Enjoy These Free Drinks While Sailing with Royal Caribbean

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Are you curious about what drinks are included when booking a Royal Caribbean cruise?

Having been on many Royal Caribbean cruises, I know how important it is to understand what’s included in the deal. I’ve done the legwork and compiled a list of free drinks, so you know exactly what you’re getting. 

Related reading: Learn more about Royal Caribbean’s drink packages.

A Royal Caribbean beverage station featuring 'Regular' and 'Decaf' Lavazza coffee dispensers, a hot water station with a caution sign, and accompaniments including milk and sweeteners on a marble countertop.

The drinks which are free on a Royal Caribbean cruise include tap water, milk, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, flavoured water, fruit juice, lemonade and iced tea. Stick to this list; you won’t need to spend extra on beverages during your cruise unless you choose to. Below, I have gone into more detail about each and where you can find them on your cruise.

1. Tap Water

Tap water is freely available across various locations on the Royal Caribbean ships. You can request a jug of iced water in any restaurant or a glass at any bar. Dispensers are also set up in the Windjammer buffet and other points around the ship for self-service.

A Nestlé Vitality beverage dispenser on Royal Caribbean cruise ship with selections of strawberry, citrus passion, and peach flavors, alongside iced tea and water options.

The quality of the tap water on board is generally high as it undergoes thorough filtration. Drinking tap water in your stateroom is also perfectly safe, although it might not always be cold. If that’s the case, you can ask your stateroom attendant for some ice.

If you like to carry around a water bottle, Royal Caribbean asks not to fill it directly from the dispensers for hygiene reasons. However, you can use a clean glass instead and then pour it into your bottle. Note that bottled water is not free and would need to be purchased separately or brought on board.

2. Milk

The Windjammer buffet has a few options for those who like a splash of milk in their coffee or cereal. You’ll find options like semi-skimmed and skimmed milk. If you have specific dietary needs or preferences, almond and soya milk are also available upon request.

If you’ve booked a cruise departing from Southampton, UK (usually Anthem of the Seas), your stateroom will likely have a kettle, complete with small pots of milk. But if you require dairy-free milk or whole milk for a little one, don’t hesitate to ring up room service. They’ll deliver it to your room, and you can store it in the mini-fridge for later use.

The Windjammer buffet on a Royal Caribbean cruise, featuring an array of freshly baked bread and pastries at the forefront, with a variety of buffet stations in the background. The area is warmly lit with comfortable seating available, and a "Good Morning!" sign adding a welcoming touch to the dining ambiance.

3. Tea

If you’re a tea lover, you won’t be disappointed on a Royal Caribbean cruise, especially with the variety available in the main dining rooms and the Windjammer buffet. From classics like Earl Grey and English Breakfast to a range of herbal options like peppermint and chamomile, the selection caters to most tastes.

If you’re setting sail from the UK, your stateroom should include a kettle and some tea bags. It’s a nice touch from Royal Caribbean, as they understand the importance of the British morning cup of tea.

4. Coffee

If you’re particular about your morning coffee, it’s good to know what’s on offer. Royal Caribbean provides complimentary coffee in a number of places, including the main dining room, Windjammer buffet, Cafe Promenade and even through room service.

However, there’s a distinction between standard brewed coffee, which is free, and specialty coffees like cappuccino and espresso, which come at an extra charge. Although I’m not a coffee drinker myself, the feedback I’ve heard is that the quality of the free coffee is decent but not spectacular; however, it’s certainly drinkable. If you’re specifically after the ‘brewed’ coffee, make sure to request it by name to avoid any charges. 

For coffee enthusiasts willing to splurge, some ships feature Starbucks, although their offerings aren’t part of the complimentary beverage list.

A Starbucks Coffee shop on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas, showcasing a bright and inviting outdoor seating area with white tables and wooden chairs, complemented by the signature green Starbucks sign above the entrance.

5. Hot Chocolate

If you’re a fan of hot chocolate (like me), you have a few convenient options on board. In the Windjammer buffet, you’ll find packets of hot chocolate mix located near the tea bags, sweeteners, and stir sticks at the drink stations. You can also order hot chocolate at no extra cost in the dining rooms, Cafe Promenade, and even via room service.

For those who want something a bit more upscale, some ships offer Starbucks, where you can purchase their version of hot chocolate. It’s a paid option, but you might find it worth the extra cost if you’re a hot chocolate connoisseur.

6. Flavoured Water

If you’re after a cold drink but don’t just want the tap water, the Windjammer buffet offers complimentary flavoured water. In my experience, it’s closer to fruit cordial in taste, offering a sweeter flavour than your typical infused water.

Usually, there are at least two different flavours to choose from, giving you some variety if you’re looking to avoid the paid beverage options. It’s a pleasant alternative to standard water and adds a little variety to the drinks available.

7. Fruit Juice

On Royal Caribbean cruises, the selection of free fruit juices isn’t restricted to breakfast time. In the main dining rooms and buffet, you’ll usually find orange, apple, and grapefruit juice. Freshly squeezed juice is also available, but there’s an extra charge.

