If you’re considering taking a cruise you may be looking into purchasing a drinks package and wondering if it’s possible to share a package rather than purchase one for each member of your cruise party. I’ve been on a number of cruises and in this article we will discuss what would happen if you shared a drinks package on a cruise.
Can You Share a Drinks Package on a Cruise?
Cruise ship drinks packages cannot be shared. The drinks package must only be used by the person who bought the package and any guests found to be sharing the package may have their package cancelled without any form of a refund.
There are a number of different types of drinks packages on a cruise and what the include and how they work varies.
Buying a Drinks Package
The most common type of drinks package is a drinks package where you pay a certain price per day and this entitles you to be able to have a seemingly ‘unlimited’ supply of certain types of drinks. There are of course limits on a lot of the packages but they’re usually so high that you’ll never reach it. Many cruise lines set their limit at 15 drinks per day.
Types of Drinks Packages
The most common types of drinks packages are alcoholic, non-alcoholic and soda packages. I’m personally a big fan of a soda package as a soda package usually only costs the same as three or four sodas per day and I easily drink that in a day.
In order to work out if a drinks package is right for you it’s usually easiest if you start by looking at cruise drink prices:
In a non-alcoholic package, you may find things like tea, coffee, smoothies, mock-tails and soda.
In an alcoholic package, you may find things like your favourite beers, wines and spirits.
There are a number of cruise lines, such as Marella in the UK which include drinks within the cruise fare. If you are likely to drink a lot it may be worth considering a cruise line with drinks included as this can be better value.
There is another type of drinks package which some cruise lines offer.
These drinks packages are more like buying coupons and you may pay a certain price in order to have a set number of drinks. For example, I took a cruise where I bought a ‘soda package’ the soda package was basically a program where you paid $30 and were able to have 10 sodas, this worked out at $3 per soda and they were usually $4.
I can’t remember the exact numbers but either way, it worked for me as I saved a little on each drink. This type of package can sometimes be shared as you are buying a limited quantity of the product. I was given a little booklet of what I called ‘coke tokens’ so in theory I could have shared these with anybody. Many cruise lines will do the same thing for speciality teas and coffees.
Limitations on How Many Drinks Can be Ordered
Many cruise lines have had problems with guests sharing drinks packages in the past and one way that cruise lines try to minimise the chance of this happening is by limiting the number of drinks that your drinks package can be used to buy.
It may also be the case that a certain drinks package only works within certain hours. Some cruise lines don’t allow guests to use their drinks packages between the hours of say 2-6am to discourage too much late night drinking! Whether this actually works or not I have no idea.
15 is a pretty standard limit for most alcoholic drinks packages. Non alcoholic or soda packages very rarely have limits so it would be easier to share these in theory. That said, a number of other measures have been put in place to make sure that this doesn’t happen.
All Guests in The Same Cabin Have to Purchase a Drinks Package
On almost all cruise lines guests booked in the same cabin have to all purchase a drinks package. This was implemented to avoid the sharing of drinks.
The drinks package purchased must be the same so it isn’t possible for one person in a cabin to book an alcoholic package while another books a non alcoholic package.
This does annoy a lot of people who, for example, have one person in their cabin who does not drink but they are forced to pay for an alcohol package for that person if the others want to buy one. This is the case on almost all cruise lines and if it is the case it will be explained at the time of booking.
It’s usually possible to book drinks packages online ahead of your cruise and when doing this the system won’t let you purchase for just one person in a cabin.
Some cruise lines will take into account medical reasons when considering if a guest can be excluded from the rule above.
In the case that somebody was medically unable to drink alcohol it may be decided that this guest could purchase a soft drinks package instead but this would have to be proven to the cruise line and it might take some doing.
That said, if you are in this situation you could save a lot of money if the cruise line agrees, so keep at it!
Crew Are on The Lookout
The crew on cruise ships are trained to look out for people caught sharing drinks packages. This may be when guests order a drink for themselves at dinner but give it to another guest or this could happen in a bar onboard.
I recently took a Costa cruise and we were on a shared table for dinner with two ladies who had a drinks package. They were VERY adamant about ordering us drinks and they didn’t see any problem with sharing the drinks.
We always declined their offers apart from on one occasion where they ordered me a coke without me knowing. It put me in a strange situation where I didn’t want to offend the ladies who gave me the drink, plus I wanted the drink… but I didn’t want our waiter to get in trouble if he was seen to be allowing a drinks package to be shared.
I decided to just drink the coke VERY quickly, almost in one gulp, while the waiter wasn’t looking. It’s silly but my heart was racing, it felt very naughty and I won’t be doing it again!
What Happens if I’m Caught Sharing a Drinks Package on a Cruise?
If you are caught sharing a drinks package on a cruise the most likely thing to happen is that you’ll be given a warning or told off. If it happened again it’s likely that your drinks package would be cancelled and you wouldn’t receive a refund.
Some drinks packages can realistically cost $50 per person per day so having this cancelled mid way through a cruise and being unable to use it, but still paying for it, must be very frustrating.
In a worse case scenario the cruise line could make you pay for the drinks that you’ve bought using the package, depending on how heavy a drinker you are this could get expensive fast!
Would I Risk it?
My advice would always be not to risk sharing a drinks package on a cruise. If you sat in a bar or restaurant and tried to share a drinks package you would be caught and it wouldn’t be worth it as it’d end up costing you more in the long run. That said, if you were to, for example, go to a bar and order a drink to take back to your cabin then somebody else drank it. You’re not going to get in trouble for that, it’s a lot of work for a free drink though!
An alternative could be to check if the cruise line that you’re cruising with allows you to bring alcohol onboard, many do:
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