancel without penalty and order it again at the lower price.
Is the Royal Caribbean Deluxe Beverage Package Worth it?
This is relatively easy to work out if you know the regular Royal Caribbean drink prices.
Let’s take a look at examples of current onboard prices for some common alcoholic drinks.
These prices are taken directly from the Royal Caribbean App for my upcoming Wonder of the Seas cruise later in 2023.
Standard Bar Prices on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships 2023
- Budweiser / Bud Light $7.49
- Heineken $7.99
- Stella Artois $7.99
Bottled / Canned Beers
- Coors Light $7.49
- Miller Lite $7.49
- Corona Extra $7.99
- Foster’s Oil Can $9.50
- All cocktails are listed at $14
Wines by the Glass
- Prosecco $11
- Pinot Grigio $10
- Chardonnay $11
- Pinot Noir $12
- Merlot $11
- Absolut Vodka $10.99
- Grey Goose Vodka $13.99
- Johnnie Walker Black Label $10.99
So now that I know the prices, I need to think about my drinking habits on the cruise.
I’m a Scotsman, so I have to confess that I do like to have more than a few drinks on vacation. Trust me, when I buy the drinks package, I make a profit LOL!
But let’s be a bit more conservative and use a more sensible version of me for this example. LOL
On days at sea, I like to relax in the Sun around the pool, so I’m probably going to have 4 beers around the pool.
I might then have a nice cocktail before heading to my cabin to get ready for dinner.
At dinner, I’ll have a glass of wine, and then head up to the Schooner bar. By the time I am ready to call it a day, I’ll probably have at least another 3 beers.
So my total is 7 beers, 1 cocktail, and 1 glass of wine.
So my total cost is around $78. I then have to add the 18% gratuity that was automatically added to every drink. That total is now $92
Right now, my Royal Caribbean App is showing me $92 as the cost of the deluxe beverage package including the gratuity. So in this case I haven’t gained anything.
But what if my drink package price comes available at $72? Now I would be saving some money.
You also need to consider the number days you are in port.
Unless you are in Labadee or Cococay, you can’t use that Royal Caribbean drink package when you are ashore. So you need to factor that in.
As you can see, you really do need to consider your own drinking habits and then do the math.
Will I Drink More Than I Usually Do When I Have The Deluxe Beverage Package?
This is something else to consider.
I know I definitely drink much more than when I have that package. It’s human nature.
I can try new drinks I’ve never had before, and I have that “well why not” attitude when a member of the Bar staff asks if I am ready for my next drink.
You can end up drinking more, just because you can.
Are there other reasons I should consider before deciding on the Royal Caribbean Drink Package?
Buying the Deluxe Beverage Package (or any of the drinks packages) can be a great way to budget for your holiday. You know that with the package in place, you have fixed the price for your enjoyment and you know exactly what you will be spending.
Avoiding Sticker Shock
The sticker shock you can get at the end of your cruise, when you see your final Seapass Account balance, can be very sobering. I know that from personal experience.
If you do your maths right, you can ensure that you make the right decision and avoid any such sticker shock.
Crown and Anchor Diamond Members and Above Get Free Drinks
At this point, I have to confess. My wife and I are Diamond members on Royal Caribbean.
- Diamond Members get 4 free drinks per day on Royal Caribbean.
- Diamond Plus Members get 5 free drinks per day
- Pinnacle Members get 6 free drinks per day
So with my 4 free drinks a day, it makes my decision-making a little easier. I personally only buy the Deluxe Beverage Package when it is very low priced. For me, it has to be below $70 per day to be worthwhile. Even then, I’d be looking at the time I would be off the ship and unable to use it.
You can bring wine on board
You are allowed to bring one standard 750ml bottle of wine or champagne per person, with a maximum of two bottles in any stateroom. Boxed wines are not allowed.
So again, this is something else to factor into your cost calculations.
If you are on a back-to-back cruise, you can bring double that quantity, but security will hold two of the bottles until the start of the next cruise. (Spoilsports!)
How to get more free drinks on Royal Caribbean
As a Diamond member, I get 4 free drinks per day. However, there are other ways I can get free drinks on board.
The Crown and Anchor Welcome Party
If this is not your first cruise, and you are registered as a Crown and Anchor member, you will be invited to the exclusive Welcome Party. At this party, they hand out free glasses of bubbly as you arrive. If you are lucky you might even get two or three glasses as the waiters top up your glass.
