With service charge, is UBP worth it?

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#1
North Carolina
195 Posts
Joined May 2015
Hey everyone,

So I know this is probably going to be more of a "Well, how much do you drink?" response. But I am trying to figure out if the package is really worth it.
The last cruise we took was 5 days in the Bahamas and we had the free UBP There were no at sea days, and we had our whole family (including our son) with us, so I don't know if that may change on this next cruise, but we barely drank on that cruise. I think I had about 2 glasses of wine, a pina colada, a mojto, and 2 cappuccinos. My husband probably had 2 drinks at most. When I calculate that, it's at the most $100 total. So, if we are taking a 10 day cruise, we could double, even triple that ($300) and it still comes out less than the service fees on the UBP. I know UBP is "free" but $178/person for service charges seems like a lot of money when we aren't really taking advantage of it.
What do you guys think? Are we better off paying out of pocket for the drinks or given we will be childless and have 4 at sea days, will we potentially use it more than we think?
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#2
172 Posts
Joined Dec 2015
Originally posted by Banana15
Hey everyone,

So I know this is probably going to be more of a "Well, how much do you drink?" response. But I am trying to figure out if the package is really worth it.
The last cruise we took was 5 days in the Bahamas and we had the free UBP There were no at sea days, and we had our whole family (including our son) with us, so I don't know if that may change on this next cruise, but we barely drank on that cruise. I think I had about 2 glasses of wine, a pina colada, a mojto, and 2 cappuccinos. My husband probably had 2 drinks at most. When I calculate that, it's at the most $100 total. So, if we are taking a 10 day cruise, we could double, even triple that ($300) and it still comes out less than the service fees on the UBP. I know UBP is "free" but $178/person for service charges seems like a lot of money when we aren't really taking advantage of it.
What do you guys think? Are we better off paying out of pocket for the drinks or given we will be childless and have 4 at sea days, will we potentially use it more than we think?
Well it does probably depend on how much you drink...but on a ten day cruise you will have more sea days and I personally like knowing its all taken care of plus you can try new things without worrying about wasting your money if you don't like it. I usually break even or come out a little ahead even on a port intensive cruise especially when it is really hot and I tend to drink more non alcoholic cocktails.

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#4
Strollin' down the avenue that's known as A1A, FL
11,681 Posts
Joined Mar 2003
The only way that the UBP makes sense to me is if it is one of the "free" perks. If you consider the daily amount for the service charge your only "cost" for drinks, I make money on it.
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#5
Central FL
3,477 Posts
Joined Mar 2015
The feeling of knowing that the drinks are paid vs. dealing with "...how much are we drinking/spending each day on drinks?..." makes the UBP promo worth it for me. If I want to drink more on Tuesday than on Thursday or vice versa, I will. Setting an amount and making sure that I don't go over it is not how I want to spend my vacation.
#6
North Carolina
195 Posts
Joined May 2015
Originally posted by Two Wheels Only
The feeling of knowing that the drinks are paid vs. dealing with "...how much are we drinking/spending each day on drinks?..." makes the UBP promo worth it for me. If I want to drink more on Tuesday than on Thursday or vice versa, I will. Setting an amount and making sure that I don't go over it is not how I want to spend my vacation.
That's a good point....and I know I would be doing that. I'd be paranoid to get a $600 bill, all to save $300. -- Honestly, I don't drink much, but I know in the casino I like a drink...or a pina colada at the pool. And I definitely like wine and coffee at dinner, so I guess it could add up. I really didn't use it much on the Bahamas cruise, but I truly question what I'll be doing with 4 days at sea. It's a lot of "On board" time that I didn't have last time.
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#7
172 Posts
Joined Dec 2015
Originally posted by RiotAct
The only thing with longer cruises is... usually by Day 6 or so, I don't want to have more than like one drink a day! Ha.
That's why I tend to lean towards the non alcoholic frozen drinks for the last half of the cruise!

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#8
2,187 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
I calculate drinks (with $20 gratuity) at $11 for a standard mixed (rum & coke, vodka soda), $14 for a premium mixed (Kettle & soda, moscow mule, aviation, long island, rebellious fish), $19 for a super premium (espresso martini, dark & stormy), $13 glass of wine, $8 beer, $10 premium beer. Even if not 100% accurate, it will get me close enough to estimate.

