Beer Onboard the Ship Experiences

Cruise Line Date Experience Reporter

Things to verify:  Do all cabin members need to by a booze package?  I would guess that it HAS occurred to the cruise lines that someone may want to buy and share!  Booze packages may exclude cabin service.
Are gratuities included? (I am thinking probably, but you want to be sure - tips can add up.)

What is a drink package actually WORTH?   -- While a bit off-topic, I find this one fascinating. "Free drinks" to a non-drinker, may hold a true value of $0, but to another person, it could be worth a lot.

The problem is, if I would buy and pay for 4 beers a day - then it would be worth 4 x $6 or $24.  BUT, if I have the package, would I stop at 4?  Nope.  So what is the ACTUAL worth of the package?  I have set up a chart for myself and my "one-or-two wine" wife, to value drinks and what they actually would save me.   Unlike free gratuities, the real savings of a drink package is very much a sliding scale.

Princess - fleet-wide March 2018 All references to the Princess buy one, get one free, and buy one, get one for $1 have been removed, since the message boards (and Princess) say they are doing away with this deal. Many travelers report that the Happy Hours have been stopped already.  Donzie
Princess -- Star Feb. 2017

March, 2017

Were comments about the now defunct happy hour program. Donzie
Princess Customer Relations 2017 Were comments about the now defunct happy hour program.  
Princess - Island Princess Dec, 2016 19 day Panama Canal trip. Here is the beer menu. The 16 oz. items have the arrows. 

click for a decent sized view.

16 oz Bud light and the "more grownup tasting" Grolsch (pronounced grolls on the ship, but groll'-sh on the Internet) at almost 16 oz. and super fancy bottle.

TIP TIP -- Here are some interesting things I learned this time.  The tips, of course, are added into the cost of the beers -

One day, when I stepped to the bar, I got eye contact from 4 bartenders and one waiter all at once. Now THAT was service!

I finally asked one of the more adorable waitresses and, sure enough, the mandatory included  gratuities get credited to them personally, not to a shared tip pool.  Later in the cruise, I would ask for some snacks, and once got a mini-carafe of nut mix, and also got paper cups with snacks.  The staff seemed quite content with the included tip and did not appear to linger for an additional tip - they also seemed very grateful when I would seek out a specific waitress.

Also, on this trip, with only one exception, the waiter/bartender would read the card number and enter the info by hand. No swiping the card.  I checked their work daily on my computer tally of my bill, and it was 100% accurate.

Before boarding, I had ordered myself a buy-5, pay for 4 bucket of beer from the Princess website. It was to be my "Welcome aboard" gift to myself. What I got was a voucher that said "Call room service to order your beer"  After one no-answer on departure day, I later got through and waited a bit over an hour for my beers to arrive.

-- The chocolate covered strawberries that I had pre-ordered for my wife (I am no dummy) -- they DID arrive at the door near departure time.

Princess 2015 or so Were comments about the now defunct happy hour program. Donzie
Princess 8/2016 Upcoming cruise (Panama Canal)  Package deals can be pre-ordered. Prices include the "mandatory" gratuity, so no add-on needed for that.  Booze packages, I read, can be ordered later on in the cruise, for the remaining time, so that is a thought.  I assume that debarkation day is not charged.

Booze package  $56.35 per day -- If you are thinking of drinking 15 or more 12 oz servings of Bud in a day, this would save money over the bucket price, otherwise no.

5 beers for cost of 4: (delivered to your stateroom)

Bud or Bud Light 16oz.     $26.45           $5.29 ea.   (or $3.96 per 12 oz.)
Heineken 12 oz. $25.30  or $5.06 ea.  or  Dos Equis 12 oz.  $24.15   or $  4.83 ea.

By the Princess literature: regular price for Bud is $6.61 each incl. tip.
(or $4.95 per 12oz - compared to, say, $2 on shore, plus a tip, so, perhaps $2.50 ea. ??)

I feel like the same deal is available on the ship itself during the cruise.   

