Norwegian Cruise Line drinks packages: Everything you need to know

Norwegian Cruise Line drinks packages: Everything you need to know

11th November 2019 4 By Cruise Mummy

Reading Time: 12 minutes

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Purchasing Norwegian Cruise Line’s all-inclusive alcohol package can be a great way to let your hair down and make the most of your cruise. But before you go ahead and book the NCL drinks package, read on to find out whether you can get yourself a free drinks package, and potentially save hundreds.

This detailed guide to drinks on Norwegian Cruise Line will tell you everything you need to know…

What is the adult beverage package on NCL?

The first question you might ask is ‘What does the NCL drink package include?’  The answer is that it depends on which drinks package you have, as there are actually FIVE different beverage packages available on Norwegian Cruise Line cruises.

Until March 2019, NCL offered the ‘Ultimate Beverage Package’. This was renamed as the ‘Premium Beverage Package’, and at the same time Norwegian Cruise Line also introduced the ‘Premium Plus Beverage Package’. Confused? Don’t be, read on to see what’s included in each package…

mojitos

NCL Premium Beverage Package

(This used to be called the NCL Ultimate Beverage Package)

The Premium Beverage Package entitles guests to a wide selection of beers, wines by the glass, cocktails, spirits and soft drinks.

Cost: $99 per person, per day.

Includes:

  • Cocktails – 100s of different ones
  • Beers and Ciders – Bottled and draft
  • Wine – Over 20 wines by the glass
  • Gin & Vodka – 16 brands
  • Rum – 16 brands
  • Whiskey, brandy and other spirits – 33 brands
  • Liqueurs and cordials – 24 brands
  • A large selection of sodas, tonics and juices

Does NOT include:

  • Super premium brands
  • Bottled water
  • Freshly squeezed juices
  • Lavazza or Starbucks coffees
  • Energy drinks
  • Beer buckets
  • Bottles of wine
  • Drinks over $15 each
  • Vending machines, mini bar or room service

Click to see the full list of drinks included in the NCL Premium Beverage Package.

cocktails in the hot tub on Norwegian Encore
Cocktails (and mocktails) in the hot tub with my friends from Cruise118

NCL Premium Plus Beverage Package

For those that enjoy specific drinks which aren’t included in the standard drinks package, an upgraded drinks package is available.

Cost: $128 per person, per day.

Includes:

  • Everything which is included in the Premium Beverage Package
  • Bottled water
  • Speciality coffee inc. Lavazza and Starbucks
  • Energy drinks
  • Ultra-premium spirits
  • Wines by the bottle (during dinner)

Click to see the full list of drinks included in the NCL Premium Plus Beverage Package.

Norwegian Cruise Line beer and wine package

NCL Corks and Caps Wine and Beer Package

Another option is NCL’s beer and wine package, which also includes soft drinks.

Cost: $65 per person, per day.

Includes:

  • Draft beer
  • Bottles beer
  • Glasses of wine
  • Fountain soda
  • Fruit juices

NCL Soda Package

The soda package is great for kids or people who choose to avoid alcohol. It offers unlimited fountain soda.

Cost: $7.95 per day for adults and teenagers (age 13+) and $5.95 per day for children.

Includes:

  • Pepsi & Diet Pepsi
  • Sierra Mist
  • Mountain Dew
  • Ginger Ale
  • Tonic Water
  • Club Soda

NCL Hawaii Beverage Package

For those cruising to Hawaii onboard the Pride of America cruise ship, the drinks package is slightly different.

Costs: $99 per person, per day.

Includes: a wide selection of drinks up to $15 each.

NCL beverage package service charge

A 20% gratuity and beverage service charge will be added to all drinks package purchases when you buy it.


brew house beer on tap
The Brew House on Norwegian Encore has 25 draft beers

How much does the NCL drinks package cost?

On the face of it, Norwegian Cruise Line drinks packages seen pretty expensive. For a family of four on a seven-night cruise, if you purchase the Premium Plus package for the adults and the soda package for the kids, you can expect to pay $2,250.36. That’s £1,730!

Being a budget cruiser, I usually pay less than £1,730 for our whole cruise, so the thought of paying that much for a drinks package is a bit shocking!

However, here’s the important bit… You can actually get an all-inclusive drinks package for a fraction of the price! Introducing…

The NCL Free at Sea programme

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Free at Sea programme is an upgrade which costs £99 per person (based on a 7-night cruise), to access two of the following benefits:

  • A premium drinks package (worth up to US$99 per person, per day, including gratuities and service charges)
  • Speciality dining for three nights of a seven-night sailing (worth $89 per person, including gratuities and service charges)
  • Free WiFi (up to 250 mins per stateroom)
  • Shore excursion discount ($50 dollars on-board credit per stateroom, per port, to spend on shore excursions)
  • Free kids places – The third and fourth passenger in a stateroom, sails for the cost of taxes only (selected sailings only)

The Free at Sea upgrade is available on all cabins types. Guests staying in NCL’s top stateroom classes (Haven, Concierge or suites) are automatically eligible for all five offers.

