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Celebrity Cruises drink packages: Cost, inclusions and what to know before you buy

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Celebrity Cruises drink packages give you the freedom to enjoy both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages during your cruise without worrying about the tab. Adding a beverage package to your cruise moves your vacation one step closer to an all-inclusive experience that stops the day-to-day nickel and diming for every soda, bottle of water and glass of wine.

But drink packages can get a bit confusing. Do you save money with a package, or should you stick to ordering and paying for drinks one at a time? Which drink package is part of the “All Included” cabin pricing, and is that option your best bet?

These are just a few of the questions new Celebrity cruisers (and even some veterans of the line) often ask when it comes time to consider buying a drink package for their cruise.

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In an effort to simplify choices, Celebrity Cruises offers just three beverage packages, including a Zero-Proof package for nonalcoholic drinks. To help you decide which (if any) package suits your needs and those of your travel companions, I’ve dug through the details and tested some of the options. Here’s what you need to know before you buy.

What’s included in a Celebrity drink package?

Specialty coffee at Celebrity's Cafe al Bacio
Drink from Celebrity’s Cafe al Bacio. CELEBRITY CRUISES/FACEBOOK

Celebrity Cruises’ three drink packages include the Zero Proof, Classic and Premium drink packages. All of the beverage package options include bottled water (usually served in aluminum bottles to reduce single-use plastics on board), specialty coffees and teas, soft drinks and mocktails.

Your drinks may be ordered from any bar, restaurant or bar server in public areas, such as pools or entertainment venues. The packages are also valid for use on private islands like Labadee and Perfect Day at CocoCay.

With a few exceptions, each package builds on the previous (lower-priced) package. Here is what’s included in each Celebrity cruise drink package.

Zero Proof (aka nonalcoholic) drink package

Celebrity offers one package for nonalcoholic beverages. It does not offer separate water-only or soda-only packages as some cruise lines do. Those drinks are included in the Zero Proof package. (You might see this package listed as either Zero Proof or Nonalcoholic on the Celebrity website and app.)

As we said before, all Celebrity drink packages include premium coffees and teas like those served at Cafe al Bacio and mocktails. The Zero Proof package also includes drinks such as Red Bull, Vitamin Water, fresh juices and smoothies at The Spa Cafe and premium waters like San Pellegrino or Evian.

This package is ideal for those who drink few, if any, alcoholic drinks, but need their morning latte or down several glasses of sparkling water or soda daily. Plus, you can enjoy vacation splurges like smoothies or frozen mocktails.

Related: The ultimate guide to Celebrity Cruises ships and itineraries

Classic drink package

The Classic drink package includes most of the nonalcoholic drinks available in the Zero Proof package, except the specialty brands like Red Bull and premium waters. You’ll get all beer, wine by the glass, spirits, cocktails and liqueurs priced at $10 or less. Additionally, you get a 15% discount off all bottles of wine, which you can enjoy anywhere on board, including in your cabin.

Examples of drinks that are part of the Classic drink package are beers like Sam Adams, Corona, Coors and Alaska Brewing beers on Alaska cruises. Wines will vary depending on the location of your cruise.

Most cocktails are included in the package. They will be made from non-premium brand ingredients. Liqueurs included in the package are those with lower price tags. Think Kahlua, but not Bailey’s Irish Cream or Grand Marnier.

You can still order drinks that are over the $10 limit imposed by the package. You’ll simply pay the difference between the $10 limit and the cost of the drink. Some cruisers on social media have said they found it necessary on some sailings to say the word “classic” when ordering drinks in order to avoid being served a premium drink and having an upcharge apply.

Celebrity Cruises’ Classic package works for most drinkers who plan to consume several drinks each day. It will cover bottled water you can take into port with you to stay hydrated during excursions and sodas for lunch while providing for most of your beer, wine and spirits needs. If you decide you want a different beer or a cocktail with a call liquor, just pay the difference.