Celebrity 2015 or so The free booze package (which, apparently, included the tips) eliminated the need to search for bargains.  Never had an issue getting my beer or booze, but waiter service was pretty slow during busy times.  Walk up to the bar and order it there, especially at the buffet bar.  Not all brands of beer were at every bar.   No tips were paid by me when getting my beers, nor did they seem "expected".  Donzie
Royal Caribbean 8/2016 Beer and wine drink package, save 20% by pre ordering (at least 2 days before cruise time)
BEER (Select / Premium / Ultimate) Amstel Light, Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors Light, Corona, Guinness, Heineken, Miller Lite, Stella

$36 per day  - Select package is beer and wine only (and some non-alcohol choices) While not mentioned on the sign-up page, the Royal Caribbean site says 18% added - probably at checkout. so the deal would be $42.48 per person per day   Boards report that beverage package pre-order prices rise and fall like the tides.

Early results for my inquiry on Cruise Critic suggests that happy hour deals are not for beer drinkers on Royal Caribbean..

"Coaster" on Cruise Critic reported a cooler included if you bought 5 beers, but also, FOSTERS Oil Can, an "adult sized" 25 oz beer at $6.50 on the Empress.  We will see if this is fleet-wide.

Fosters Oil Can compared to regular beer can -- comes to $3.12 per 12 oz serving.

As a public service (of course) I tried two flavors of Foster's Oil Cans from the local grocery store.
Blue can "Lager"  and Green can "Premium Ale"
Ale was darker and "beer-ier", Lager was like a not-light beer, Both OK but
nothing to make me change from my Bud Light - um, except price.

Donzie, Coaster
Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas 9/2016 The above entry for Royal proved out on this cruise. Fosters and other beers, I believe came to $6.95 plus mandatory gratuity - resulted in $8.20 total each.  All but one bar seemed to have the big Fosters Oil Cans stashed away, cold and available.

Noteworthy - One ONE DAY the tv message system (ads, mostly) mentioned the "bucket of beer" special. This, apparently was cruise-long, although I did not see it advertised elsewhere. I ordered one in the Windjammer buffet.  They had a rolling cart station for alcohol purchases, and the attendant gladly disappeared and came back with the bucket. This one was $17.80 (6.95 x 4) and a $5.00 service charge or $32.80 for the 5 cans - (16 oz cans for Bud, Bud light) Other brands were availalbe, but can size depended on the brand.
 -- the bucket was full of snow-like ice, and kept the beers icy cold! 

The bartender by the pool had trouble figuring out about the buy 4 get 5 - but that may have been a language issue, so you man need to re-phrase the request till they "get it"

By the way - we had Platinum Status (they have reciprocal loyalty status - level, not # of trips) since we had enough Celebrity trips under our belt.  There was a flyer in our cabin with discounts for Platinum people. Each of us (wife and I) got one buy-one get one free and one 10% off of a single item.  I think that was beer and wine only, but not sure.  My cheesy attempt to buy one, get one free BUCKET was a resounding failure, but the Buy one, get one on the Fosters jumbo cans worked out fine. They only had the blue Lager flavor on board.

TIP - just because the Platinum VIP deals are on your ship card, you have to ASK for the deal to get it. One bartender asked if I wanted the 10% off deal, but the others did not mention any discounts. Once I requested the discount, no problem. And yes, they only give you ONE bogo or discount, and then it is no longer on your card. (nothing to see on the card, its in the computer when they swipe it.)

On the private island, Labadee Haiti?) at the beach, they had one overworked bartender for hundreds of customers, but on the way BACK near the ship, they had the beers in a tote deal - it looked like regular price for the beer, but insulated bag seemed free.  The line at the beach bar was so long, that I never to to ask about their packages, if any.

 Celebrity Equinox  5/2017 This Caribbean cruise I had the upgraded beverage package. (which mostly had no premium value to me as a beer drinker.)  When I ordered beer at the bar, mostly in the buffet area, but other places, they were given to me opened.

HOWEVER, at some point, I saw someone with a 16 ounce twist top CAN of light beer.  When I ordered those, they often were not opened for me (after all, you don't need a can opener), and once or twice, they were opened only after a pause in time.  The tip is, if you want to save one for later, order the canned beer, and then pretty much take it when it is put on the bar.  The ship's inventory of large cans (Bud light, Coors light, maybe others) seemed spotty, and sometimes they had NO large cans of any brand.