On two different cruises during the past year, we’ve tried out the pay-one-price drink packages on Holland America Line and Royal Caribbean. For comparison, I checked out the relatively new All Inclusive Beverage Package on Princess Cruises when I sailed last month on the Star Princess.
The All Inclusive Beverage Package from Princess costs $49 per person per day, and with an automatic 15 percent gratuity per day, it ends up costing $56.35 per person per day, or $394.45 per person for a 7-day cruise. This is exactly the same cost as the updated pricing for the Premium Beverage Package on Royal Caribbean, which you can learn all of the details about here.
The Princess Cruises All Inclusive package includes all cocktails, wine, beer, bottled water, tea, sodas and specialty coffees that cost up to $10 in any bar or dining room. Mini-bar and room service beverages are not included. If a cocktail or a glass of wine exceeds $10, however, you cannot pay the difference.
For example, if you ordered the Mirabelle, Brut Rose Champagne in Vines, you would have to pay the full $11 per glass even if you had the drink package. Wine lovers, however, do have a wide selection of wines by the glass served in Vines that are under the $10 price point. There are fewer wines by the glass offered in the dining room.
The $10 price point and more in-depth wine list makes the Princess Cruises All Inclusive Beverage Package superior to the Signature Beverage Program on Holland America Line. Holland America’s drink package has a $7 per drink cut-off, which includes most cocktails but only a couple of unimaginative house wines. Holland America’s Beverage Program is slightly less expensive at $44.95 per person per day, or $51.69 per person per day with the 15 percent auto gratuity. The best deal for Holland America’s package is when you get it as an included benefit if your cruise was booked under the Explore4 promotion.
Back to the Princess All Inclusive Beverage Package, if I was cruising with Mr. Jones on a 7-day cruise, we would probably buy the package. The reason: we would enjoy espresso-based coffees in the morning and throughout the day in the International Cafe. We would occasionally enjoy a cold beer or foo-foo cocktail at the Calypso Bar. We would have wine by the glass at dinner, in addition to sparkling water or club soda. We would collect bottled water from the bar to take with us when we went ashore.
Most of all, we would enjoy the complimentary sushi as we worked our way through the list of interesting white wines on the list at Vines.
And we’d discover our favorite red wine as we dined on the tapas at Vines.
Since I was traveling alone, I did not buy the All Inclusive Beverage Package. Instead, I bought the basic unlimited fountain soda package that cost $36.23 for the week, or $5.17 per day including gratuity. This should not be confused with the $8.05 per person per day Unlimited Soda & More Package that includes mocktails, juices and hot chocolate in addition to fountain soda. See all of the Beverage Package Options from Princess Cruises here.
The bottom line on pay-one-price drink packages:
- If you like to drink a lot of specialty coffees, bottled water, sodas and cocktails on a cruise, the pay-one-price drink packages may be for you.
- The best way to know if they work for you is too add up how much you usually spend on beverages for the total cruise, and compare the total price of the package.
- Also consider how many days you will be at sea on your cruise (when you are more likely to drink more on-board) and how many days you are in port. All Inclusive Packages generally will not be a good deal on port-intensive cruises, unless you are one to skip the ports and stay on the ship when it’s in port.
- You should also consider what is included and what is not included, and how that matches up with your favorite beverages. If you love specialty coffees, the Premium Beverage package on Royal Caribbean won’t work for you. Despite paying $56.35 per day, espresso coffee drinks aren’t included; you need the Ultimate Package if you want specialty coffee included.
- If you are mainly a wine drinker and what more options that a glass of house Chardonnay or Merlot, you won’t care for Holland America’s Signature Beverage Program (unless you are getting it as a free benefit.)
- With cruise fares lower than ever, you may end up spending as much on beverages are you did for the cruise fare. One other benefit of buying a beverage package is that you know what you will be spending ahead of time.
How about you? Have you tried a pay-one-price inclusive drink package on a cruise? How did it work out for you? Please share your feedback in comments below.
Check out these other posts on my recent California Coastal Cruise on the Star Princess:
- Trying Out San Francisco’s New Cruise Ship Terminal at Pier 27
- Dining at the Crab Shack on the Star Princess Cruise Ship
- Exploring San Diego’s USS Midway Museum
- A Look at the Sabatini’s Menu on Princess Cruises’ Star Princess
- A Look Inside Interior Cabin B-625 on the Star Princess Cruise Ship
- A Quick Visit to Ensenada, Mexico via the Star Princess Cruise Ship
- How Joining a Roll Call on Cruise Critic Made My Solo Cruise a Blast
- Touring Los Angeles and Hollywood on a Princess Cruises’ Excursion from Long Beach