You Get Free Bubbly at the Art Auctions
Art auctions by Park West Galleries have been a major feature on Royal Caribbean Ships for as long as I can remember. I’m lucky to own a very nice Peter Max image which has definitely proven to be a great investment piece.
The art auctions can be great fun, and if you have never been to one, you should definitely give it a try. Just make sure you sit on your hands the first time until you know a bit about what you might be buying.
I definitely won’t be buying any more art on our next cruise, but I will definitely sit in and enjoy my nice glass of free bubbly. Thank you Park West!
Why does every stateroom member have to buy the Deluxe Beverage Package even if only one person really wants it?
It’s Royal Caribbean’s policy and is clearly in place to avoid people trying to cheat the system and share the costs of the drinks package with their friends or partner.
There are exemptions to this though….
I want to buy the Deluxe Beverage Package for my Partner but not for me. How do I do that?
As mentioned above, the official policy is that if one person in a stateroom buys the deluxe beverage package, then everyone has to.
If you try to order it separately in the cruise planner, you will find it impossible to do so.
The way around this is to phone Royal Caribbean directly and ask for an exemption.
I’ve done this a few times and have never been refused. However, the other person in the room will have to buy the standard beverage package instead.
Give them a call and explain your reasons for the request. If the request is reasonable, then there will be no reason for them to refuse it.
Can I share my drinks package with my friend who hasn’t bought it?
No! Purchasing drinks for anyone else is not allowed.
They also make it very difficult to do. You can only order one drink at a time. If you try to buy two at the same time, they won’t allow you. You also have to leave a set time gap between orders. Some people say it is 15 minutes, but I was told by one of the Bar staff that it was 8 minutes.
So because of the practicalities of how the system works, the bar staff would probably notice you doing it. If you get caught, they will terminate the package instantly, so it could end up costing you a lot of money.
You can find out more about this in our article on how to cheat the Royal Caribbean drinks package.
Royal Caribbean Drink Package #2 – Refreshment Package
What’s Included With The Royal Caribbean Refreshment Package?
The easiest way to think of the Royal Caribbean Refreshment Package is that it is basically the same as the Deluxe Beverage Package but without the alcohol!
It includes the following:-
- Any Mocktails (i.e. Cocktails without the alcohol)
- Coca-Cola Brand Beverages from the “Freestyle” vending machines
- Fountain sodas
- Bottled waters (still or sparkling)
- Premium coffees (not Starbucks though!)
- Fresh-squeezed juices
- Johnny Rockets Shakes
Also included in the cost of the package is a Coca-Cola “Freestyle” Cup which you can use at the special Freestyle vending machines.
How Much Does the REFRESHMENT Package Cost?
Once again the price of the Refreshment Package can vary depending on the ship, itinerary, and market.
It doesn’t vary quite as wildly as the Deluxe Beverage Package but expect to pay up to around $39 per day. The cheapest I have seen recently was $29 per day.
The price I am being quoted in my Cruise Planner right now is £30.83 GBP. This is about $38 per day.
What is a Coca-Cola Freestyle Vending Machine?
Most of the Royal Caribbean Ships have these now. The only ships we haven’t seen them on are the smaller ones like the Vision of the Seas.
You might have seen these vending machines in many fast-food restaurants. They are Coca-Cola branded and can dispense a huge array of different flavored drinks from Coca-Cola’s list of brands.
They have a touch-screen interface and can actually create over 100 different drink flavors. You can even mix and match flavors!
Here are some example flavors that the Freestyle machines can vend:-
- Coca-Cola Vanilla
- Coca-Cola Cherry
- Coca-Cola Raspberry
- Sprite Peach
- Sprite Grape
- Fanta Strawberry
- Fanta Lime
- Fanta Cherry
- Diet Coke Lime
- Diet Coke Cherry
The Freestyle cup, which is supplied to you with your drinks package, has a special chip inside it so that it only works on that specific cruise. So don’t think you can bring it along to your next cruise for free beverages. I don’t know anyone who might have tried that (blushes LOL).
Quick Tip: If you have purchased the Deluxe Beverage Package, make sure you get your freestyle cup. In our experience, it’s not always supplied as standard at the start of the cruise. You have to ask the bartender for one.
What happens if my Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Doesn’t Have Freestyle Machines Installed?
Sadly your flavor choices will be limited. You will still get free drinks, but you’ll just need to get them from the bar areas.
Royal Caribbean Drink Package #3 – Classic Soda Package
What’s Included With The Royal Caribbean Classic Soda Package?
