10 Ways To Save Money On Cruise Drinks

10 Ways To Save Money On Cruise Drinks
Cruise vacations include meals and a lot of activities, but alcoholic drinks and soft drinks are generally not part of the package. Cruise guests can run up a substantial bar bill, but there are a number of ways to keep costs down. Some money-saving deals can be scored when booking your cruise, but others can be found once onboard your ship.

Here are ten great ways to save money on drinks on your next cruise vacation:

1. Get A Free Beverage Package. When shopping for your cruise, look for special cruise line promotions providing added value. These include deals offering free beverage packages for your cruise or onboard credit which can be used for drinks, shore excursions and more. Travel agents provide excellent advice and may be able to help you score free drinks as well. If free beverage package deals aren’t available for your sailing, evaluate the cost of purchasing one before you get onboard. Depending on your drinking preferences, you might find you’ll save money by buying the ship’s all-inclusive drink packages. Think carefully about how much you’re likely to drink and compare the total package price against your likely bar bill, though. Some cruise lines offer a number of different types of drink packages, so carefully review all the details and make sure what you’re planning to drink is included. In addition, read the fine print for additional gratuity charges and other important details. Sometimes if one person in a stateroom purchases a package, everyone else in the cabin must do so as well.

2. Show Your Loyalty. Loyalty to a specific cruise line can be rewarding. Once you've enrolled in a cruise line's loyalty program and are a past guest, you’ll often receive invitations to receptions and parties serving free drinks. Loyalty club members may receive coupons for free or reduced price drinks as well. Other cruise line loyalty rewards can include free laundry service, reduced prices on cruises, special upgrades and more.

3. Take A Class. Many cruise lines have added a variety of wine tastings, craft cocktail classes and other culinary options to their cruise ship programming line-up. Some of these activities offer free samples, while others involve a small charge for participating guests. Check your daily cruise program for details.

4. Admire The Art. Cruise ships are filled with beautiful art work, and sometimes a portion of it is for sale. Many major cruise lines offer art auctions during their cruises, usually accompanied by a free glass of champagne. Check your daily program for details and then head to one of the art auctions to enjoy a bubbly toast.

5. Buy In Quantity. Glasses of wine and beers can be quite expensive when purchased individually on a cruise. You’ll often save money on drinks when purchasing them in quantity, so do the math. It’s often cheaper to buy buckets of beer and bottles of wine that can be corked and enjoyed later. Also look for money-saving drink specials and buy one, get one free deals.

6. Head To Happy Hour. Bars on cruise ships often offer a happy hour specials at select times during the cruise, with reduced prices on draft beers and glasses of wine. These are often advertised by small signs at the bars or spontaneously at deck parties. Ask the wait staff at your favorite bars and keep an eye out for happy hour specials.

7. Bring Your Own. Cruise lines have differing policies about bringing wine, sodas and bottled water onboard. While it’s always cheaper to bring your own, it’s also important to play by the rules. Talk with your travel agent or cruise line to get complete details on their current policies for your itinerary. Sometimes cruise lines can have different policies for North American departures and those in other parts of the world, so make sure to check before you go.

8. Go To The Captain's Reception. The Captain’s Reception is generally a festive affair and it’s always nice to meet your ship’s key staff on your cruise. Free champagne, cocktails and other types of drinks are generally served as well. The Captain’s Reception is often held on the evening of the first formal dinner on larger cruise ships, but the timing may vary. Consult your cruise’s daily planner for details.

9. Suite Upgrades For VIPs. Working with a travel agent and booking the right stateroom can have its privileges. Experienced cruise travel agents can sometimes get their guests added to the cruise line’s VIP list, which can bring invitations to special cocktail parties. They may also give their clients a free bottle of wine or champagne as a thank-you gift for their business as well. Select suites or staterooms in the upscale boutique hotel areas of some cruise lines may also entitle guests to special amenities such as concierge receptions and happy hours. Check with your travel agent or cruise line for more details.

10. Sail On An All-Inclusive Cruise Line. If you’re tired of paying for drinks and purchasing special packages, choose to sail on a more inclusive or all-inclusive cruise line. Some upscale cruise lines like Paul Gauguin, UnCruise Adventures, Seabourn, Silversea and Crystal include drinks in their cruise fares. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection includes drinks on their highly inclusive river cruises as well.

Choosing to drink primarily in port can be another good way to save money on drinks, depending on where you’re cruising. Some ports of call in Mexico and the Caribbean can be great places to buy inexpensive beers and alcoholic drinks at bars and beach clubs. Check message boards on sites like Cruise Critic, TripAdvisor and others for recommendations. Remember to drink responsibly and get back to the pier in plenty of time to avoid missing your ship. Bon voyage and enjoy!

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