Free at Sea...really Free on NCL?

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#41
2,783 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Originally posted by robdog55
Booking in Australia we don"t pay the 20%on the drink or specialty dinning package ,but we pay more for the cruise than the USA.
I believe booking in the UK is that way too, but the cruise prices have increased more than the addition of the normal extras into the cruise fare according to some (they end up booking with an American TA to reduce their overall cost, even with the 20% on perks and DSC paid at the end of the cruise).
#42
2,783 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Originally posted by dekohman
It's NOT sneaky when they so clearly disclose it! It's only sneaky for those that don't take the time to read the "terms and conditions!"
It's disclosed all over the place on the NCL site. Here's the first mention of the perks on the home page, with the disclosure:



It isn't hidden in the terms and conditions. It's all over the place, including on the running total during the booking process in the right hand column.
#43
2,783 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Originally posted by purpletequila
Or Celebrity where it actually is “free” and you aren’t charge additional gratuity/service charges on the perk or pocket change on each drink while in port of Miami.
But, they are a completely different experience and lack any nightlife or real entertainment.
If you look, you are paying more for the cruise fare when you choose perks on Celebrity. In this image, the upgrade to get more perks from the "Go Better" fare you can upgrade to the "Go Best" fare and pay $630 more.

#44
Sandusky Oh
4,001 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Originally posted by lcpagejr
Yup and its overpriced so the service charge/gratuitys are higher.... Sort of a sneaky way to advertise freebies. They price their package atleast $30/pp a day higher than other lines.....and I do not want to hear...there is no drink limits or price limits on drinks. For the majority of people its irrelevant. Just more price gouging even when they give you the package for free!!
NCL does have a price limit on drinks, it's 15.00

Anything over that amount you pay the difference plus 18 or 20% gratuity on the difference.

Not complaining one bit compared to what I'm paying for drinks on Carnival.

I'll gladly pay the Service Charge/gratuity on NCL for the "free" perk.
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#45
Arkansas
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Joined Feb 2002
Originally posted by txagfan
This is a new and insightful original post. [/sarcasm]


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about to say something similar. This topic pops up about once a week I think just like gratuities used to and still do from time to time; years ago it was bringing booze on and how to smuggle it in your luggage.

OP, you are getting perks free, all you are being assessed is for gratuities which you pay one way or the other anyway. So what is the real question?
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#46
New York
66 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
We are going to Bermuda on the Dawn in June. We did consider the UDP, but with a glass of wine 3 or 4 nights with dinner, and 2-4 drinks other times. we didn't't think that we would consume $250 they charge for the gratuities. So we prepaid our daily service charge, and will use our $200 on board credit for what ever!
#47
toms river, nj USA
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Joined May 2003
Originally posted by Lunchlady
There is a charge of $249.00 for bartenders for the week added to our summary of
charges...plus we added the prepaid $189 grats (which if fine) does that sound right
Just saying....
ok so I see you live in The USA so you know about tipping, taxes etc. So for example if you win a free car you must pay taxes on it, if you have a 2 for one dinner coupon it is customary to tip on the full amount and not the discounted amount, if you win a free trip you are expected to pay taxes on the amount of the trip, if you win 300,000 dollars at the casino you are taxed right then and there - so its just like your parents told you, nothing in the world is free
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#48
5 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
Originally posted by fshagan
I believe booking in the UK is that way too, but the cruise prices have increased more than the addition of the normal extras into the cruise fare according to some (they end up booking with an American TA to reduce their overall cost, even with the 20% on perks and DSC paid at the end of the cruise).

In the EU, NCL sales the cruises with "Premium all-inclusive" (all tax/perks/tips are included)

But if you calculate the US price +tax +perks+20%tip +gratuities the EU price is stilll 300Euro per person per week more then the US price.
#49
Kennett Square, PA, USA
2,349 Posts
Joined Dec 2000
Originally posted by beerman2
NCL does have a price limit on drinks, it's 15.00

Anything over that amount you pay the difference plus 18 or 20% gratuity on the difference.

Not complaining one bit compared to what I'm paying for drinks on Carnival.

I'll gladly pay the Service Charge/gratuity on NCL for the "free" perk.
Carnival's drink price limit is $50...Not that many drink prices get anywhere near that amount. Carnival is approx $50/day/pp less than NCL pp cost (when adding on gratuities) and is much more inclusive (energy drinks, specialty coffess, shakes, etc). No comparison in drink packages as a matter of fact the difference between the 2 prices (fully loaded) is almost what the daily pp cost is for the Cheers package on Carnival. So while there is savings through the perk.... the inflated gratuity charge because of the overpriced/inflated drink package cost on NCL.... greatly waters down the actual value
#50
Central FL
4,908 Posts
Joined Mar 2015
Originally posted by Georgie562
Your choice to either get the package or not.

Seems like Norwegian raises the drink package price every year and with it comes more of service charges.
2016 - $69 to $79 per person per day
2017- $79 to $89 per person per day
2018????? who knows
Even if the UBP price was $100 pppd, as long as it is taken as a promo, the guest is only paying $20 pppd (20%).

