How to Cheat Royal Caribbean Drink Package (Without Getting Caught!)

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Are you looking to save money on drinks on your Royal Caribbean cruise? Drink packages are expensive, and buying drinks individually can cost a lot too.

It’s a touchy subject, discussing how to potentially “cheat” the system. While I don’t condone any actions that break the rules, it’s interesting to see how some people try to stretch their holiday budget. 

In this article, I’ll explain some of the ways people try to save on their bar bill.

Related reading: Best time to buy a Royal Caribbean Drinks Package.

Two bartenders, a man and a woman, joyfully preparing colorful cocktails at a well-stocked bar aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, reflecting a lively and luxurious atmosphere.

1. Smuggling Alcohol Onboard

Are you trying to save on drinks? One way people attempt to cheat Royal Caribbean is by bringing their own alcohol on board. Now, while I can’t endorse this method, it’s worth discussing how some guests navigate this.

One popular method involves using a flask disguised as a shampoo bottle. It’s an old trick but one that some claim has worked for them. There are various other creative ways to sneak alcohol onboard, but each comes with its own set of risks. 

Someone I know filled their very washed-out aftershave bottle and filled it with vodka. They said they could not get rid of that perfume smell, and it tasted disgusting. The vodka ended up being poured down the sink. 

Officially, Royal Caribbean does allow you to bring two 750ml bottles of wine per cabin, provided they are in your carry-on luggage. Some guests exploit this rule by swapping out the wine for stronger spirits. The idea here is to then order soft drinks and mix them with your smuggled booze. 

However, it’s essential to be aware of the technology cruise ships use to detect smuggled items. If you’re considering sneaking alcohol onboard, know that there are scanning mechanisms that could catch you out. 

A closed security scanner at a Royal Caribbean cruise terminal, with informative signs in both German and English, indicating directions and safety measures for passengers.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

And what happens if you get caught? Royal Caribbean’s terms can be quite strict; you may even be denied boarding, although this severe punishment is generally reserved for more serious offences. Most likely, you’ll just have to part ways with your smuggled drinks.

2. Splitting a Drink Package

So you may be considering buying just one alcoholic drinks package and sharing it among your group to cut down costs. It’s a tempting idea, especially when the packages offer unlimited drinks per day. Some even consider mixing and matching, such as buying one Deluxe Beverage Package and pairing it with a cheaper Soda Package for the other person in the cabin. But is this a loophole you can exploit?

Let’s set the record straight: Royal Caribbean makes this option challenging on purpose. When you try to purchase the Deluxe Beverage Package online, you’ll notice that it won’t allow you to buy it for just one adult in a stateroom. Every adult of legal drinking age has to get it, or no one can.

However, there’s a workaround that some people have reportedly used. They contact Royal Caribbean directly (you can’t do this online) and explain that one person in the stateroom doesn’t drink due to personal or medical reasons. The cruise line might then make an exception, allowing the other adult to purchase a cheaper, non-alcoholic package. This way, although you’ll have fewer alcoholic drinks between you, you’ll still be able to share discreetly.

Close-up of a bartender's hand expertly pouring a chilled cocktail through a strainer into an elegant glass at a Royal Caribbean cruise ship bar, highlighting the craft of mixology.

Another strategy involves booking two adjoining staterooms, especially when possibly they’re cheaper than four-berth rooms. With this setup, you could technically have one adult with a drinks package in each room, bypassing the ‘all or none’ rule.

But be warned, if you’re caught sharing your Deluxe Beverage Package, Royal Caribbean will cancel it without offering a refund. While kids aren’t required to have any package, attempting to order a drink for them and then one for yourself later could raise eyebrows. It’s doable, but risky.

3. Bringing Your Own Wine to the Bars

Fancy a glass of your own wine while dining onboard Royal Caribbean? You can bring two bottles of 750ml wine per stateroom, but there’s a catch. While you can freely enjoy your wine in your stateroom, taking it to public areas will incur a $15 corkage fee per bottle. It might be worth it for a special bottle of champagne, but for everyday wines, that extra charge can add up.

Here’s a tip some travellers use to navigate this rule. Open your bottle in your stateroom, there should be a corkscrew provided, and pour yourself a glass. You can then casually walk to the restaurant or bar with your glass in hand. The staff will likely assume you’ve purchased the wine from one of the ship’s bars, saving you the corkage fee. You will need a glass from a bar, and not the ones from your cabin, as they will look different. 

This approach works well if you’ve picked up additional bottles at ports of call during your cruise. Just remember, while bottled wine is allowed, boxed wine is a no-go on Royal Caribbean ships.

Close-up of two hands clinking glasses of white wine in a toast, with a blurred backdrop of a social gathering on a Royal Caribbean cruise, evoking a sense of celebration and leisure.
Credit: Photo by Zan on Unsplash

4. Take Advantage of the Free Drinks at Events

Did you know that there are actually ways to enjoy complimentary drinks on a Royal Caribbean cruise? We’re not just talking about the standard offerings like flavoured water, tea, and coffee. Certain onboard events also throw in free alcoholic beverages, making a drink package seem less essential.

Keep your eyes peeled for events like art auctions, where guests are often treated to a glass of champagne on the house.

Also, if you’re fortunate enough to have booked a Grand Suite or above, or if you’re a Diamond member or higher in the Royal Caribbean loyalty scheme, you’ll be given drinks vouchers, which are loaded onto your sea pass.  

A couple engaging in conversation over drinks at the vibrant Bamboo Room bar on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, surrounded by other patrons enjoying the lively tropical-themed ambiance.

You also have exclusive access to the Diamond Lounge. The drinks vouchers will be redeemed in the Diamond Lounge as well as the bars. Just remember to tell the barman you are using one of your quota. You can get a friend a drink from the allowance too. 

You need to check with the barman if they are taking the soft drink from the vouchers. For example, a whisky and ginger ale could count as two drinks. I’ve known this happen before, but it varied from bar to bar. I learnt to say a whisky highball, then it was classed as one drink.

The lounge hosts an Exclusive Nightly Happy Hour between 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm, offering complimentary hors d’oeuvres. Although there’s no open bar, you can redeem your complimentary drink vouchers during this event, making it a great way to kick-start your evening.

Close-up of a person's hands holding a mason jar filled with a vibrant red cocktail garnished with fresh mint and blackberries, offering a refreshing moment aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise.

What If I Want to Play by the Rules?

If you’re anything like me, the idea of bending or breaking the rules to get a cheaper drink just doesn’t sit well. But there are legitimate ways to quench your thirst without blowing your budget. One option is to simply budget for occasional drinks that aren’t included in your cruise fare. You can still have a great time without going overboard on expenses.

A savvy move is to purchase your Royal Caribbean drinks package in advance of setting sail. Contrary to what you might think, pre-cruise packages often come at a discounted rate. Also, you don’t have that extra bill at the end of the cruise if you have pre-purchased. 

If you spot a better deal later, you can cancel your initial package without any penalties and opt for the cheaper option. This also means you avoid the queues, freeing up more time for you to enjoy a cocktail.

Another little tip is to make use of the complimentary drinks on offer, including taking water bottles off the ship on excursion days. Not only does this keep you hydrated, but it saves you from buying overpriced bottled water at your port of call. It’s also worth noting if you are a Diamond member or above, you can use your vouchers at Labadee and Perfect Day at CocoCay. 

So, there you have it. No rule-bending is required, just a bit of savvy planning, and you can enjoy a tipple or two without breaking the bank.

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I'm Hannah and I've been cruising for as long as I can remember.

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