Does Carnival Cruise’s Drink Package Live Up to the Hype?

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Are you facing the dilemma of the Carnival cruise drink package? It’s a common difficulty for many cruisers: to buy a drinks package or pay per drink. This article is your definitive guide to making that decision. Inside, I’ve packed all the facts, figures, and straightforward advice you need.

A bartender in a white coat demonstrates a cocktail-flipping trick to an amused woman and man seated at a warmly lit bar, with a selection of colorful cocktails displayed on the countertop.

And if time isn’t on your side, don’t worry – our quick-use Carnival drink package calculator will crunch the numbers for you. Discover how to make the most cost-effective choice for your cruise in just a few clicks.

Carnival’s Drink Packages

Two drinks packages are available on Carnival cruises: the Cheers package and the Bottomless Bubbles package. The Cheers Package includes alcohol, and the Bottomless Bubbles package is for soft drinks only. I’ll go into detail about each one below:

Carnival Cheers Package

The CHEERS! package is an all-inclusive drinks package covering a broad range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. It’s perfect for anyone who enjoys sampling a variety of drinks without worrying about the cost each time.

The price of the CHEERS! Package varies, costing $59.95 per day if purchased before the cruise and $64.95 per day if bought onboard. It’s a bit pricier at $69.95 or $74.95 per day for shorter cruises of five days or less. Plus, there’s an added 18% gratuity to pay on top.

Included in this package are a variety of drinks: cocktails, spirits, beer, wine, sodas, zero-proof frozen cocktails, energy drinks, milkshakes, smoothies, juices, specialty coffees, hot tea, and bottled water.

What sweetens the deal is a 25% discount on certain pricier drinks and bottles of wine and champagne.

What’s Not Covered by Carnival Cheers Package?

While the Carnival Cheers Package includes a lot, there are some exclusions. For example, drinks priced over $20 are not part of the package. You’ll also pay separately for drinks at specialty restaurants and the Alchemy Bar. Besides, bottles of wine and champagne are not covered. If you’ve purchased the package, be aware of these exclusions to avoid surprise charges on your bar tab.

There are also some restrictions based on state laws. For instance, the package fee of $95 per person does not include drink prices onboard the ship while it’s in certain ports. Also, zero-proof frozen cocktails and drinks from bars and lounges may not be included, depending on the state laws where the ship is docked.

Drink Package Limitations

When considering the CHEERS! package, it’s essential to keep in mind a few key restrictions and policies. Firstly, you need to be 21 years old to purchase it. It’s a rule that ensures compliance with drinking age laws.

A joyful couple at a bar with a woman holding a cocktail, laughing with her companion, under a sign with '21+' indicating an age restriction for alcohol consumption.

The CHEERS! package caps alcoholic drinks at 15 per day (6 am to 6 am cycle), but thankfully, there’s no limit on non-alcoholic beverages.

There’s also a cabin policy to consider if one person in a cabin opts for the CHEERS! Package, then all adults over 21 in that cabin must also purchase it. This is probably to prevent sharing of drinks between cabinmates.

Also, you should know the limit on how many drinks you can purchase at a time. Even if you’ve purchased the Cheers package, you can only buy one drink at a time. There’s also a five-minute waiting period between drinks. This policy is in place to ensure responsible drinking on board.

Remember, the package must be bought for the entire cruise duration; you can’t pick and choose days. Finally, it’s worth noting that the drink package is only valid on the ship and doesn’t extend to Carnival’s private islands or other ports of call.

Is the Cheer Package Worth it?

Whether the CHEERS! Package on Carnival is right for you depends on your drinking habits and preferences. For example, the break-even point is about 8-10 beers or 4-6 cocktails daily. If you’re likely to hit that, then the package is worth considering.

From a cost perspective, it can be quite economical. I recall a fellow cruiser who wasn’t a big drinker but loved a mix of beverages, including specialty coffees. Over six nights, they would’ve spent $608 on drinks, but with CHEERS!, it was only $360, saving them $248.

Another factor to consider is convenience. Having a set rate for drinks means you don’t have to worry about individual costs and can budget more efficiently. It’s great for those who want to enjoy a variety of drinks without the stress of a growing bar tab.

