1. Home
  2. Cruise Styles
  3. Gourmet Food Cruises
  4. 8 Best Drinks to Order When You Have a Cruise Beverage Package
Mojito Flight on Norwegian Cruise Line (Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line)
Mojito Flight on Norwegian Cruise Line (Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line)

8 Best Drinks to Order When You Have a Cruise Beverage Package

Want your cruise to feel as all-inclusive as possible? Choosing a beverage package that bundles your drinks can give you the comfort of knowing what you're paying up-front. However, the fine print -- dollar amount cap per drink; maximum number of drinks allowed per day; exclusions such as drinks served in a specialty cup, drinks from room service, buckets of beer or vino from self-serve wine bars -- can make it difficult to get the most value from your package purchase.

If you do decide to take the dive, there are a variety of ways to make sure you get the most beverage bang for your buck. Read on for the eight best types of drinks to order on your next cruise -- advice that's sure to maximize the value of your package.

Updated April 16, 2019

1. Top-shelf Tipples

This might seem like an obvious move to make when you've prepaid for drinks but be sure to ask the bartender to make your drink with premium liquor. If you don't have a favorite brand in mind, asking the bartender's opinion is always a smart move -- and you're more likely to get a heavy pour! Plus, by letting your bartender know which beverage package you have, they can identify the best label that won't blow your per-drink budget.

2. Bottled Bevvies

Bottled nonalcoholic drinks, such as Honest Tea and Vitamin Water, are one of the best values with a drink package because they won't count against your drink limit. These drinks can help you stay hydrated by the pool, after a workout or even when you're feeling hungover. Just be advised that sometimes those drinks sold on the gangway before heading ashore carry an additional fee.

3. Frozen Drinks on a Private Island

Perhaps one of the most surprising perks of some cruise line beverage packages is the extension from ship to shore. Of course, this is only possible when visiting a cruise line-owned private island, and not every cruise line participates. If yours does, it can feel truly decadent to order a pina colada while lounging by the surf and not have to pay. Norwegian Cruise Line's private island Great Stirrup Cay accepts onboard drink packages. And that line is not the only one: The Royal Caribbean Deluxe Beverage Package extends to Royal's private Bahamian island, CocoCay, so you can sip the island's signature drink -- the Coco Loco -- without a care in the world.

4. Fancy Bubbly

Due to a cap on the price of drinks covered by a beverage package, most cruisers play it safe and stick within the limits of that maximum. But, if it’s that $25 glass of Champagne you crave, the maximum included in your drink package can be applied, making that bubbly a mere $12. Some might find this approach extravagant, but it's a chance to sip something special for less than what it would normally cost. Champagne isn't the only splurge to consider: You can toss back a lavender daiquiri from Royal Caribbean's Schooner Bar, listed on the menu for $15, for the bargain price of $3.

5. DIY Ice Cream Floats

Want to channel your inner child? Use the soda included in your package to create an ice cream float. Most cruise ships offer complimentary soft-serve machines or hard ice cream at the buffet. Fill a cup with your favorite flavor and then top it off with Coke, root beer or Sprite. You can even order a shot of Baileys or amaretto to add for an extra kick. Best of all, some cruise lines include scoops from their gelato counters in their beverage package programs, so you can upgrade that scoop of vanilla to something more decadent.

6. Custom Tastings

Even with a beverage package, you'll have to pay more for wine tastings or martini-making events onboard. Depending on your mood, head to the wine bar, the brewery or the cocktail lounge onboard to organize your own sampler. Since most cruise lines will only let you order one drink at a time, you won't have all the options laid out before you at once but ask the bartender to help you pick a handful of similar wines or brews to try in succession. Then, ask questions and take notes on each. Our advice: Request half-pours so you can compare a variety.

7. Unopened Drinks

Some cruise lines will give you a can of beer unopened, which allows you to save it in your cabin’s fridge for later -- like when you want a beer on your balcony as you watch the sun set -- or to slowly put together your own bucket of beer (which are not eligible for purchase with most beverage packages) for that last sea day.

