On the surface, the price seems absurd. Like bottle service at a Las Vegas club.
Norwegian Cruise Line just upped the price of its daily premium drinks package to $138 a day. So if you’re on a 7-day cruise that’s $966 on top of your cabin price. And that does not include the automatic 20% gratuity.
It’s called the Premium Plus Beverage Package and it’s $10 more than the current price. It goes into affect on New Year’s Day. To compare to other cruise lines, Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Holland America and Princess Cruises charge approximately $60 to $90 a day.
Now I may not know cruise ships that well but I know party people and PubClubbbers and the obvious thing for those who want to drink first and cruise second is to get the most booze for your bucks.
But, as Lee Corso so famously says on ESPN’s College Game Day before putting on the headgear, “not so fast.” Before writing this blog post, I consulted some friends who are cruise bloggers and have been on oh, I would guess at least 100 cruises. They go on cruise ships more often that I go to Jimmy Buffett concerts.
And they put things into perspective for me, which enabled me to write an accurate blog post about this seemingly outrageous price for “bottomless” drinks (it is important to know that there is a limit the the number of drinks per day on every drinks package. It’s 12-15 and frankly, that’s plenty, even for us who can slam ’em down when we’re rockin’ it.)
First of all, they said going on cruise ships is like booking a flight these days. You have basic rates with add-ons such as shore excursions and WiFi.. These are often bundled together so as a whole they are less expensive than if you were to buy them separately. The increase in the drinks package may not even be noticeable on the tab. And nobody – well, hardy anybody – just books the basic cruise. There are always add-ons to it. For example, Norwegian has something called “Free At Sea” which includes an unlimited open bar, shore excursions, specialty dining and WiFi.
Secondly, the premium package is just what it sounds like – premium drinks. You get a lot better selection of wines. Better beers. The cocktails “are ridiculous.” The first question to ask before buying it is “do I/we really need those over-the-top drinks?” The party people and PubClubbers will answer “no.” We know we will be spending more money on drinks at the bars in the towns the cruise ships visits (“ports of call “in cruising lingo).
Finally, the crowd you get on cruise lines varies tremendously and is often tied to the length of the cruise. The party people and PubClubbers are way more likely to take the shorter extended weekend 3- and 4-day cruises rather than the 7-day and longer ones.
Carnival and Princess, they informed me, are more of the party crowd tho of course, any cruise line can have its fare share of lively people. Imagine walking on board Norwegian expecting a chill experience and running into a dozen girls on a bachelorette party. For PubClubbers, that would change the whole dynamic of the cruise.
The only real way to know what is best for you is to check out the various cruise lines and packages, of which there are many. It’s like buying a TV on Amazon these days; there’s so many choice and they all seem pretty much the same you’ll need a few cocktails just to get through the dizzying process.
I will leave you with this piece of advice: unless you are a cruise junkie, don’t tackle trying to book a cruise yourself. Let a travel agent do all the legwork for you. That way, you’ll be relaxed and when you have those drinks – premium or otherwise – on board you can kick back and relax. Until the party begins, of course.
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