Bottomless Bubbles Option

For those like me who prefer mainly non-alcoholic drinks, Carnival’s Bottomless Bubbles package is a fantastic choice. It offers unlimited access to various sodas and juices, ideal for keeping refreshed throughout the day without the alcohol.

The pricing is quite reasonable, too. For children aged 17 and under, it starts at $6.95 per day; for adults, the cost is $9.50 per day, plus an 18% gratuity. This makes it a budget-friendly option for families or anyone who doesn’t drink alcohol.

This package includes a range of fountain soft drinks and juices like orange, cranberry, tomato, pineapple, and grapefruit.

Free Drinks on Carnival Cruises

It’s also worth noting that you get free drinks on Carnival from the dining room, buffet and through room service. They include non-bottled water, lemonade, iced tea, hot chocolate, hot tea, regular and decaffeinated coffee, and milk (regular or skim). So, if you’re not a big fan of alcoholic beverages, you’ll still have plenty of options to quench your thirst.

In the dining room, you can enjoy juices such as apple or grapefruit for breakfast and chocolate milk for a sweet treat. And if you’re a fan of traditional brunch cocktails, you’ll be pleased to know that a Bloody Mary is also part of the free drink offerings during brunch hours in the dining room.

Cost of Drinks on a Carnival Cruise

A group of friends at a bar, smiling and engaged in a lively exchange, with one person handing over cash to pay for vibrant colored cocktails on the counter in front of them.

When deciding whether to buy a drinks package or not, it’s also worth considering how much drinks cost individually. On board, you’ll find the drink prices surprisingly wallet-friendly compared to other cruise lines.

In 2023, the typical costs are as follows: Cocktails range from $10.50 to $12.50, providing a variety of mixes.

For beer enthusiasts, a 16oz serving is priced between $7.00 and $8.50.

Wine lovers can enjoy a glass at $9.50 to $14.00, while spirit and mixer combos vary from $7.50 to $15.00.

For non-alcoholic options, soft drinks are just $2.75, specialty coffees range from $2.50 to $4.95, and energy drinks and smoothies are priced at $4.95 and $6.50, respectively.

Bottled water, a necessity, is available between $1.50 and $3.95. Conveniently, water can also be delivered to your room with options like a 12-pack of 500ml bottles for $9.95, a 1.5-litre bottle for $3.95, or an 8-pack of 1.5-litre bottle for $20, each incurring an additional 18% delivery fee.

Other Useful Information

Before making a final decision, some other factors might influence your decision:

  1. Playing in the casino on a Carnival cruise earns you points. Once you hit 1,500 points (about $3,750 spent), you’re entitled to the ‘Drinks On Us’ card, which offers free drinks while you gamble. Rack up 5,000 points, and you’ll also get this perk on your next cruise.
  2. While there’s no exclusive coffee package, specialty coffees are part of the CHEERS! package or can be bought individually. Regular coffee is free in dining areas and via room service.
  3. Carnival switched to Pepsi products in January 2020, serving a range of PepsiCo drinks like Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and Sierra Mist.
  4. The CHEERS! package doesn’t cover drinks on private islands such as Princess Cays and Half Moon Cay.
  5. It’s a no-go to share the Cheers drink package. If one cabin member buys it, all adults in the cabin must do so, too, unless there are exceptional circumstances like medical or religious reasons.
  6. With the CHEERS! Package, if you buy drinks for friends, their drinks get charged to your onboard account. Use their cruise card for purchases to charge it to their package.
  7. The drink packages must be purchased for the entire cruise duration, except for departures from New York or Texas, where the package isn’t available on the first day.
  8. If you change your mind about the CHEERS! You can get a refund until 9.00 pm ET the night before departure. After that, it’s non-refundable.

Is the drink package worth it on Carnival?

The value of the drinks packages largely depends on individual drinking habits and preferences. The Cheers Package offers a wide range of drinks and can be cost-effective for those who plan to consume a variety of beverages regularly throughout their cruise.

The Bottomless Bubbles package is a more suitable option for those who prefer non-alcoholic drinks. The decision to purchase a drink package should also consider the convenience and ease of having a predetermined budget for drinks during the cruise.

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

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