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Am I wasting my money on a drinks package?


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I received an email from Bolsover on Tuesday with some great Royal Caribbean deals on, all of which included a free drinks package plus on board spending money. I'm by no means a seasoned cruiser and have only travelled with P&O Cruises in the past. We're really tempted to book the Greece and Croatia itinerary and it is the free drinks package that is sealing the deal. Before I commit, are the free drinks packages all they are cracked up to be? We like a couple of beers around the pool, a glass or two of wine with dinner and a couple of cocktails afterwards; will these things be included? What IS included and is there anyway of seeing a list? Thanks

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I had this debate with myself a while ago Mike. It was with Celebrity and I'd been looking at an offer of theirs which features the Classic Drinks Package. I wanted to try and dig deeper to find out what it included and was able to do so in the end. It took some doing though but eventually I got there. They give a brief description on their website but it's quite general rather than detailing specific brands of beer, spirits etc.

Normally the drinks packages that are included in such offers are the basic packages but these do cover quite a decent range of choice. Most beers are covered in it and you will get house wines included too as well as a good choice of cocktails. There's usually a spend limit per drink for these packages and premium spirits/wines/beers will be over that amount and therefore not included. I saw someone say recently on here too that they had chosen options above the price limit per drink thinking they'd just need to pay the difference which turned out not to be the case so that's worth keeping in mind.

Personally I think they're great. You know what you're getting and if it's included in the offer then it's brilliant because it will save you a fortune on board. There are little nitty gritty facts to consider like still needing to pay the service charge percentage on each drink which they don't make clear but overall they're great and well worth considering.

Not sure about Royal Caribbean's specifics but I'd expect it to be similar to Celebrity being a sister brand. In Bolsovers magazine, they've covered the full inclusion list for Celebrity in adverts so have a flick through that if you have them or look at them on the Bolsover website.

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We aren't seasoned cruisers either and so far have only been with Fred Olsen twice and are going twice in 2017. We had the drinks package and would recommend it - really good value for money even if you only drink moderately.  Their package includes all soft drinks as well so for £10.00 per day why wouldn't you buy it?  

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On 2017-02-10 at 8:24 AM, sammy sun said:

I had this debate with myself a while ago Mike. It was with Celebrity and I'd been looking at an offer of theirs which features the Classic Drinks Package. I wanted to try and dig deeper to find out what it included and was able to do so in the end. It took some doing though but eventually I got there. They give a brief description on their website but it's quite general rather than detailing specific brands of beer, spirits etc.

Normally the drinks packages that are included in such offers are the basic packages but these do cover quite a decent range of choice. Most beers are covered in it and you will get house wines included too as well as a good choice of cocktails. There's usually a spend limit per drink for these packages and premium spirits/wines/beers will be over that amount and therefore not included. I saw someone say recently on here too that they had chosen options above the price limit per drink thinking they'd just need to pay the difference which turned out not to be the case so that's worth keeping in mind.

Personally I think they're great. You know what you're getting and if it's included in the offer then it's brilliant because it will save you a fortune on board. There are little nitty gritty facts to consider like still needing to pay the service charge percentage on each drink which they don't make clear but overall they're great and well worth considering.

Not sure about Royal Caribbean's specifics but I'd expect it to be similar to Celebrity being a sister brand. In Bolsovers magazine, they've covered the full inclusion list for Celebrity in adverts so have a flick through that if you have them or look at them on the Bolsover website.

On Celebrity, if you have the classic package you pay in full for any drink over the price limit.  With the premium package you just pay the difference.

Also on Celebrity the service charge is not added on to each drink.  If you buy your package, 18% is added to the package cost, not on each drink.  When we had an included package  (I would not call it free), the service charge was not added.  This was a couple of years ago, so I suppose it might have changed.

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My frustration with drink packages is that they always seem so complex. There's never just an "all-inclusive" option unless, it appears, you travel with one of the considered "luxury" lines. I've seen so many advertisements lately for so many cruise lines all singing their own praises about their "incredible" offers, featuring drink packages. Some even advertise it as being all-inclusive and its only when you look further into it that you see the fine print and realise it actually isn't. I've been guilty of looking at drink package offerings in the past and my eyes lighting up thinking that would save us a lot of money on board, and the long and short of it seems to be that it will but only if you get the right one. There's no point jumping at a free drinks offer only to find that the wine you enjoy or the beer you like is not included, or is but at a premium.

I've done a lot of reading into this with my plans for this year and it's interesting to read the comments of people on the forum about it.

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It would be great if all cruise lines offering drink packages were completely transparent in what was included. Most cruise lines include a general overview of what is included on each level but they don't tell you the exact drinks that are available in your price bracket. I found more information on Cruise Critic once and also on a various few other websites that had photos uploaded from on board but it would be much easier if the cruise lines showed this themselves. I'm not saying they have to use it in their marketing messages but perhaps make it available to be viewed on their website in the right sections. 

