Having been on three cruises within the last 11 months, we’ve had a chance to test out how good the deals are for cruise ship drink packages on three separate brands. These include Celebrity, P&O, and Royal Caribbean cruises.
Late last year we boarded Celebrity Eclipse and wanted to find out if they lived up to the title of “5 star cruises”. In a word, Yes! Celebrity know how to go the extra mile to make your cruise something special with many “little extras” the other cruise lines forget to do, from a drink and towel when getting on the boat, to making sure everyone cleans their hands when it counts.
When it comes to drink packages, Celebrity had the best value for money. Not only do they do soda, wine, and beverage packages, but you also get an option that really includes “everything”. Wanting a price that covers more than just alcohol means that you can really get value for money, and not feeling like you have to keep drinking alcohol to get your moneys worth.
Celebrity does this with Premium and Classic drink packages. It’s easy to reach the amount spent, $39 Classic and $49 Premium a day last year, when you think how much specialty coffee/tea, bottled water you can drink in a day when it’s hot, and this is not including those non- alcoholic and alcoholic cocktails you drink by the pool. While it is true that you do not need a drink package, and can get a limited type of free tea/coffee/juice in many locations onboard, you need to make sure if you visit the bar a lot then a drink package could save you a lot of money.
While on the Celebrity Eclipse I tried the Premium drink package, while my wife tested the Classic package, looking at value for money. Our daughter went for the Classic Non-Alcoholic package for around $15 a day, which easily saved us money with non-alcoholic cocktails, soda, and bottled water.
We wanted to review the Celebrity experience from the family perspective, and not only was our daughter happier with the kids clubs than on Royal Caribbean and P&O, which she said was due to a better age group and doing more activities together, but Celebrity couldn’t be beaten for adult and child drink packages. Paying one price meant we could budget easier for the cruise ahead, and enjoy the experience without counting the cost continually.
You can see exactly what is included in Celebrity’s drink packages and the current prices via this link to the official website.
Sadly our cruise with P&O on the Azura in April 2011 did not offer any deals on drink packages, other than buying a number of bottles of water or wine at once to save money. This left us with the option to buy the drinks one at a time, which after the cruise we looked at the cost, and this worked out more than on Celebrity.
Our latest cruise was in August this year with Royal Caribbean on Independence of the Seas, and they did include drink packages as well as a Premium option. While it was nice to see they had packages unlike P&O, the only non- alcoholic options were a soda package, which was good value for money. The Premium and Classic options on Royal Caribbean would be good for those that love to get drunk everyday, but not for other guests. You had to pay $49 for the Classic and $59 a day for the Premium, and this was for only alcohol other than soda, which meant no bottle water, no specialty coffee and tea. We tried the Premium package for four days before giving up and getting a refund, these packages are not value for money unless you’ll be drinking alcohol most of the day.
In summary: You can get loads of drinks for free at the food buffet, which seems to be running all day and night with some small breaks, but if you want to save money with a drink package you’ll find it hard on Royal Caribbean, but easy with Celebrity.