Our drinking varies by the itinerary (drink less on port days), so I just do the math based on our usual habits. Nothing else plays in to my decision. For a port intensive cruise, the drink package isn't worth it for us. But if it's free, with us only paying the gratuity, it is 100% a great financial decision for us.

Example based on my normal cruise habits:
On any given sea day average of 3 beers, 3 premium beers, 2 cocktails, 2 premium cocktails per person ($104)
On any given port day average of 2 premium beers, 1 super premium cocktail, 1 glass wine ($49)

On a 4 port, 3 sea day cruise that's $508/pp. Not worth the $896 for me, but definitely worth the $150 gratuity on a free perk and definitely makes up for any price games they play with staterooms.

It's sort of nice to also have the "freedom" of the drink package, but that doesn't really factor in to my decision. It's all about the $$$ for me.
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-weltek
#9
Toronto, Canada
192 Posts
Joined Aug 2017
Trust me it adds up. 2-3 sodas a day with your snacks and meals will bring you up to $10 alone.

Another $10 so for a beer including the service fee.

Wines you’re looking at about $12 with service fee.

The different in net cost for me, considering all the rebates I got was $247 US to add the drinks package. (Vs. A stateroom with no perks). Which is $36 US a day.

So that’s basically 3 pops, and two martinis or 2 glasses of wine...or 3 pops and 3 beers. So it was worth it in that instance for me. Also, I prefer to have lots of options because wine or beer don’t always agree with me, and the drynx package lets me sample drinks I might not have otherwise.
#10
422 Posts
Joined Jun 2014
Originally posted by marktwothousand
Trust me it adds up. 2-3 sodas a day with your snacks and meals will bring you up to $10 alone.

Another $10 so for a beer including the service fee.

Wines you’re looking at about $12 with service fee.

The different in net cost for me, considering all the rebates I got was $247 US to add the drinks package. (Vs. A stateroom with no perks). Which is $36 US a day.

So that’s basically 3 pops, and two martinis or 2 glasses of wine...or 3 pops and 3 beers. So it was worth it in that instance for me. Also, I prefer to have lots of options because wine or beer don’t always agree with me, and the drynx package lets me sample drinks I might not have otherwise.
Agree, don't forget the high price for soda.
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#11
Middle of the Sahara Desert
12,096 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
Originally posted by Banana15
Hey everyone,

So I know this is probably going to be more of a "Well, how much do you drink?" response. But I am trying to figure out if the package is really worth it.
The last cruise we took was 5 days in the Bahamas and we had the free UBP There were no at sea days, and we had our whole family (including our son) with us, so I don't know if that may change on this next cruise, but we barely drank on that cruise. I think I had about 2 glasses of wine, a pina colada, a mojto, and 2 cappuccinos. My husband probably had 2 drinks at most. When I calculate that, it's at the most $100 total. So, if we are taking a 10 day cruise, we could double, even triple that ($300) and it still comes out less than the service fees on the UBP. I know UBP is "free" but $178/person for service charges seems like a lot of money when we aren't really taking advantage of it.
What do you guys think? Are we better off paying out of pocket for the drinks or given we will be childless and have 4 at sea days, will we potentially use it more than we think?
The #178/person is the 18% service charge (tip) on each drink ordered. If you paid individually , you would have to buy about $800 is drinks.
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#12
Florida
50 Posts
Joined Jan 2016
Originally posted by Banana15
That's a good point....and I know I would be doing that. I'd be paranoid to get a $600 bill, all to save $300. -- Honestly, I don't drink much, but I know in the casino I like a drink...or a pina colada at the pool. And I definitely like wine and coffee at dinner, so I guess it could add up. I really didn't use it much on the Bahamas cruise, but I truly question what I'll be doing with 4 days at sea. It's a lot of "On board" time that I didn't have last time.
With sea days the casino is open basically all the time. So if you'd be on there a lot drinking that would up your count.