I understand that the people who are buying or are forced to buy are upset but those getting the UBP as a promo have no real reason to complain about an unlimited number (if each is $15 or less) of drinks for less than $20 a day. Everyone hates price increases. Sure, there are some things that aren't included and (if needed) must be paid a la carte but the positives far outweigh the negatives.
#51
Washington State
109 Posts
Joined Oct 2009
I have a question about the Free at Sea perk of $50 per port shore excursion credit. Do you have to use that at each port, or can you save up and spend $200 at one? Sheryl
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#52
NYC
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Originally posted by swatkins56
I have a question about the Free at Sea perk of $50 per port shore excursion credit. Do you have to use that at each port, or can you save up and spend $200 at one? Sheryl
use it or lose it per port
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#53
Arkansas
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Originally posted by pieshops
ok so I see you live in The USA so you know about tipping, taxes etc. So for example if you win a free car you must pay taxes on it, if you have a 2 for one dinner coupon it is customary to tip on the full amount and not the discounted amount, if you win a free trip you are expected to pay taxes on the amount of the trip, if you win 300,000 dollars at the casino you are taxed right then and there - so its just like your parents told you, nothing in the world is free
thanks, I hope you were able to make it so the OP could understand. So many people forget there are charges on top of just the perks. We still love the promos, whatever they happen to be at a given time. It is nice to have everything paid for up front and we are not at all upset about the additional charge for tipping whether it is the bar or the DSC. These are things everyone should be willing to pay and understand.
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#54
Sydney, Australia
665 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Book in Australia as we get the 20% included in the package as it is illegal here to give something away for “free” and then add charges, fees, taxes etc .

Swings and roundabouts though because most cruises are priced higher when booking here!
#55
SE, Virginia
350 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Originally posted by Chris2018
For legal reasons, free should be completely free. If McDonalds offered you free fries with your burger, you get them free, you don't pay taxes or gratuity on them.

Instead of pre-paying gratuity which the NCL waiters NEVER see, just make drink packages completely free with the expectation that you must offer cash tip to the waiters for every single drink. That is more than fair.

NCL is just pocketing the pre-paid gratuity for extra profit like a typical corporation. Your drink package isn't free. It's paying for the Johnny Walker Black Label and coke you ordered.
above someone noted that if the service charge is more than you plan to drink that you should pass on the FREE deal
But like us who rather enjoy a smooth cool beverage multiX a day than its surely a better price tag.
sure make for 2 week TA trips much more FUN
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#56
boston ma
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Joined Jan 2001
Originally posted by newmexicoNita
about to say something similar. This topic pops up about once a week I think just like gratuities used to and still do from time to time; years ago it was bringing booze on and how to smuggle it in your luggage.

OP, you are getting perks free, all you are being assessed is for gratuities which you pay one way or the other anyway. So what is the real question?
I agree the free drink package is a great idea, but because of it, I see more drunks than ever now. Even on ships that do not have the free package, the drunks are doubled. I Like my wine and an occasional drink and my husband a beer now and then but the drinks prices are ridiculous. 🍺🍹
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#57
474 Posts
Joined May 2013
Outrageous! Why’s this never been brought to light before? I’d much rather we have $700 in bar charges at the end of a 7 day cruise and sign bar charge slips like the good old days. And the fact they force you to do this booze package is a reason to find a new cruise line!


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#58
2,783 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Originally posted by gmasters
above someone noted that if the service charge is more than you plan to drink that you should pass on the FREE deal
But like us who rather enjoy a smooth cool beverage multiX a day than its surely a better price tag.
sure make for 2 week TA trips much more FUN
I think the break even is 2 or 3 drinks per day, depending on what you drink. So it's a good deal if you are going to drink heavily on vacation.
#59
US
141 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
$ 20.00 a day to drink as much or as little as I want is definitely better then having a large bar tab at the end of my cruise with the same 20% gratuities added on to each and every drink... not just an estimated gratuity ... hummm... I think I’ll take the perk and not worry about drinking too little or too much. JMO


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#60
427 Posts
Joined Nov 2013
Originally posted by tallyho8
Well it wouldn't be so bad if you just had to pay the $249 gratuities to get the beverage package for the two of you for a week but that is not the total cost of the package.

I just priced the cruise I am going on and I can get a "sail and sign cabin" $600 cheaper than another oceanview cabin. With the "sail and sign" cabin you don't get any "free" perks like the beverage package and you get a guarantee cabin. With the regular cabin you get the beverage package and get to pick your cabin but you have to pay $600 more plus $249 more for gratuities making it $849 for the beverages and getting to pick your cabin out of only 9 cabins that are unsold in that class and are all pretty much the same.

Now we do like to drink and have been on many cruises but there is no way that we are going to drink $849 worth of drinks in a week when we are in port most of the time.

Getting to pick your cabin out of only 9 unsold cabins in that class that are close to each other and identical is of absolutely no value and the guarantee cabin is even more valuable because you may get upgraded to a better cabin.

With the $849 I save by not getting the beverage package we are then able to get specialty coffee, water, ultra premium liquors, items from the minibar, sports drinks, Irish Coffee and many other drinks and still have hundreds left over.


Right now on the Escape for next March, the "Sail Away" (not Sail and Sign) price is only $200 more than picking your own balcony location and receiving perks. I think your example is for a cruise very near sailing. That difference does go up closer to the sailing date. If you book way in advance, there is not much of a price difference between the Sali Away price and Picking Your Own Cabin price. Every cruise line offers a cheaper price for their "guarantee" cabins, including NCL. What the other cruise lines don't offer is a drink package if you choose to book and select your own cabin.


I just book the Carnival Horizon, lowest balcony price available, for June 2018 and the price for two people was $3,248.80. I then had to pay $836 for our drink package! Over $4000 for cruise for two with drink package.


Compare to NCL Escape, lowest balcony price available, for March 2019 and the price for two people is $2,774. This includes the drink package, and three nights in specialty dining, and Promotion service Charge or $138.40 per person.


Only difference is Horizon is an 8 day and Escape is a 7 day. But regardless, $1300 cheaper. I feel that drink package is free on NCL compared to the price for cruise plus drink package on Carnival. That is not even factoring in the value of the three nights specialty dining on NCL. If we add the amount of three nights in specialty dining on Carnival, we can add another $120 or so to the $4000.
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