Premium drink package

Wine tower on Celebrity Solstice
Waitress pulling wine from the wine tower in Grand Epernay on Celebrity Solstice. QUENTIN BACON/CELEBRITY CRUISES/FACEBOOK

Celebrity’s Premium drink package moves the price limit per drink to $17, which covers almost anything you’d drink on board other than higher-priced wines or a few of the pricier spirits. Premium brand waters and Red Bull are available in this package. You’ll also have a 20% discount on bottled wine available to use, which can absolutely make a difference in your evening wine selections.

Examples of beverages available in this package are beers like Blue Moon, Guinness and Grolsch. Wines by the glass in the package are a step above those found in the Classic package and include Champagnes. Cocktails are made from premium spirits such as Crown Royal, Grey Goose, Bombay Sapphire and Patron Silver. The list of brandies and liqueurs expands considerably.

Many Celebrity cruisers have found it necessary to order their drinks specifically as “premium” beverages or to order by brand to avoid getting drinks made with the cheapest liquors.

The Premium package is perfect for cruisers who don’t want to make money decisions when ordering a drink. If I want a shot of Godiva poured over my late-night ice cream, I don’t really want to stop and wonder if it’s included in my package.

Related: 8 best drinks to order with a cruise ship beverage package (and 3 to avoid)

Drink package fine print

Packages do not include beverages ordered from room service, bought in onboard gift shops or consumed from the minibar in your cabin.

There are no daily limits on how many drinks you can have on a Celebrity Cruises drink package, but you can only order one drink at a time. The exception to that is that you can usually request a bottle of water at the same time you order an alcoholic drink.

The drink packages with alcohol come with a caveat — all passengers of legal drinking age in a cabin must buy the same package. So, if your roomie prefers premium spirits, you must also buy the premium package. Non-drinkers can request an exemption from the alcoholic packages but must purchase the Zero Proof package instead.

Related: The 4 types of Celebrity Cruises ships, explained

What do Celebrity drink packages cost?

Couple having alfresco dinner on cruise ship Celebrity

Now that you know what you can drink with each package, let’s break down the costs.

The cruise line has a stated (pre-tip) price for its drink packages that include alcohol: $89 per person, per day for the Classic package and $109 per person, per day for the Premium package. However, that price fluctuates with demand. You can expect to pay more during holiday sailings and spring break. The flip side is that the cruise line frequently offers special pricing that lowers the cost.

Here are the ranges of what a Celebrity drink package costs. The lowest prices are based on previous sales.

  • Zero Proof drink package: $30 per person, per day ($36 with gratuity)
  • Classic drink package: $35 to $89 per person, per day ($42 to $106.80 with gratuity)
  • Premium drink package: $56 to $129 per person, per day ($67.20 to $154.80 with gratuity)

The gratuity is 20% and is added when you purchase the package. That eliminates any additional tip on individual drink orders unless you want to tip extra.

Related: Are cruise line drinks packages worth the price? What to know before you buy

Now, let’s complicate the whole decision-making process by factoring in Celebrity’s “All Included” fares.

During the booking process, after you’ve selected your cabin, you’ll be offered an opportunity to upgrade your cruise with an All Included package that adds the Classic drink package and basic Wi-Fi for each guest in the room. It pays to compare the non-upgrade price to the upgrade, then divide the difference by the number of nights and the number of people in the cabin.

I recently found All Included upgrade prices as low as $35 per person, per night, which makes the drink package less than half price and Wi-Fi free. Once you have the Classic package in place through the All-In add-on, you can easily upgrade to the Premium drink package if you prefer.

While the listed upgrade price is $20 per person, per night, I’ve heard from multiple cruisers that the upgrade is sometimes offered as low as $6.99 per person, per night, making that a bargain as well. Don’t forget the 20% gratuity per person, per night, that’s tacked onto the price.