8. Coffee and Espresso Drinks

If you're looking for a buzz that won't come back to bite you, drink packages freely deal out caffeine -- and it's the good stuff. Specialty coffees and espresso drinks are included in most beverage packages and, for many cruisers, it's the only way to start the day. Enjoy a piping hot cappuccino with a biscotti in the morning (pastries are included at most onboard coffee shops), or an iced latte in the afternoon. Spiked coffees are also a popular offering in many bars and lounges and those made with decaf make the perfect nightcap.

These tips are for the North American cruiser -- drink packages vary widely for international audiences.

Find a Cruise
Email me when prices drop

Popular on Cruise Critic

Best Time to Cruise
It's one of the most common cruising questions: When is the best time to cruise Alaska, Australia, the Caribbean, Canada/New England, Hawaii, Europe or the South Pacific? The answer depends on many variables. For example, fall foliage enthusiasts will find September and October the best time to cruise Canada/New England, whereas families prefer to sail in summer when temperatures are warmer for swimming. The best time to cruise to Alaska will vary depending on your preferences for viewing wildlife, fishing, bargain-shopping, sunshine, warm weather and catching the northern lights. For most cruise regions, there are periods of peak demand (high season), moderate demand (shoulder season) and low demand (low season), which is usually the cheapest time to cruise. High season is typically a mix of when the weather is best and popular travel periods (such as summer and school holidays). However, the best time to cruise weather-wise is usually not the cheapest time to cruise. The cheapest time to cruise is when most travelers don't want to go because of chillier temperatures or inopportune timing (too close to holidays, the start of school, etc.). But the lure of cheap fares and uncrowded ports might make you change your mind about what you consider the best time to cruise. As you plan your next cruise, you'll want to take into consideration the best and cheapest times to cruise and see what jibes with your vacation schedule. Here's a when-to-cruise guide for popular destinations.
How To Choose a Cruise Ship Cabin: What You Need to Know
Your room on a cruise ship is called a cabin (or stateroom) and is akin to a hotel room, but typically much smaller. Choosing a cruise ship cabin can be fun and challenging at the same time, and not just a little bit frustrating on occasion. Cabins fall into different types or "categories," and some cruise lines will present as many as 20 or more categories per ship. Before you get overwhelmed, it's helpful to remember that there are essentially only four types of cabins on any cruise vessel: Inside: the smallest-sized room, with no window to the outside Outside: a room with a window or porthole (a round window) with a view to the outside, often similarly sized to an inside cabin or a bit larger; also known as oceanview Balcony: a room featuring a verandah that allows you to step outside without going up to a public deck Suite: a larger cabin, often with separate living and sleeping areas, and a wide variety of extra amenities and perks It's the permutations (size, view, location, amenities and price, for example) of the four basic cabin types that can make choosing difficult. In addition to knowing your cabin options, you need to know yourself: Do you tend to get seasick? Do you prefer to nest peaceably on your balcony rather than hanging with the crowd around the pool area? Conversely, is your idea of a stateroom simply a place to flop into bed at 1 a.m. -- no fancy notions necessary? Are there certain amenities you are willing to splurge on, or can you simply not justify paying for unnecessary perks? The answers will help guide you toward selecting the best stateroom for your money. If you're feeling overwhelmed by choice, we'll help you get started with this guide to choosing the best cruise cabins for you and your travel party.
What to Pack for a Cruise: A Beginner's Guide
There once was a not-so-savvy seafarer who didn't feel right unless she took two steamer trunks crammed with outfits on every cruise. This, she learned, was not a good idea. Besides incurring the wrath of her male traveling companion, who pointed out that he would have to wrestle with excess baggage through airport terminals and beyond, she quickly tired of cramming her belongings into tiny closets. The now savvy seafarer follows this packing rule: Thou shalt put into one's suitcase only that which will fit neatly in the allocated cabin storage space. Following that advice is getting easier because, for the most part, cruising has become a more casual vacation with relaxed dress codes. Plus, with airlines charging to check bags, it's just plain economical to pack light. To do so, you need to have a good sense of what you’re going to wear on a cruise so you don't pack your entire closet. If you're wondering what to bring on your next cruise, here are our guidelines for what you'll need to pack.