Let the party begin? Royal Caribbean to offer some “All-You-Can-Drink” packages

by Janice Hough on March 17, 2011

All-inclusive deals aboard cruise ships aren’t anything new at this point. Most very deluxe lines — Seabourn, Silversea and Regent Seven Seas, for examples — include most bar drinks and all but some premium wines in their tariffs.

However, in the mass-market and even premium categories, alcoholic beverages are generally extra. (Leaving aside many river cruise companies that offer wine with dinner.)

Celebrity Cruise Lines has been offering alcoholic beverages packages for some time now, up to a premium package, topping out at $49 a day. Price cruisers can have their choice of wines up to $12 a glass and premium liquors including Grey Goose vodka and Glenlivet scotch. Now, they are testing more inclusive drink packages. Is it a good idea?

Celebrity is not exactly known as a party boat. While on a cruise this Christmas I noticed many cruisers clearly making good use of the their packages. There didn’t appear to be that many ridiculously inebriated people, or a more raucous atmosphere than usual. (Of course, at about $50 a day, the premium package was not exactly priced for anyone looking for cheap drunks. A non-premium package was available for just about $10 a day less.)

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Celebrity’s parent company, has a rather different reputation. While perhaps not known as much for party boats as Carnival Cruise Lines, the line clearly markets to a young, energetic audience with their “Why Not” slogan.

Now Royal Caribbean is testing an all-inclusive beverage package of their own. They will offer three choices — the “Pleasure,” $29 for unlimited beer and house wine by the glass, and a 25% discount on other liquors and wines; the “Classic,” which costs $39 and includes all cocktails with a limited number of premium liquors, and the $49 Premium Package offers wines by the glass up to $10, and more premium liquors.

The last prices are basically identical to Celebrity’s, with a few less choices and a $2 a glass lower wine cap.

Now before any reader jumps to book a spring break party week out of Florida, at this point the packages only are being marketed on the line’s ships that sail mostly overseas: the Independence of the Seas (based in England), the Legend of the Seas (based in Asia) and the Grandeur of the Seas (based in Spain and Panama).

While these ships can be booked by U.S. travelers, Americans are generally a minority aboard. Royal Caribbean says for now, there are no plans to offer the plans in the U.S. Translation — “let’s see what happens, both in terms of profit and potential craziness, before we try bringing this idea here.”

The idea is an interesting experiment, especially since all-inclusive resorts are particularly popular overseas. This relatively small test run will make it easy to rescind the plan if it doesn’t work.

But what do you think, Consumer Traveler readers? Would you like the option on a moderately priced cruise line to pay one flat fee and not worry about a bar bill? Or would you prefer to be sailing the seas with people who had to buy their drinks the old-fashioned way — one at a time?

Photo: Poweredrodrigo from Flickr CreativeCommons

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  • Keith Klarin

    Liquor prices on-board are a total rip-off. On my last cruise on Celebrity, they charged me $80 for a liter of JW Red, six cans of soda and a box of nuts. Your best bet is to smuggle on your own liquor in your luggage.

  • gloriatz

    Keith … can’t you make it for the duration of the cruise without getting a buzz on? There is a program called “AA” if you can’t. And to suggest smuggling on booze is a travesty. No one suggests not having a drink or two on occasion but “Grow Up” … you sound like you just entered puberty!

  • http://www.allinclusive.co.uk/deals/ http://www.allinclusive.co.uk/

    Sounds like a really good offer, although I dont know if all you can drink packages are a good idea. 

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