Saving Money on Drinks on Cruises

Cruising can be an inexpensive way to see the world. But if you’re not careful, you can have a nasty surprise waiting for you on your last day–in the form of a hefty bar tab. After my last cruise this spring, I’ve put together some helpful ways to save money on drinks on cruises.

1) Bring a water bottle. There are tons of free beverage options on cruises. Typically the buffet area will have dispensers of water, iced tea, and juice. You’ll need a large water bottle so you can take it with you to the pool deck or back to your room.

2) Bring your own soda/water. Did you know you can bring your own non-alcoholic beverages on board? Make sure they are in their original sealed containers. I was surprised to see people carrying on cases of water on my last cruise, but apparently it’s perfectly legit. Check with your cruise line for details and restrictions.

3) Bring your own wine/champagne. Many cruise lines allow each passenger to carry on one bottle of wine or champagne. If you drink it in one of their restaurants you’ll be charged a corkage fee. But drink it in your room and there is no charge. Again, check with your cruise line to find out if they allow this and what the restrictions are.

4) Purchase a package. All-you-can-drink packages are becoming increasingly popular on cruise ships. But a word of caution–they’re not necessarily all you can drink. Many of them have limits to how many drinks you can have per day and what type of drinks are included. When you calculate it out, even if you drink the maximum per day, the drink prices drop only slightly. A word of caution, many cruise lines make all passengers over 21 in a stateroom purchase the package (to avoid people sharing). If your travel companion doesn’t drink, a package may not be worthwhile. For a full breakdown of different packages offered, check out Cruise Critic.

5) Purchase a soda mug. Many cruise lines allow you to buy a reusable mug that gets you unlimited soda for the duration of your cruise. Prices are typically calculated by the number of days you’ll be cruising. Keep in mind that many cruises force you buy for the entire duration. Although some let you wait until the second day to buy it, so you could potentially save yourself one day’s worth of charges if you wait until the second day.

5) Take advantage of drink specials. By tailoring your drink order to the daily drink specials, you can save some cash. Look for “drink buckets” where you can get 4 or 5 beers for a reduced price. Bring a small personal cooler so you can keep the extras cold until you’re ready to drink them. You will also likely find daily specials of “fruity” drinks.

6) Ask the prices. It sounds silly, but cruises make a ton of money by getting unsuspecting passengers to buy expensive drinks. A staff member will hand you a welcome drink, wait until you take a sip, and then ask for your room key to swipe so they can charge you. Don’t assume that anything is free on your cruise! You might also find a big price difference between two similar drinks. Ask the price so you can make an informed decision!

7) Take advantage of shore stops. If you’re eager for some drinks but don’t want to pay inflated cruise-ship prices, make the most of your shore time. Venture away from the port to avoid tourist prices at bars and restaurants. Look for liquor or grocery stores to purchase drinks that you can enjoy during your time at port. Just remember, you will be screened when you get back on the ship so you won’t be able to bring any purchases back on board with you.

8) Plan excursions. Many hotels offer day passes where you can enjoy their facilities for one flat fee. Many of these packages include their all-inclusive drinks and food. You should consider the transit time when you decide if this is worth it. It can take a long time to get off the boat in the morning and you’ll need to be back at port a while before the boat leaves. If there is a long transit time to get to the resort, it can really cut into your time. If you find a package for $100 but you’ll only get 5 hours of time at the resort, you’ll need to decide whether you’ll really get your monies worth.

Hopefully these tips will help you make the most of your next cruise without spending a fortune. You can find all of your cruise necessities at The Travel Accessory Store!

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