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Do Cruises Include Drinks? Don’t Miss These FREE Options (Tea, Coffee, Juice & More)

When you book your cruise, it is easy to think that everything will be included, but this is rarely the case – particularly when it comes to drinks.

Emma Cruises Norwegian Prima Pool Deck

You might have been reading about drinks packages, and be wondering whether you need to buy one. You could be thinking you might have no access to any free drinks when onboard.

In this article, we explore which drinks you may find onboard that don’t come at an extra charge. You will feel more confident about your choices and will not need to run up a large onboard account when you sail.

What your cruise includes depends very much on the individual cruise line. As a general rule, the more you have paid for your cruise fare, the more “included” drinks you will find.

If you are lucky enough to sail with a luxury cruise line, you will find that many drinks are included. If you sail with a cheaper cruise line, like Costa or MSC for example, expect to pay for more “extras”.

Free Drinks In The Buffet

You will always find some free drinks in the buffet. Normally, coffee (decaf and standard), hot water, and tea bags to make your choice of teas are always available. You will often find chilled water, too.

This is completely free, help yourself to whatever you want.

msc meraviglia tea bag selection
Free Tea and Coffee in the buffet on MSC Meraviglia

At Breakfast

At breakfast, in the same place as the tea and coffee, you are likely to see juices. Orange juice, apple juice, mixed fruit juice – it varies from day to day and cruise line to cruise line. This is free, help yourself.

At Other Times Of The Day

If you travel on a more expensive cruise line, like Celebrity, you may find that they offer fruit juices whenever the buffet is open. Royal Caribbean do the same, you may find Traditional Lemonade, for example at no extra charge.

Celebrity Infinity Buffet free drinks
Celebrity Infinity Buffet free drinks, lemonade, water and a mixed fruit variety.

At the other end of the scale is Costa Cruises, who provide very little in the way of included drinks.

We found on our first Costa cruise back in 2018 that you could only use the machines to get tea in the buffet for one hour in the afternoon!

Water was always available when the buffet was open, but the buffet had reasonably short opening hours and we found it closed a lot of the time.

This was extended on my more recent Costa cruise.

Costa Cruises Buffet Food Included
Costa Smeralda – afternoon snacks, water and tea were available free of charge in the buffet.

Tea and Coffee-Making Facilities In Your Cabin

Some cruise lines, particularly British cruise lines or those sailing from the UK, provide tea and coffee-making facilities in your cabin.

This is something I really love to see. It means I can have a cup of tea in the morning before venturing out to the buffet for breakfast.

p&o iona kettle and biscuits in cabin
Tea and Coffee making facilities – and biscuits – P&O’s Iona

It’s great to sit on your balcony ( if you have one) and have a cup of tea while watching the sail in or sail out.

Tea bags and coffee sachets are replaced daily. Sometimes you even get biscuits too! You can often pick up extra tea bags and coffee sachets in the buffet if you drink a lot of hot drinks, or ask your cabin steward for more.

American cruise lines usually don’t provide tea and coffee-making facilities as standard, but you can always ask if they are available.

My mum recently did this on our Celebrity Infinity cruise, and they were happy to provide them. She was delighted!

Find out all about that Celebrity Infinity cruise here. It was great value for money:

If you don’t drink much tea and coffee, you might want to consider bringing squash instead.

Squash is a fruit drink that comes in a concentrated form, you add it to water. You can buy very small “squirty squashes” in supermarkets in the UK. They are easy to pack in your suitcase.

Although you can safely drink the water from the tap/faucet in your cabin, it doesn’t always taste very nice. By adding squash, it tastes fantastic!

Find out more about drinking the tap water in your cabin here:

You Can Drink Tap Water on a Cruise – (Here’s Where and How)

Drinks That May Cost Extra

Coffee In The Dining Room

Coffee after your meal in the main dining room is often free. I say “often,” – but occasionally, there is a charge as some cruise lines only offer speciality coffees in the dining rooms.

Keep an eye out for that. You can always save money and go to the buffet and get a free cup instead!

Water In The Main Dining Room

This may be a surprise to many, but although water is free with your meal in the dining rooms, if you sail with Costa, it isn’t always. You may have to buy bottled water, depending on which country you book from.

Costa cruises can be incredibly cheap compared to other mainstream cruise lines, so you will find many additional charges.

I sailed recently onboard the Costa Mega ship, Smeralda and my cruise fare was incredibly cheap. Find out what I got for my money here:

Drinks That Cost Extra

Drinks In Bars

If you order a drink in a bar onboard, it will be charged to your onboard account unless you have purchased a drinks package.

I usually don’t buy a drinks package, as I don’t drink enough to get good value from it. If I do buy a package, I tend to buy a soda package, not one that includes alcohol. Find out more about that here:

Drinks Packages Aren’t Worth it For Me – Here’s How I Decide (Price Lists & More)

Speciality Teas and Coffees

Many cruise ships have cafes serving speciality coffees, teas, and cakes. These coffees and teas come at an extra charge – unless of course, you have a drinks package that includes them.

Mini Bar Drinks

Unless you are on a luxury cruise line or are sailing in a suite, any drinks you find in the Minibar will be chargeable, and you will find a price list to refer to.

I never drink mini-bar drinks – unless they are included, of course!

Carnival Magic fridge mini bar
Most cabins have a small fridge or mini bar filled with drinks you can buy.

When I sailed on Celebrity Edge, they also tried to tempt me by putting extra charged snacks on the desk! I didn’t buy any…

Room Service Drinks

Even if you have a drinks package, if you order drinks on room service, you are likely to still be charged for a delivery fee.

Some cruise lines do provide free room service, others charge a flat rate for delivery, and others charge per item. Check before you order.

If you can order free room service for breakfast, they won’t charge you for any tea, coffee or fruit juices from the breakfast menu.

Queen Mary 2 room service breakfast
Room service breakfast onboard the last Ocean Liner in service, Queen Mary 2

Before You Go

Some cruiselines do include a range of drinks as standard. The British cruise line Marella does this. Find out more here:

Marella Cruises All Inclusive Drinks List (and Menus)

Find out how to cut your onboard expenses before you cruise in the article below:

Cutting Onboard Expenses, BEFORE You Cruise. (Drinks, Speciality Meals, Excursions and More)

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

Ever wondered how the mainstream cruise lines compare? Cruise lines won’t tell you this, but I will.

This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.