These Drinks Are Free on Carnival Cruises

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When you book your Carnival cruise, before you go you may want to decide whether to just have the free drinks or decide whether to buy the drink package or pay for your drinks individually.

Three women enjoy tropical drinks at a cruise ship bar, with two of them clinking glasses and smiling. The atmosphere is leisurely and social, with other passengers visible in the background, suggesting a vibrant vacation scene on deck.

In this article, I’ll give you the facts you need to make that decision.

What Drinks Are Free on Carnival Cruises?

When I’m on a Carnival cruise, I have access to a selection of complimentary beverages. In the Main Dining Room and the Lido buffet, non-bottled water, regular coffee, hot tea, iced tea, hot chocolate, milk, and a variety of fruit juices are available at no extra charge.

During breakfast hours, juices like orange and passion fruit are typically offered for free. Lemonade, as a refreshing option, can also be enjoyed without cost throughout the day.

For those seeking additional options outside of meal times, room service provides a limited selection of complimentary drinks as well. However, specialty coffees, bottled water, and alcoholic beverages are not included and come at an additional charge. It’s always wise to check the latest guidelines directly with Carnival, as offerings could vary by ship or itinerary.

Understanding Beverage Policies and Packages

My aim here is to offer a deep dive into the beverage policies and packages on Carnival Cruise Line, providing clarity on what drinks are included in your cruise fare and which ones come at an extra cost.

Complimentary Drinks and Their Availability

Close-up of hands holding a white mug of hot tea with a tea bag, showcasing well-manicured nails and a cozy sweater, conveying a sense of warmth and relaxation.

On Carnival cruises, guests have access to a range of complimentary drinks throughout their journey. These are mainly available in the main dining room and the buffet areas. Free drinks include:

  • Non-bottled water
  • Regular coffee
  • Hot tea
  • Fruit juices (available during breakfast)
  • Iced tea
  • Lemonade
  • Hot chocolate (availability may vary)

In most cases, I can obtain these drinks at the ship’s restaurants and 24-hour room service without additional charges.

Paid Beverage Options

An enticing cocktail with a gradient of orange to red colors is garnished with an orange slice on a wooden countertop, with a dark backdrop enhancing the drink's vibrant colors, suggesting a refreshing citrus beverage.

Beyond what’s complimentary, Carnival offers a wide selection of paid drinks. This includes:

  • Alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, and cocktails
  • Specialty coffee
  • Soft drinks
  • Bottled water
  • Energy drinks

You will find these drinks at the bars, lounges, and specialty dining locations. Room service may also offer an extended drink menu, which typically incurs extra fees.

Exploring Drink Packages

Carnival Cruises provides two prominent drink packages designed to cater to diverse preferences and needs:

  1. Cheers! Package:
    • Includes up to 15 alcoholic drinks per day, up to a certain value each
    • Non-alcoholic beverages
    • Specialty coffees and teas
    • Bottles of water (500ml or less), energy drinks, and smoothies
  2. Bottomless Bubbles Package:
    • Unlimited soda and juice
    • Great for guests who do not consume alcohol or prefer not to pay per drink

Both of these can be pre-purchased ahead of embarkation or bought on board.

Recommended reading: Is the Drink Package Worth it on Carnival?

Package Limitations and Extra Charges

While the Cheers! package is quite inclusive, there are important limitations and extra charges to be aware of:

  • Capped at 15 alcoholic drinks per day
  • Does not cover beverages over a certain price point
  • Excludes buckets, pitchers, bottles, and wine by the glass over a certain value
  • A 25% discount applies to certain excluded items, such as bottles of wine

All drink packages are also subject to gratuities. The Bottomless Bubbles package excludes bottled water, specialty coffee, and alcoholic beverages.

Recommendations for Budget-Conscious Travellers

For travellers mindful of their budget, I recommend:

  • Assessing personal drinking habits to determine if a beverage package is cost-effective
  • Taking advantage of the complimentary beverages to reduce on-board expenses
  • Considering the Bottomless Bubbles package for a flat fee on unlimited sodas and juices if that aligns with your consumption patterns

Drink packages can offer value and convenience, but it’s vital to ensure they align with your individual needs and drinking preferences to make the most of them.

Locations to Find Free Drinks on Carnival Cruises

Finding complimentary beverages on a Carnival cruise is a straightforward affair. I’ll guide you through the places on the ship where free drinks such as coffee, tea, water, and various juices are readily available.