If you are not really a coffee or tea drinker, and the free orange juice you get with breakfast is all the need for the day, then the Classic Soda Package might be all you need.
No mocktails though! So think carefully!
With this package, you will get access to the Coca-Cola Freestyle Vending machine via your supplied souvenir Freestyle cup.
Fountain sodas are also available.
How much is the Classic Soda Package?
Once again the price varies, but expect to pay anywhere from $12 to $15.
In my current cruise planner, the price shown is £9.99 GBP, which is about $12.50 per day.
Can I bring my own soda on board?
On embarkation day only, you can bring a maximum of 12 standard-sized cans or bottles of your favorite soda on board. That limit is per stateroom and is a total bottle count. So you can’t bring 12 sodas and 12 water for example.
Royal Caribbean Drink Package #4 – Water Package
Just need some water and want to save a little on what you would pay over the bar? The Water package is ideal then.
What’s Included With The Royal Caribbean Water Package?
Surprise, surprise! Yep, it’s just bottles of water delivered to your cabin on embarkation day,
You have a choice of either a 12 or 24-bottle package.
How Much is The Water Package?
Your price may vary, but in my cruise planner for my upcoming Wonder of the Seas cruise, the price for 12 bottles is £29.68 / $37. For the 24-bottle package, it is $69.
Yes, I know! The bottles aren’t even gold-lined LOL
Can I bring my own water on board?
Yes, but no more than 12 bottles per room. This “total bottle count” includes all non-alcoholic drinks. So if you bring 12 bottles of water, you can’t bring 12 bottles of soda as well. You could however bring 6 sodas and 6 water. Just don’t exceed that total of 12.
Royal Caribbean Drink Package #5 – Cafe Select Coffee Card
Okay, I cheated a bit. This isn’t really a drinks package as such. It doesn’t offer unlimited drinks.
What’s Included With The Royal Caribbean Cafe Select Coffee Card?
The card provides you with a total of 15 Premium coffee drinks for the duration of your cruise.
Please note, just like all the other drinks packages, Starbucks locations are excluded! So if you are a Starbucks freak, then this isn’t for you.
How Much is The Cafe Select Coffee Card?
On my cruise planner right now the price is showing as £29.39 GBP which is about $36.
Again, like all the packages, deals do become available, so you can see the price down as low as $29, even lower, depending on the ship and itinerary.
I’ve decided against the Deluxe Beverage Package – Can I Bring My Own Alcohol On Board?
As is common with most cruise companies, Royal Caribbean has a strict policy about what you can and cannot bring on board the ship.
The policy just recently changed to allow only one standard 750ml bottle of wine or champagne per person, and no more than two bottles in total in any one stateroom.
Can I sneak Alcohol on Board?
A lot of people ask this. That’s why we created an article exactly on how to cheat the Royal Caribbean drink package. It’s understandable as it is expensive. But that’s entirely up to you. If you get caught the alcohol will be confiscated and you could potentially be refused boarding! You can read more about that here.
All of your checked and carry-on luggage goes through X-ray machines, so you will probably get caught! You have been warned!
Do the Royal Caribbean Drink Package offers all include gratuities?
Yes, they do!
When you purchase the package the 18% gratuity is paid for in the total price of the package.
When you order a drink at the bar, 9 times out of 10 they don’t even ask you to sign a receipt, they simply swipe your Seapass card and you are done!
If you are someone like me who likes to pre-pay their gratuities, the drinks packages offer another way of achieving an almost all-inclusive type cruise cost, as your drinks gratuities are also all taken care of.
Obviously, you can, if you wish, still extend an additional tip at any time.
Can I Wait and Buy a Royal Caribbean Drink Package On Board?
Yes, you can. For shorter cruises, you need to order it on the day you board the Ship. On longer cruises, you can order it up until the second day.
Be aware that you will pay more for it than you might have paid if you had ordered a few weeks earlier.
If I have the deluxe beverage package, will I have to buy a non-alcoholic drink package for my kids?
No. The rule that states if one stateroom member buys a deluxe beverage package, then all others do, only extends to adults. So your kids or any other children in the stateroom will not have to buy a beverage package. However, a classic soda package for the kids, can actually save you money. (Looking for other ways to save money travelling with the kids? Check if Royal Caribbean Kids Sail Free is currently available?)
I am in the UK and my Friend who is on the same cruise is from the USA. Why are we being quoted different prices for the drinks package?
