If you’re taking a cruise you may be wondering how much drinks cost on average on a cruise. There are a number of factors that affect the prices of drinks and which drinks are included in the cruise fare, the biggest of these being the cruise line that you cruise with. That said, most cruise lines have drinks prices that are similar to each other.
How Much do Drinks Cost on a Cruise Ship?
On a cruise a beer will usually cost around $7, a glass of wine $10, a cocktail $10, a soda $2.50, and a specialty coffee $4. Drinks prices vary between cruise lines and gratuities (tips) may be added on top of the menu price as standard.
Below are examples from the largest cruise lines by passenger numbers.
|Beer Cost Average ($$$)||Glass of Wine Average Cost ($$$)||Cocktail Average Cost ($$$)||Speciality Tea/Coffee Average Cost ($$$)||Soda Average Cost ($$$)|
|Royal Caribbean||$8||$12||$13||$4 (Starbucks around $5)||$3|
|Norwegian Cruise Line||$9||$10||$12||$4||$3|
|Disney Cruise Line||$9||$12||$10||$4||Free (From Pool Deck)|
|P&O Cruises||$6 (£4.50)||$6.50 (£5)||$8.50 (£6.50)||$3 (£2.50)||$3 (£2.50)|
|Marella Cruises||Included (Some Premium Options Available)||Included (Some Premium Options Available)||Included (Some Premium Options Available)||$5 (£4)||Fountain Soda Included|
|Cunard Cruises||$6 (£5)||$8 (£6)||$9 (£7)||$3.50 (£3)||$3 (£2.50)|
|MSC Cruises||$4 (€3.50)||$8 (€7)||$8 (€7)||$3.50 (€3)||$3.50 (€3)|
As you can see the prices do vary although not very dramatically.
On some cruise lines like MSC, you’ll find the prices on the menus in Euros (€) and with cruise lines like P&O Cruises, you’ll find that the menu is in Pound Sterling (£). With the majority of cruise lines, you’ll find the prices in US Dollars ($) even if the cruise isn’t sailing out of the US.
Gratuities Are Added Onto The Price
It’s important to remember that gratuities may be added to the prices of the drinks on the Menus. This is a very common practice and is added by almost all cruise lines.
The gratuity automatically added to drinks is usually around 15% of the price listed on the menu.
The gratuities go towards the tips for the staff and are designed so that passengers don’t have to tip in cash. That said, many people still prefer to tip in cash.
The gratuities which are automatically added onto the price of drinks cannot be removed.
On a lot of cruise lines, you’ll also find that a daily gratuity is added to your cabin account per person per night. This is usually around $15 per person per night and goes towards paying housekeeping, waiters, bartenders, and various other behind the scenes roles such as the laundry. It is usually possible to remove this but I would strongly encourage against it as many crew members rely on this source of income.
The below gratuities are added to all drinks. The prices on the menus don’t include gratuities.
|Norwegian Cruise Line||20%|
|Disney Cruise Line||15%|
|Marella Cruises||Drinks Included|
Drinks Package or Pay as You Go
There are two ways that you can pay for drinks on a cruise. You can either pay as you go, similar to how you would on land or you can buy a drinks package.
A drinks package usually allows you to have an ‘unlimited’ amount of certain drinks although there are a few different types of drinks packages available. The most comment types are:
A soda package usually provides unlimited fountain Soda, cans may cost extra. Not all cruise lines offer this package which I find annoying as it’s always my go-to. If you’re not a big drinker of alcohol getting a soda package and buying the odd alcoholic drink on top can work out to be much better value.
How Much Do Soda Packages Cost on a cruise?
The average price of a soda package on a mainstream cruise line in 10 dollars per person per day. This ranges from around 8 dollars up to 15 dollars and the what is included in the package does vary. Some soda packages will include only fountain soda whereas others will include cans.
Below is an example list of the current prices of soda packages on cruise lines. Be aware though that these do change frequently and cruise lines will often have sales or increase their prices without warning.
|Soda Package Cost Per Day|
|Royal Caribbean||$12.99 - $15.00|
|Norwegian Cruise Line||$7.95|
|Disney Cruise Line||Soda Included on Pool Deck|
|P&O Cruises||Not Available|
|Marella Cruises||Fountain Soda Included|
|MSC Cruises||Not Available|
Soft Drinks Packages
Almost all cruise lines will have some form of soft drinks package. This will usually include soda, specialty juices, teas, coffees, and sometimes mocktails.
If you don’t drink alcohol a soft drinks package can be a great option. I go for this when a soda package isn’t available and it is very nice to be able to try all of the mocktails on the menu. Some soft drinks packages will also include things like milkshakes.
How Much Does a Soft Drinks Package Cost on a Cruise?
The price of soft drinks packages varies dramatically due to the fact that each cruise line includes different drinks in the package. The average cost of a soft drinks package with a mainstream cruise line in $23 with prices varying from around $16 to $38 per person per day.
Below are examples of the packages of the soft drink offered by cruise lines.
|Soft Drinks Package Cost Per Day|
|Royal Caribbean||$29.00 - $38.00|
|Norwegian Cruise Line||Not Available|
|Disney Cruise Line||No Drinks Packages|
|P&O Cruises||$26 (£20)|
|Marella Cruises||Drinks Included|
Alcohol packages vary dramatically and what is included varies too. On most cruise lines you’ll find that there are different ‘levels’ of alcohol packages. This may be called something like a ‘basic’ and ‘premium’ package.
