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You Can’t Share a Drinks Package on a Cruise – Here’s Why

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.

In this article, we will discuss what would happen if you shared a drinks package on a cruise.

marella cruises all inclusive drinks diet coke on pool deck

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 it. Any guests found to be sharing the package may have their package cancelled without any refund. 

There are a number of different types of drink packages on a cruise and what they include and how they work varies.

Buying a Drinks Package

With a drinks package 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 regarding how much you can drink – 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 drink 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 can easily drink that in a day.

Is A Drinks Package Right For You?

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, mocktails and soda.

In a Soda Package, you might find Coke/Pepsi, lemonade and sometimes fruit juices.

In an alcoholic package, you may find things like your favourite beers, wines and spirits.

If you aren’t going to drink enough to get your money’s worth, don’t buy a drinks package!

azamara onward soft drinks soda mini bar

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.

Azamara is another line that includes drinks as standard. Find out about my trip on Azamara Onward, and whether I thought I got good value for money here:

Limitations on How Many Drinks Can Be Ordered

Many cruise lines have had problems with guests sharing drinks packages in the past.

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 2-6 am to discourage too much late-night drinking! Whether this actually works or not I have no idea...

Many cruise lines only let you order one drink at a time, and there must be 15 minutes between your drink orders.

I assume this is to stop you lining up five drinks at a time, and just sitting and drinking all day!

15 is a pretty standard limit for most alcoholic drink 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.

Mocktail on P&O's Ventura
Enjoying a Mocktail on P&O’s Ventura

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.

All Guests sharing a cabin usually have to buy the same drinks package

The drinks package purchased must be the same so it isn’t possible for one person in a cabin to book an alcoholic package whilst another books a soft drinks 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.

Medical Exceptions

Some cruise lines will take into account medical reasons when considering if a guest can be excluded from the rule above.

In the case where somebody was medically unable to drink alcohol, it may be decided that this guest could purchase a soft drinks package instead.

This would have to be proven to the cruise line though – 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!

Cafe Al Bacio Celebrity Edge. Cake and Cookies
Cake Coke and cookies, Celebrity Edge

Crew Are on The Lookout

The crew on cruise ships are trained to look out for people caught sharing a drinks package.

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.

When I took my first Costa cruise 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 their drinks package.

We always declined their offers apart from on one occasion when they ordered me a Coke without me knowing.

It put me in an awkward 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!

When I take a Costa Cruise, I always buy a soda package. You can’t even drink water for free in the dining room on Costa ships.

My last Costa cruise on Costa Smeralda was s a really cheap cruise. We got great value for money and had a wonderful time. Find out all about that cruise here:

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 be 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 over $100/£80 per person per day. You don’t want to risk having your package cancelled with no refund given.

Having your package cancelled mid-way through a cruise and being unable to use it – when you have paid for it, would be very frustrating.

In a worst-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!

Drinks included with meals on my Tui river cruise

Would I Risk it?

My advice would always be not to risk sharing a drinks package on a cruise.

If you’re 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:

Can You Bring Alcohol on a Cruise? – Searchable Cruise Line Table

Do I Need To Buy A Drinks Package?

No, is the simple answer.

My advice would be to check into the prices of drinks before you go and work out how much you will realistically spend on drinks a day.

You may well find you will struggle to get your money’s worth from a drinks package and will be drinking more than you would normally to try and get value for money.

(Don’t forget that you can get free tea, coffee and water in the cruise ship buffet, and often juices at breakfast. Water in the main dining rooms is usually free too.)

It is perfectly fine to “pay as you go” and just pay for any drinks you have had at the end of the cruise.

This might be a far cheaper option for you if you don’t drink much.

Drinks on River Cruises

If you are going on a River Cruise, not an Ocean cruise you will normally find there are drinks included, at least with meals – and some include all drinks.

River cruises tend to be more expensive in the first place but include more.

If your river cruise isn’t all-inclusive, often drinks packages will be offered similar to those found on Ocean cruises.

Find out more about what is included in river cruises and why they are more expensive than Ocean cruises here:

Why Are River Cruises EXPENSIVE? – The Truth Behind The Price

Before You Go

Forward planning is everything when you cruise. Find out how to save money before you even step foot on the cruise ship here:

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

Find out when is the cheapest time of year to book your cruise here:

When Are Cruise Prices At Their Cheapest? Hints and Tips To Help You Book At The Right Time

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.