I actually spoke to Royal Caribbean about this a couple of months back.
Our cruise was booked in the UK, so everything was priced in GBP (British Pounds). Our friends who booked from the USA were seeing everything priced in dollars. Unfortunately, the price difference was not just a currency exchange issue. For some things, like the Royal Caribbean drink packages and excursions, the US prices were lower.
Royal Caribbean’s answer to this was that prices are set at a regional market level. So there can be differences between the UK prices and US prices.
I think the easiest explanation for this is VAT (this is UK sales tax). UK Sales tax is set at 20%, whereas sales tax is typically lower in the US and in Miami, it is just 7%.
Is there still an option to buy a 10 drinks card?
No, this option is no longer offered. However, be aware that on larger ships, you can buy a Pitcher of beer, which is equivalent to five 12oz bottles of beer.
The Wonder of the Seas Playmakers Bar sells a 60oz pitcher for just $18 plus gratuity. Five bottles of Budweiser would cost $37.45 plus gratuity. That’s a significant saving!
They currently show a Buy One Get One Free offer. But I am in a single cabin. Do I not get a discount?
Yes, you will get the discount. If you are in a single cabin, the price you pay will reflect the two-for-one discount. Just think of this as another example of Royal Caribbean Maths LOL
How can I get the most value from the Royal Caribbean drink package?
There are a number of ways to get great value from the Royal Caribbean drink package. The first and easiest way is to always ensure you buy the package pre-cruise! It will cost less than it will if purchased on board.
The next way is to ask for top-shelf high-priced liquors when requesting a drink or cocktail. For example, ask for a Chocolate Martini with Baileys (instead of the cheaper Irish Cream they can have on board). Or a Grey Goose Vodka and Tonic.
Don’t forget those bottles of water you buy offshore can mount up. So buy your water with the drinks package and take them with you.
How much do drinks cost on Royal Caribbean Ships?
- Draft Beers: $7.49 to $7./99
- Domestic Beers: $7.49
- International Beers: $7.99 to $9.50
- Liquor / Spirits: $10 to $21
- Cocktails: $14
- Wine by the Glass: $10 to $18
- Soda / Soft Drinks: $3.50
Are Drinks made at the Robot-powered “Bionic Bar” included in the Royal Caribbean Drink Package?
Yes, they are!
Can a Diamond Member who purchases the package use their free drinks for friends?
Yes. This can be especially useful if you are a Diamond member (or above) and have purchased the deluxe beverage package. Those free drinks are not wasted. You can use them to buy a drink for your friend, or even tip your favorite Schooner Bar piano player with a drink.
What is the legal drinking age on Royal Caribbean Ships?
If you are sailing from North American ports, the legal drinking age is 21. Anywhere else it is 18.
Can I use Royal Caribbean Drink Package on Coco Cay?
Yes, you can. This is one of the key advantages that Royal Caribbean has over Carnival. You can use your SeaPass the same way you would on the Ship. On Carnival’s private island at Half Moon Cay, you can’t use your package.
Can I use my Royal Caribbean Drink Package on Labadee?
Yes. Just like Cococay, all of the drink packages work on Royal Caribbean’s private beach location in Haiti.
Can I buy any of the Royal Caribbean Drink Packages for specific days of my cruise?
No. Unfortunately, you can’t buy it just for specific days.
Bottom’s Up – So Should You Buy Royal Caribbean Drink Package Or Not?
As I’ve tried to explain in the article. You really need to do the math and decide if any of the packages will make sense for you.
Personally, I am fortunate as a Diamond member to get four free drinks per day. That makes my decision-making slightly easier. I won’t be buying the deluxe beverage package on my next cruise, which is on Wonder of the Seas in late Summer.
However on my last cruise, on Vision of the Seas, we were cruising with a group of friends. I knew in advance it was going to be party central, so in that case we did buy the package.
As you can see it is a decision that has a lot of factors at play.
I hope this article will help you come to your own conclusion.
Do you have any questions that I haven’t covered? Let me know in the comments and I’ll try my best to answer them for you. Alternatively, contact me here.
Ever thought about the unbeatable cruise deals you might be missing out on? Cruise Critic is THE place for the freshest Royal Caribbean Cruise offers.
Every day, there's something new. Don't let your perfect cruise slip through the net. Dive in now and see what's waiting for you! 🚢
We are sorry that this article was not useful for you!
Help us improve this article!
Tell us how we can improve this article?