One thing I must admit. I tend to drink more while cruising. Maybe it’s because on a ship, my movements are limited or because there are bars everywhere or because I don’t have to drive anywhere or just because cruises are vacations and a place to let go. Whatever the reason, you can drop some serious cash on alcohol, if you’re not careful.
We were lucky enough to get the Ultimate Beverage Package for free as part of a booking promotion. YAY! I think that also played a role in my drinking outlook…
What is the NCL Ultimate Beverage Package?
The NCL Ultimate Beverage Package provides a “enjoy a wide selection of soft drinks, beers, spirits, cocktails, wines by the glass and bottled or draft beer up to and including $15 USD during your entire cruise.”. If you purchase a beverage over
$11 $15, you will receive an $11 $15 discount and be charged the difference to your account.
The package is available to guests 21 and older and must be purchased by each adult in the stateroom or on staterooms with the same credit card on file. Additionally, they are now requiring “individuals under the age of 21 will be required to purchase the Soda Program.”
– Online pre-cruise purchase price:
– On board purchase price:
18% 20% gratuity and beverage service charge will be added at checkout.
*UPDATE – the prices have increased. I’ll update the new on board purchase price once we sail in April 2018.
The package excludes items ordered through room service.
Is the NCL Ultimate Beverage Package Right for You?
Now, I may drink more than normal on a cruise, but that doesn’t mean I spend the cruise drunk. I might have one drink in the afternoon, one before dinner, one at dinner and one after the show. That’s 4 – 5 at most for me in a day. I’m normally a one glass of wine per day kind of girl- at least as far as I can remember!
*Please note these prices have now increased but it still gives you an idea on approximate rates
Beverage Price Examples:
Since we didn’t have to worry about the price of the drinks we were ordering (other than keeping it under
$11 $15), we typically spent $22 for two drinks with gratuity.
- Paulaner Hefe-Weizen $5.75
- Amstel Radler $5.75
- Grolsch $5.95
- Sam Adams $5.95
- Amstel Light $5.95
- Corona $5.95
- Heineken $5.95
- Budweiser 16 oz $6.50
- Miller Lite 16 oz $6.50
- Blue Moon 16 oz $6.50
- Bahama Mama $8.95
- 1.5 oz Call Liquor $7.50
- 1.5 oz Super Premium Liquor $9.95
- Pinot Grigio $6.95
- Rose $7.95
- Blackstone Merlot $8.95
- Robert Mondavi Chardonnay $8.95
- VS Prosco $9.95
- Pinot Noir $10.95
- Per can (at bar) $2.49
*Prices subject to change. Please use this as a guide only.
How much we spent:
The cost of the UBP for two adults on our seven night cruise was $892.08 with gratuity. We spent $611.42 on soda and alcoholic beverages. That means we “lost” $280.66. *This was the price before the increase!
I could have closed the gap a bit more by ordering more expensive drinks. I found a Prosco that I liked priced at $9.95 per glass. I have a thing for Italian white sparkling wine.
If I had consumed one more drink per day, that would have been another $11.74 or $82.18. Derrick can drink more and his consumption varied greatly per day, so guessing an average for him is difficult..
Savings Tips & More Beverage Packages:
- Drink of the Day – Each day your Freestyle Daily will list the daily drink special. You can find these specials under the “Bar Manager’s Specials” section of your planner. These are priced at $6.95 each
- Beer Bucket Promotion – Look in the same section for the beer promotion. Purchase a bucket of beers to buy 5 and get 1 FREE.
- Local Cocktails – Depending on your cruise, you might be able to save on special local cocktails. These are priced at $6.95 each. We had this as a European offer.
- Corks and Caps Wine and Beer Package – a selection of soft drinks, beers, and wines by the glass during your entire cruise.The price is $44/day
- Adult & Teen Soda Program (ages 13 & older) – endless fountain soda throughout the cruise plus a Souvenir Thermal mug. Priced at $6.95/day
- Children’s Soda Program (ages 12 and under) – endless fountain soda throughout the cruise plus a Souvenir Thermal mug. Priced at $4.95/day
- BYBO – Bring your own bottle of wine and pay a $15 corking fee. Other alcohol is NOT allowed to be brought on board. It will be returned to you at the end of the cruise.
Verdict – Is the Ultimate Beverage Package the Best Option?
Yes and No.
Honestly, it depends on how much you plan to drink to determine if the package is right for you. Do you like to drink soda, cocktails, wine and beer? Or would you be better of skipping the liquor option and going with the Corks and Caps Wine and Beer Package to save $10 per day?
Wine drinkers might prefer the BYOB option. If I were to bring a bottle of wine on board that costs $5 plus pay $15 corkage fee, I’m at $20 per bottle. If each bottle has approximately 4 glasses of wine, that’s $5 per glass. Keep in mind that, if your trip originates in Europe, you can find some pretty decent wines in that price range.
If I head to the bar on the ship and purchase an “inexpensive” glass of wine (Pinot Grigio), I’ll pay $7.95 + 18% gratuity or $9.38 per glass. However, if I was going to set myself a limit of 4 glasses of wine per day, that’s 1 bottle per night. I would have to bring 7 bottles of wine on board the ship! Kind of a pain. Divide that by two, if you’re splitting a bottle and it becomes a little more attractive.
Trying new things: If I didn’t have the package, I never would have found my new favorite, Prosco wine. I would have stuck with drinking the cheaper $6.95 per glass to save $3.
I also tried a couple of different cocktails. If I didn’t like them, I didn’t feel obligated to drink them. The same when I tried a glass of wine that I disliked. Instead of feeling guilty about it, I just left it on the table. Yes, it’s wasteful of the wine or liquor, but I didn’t feel like I was wasting MONEY.
Not having to think about it: There is something to be said for not having to think about what or how much you’re ordering. I could order a drink, hand over my card, sign a paper and not think twice. It’s relaxing knowing that I won’t be hit with a huge bill at the end of the week.
We chose the Ultimate Beverage Package over the other promotional credits available. It was definitely the best choice with the greatest savings potential. I will consider the Ultimate Beverage Package next time we sail with NCL.
*Note – Bottle water is not included in the package. The prices have “reduced” in 2017. The price is a 12-pk of 1L bottles is $28
Restrictions – Mini bar purchases are not included. The Ultimate Beverage Package does not include room service, package sales, ship specific promotions or beer buckets, designated Super Premium brands (subject to change), bottled wine, mini bar purchases, bottled water, fresh squeezed juices, select Lavazza coffee beverages, energy drinks, vending machines, wine stations or spirits, cocktails, draft or bottled beer and glasses of wine over $15 USD.
What do you think? Is the NCL Ultimate Beverage Package worth the cost?
**Again, please remember that prices can vary!!
Updated July 2017 – Beverages up to $15 are now included!
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