Main Dining Rooms

The photo showcases the elegant Marco Polo Restaurant on a Carnival cruise, with its sophisticated decor, plush seating, and well-set dining tables ready to welcome guests for a fine dining experience.

In the main dining rooms, guests can enjoy a selection of free beverages with their meals. I’ve noted that water, iced tea, and hot tea are typically available. You might also find coffee and milk, making for a comfortable dining experience without additional charges.

Buffet Areas

Cheerful chefs in white uniforms and traditional chef hats are cooking and presenting dishes at a lively open kitchen with decorative tiles, offering a behind-the-scenes glance into culinary preparations in a bustling food marketplace.

The buffet areas are bustling hubs where complimentary drinks are easily accessible. Here, cruisers can find coffee, water, milk, a range of fruit juices, and iced tea. Be sure to visit the buffet for hot chocolate too, which is a delightful treat, particularly on cooler days at sea.

Room Service

A waiter in a red vest and white shirt serves a breakfast tray featuring a freshly baked croissant, a cup of coffee, a glass of orange juice, and a French press, exemplifying a luxurious and comfortable room service experience with a bright, modern backdrop.

Carnival offers a room service menu with selected non-alcoholic beverages available free of charge. You can expect classic options such as coffee and tea. However, it’s important to remember that while the drinks may be complimentary, a tip for the delivery staff is always appreciated for their service.

Related reading: Is room service free on Carnival?

Special Venues and Events

Carnival’s special venues and events often offer free drinks as part of the experience. For instance, an art auction on board might serve complimentary glasses of champagne. Likewise, when visiting Half Moon Cay, Carnival’s private island, you may be greeted with welcome drinks at the gangway. The drink menu at such events will typically highlight which options come at no extra cost.

Regional Considerations for Drink Availability

Regional offerings on Carnival cruises can notably affect the availability of complimentary drinks. The selection may vary based on the specific port-of-call the ship docks at, as well as at Carnival’s private islands.

Specific Port-of-Call Variations

Aerial view of two large cruise ships docked at a tropical pier, with striking turquoise waters surrounding them. Nearby, a cluster of colorful buildings with thatched roofs creates a picturesque scene that captures the essence of a vibrant vacation destination.

When my Carnival cruise docks at various ports, the range of free beverages can differ. For example, in Texas, laws may require the purchase of a temporary alcohol permit due to local regulations, impacting the availability of complimentary drinks. In New York, the selection might be expansive, featuring local juices and beverages as part of a promotional fare to enhance the cruising experience.

Private Island Offerings

On Carnival’s private island, Half Moon Cay, the options for free drinks tend to be more consistent due to the controlled environment operated by the Carnival Cruise Line. However, special events or exclusive packages may provide access to drinks that are otherwise chargeable on the ship. While visiting Half Moon Cay, guests might find signature Caribbean cocktails offered for a fee, distinguishing the private island experience from the standard offerings aboard the cruise.

Scheduled Changes and Seasonal Variations in Drink Services

During my time researching and observing practices on Carnival Cruise Line, I’ve noticed that complimentary beverage options, such as coffee, tea, and select juices, remain consistent throughout the year.

However, the availability of certain refreshments can have seasonal variations to cater to the festive mood or to align with specific itineraries. For example, passengers may find exclusive seasonal drinks during holiday cruises, like speciality hot chocolates in the winter or refreshing coolers in the summer.

Carnival occasionally updates its drink packages to reflect changes in demand or operational considerations. As of December 1st, 2023, for instance, the price for alcoholic drink packages for cruises of 5 days or less rose slightly, indicating regular evaluations and adjustments to their offerings. Keeping an eye on such updates before your cruise can be beneficial, as pre-purchase options often come at a discounted rate compared to onboard prices.

In terms of non-alcoholic options, there are set refreshment packages available for both children and adults, which include soda and juice, priced differently, with a mandatory gratuity added. These package costs and their contents, like the alcoholic drink packages, are subject to change and may vary based on upcoming seasons or special promotions. It’s prudent for travellers to check with Carnival Cruise Line directly ahead of booking to obtain the most current information regarding drink services.

Wrapping It Up

So, hopefully, now you have enough information on whether to stick to the free drinks or buy a drinks package. I personally stick to the free drinks and buy the odd drink, as I don’t drink much alcohol. However, you may benefit from buying a drinks package as over your cruise it might actually save you some money.

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

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