Related: 7 extra-charge items on cruise ships that are worth the cost (and 7 that aren’t)

The best times to buy a Celebrity drink package

Couple enjoying a drink on cruise ship
Drinks at the Magic Carpet on Celebrity Edge. ALL INCLUSIVE PHOTO PROJECT/CELEBRITY CRUISES

You can buy your drink package as soon as you book your cruise, or you can wait until you are on board. Which is the better plan?

If your cruise is leaving within the next few months, it’s probably best to go ahead and lock in the price — unless Black Friday happens to fall between purchase and the start of the cruise. Celebrity Black Friday deals on drink packages have historically been the lowest prices available all year.

The $35 per person, per night upgrade to All Included to get the Classic drink package in my example above was during the Black Friday Kickoff sale, a full two weeks before actual Black Friday.

The Celebrity drink package that fluctuates most in price is the Premium package, so it always pays to buy it pre-cruise. Advance prices are at least 5% lower online or in the cruise line app before embarkation day.

The key to getting the best deal, either through the All Included package or buying the drink package pre-cruise, is to do the math to break down the cost per person, per night. That way, you’re always comparing apples to apples, despite BOGO deals or percentages off.

Is a Celebrity drink package worth it?

Couple enjoys a drink on cruise ship

It’s time to get down to whether you are saving money with these packages or whether that even matters to you. Let’s look at each package again to see how much you need to consume to break even.

Zero proof

This one is pretty easy to break even on. Specialty coffees average around $6 but can run as much as $10 each. Sodas are $3; water is $3-$5, depending on the brand; mocktails and smoothies are $9. One coffee to start your day, a smoothie or fresh juice with breakfast, two bottles of water for hydration, a soda with lunch, a mocktail by the pool, and another soda during the evening, and you’re up to $40 per day.

Classic drink package

Daily consumption on this package might start out similar to the sample list on the Zero Proof package: specialty coffee each morning, bottled water and soda throughout the day and maybe a smoothie. But then you’d need to drink six or more cocktails (which start at $9), beers ($6.50 to $10) or glasses of wine ($8-10) to hit the $89 base price of this package.

At the regular price, you’d either need to drink a lot of alcohol every day to break even, or really lean into the nonalcoholic beverages if you can’t handle that much liquor daily. Obviously, if you can find a discounted package, you’ll break even more easily. For Celebrity’s Classic package to make sense, you should either be someone who enjoys a large number of drinks or who cares less about breaking even and more about creating a low-stress, more inclusive cruise experience.

Premium drink package

The most expensive package is clearly for those who prefer premium brands in their drinks. If you’re a top-shelf drinker, you won’t have much difficulty consuming enough to make this package a value proposition.

This package is included with suites in The Retreat and is an easy upgrade for those who choose the All-In fares. In talking to cruisers who prefer this package, I found that many of them choose it simply to enjoy Celebrity’s popular Martini Bar, which has a drink menu with almost all drinks over the $10 limit imposed by the Classic package.

As you consider which package works best for your drinking habits, be sure to factor in the ports and the itinerary as a whole. Sea days tend to be higher drink consumption days, so a seven-night cruise with two sea days may bump up your needs a bit. Stops at private islands may mean even higher consumption because you’re away from the air-conditioning for much of the day. Cruises in warm weather areas like the Caribbean will increase your thirst overall.

Itineraries that might reduce consumption would be cool climate cruises and port-intensive European cruises, where you might find yourself drinking local beverages more often than not. In those cases, your onboard drinking could drop to levels below the point at which packages are cost-effective unless you get a bargain price.

Related: How to get free or cheap drinks on a cruise

Other factors to consider before you buy a Celebrity drink package

Martini drink at Martini Bar on Celebrity Cruises ship
Drink from the Martini Bar on Celebrity Edge. STEVE DUNLOP/CELEBRITY CRUISES

A couple of other factors could influence your drink needs and decision to buy a drink package or not.