With the Free at Sea offer, there’s no need to purchase a drinks package, as it makes more financial sense to choose free drinks as part of the Free at Sea offer. In fact, the majority of NCL passengers upgrade to Free at Sea and receive free drinks.

Cherry Lime Ade

Free at Sea charges based on length of cruise

The £99 charge to receive two Free at Sea benefits is based on a seven-night cruise. For other cruise durations, the charges are:

  • 1-6 nights – £49 per person
  • 7-9 nights – £99 per person
  • 10-13 nights – £149 per person
  • 14-17 nights – £199 per person
  • 18+ nights – £249 per person

The details of this offer are correct as of November 2019 for UK cruisers. They may be subject to change and may be slightly different for people booking in other countries.

NCL Drink Prices 2019

Perhaps you don’t drink a lot of alcohol and are wondering whether to take up the Free at Sea offer, or whether to include drinks in it.

In that case, you’ll want to know how much drinks are to purchase individually on Norwegian Cruise Line ships.

I sailed on Norwegian Encore in November 2019 and noted the following drinks prices:

  • Cocktail: £10-$13
  • Glass of wine: $8-$10
  • Pint of beer: $9
  • Bottle of beer: $6-$7
  • Liqueur: $10-$15
  • Soft drink: $3
  • Energy drink: $5
  • Coffee: $3-$4
  • Large water: $6

So, as you can see, it’s really easy to spend £99 per week on drinks if you purchase them individually. Even one glass of wine, one coffee and one soft drink per day would be enough to make choosing the free drinks on the Free at Sea offer worthwhile.

(I had wanted to take photos of all the menus, but as this was the inaugural sailing for the press and travel agents, the normal menus weren’t out yet.)

Free drinks machine in the buffet
Free drinks machine in the buffet

What drinks are free on Norwegian Cruise Line?

The following drinks are available free of charge:

  • Tea and coffee
  • Lemonade
  • Flavoured water
  • Fresh fruit juices (at breakfast)
Tea and coffee is available free of charge on Norwegian Cruise Line
Tea and coffee is available free of charge

Norwegian Cruise Line Drinks FAQs

Finally, I know a lot of people have questions about drinking on Norwegian Cruise Line cruises, so I have answered some of the most popular ones here.

Can 18-year-olds drink on Norwegian Cruise Line cruises?

Being an American cruise line, Norwegian Cruise Line drinking age policy states that the minimum age for drinking alcohol is 21 years. However, there are a couple of exceptions.

International waters

Guests who are 18 – 20 years of age can purchase and consume beer or wine when the ship is in international waters (3 miles from land). The parent or legal guardian must be on-board the sailing with the young adult and present themselves at the Front Desk so they can sign the form allowing the consumption of beer and wine only.

Please note, that this only applies to beer and wine and that temporary guardianship for the purposes of sailing isn’t allowed; only a permanent legal guardian can sign the form.

Mediterranean cruises

On cruises embarking in a country where the legal drinking age is lower than 21, those aged 18, 19 or 20 are generally not permitted to consume alcohol. However, there may be exceptions to this rule. It all depends on the laws of each country and the agreements in place with the cruise line. Specific information for each cruise can be obtained from Norwegian Cruise Line.

Can you bring your own alcohol on NCL cruises?

Norwegian Cruise Line permit you to bring unlimited bottles of wine onboard. This is subject to a corkage fee of $15. You may drink it wherever you like on the ship.

No other drinks are permitted to be brought on-board, with the exception of purified water for medical use.

Click here to see which cruise lines allow you to bring your own drinks on board.

Are NCL drinks packages available on short cruises?

Drinks package are only available on cruises of three days or more

Can we share a drinks package?

No. If one person has a drinks package, all adults in the stateroom must have the same one, and children must have a soda package.

Is bottled water included in the NCL drinks package?

Bottled water is included in the Premium Plus Beverage Package, but not in the Premium Beverage Package. Water by the glass is always available free of charge.

I suggest you bring your own water bottle with you, it’s better for the environment anyway. I love these cute anchor water bottles.

Is Starbucks included in the NCL drinks package?

No. All food and drinks in Starbucks in chargeable.

Starbucks on Norwegian Encore

Does the NCL drinks package have a limit?

Unlimited amounts of drinks are served. The maximum value per drink is $15.

Where can you use the drinks package?

You can use your drinks package in all bars, lounges, restaurants and on one of Norwegian Cruise Line’s private islands, Great Stirrup Cay, but not on the other island, Harvest Caye.

Can I get bottles of wine with the drinks package?

Bottles of wine are included in the Premium Plus Beverage Package, but not in the Premium Beverage Package.

The Premium Beverage Package gives a 20% discount on all bottles of wine purchased on board. But honestly, you’d be better just to ask for it by the glass.

Self-service wine station
Self-service wine station

TLDR:

(Too long, didn’t read)

To summarise, individual drinks and drinks packages are pretty expensive on Norwegian Cruise Line. However, this is irrelevant, as the Free at Sea programme allows you to get a free drinks package (plus another benefit like dining or free kids places) for as little as £99 on a seven-night cruise. Whether you drink a lot or not, this offer is great value.

Have any questions about Norwegian Cruise Line’s drinks package? Please ask in the comments below and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll do my best to find out.

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