Royal Caribbean is rolling out two new beverage packages that may make sense for some cruisers. The Classic and Premium beverage packages will enable cruise guests to pay one price at the beginning of the cruise and enjoy unlimited access to a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The Classic package includes beer (up to $6.25 in value), house wines by the glass, as well as all non-alcoholic cocktails, fountain soda and juices. The Premium package features everything in the Classic package, as well as all beers, frozen drinks and all cocktails including premium brands. The cost of the Classic package is $45 dollars per person, per day and the Premium package is $55 dollars per person, per day. These packages will be available on all Royal Caribbean sailings of 7 nights or longer beginning this month and must be purchased on the first day of the cruise. One interesting wrinkle is that if one person in a stateroom purchases a package, everyone 21 years of age or older in the same stateroom must purchase the package. I am sure that is to prevent people from “buying” drinks for others, but differs from Royal Caribbean’s sister-line Celebrity Cruises, which has no such restriction.
My take: I’m all for increased choices, and inclusive beverage packages are a choice that I like to have. Even though they are owned by the same company, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity are offering different beverage packages in this case. Celebrity’s Premium package offers beer and wine as well as specialty coffees and bottled water as part of the package. Royal Caribbean’s offering does not include specialty coffees and wines are limited to house brands. On the other hand, Celebrity’s Premium package is $54 dollars per person plus a 15 percent gratuity while Royal Caribbean’s price of $55 dollars includes the gratuity.
All in all, I’m glad Royal Caribbean is now offering an inclusive drink package. I don’t think twice about buying the Premium package on Celebrity. Not including bottled water and specialty coffees, as well as limiting wines to house brands will make Royal Caribbean’s package offering less of a sure bet for me personally. If they named a dollar limit on wines (like the $12 dollars that Celebrity lists and is usually more than generous enough) and then discounted that from the price of higher quality wines, I’d be more likely to purchase the Premium package on my next Royal Caribbean cruise.