On sea days I drink a lot more. It's hot on the pool deck so I keep the frozen drinks coming and toss them if they get warm and get another.

I also get the best liquor I can with the package so the savings adds up faster.

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#13
Phila. PA
20,028 Posts
Joined Jan 2002
Originally posted by yummysbakery
Well it does probably depend on how much you drink...but on a ten day cruise you will have more sea days and I personally like knowing its all taken care of plus you can try new things without worrying about wasting your money if you don't like it. I usually break even or come out a little ahead even on a port intensive cruise especially when it is really hot and I tend to drink more non alcoholic cocktails.

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Not always. We are booked on the Dawn this December for a 10 day cruise and we only have 1 day at sea which is the first full day on the ship.

After that we are in a different port every day from 8am to 5pm.

That being said I still opted for the drink package and we aren't big drinkers either.


Bill
#14
Portland, OR
403 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
It adds up quickly... Our last cruise was the Escape, and hubby would have maybe 5 a day... mostly beer (our room was very close to the District)... and starting with one at lunch, it was easy to have 5 (one every two hours) by 10 pm (when we were usually heading for bed.) I am not a big drinker, and got my share of Virgin drinks too... and even though I expected to pay for dd’s nightly virgin lava flow or whatever (she was 13)... because you can “buy” two drinks at a time, I was never charged for any of her drinks. And the Virgin drinks are not cheap either. I know we got our money’s worth!
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#15
Central FL
3,477 Posts
Joined Mar 2015
Originally posted by Kierste
.. and even though I expected to pay for dd’s nightly virgin lava flow or whatever (she was 13)... because you can “buy” two drinks at a time, I was never charged for any of her drinks. And the Virgin drinks are not cheap either. I know we got our money’s worth!
They were supposed to charge you for her drinks even though they didn't. Consider it a case of good luck.
#16
Frozen Tundra
8,278 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
Our bill for drinks the one and only time we sailed NCL without the beverage package was over $1000. That was back when gratuities were only 15% and the drink prices were much less than they are now. The drink package is a no-brainer for us. It only takes a couple drinks per day to pay for itself if you get the package as a promo.
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#17
Portland, OR
403 Posts
Joined Dec 2012
Originally posted by Two Wheels Only
They were supposed to charge you for her drinks even though they didn't. Consider it a case of good luck.
Possibly, but in large groups we were all taking turns “buying” for each other... they just stuck with the two drinks per bar visit and it didn’t seem to matter who the drinks were going to. Everyone was on the package... but it was pretty relaxed. I bought drinks for Dd and I at bars, at dinner, etc... didn’t seem to matter and never got charged.
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#18
Central FL
3,477 Posts
Joined Mar 2015
Originally posted by Kierste
Possibly, but in large groups we were all taking turns “buying” for each other... they just stuck with the two drinks per bar visit and it didn’t seem to matter who the drinks were going to. Everyone was on the package... but it was pretty relaxed. I bought drinks for Dd and I at bars, at dinner, etc... didn’t seem to matter and never got charged.
The reason that it was "luck" was that it is against NCL policy to "share" a drink package with another guest. Obviously, they aren't going to monitor every drink and who drinks it.

However, if NCL did decide to enforce the policy, the UBP could/would have been rescinded without refund or in the case of a promo without refund of service charge. I wouldn't want people unfamiliar with NCL or the UBP to get the impression of "...sure, it's no problem to get drinks for others who don't have the package....NCL doesn't care..".

Getting a non-alcoholic beverage for your child is no big deal. NCL won't care about that but if others try to get drinks for their friends who don't have the UBP?.....it's not worth the risk. Just a warning to those who might try to press their luck with alcoholic beverages for others.
#19
Central FL
3,477 Posts
Joined Mar 2015
Originally posted by Kamloops50
The #178/person is the 18% service charge (tip) on each drink ordered. If you paid individually , you would have to buy about $800 is drinks.
The $178pp is actually the 20% service charge on the UBP for a 10 day cruise. The UBP (when purchased) is $89pp per day and the service charge per day is $17.80pp.

If a person will drink more than $17.80 worth per day on drinks, it's better to get the UBP promo and pay the service charge.