The first is to remember that Celebrity does offer free beverage options. The tap water on board is drinkable; bring your own refillable bottle, and you won’t need to purchase bottles of water. The buffet area and all restaurants offer free drip coffee, iced tea, hot tea, hot cocoa, milk, lemonade and punch.

Plus, each cruiser is allowed to bring up to 12 cans of nonalcoholic drinks on board on embarkation day. You can also bring a can or two back from ports with you. Your cabin attendant can keep you stocked with ice and glassware in your cabin.

You can also bring one bottle of wine per person on board on embarkation day. There is a corkage fee for opening it in a restaurant, but none if you open it and keep it in your cabin.

Related: Can I bring alcohol on a cruise ship? A line-by-line guide

If you’re happy with these free options, supplemented by a couple of extra-fee drinks per day, you might save more by purchasing drinks a la carte versus splurging on a drink package.

You should also look at your loyalty status in Celebrity’s Captain’s Club. Starting with their second cruise, all members get one complimentary specialty coffee per cruise when dining in a specialty restaurant. So don’t count that coffee in your decision.

All members also get a discount on bottles of wine. The discount starts at 10% for the newest members, then goes to 15% for Select members and 20% for Elite and up. That pretty much nullifies the benefit included in the packages for everyone with status.

The good news, though, is that all members get a discount on the pre-cruise purchase of any drink package — 10% for the bottom two tiers, 15% for Elite members and 20% for Elite Plus. Zenith members are entitled to complimentary drink packages. Captain’s Club members can also access discounts on pre-cruise purchases of drink package upgrades for those who opt for the All Included fares.

Even better news is that Elite members and up drink free at most bars between 5 and 7 p.m., the official Captain’s Club cocktail hour. You aren’t limited to sitting at one bar, but you are limited to the choices on a special menu. It’s possible to grab a glass of wine or a cocktail on your way to dinner and another on your way to a show.

The final factor might be a big one for some people. Celebrity supplies free drinks (alcoholic and non) for anyone actively playing in the casino. The caveats are that you can’t get these free drinks from the bar, and catching a server in a busy casino can be challenging.

The advice I got from serious casino players is to tip the server a buck or two with every drink they bring to keep the service and the drinks coming all cruise. If you plan to spend hours in the casino, a drink package might not be necessary.

Bottom line: Is a Celebrity drink package right for you?

Couple having a meal on a cruise ship balcony

Now that you have all the details, you can decide, based on your consumption habits, whether a package is right for you. If you know you’ll be drinking four or five drinks per day, plus bottled water, sodas and a smoothie now and then and don’t gamble much or have loyalty status, you’re likely to at least break even on a package.

Some people prefer to pay as you go. You can see each purchase in the cruise line app. If you go on a bender one night, it’s easy to cut back your drink purchases the next night. Not having a package is a good choice for those who are either budgeting their money or dialing back their alcohol or calorie consumption.

The grayest area tends to be for those with Elite or Elite Plus status who also gamble. You might save money by simply bringing some of your own drinks on board and a refillable water bottle.

My own experience on a recent cruise was that the Elite happy hour drinks, along with a drink now and then in the casino, were enough for me. My husband played Blackjack for long hours and had a steady stream of his favorite beverages each night at no charge.

You can also look at drink packages from the point of view that it’s simply another part of your vacation enjoyment. The three Celebrity drink packages make it simple for those who want an all-inclusive vibe on their cruise. If skimping and fretting over the cost of every latte or bottle of water isn’t how you roll, pick the Zero Proof package if you don’t drink alcohol, the Classic package if you aren’t picky about your alcohol or the Premium package if you are.

The bottom line is that the packages aren’t for everyone. Some like to splurge on other aspects of their cruise by saving on drinks. Others prefer a more complete bill for their vacation paid upfront, including all the drinks they could imagine served at their every whim.

Either way, you’ll find a wide range of drink options, both alcoholic and non, from morning to the wee hours of the night. These are part of what makes a cruise vacation fun, no matter how you choose to pay for them.

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