Out of interest, does anyone know of or use a tool that can tell you the drinks included on specific drink packages at sea?

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We had a drinks package thrown in with an RCI and it was great. A basic one but got us beers, stated wines which were OK . if you`re into premium spirits and the like tou`ll pay extra and gratuities but we were able to get lower end versions of anything we wanted and the odd " oh go on then just this once " if we strayed off piste and smiled at the bartender

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21 hours ago, sammy sun said:

Speaking of drink packages, does anyone know if P&O are any closer to offering them? I know they do the odd wine package etc but nothing as substantial as rival cruise lines.

I have not heard anything ,we use the wine deals but drink prices are not a major part of our budget when cruising....Davybe

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We have looked at the packages in the past but it wouldn't benefit us as we wouldn't drink that amount.

These days as we are Top Tier with RC our daily complimentary on alcohol is enough apart from the odd beer on a hot afternoon or bottle of champers in the Chops Grille.

For others It may be well worth considering.

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Firstly - nothing is ever free!  If you get a 'free' drinks package you will be paying for it as part of your fare.  

Some cruise lines allow almost all drinks on the bar list in the package, however some lines restrict which drinks are 'free' and for which you have to pay supplements.  

We recently took a bargain break on Thomson, we didn't get a free drinks package, although most passengers had and had paid far more than we had for the cruise.  We found out that only a few drinks were free to those who had a package and that to get a good choice you needed to upgrade to a Premium package. 

We also found that the bar staff were far less attentive than if everyone had been paying for their drinks, almost as if the passengers were being rationed!  We found this particularly annoying as we were paying for ours but, as the staff didn't know that, we were treated to the same slow service.

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I found that we were lucky that we had a free drinks package on our first cruise which was with Celebrity Cruises, as the drinks were expensive. We could have wines, cocktails, spirits, soft drinks and speciality coffees and teas. With this in mind, we bought a drinks package for our second cruise which was with Cruise & Maritime. We regreted that because the drinks were reasonably priced. We found ourselves drinking, when normally we wouldn't have, simply to get our money's worth. At the end of the cruise we just broke even. The package would have suited hard drinkers.

We have just returned from a P&O cruise. They did not have a drinks package, like the other two. They had a wine package for meal times. We bought that and it was worth it. All other drinks were quite reasonably priced similar to average pub prices. That is the extent of my cruising experience.

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We believe Royal Caribbean is different to Celebrity but to provide info on Celebrity, if you get a Classic package included as per the current offer until 28/2,  you can have access to Beers to $6, spirits, cocktails, and frozen drinks up to $8 per serving, and wine-by-the-glass up to $9 per serving,   and the Premium package you can enjoy the entire selection of Beers as well as Spirits, Cocktails and Wines by the Glass up to $13 per serving.

I have tried looking in Royal Caribbean but you need a booking to get access to all the info.

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I guess that the only answer for this is that it depends on how much you'll use the package.  We've only been on a single cruise with another booked for this summer, but the drinks package would have been a waste of money for us.  I had a glass of wine with dinner on a few nights and a couple of drinks at other times but that was about it.  If you're a regular drinker it might be worthwhile, but not for us.

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We have just retuned from a Celebrity Cruise and although we did not have a drinks package included, we did not purchase one either due to the cost.

The Soda Package @ $11 (£7) per day + 18% service charge includes canned drinks and some draft soft drinks.

There is the Bottled Water Package @ $19 (£12) per day - The Classic Non-Alcoholic Package @ $22 (£14) per day - the Premium Non-Alcoholic Package @ $26 (£17) per day all with 18% service charge.

The Standard Package @ $53 (£35) per day includes unlimited fountain soda (not cans), non premium bottled water and house beers. Also House Wine by the glass and house spirits + 18% service charge.

The Classic Package @ $65 (£42) per day Includes unlimited fountain and can soda, juices, premium teas and coffee. All specialty coffees, smoothies, frozen drinks, non premium bottled water and beers up to $7.5 (£4.90) also wine by the glass up to $11 (£7) cocktails and spirits up to $9.5 (£6) + 18% service charge.

The Premium Package @ $77 (£50) per day Includes unlimited fountain and can soda, juices, premium teas and coffee. All specialty coffees, smoothies, Evian Perrier and Pellegrino, Red Bull, Vitamin water and all non-alcoholic cocktails. Also beers, wine by the glass, cocktails, frozen drinks  and spirits up to $15 (£9.80) + 18% service charge.

Unless there is a very good price of the cruise then the above costs will be added to your holiday as there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Any more questions, please ask.

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