A beverage on board an oceanic journey almost never comes cheap. Find out which cruise lines offer the most worthwhile beverage packages, as well as which ones should be avoided at all costs.

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When you are a captive audience in the middle of the ocean, the cost of alcoholic drinks is going to be significantly higher. However, you shouldn’t automatically assume that the “unlimited” drinks package offered by a cruise line would provide better value for your money. The majority of businesses offer these add-ons for sale for a flat rate; the idea behind this is that customers can take advantage of an endless range of alcoholic beverages, including beers, wines, and spirits, without the stress of building up an enormous bar tab. On the other hand, the cost of these can be extremely unpredictable, ranging anywhere from £19 to £55 each day and per person. If you want to get your money’s worth at these prices, you’re going to have to down drinks like a fish. On top of this, there may be a lengthy list of restrictions and exceptions, which means that premium drinks, as well as dry companions, are not permitted.

Avoid bad surprises

You are required to check the fine print in addition to looking at the pricing. As a general rule, cruise companies require that each individual in the cabin purchase the package (to prevent sharing) for each and every day that you are at sea. Because of this, you will not receive a refund if you choose to abstain from alcohol during the middle of your trip. There are also limitations on pricing and placing orders. For instance, the P&O plan only permits glasses of wine with a value of up to £6.95 per person (but not bottles), and it requires a 15-minute wait in between orders. In addition, you are not permitted to have double measures, use room service, or make use of the minibar. Some cruise lines do not allow passengers to bring alcohol on board, including bottles of wine that were purchased at the duty-free shop on board. Instead, the crew will hold onto your purchases until you are ready to disembark. If you are dead bent on purchasing a drinks package, the best way to prevent getting ripped off is to negotiate the price of the package when you are booking your cruise rather than waiting until you have already set sail.

The best way to cut costs on a drinks package

Because the bar costs of most cruise lines are available online, you should make the necessary calculations in advance to determine whether or not purchasing a drinks package will be worth the money. On the Celebrity, service costs can reach up to 20 percent of the cost of each drink, which means that a glass of wine will cost you £8.50. You must remember to factor in these charges.

To encourage early bookings, drink packages are frequently offered at steep discounts or even given away for free. Therefore, you should begin arranging your cruise as far in advance as you possibly can. Another choice is to go with a cruise line that offers an all-inclusive vacation, such as Recommended Provider Azamara, where meals and drinks (with the exception of “premium” brands) are included in the price. You may have to pay extra up front, but you may have peace of mind knowing that there won’t be any unpleasant surprises further down the road.

If not, find out if you are allowed to bring your own alcohol onto the ship. P&O, Disney, and Royal Caribbean are the only cruise lines that will let you do this, and even then, only for a restricted amount on embarkation day.