- Loyalty programs are a good way to get free or discounted beverages but most cruise lines require a significant amount of points or days at sea with them before you qualify.
2. If your package includes shipboard credits you can apply those towards beverages.
3. On board events provide free booze, such as a formal night captain’s party, art auctions, wine tasting, and if gambling in the casinos.
4. If you book a luxury cruise, such as with Seabourn or Crystal, all alcoholic beverages are included as well as an in-suite fully stocked bar.
5. Most river cruises, such as Viking, include wine and beer with dinner and allow passengers to bring bottles aboard whereas most major cruise lines will confiscate any bottles you bring back from port. And believe me, folks have gotten plenty creative and the cruise lines have caught on to most schemes.
6. Search out special deals aboard your ship. For instance, you can often find 2-for-1s at some bar or lounge on most Royal Caribbean ships during happy hour.
7. And there is always the controversial All You Can Drink Packages offered by most cruise lines. Some folks feel this encourages binge drinking. I don’t. I think that folks that are going to overindulge are going to do so anyway. The rest of us just like to say money. I like drink packages because the right ones include sodas, non-alcoholic cocktails, and specialty coffees. I drink a lot of Diet Pepsi and that adds up during a week or 10-day cruise! Cruisers need to do a little research beforehand to make sure this is a worthwhile option. For instance, if you don’t drink sodas or alcohol, I wouldn’t recommend buying a package. But if you want to indulge in some fun, fruity frozen drinks and get your fix of Diet Pepsi during your vacation, this is a great way to keep from having a coronary at the end of the cruise when you get your bill! Royal Caribbean offers three different options, which is nice. Carnival has a great program Cheers! which cost just $49 a day and includes (15) alcoholic drinks per person per day AND unlimited non-alcoholic beverages per person per day. You do the math! Note there are some restrictions, such as everyone in the same cabin must also buy the package, be of legal drinking age, and specialty coffee is not part of this package.
8. Use a travel agent. A cruise specialist has access to upgrades, shipboard credits, and other incentives. There’s also no one that knows more about cruising than long-time cruise specialists. You may find a bottle of wine or fruit basket in your cabin, compliments of your travel agent. At the very least, you’ll get the benefit of their expertise.