The main dining room on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, featuring a grand chandelier as the centerpiece, with multiple levels of balconied seating. The elegantly set tables and warm lighting create a luxurious dining experience.
The Main Dining Room on Navigator of the Seas

8. Lemonade

In the Windjammer buffet, the same machines that serve flavoured water also have lemonade. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill lemonade; it’s cloudy and contains a bit of pulp.

However, if you’re more inclined towards carbonated lemon drinks like Sprite, those are available but come with an additional cost. 

9. Iced Tea

Unsweetened iced tea, made from concentrate, is also available from the drinks machines. You can get this in the Windjammer or in the main dining room. However, some people say it’s not to their taste, and some recommend adding a little lemonade to make it a bit sweeter.

Beyond the standard offerings in the dining areas, there are alternative avenues for scoring free drinks on a Royal Caribbean cruise. These come in especially handy if you’re looking not to spend much extra on your cruise. 

Bring Your Own Drinks

If you want to save a bit of money, Royal Caribbean does allow a bit of leeway for bringing your own drinks, but there are some strict rules to bear in mind. On the day you board, each guest of legal drinking age is permitted to bring one sealed 750 ml bottle of wine or champagne. No beer, hard liquor, or boxed wine is allowed, and breaking these rules can lead to some consequences, like confiscation.

For those embarking on consecutive sailings, you’re allowed one 750 ml bottle for each leg of your journey. The ship will store Any additional bottles safely and return to you on the first day of the next voyage. So, if you fancy a specific wine or champagne, you do have some options, but make sure you’re playing by the rules.

Understand the rules around bringing your own drinks on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Art Auctions

Art and free drinks? Count me in. Onboard Royal Caribbean cruises, art auctions are a regular feature, and to sweeten the deal, they offer complimentary champagne. While it might not be the top-shelf stuff, it’s pleasant and adds a touch of class to the event.

But a word of caution: the free drinks might make the artwork look even more appealing, so maybe keep a handle on your bids unless you fancy leaving the ship with a new piece of art!

Welcome Back Parties

If you’re a frequent Royal Caribbean cruiser like me (I’ve now hit Platinum status), the Crown & Anchor Society offers some pretty good perks. One of these is the Welcome Back party for Gold members and above. At this event, you’ll be treated to complimentary wine and cocktails, making it a nice little bonus for your loyalty.

For those who have reached Platinum status or higher, there’s a second event known as the Top Tier event. Keep an eye out for the invitation cards in your stateroom. It’s a great way to enjoy some free drinks while meeting other regular Royal Caribbean cruisers.

A tropical cocktail being served on a Royal Caribbean cruise, garnished with a fresh sprig of mint and a slice of orange, presented in a uniquely textured tiki glass, suggesting an inviting and refreshing beverage experience.

Concierge Club & Suite Guests

If you’re lucky enough to stay in a suite or have reached Diamond, Diamond Plus, or Pinnacle status in the Crown & Anchor Society, you’ll have access to one of the exclusive lounges onboard. This includes the Concierge Lounge, Diamond Lounge, or Suite Lounge.

Between 5 pm and 8 pm, these VIP spots serve up complimentary alcoholic drinks during happy hours. It’s like a private club at sea where you can unwind with a free tipple or two.

A guest enjoys a glass of sparkling wine on the helipad of Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, with the ship's white exterior and open deck providing a bright, sunny backdrop. The casual elegance of the moment is captured with the guest's relaxed attire and cheerful demeanor.
Enjoying a free glass of fizz on the helipad on Oasis of the Seas

The Casino

On Royal Caribbean, free drinks in the casino are a privilege reserved for those who’ve reached certain tiers in the Casino Royale loyalty programme.

If you’ve earned Prime, Signature, or Masters status, you’re in luck: you can enjoy complimentary drinks while you’re in the casino, but only during operating hours. So, unless you’re a high roller or a frequent casino-goer, you’ll be paying for your own drinks while you gamble.

A vibrant array of slot machines in the casino aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, with colorful displays and the chance for games and entertainment, contributing to the lively atmosphere of the ship's onboard activities.

What if I would like other types of drinks?

Are you considering something beyond the complimentary options, such as a pint of beer or a signature cocktail? While Royal Caribbean provides a decent range of free drinks for alcohol, speciality juices, or soft drinks, additional charges will apply.

For example, a single soda can will set you back around $3.25 before gratuity. If you see alcoholic beverages as a part of your holiday, you might opt for a drink package to indulge without worrying about each individual cost. Keep in mind that drinks on a Royal Caribbean cruise can be quite pricey, so planning ahead based on your preferences is advisable.

Wrapping It Up

From tap water and hot chocolate to the exclusive offerings at member-only lounges, Royal Caribbean provides a broad choice of complimentary drink options to keep you hydrated throughout your cruise. 

Whether you’re after a simple cup of tea or looking to navigate the ship’s more premium options, this article has clarified what’s included and what comes with an additional charge. If you’re keen to have other types of drinks, various drink packages are available to cater to your individual preferences.

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

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