Alcohol packages usually have limitations and one of these may be that you can only order drinks up to a certain value. For example, MSC’s easy package only includes drinks up to $6 in value. On some cruise lines, you are able to just pay the excess if you want a drink over this cost. On other cruise lines, you have to pay the full value of the drinks.
How Much Does an Alcoholic Drinks Package Cost on a Cruise?
The price of alcoholic packages varies dramatically and there are usually different packages available within each cruise line. The average cost of the highest, all-inclusive alcohol package is $66 per person per day with prices ranging from $52 to $99. There are many cheaper options than these packages and they are not right for everybody.
Below are examples of the most premium drinks packages available by the cruise line. There may be multiple tiers between the soft drinks prices mentioned above the alcohol prices mentioned below. It’s very important to do your research into the specific cruise line.
|Premium Alcoholic Drinks Package Cost Per Day|
|Royal Caribbean||$63.00 - $89.00|
|Norwegian Cruise Line||$99|
|Disney Cruise Line||Not Available|
|P&O Cruises||$52 (£40)|
|Marella Cruises||Marella Are 'All Inclusive' but upgrade available for $13 (£10) per day|
Other Types of Drinks Packages
There are other types of drinks packages available on cruises but these vary by the cruise line. On some, you are able to buy beer or wine specific packages and may be able to buy a certain amount of drinks for a certain price. For example, you may be able to buy ten bottles of wine for a reduced price.
Terms and Conditions
There are usually a number of terms and conditions placed on drinks packages:
- There may be a limit on the number of drinks you can have in 24 hours.
- There may be a price limit on the drinks that are included.
- If one guest buys the package all others in the stateroom may have to.
- Drinks packages cannot be shared.
- The majority of drinks packages exclude bottled water.
How do you book drinks packages on a cruise?
Most drinks packages can be bought online prior to the cruise. It’s often cheaper to do this if you can. Most cruise lines will have an online portal that you can log into after you’ve booked the cruise, this is where you can look for things like drinks and excursions.
If you are unable to buy before the cruise this isn’t a problem, there will be plenty of people onboard trying to sell you a drinks package when you embark. I’ve done this on occasion and haven’t found any problems with it.
How to Pay For Drinks on a Cruise
Cruise ships are completely cashless societies. You cannot buy a drink on a cruise using cash.
All drinks bought will be added onto your cruise card which is given to you at check-in. This is linked to your credit/debit card and you’ll be charged after the cruise for everything that you’ve spent. This makes spending money INCREDIBLY easy but it’s very important to remember that you’re still spending money!
To learn more about why you can’t use cash on a cruise, check out this post: Cruise Ships Are Cashless Societies, Here’s Why
Find Free Drinks on a Cruise
There are a number of places where you can find free drinks on a cruise if you know where to look. Good places to look are:
- Welcome parties
- Meetups (Cruise Critic, groups, etc)
- Loyalty status meetups
- Product seminars (For example in the spa)
It’s important to remember that although you can buy tea and coffee in the bars onboard for a price there is free tea and coffee available in the buffet on most cruise ships and some will even have kettles in your cabins.
To learn more about which expenses you can avoid paying for on a cruise, check out this video:
Bringing on Your Own Drinks
On some cruise lines, it is possible to bring your own drinks onboard at embarkation. The majority of cruise lines do charge a ‘corkage fee’ if you want to drink in the bars or restaurants onboard. This isn’t anything to do with the actual corking on the drink so you can’t get around it by corking it yourself!
On Norwegian Cruise Line the corkage fee is applied as soon as you embark regardless of where you drink it.
Which cruise lines have a ‘corkage fee’?
- Azamara – YES
- Carnival – YES
- Cunard – YES
- Celebrity – YES
- Disney – YES
- Fred Olsen – NO
- Holland America – YES
- Hurtigruten – NO
- Marella Cruises – NO
- MSC – NO
- Norwegian Cruise Line – YES
- P&O Cruises – YES
- Princess Cruises – YES
- Royal Caribbean – YES
- Viking – NO
Click on the links above to learn more about the specific cruise lines policies in regards to bringing alcohol onboard.
It’s also worth noting that some cruise lines will let you bring on drinks in ports other than the embarkation port. If a cruise line does this can be a great way to buy a cheap bottle of wine in port, come back to the ship, and enjoy it on your balcony.
The prices of drinks on cruise ships are similar to that which you’d find in a bar on land. Drinks packages are available but it’s important to work out if a drinks package is good value for you before purchasing it. All drinks of cruise ships are purchased without cash and drinks prices vary by cruise line.
Below you’ll find menu examples from many of the biggest cruise lines.
To learn more about Costa Cruises drinks and to learn why I always recommend you buy a Costa cruises drinks package, check out this post: Costa Cruises, Drinks Package Guide
(Costa are the only cruise line where I think everybody should book a package)
For more Cunard menus check out the full post here: Cunard Drinks Package Guide and Menu With Drink Prices
To learn more about MSC’s drinks check out this drinks package guide: MSC Drinks Packages: Prices, Menus & Offers
For more information about P&O’s drinks packages check out this post by Holidays At Sea: P&O Drinks Packages Explained – 2020 prices
Want to learn how to cruise well on a budget? Start here: How to Cruise For Less
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