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Why does the Elite beverage package exist?


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I'm looking for feedback on the Signature and Elite beverage packages.

 

I've sailed Celebrity in the past with the Premium beverage package (upgrading from the included Classic package). Specifically, we did this because many mixed drinks and most martinis on Celebrity were priced above the cutoff for the classic package, and we didn't want to miss out.

 

Reviewing standard bar menus for HAL, it looks like many (most?) mixed drinks are around the $8 mark. If so, it appears that the Signature beverage package covers almost all drinks.

 

I know that the Elite package covers drinks up to $15, but what are these beverages? Better wine? Better liquor? Is there something I'm missing?

 

Thanks for your thoughts... it's been about 12 years since I've sailed Holland America, so I'm clueless other than what I can find online.

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I think that the difference may be the spirits. I love Cosmos, but only made with Ketel One and Cointreau. Using these liquors brings the cost of the drink above the $8.00 mark, so it would be covered under the Elite Plan. However, since I only have maybe one or two a day, I will just use my OBC to pay for them. Anyone who would drink more of these kind of drinks would probably benefit from the increased allowance.

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We just spent 20 days on the NA and I have to say that MOST of the time the $8 drinks were fine except for the Piano Bar drinks. The martinis tasted like water so I had to switch to gin on the rocks. The dink quality was defiantly different from bar to bar so my solution was the on-the-rocks. I wish I could give you a definitive answer but you may have to try a few dinks and upgrade if necessary.

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You can get just about any of the drinks on the cocktail list under the Signature Beverage Package. You can also get almost all the liquors. The exceptions are higher end single malts and higher end tequilas. For those you'll need the Elite Beverage Package.

 

The biggest difference in in the wines. Under the SBP, you can get a Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon from Santa Carolina, a Shiraz from Back Opal, Zonin Pinot Grigio, La Terre White Zinfandel, Santa Carolina Chardonnay, Snoqualmie Select Riesling, Pol Clemant Sparkling Wine and Cantine Maschio Brut Prosecco.

 

Under the EBP, you can get every wine on the by the glass list with the exception of Veuve Clicquot Chanmpagne.

 

Here's the list from the Eurodam in December. This was pre-price increase, so just pretend the limit was $8 and use that as your basis. Tasting Notes & Wine Ratings, where available, are included.

 

http://www.evernote.com/l/AFjO4s9zhRBIEqQyc98MV9eRomI9wpGkhzE/

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I'm of the opinion that in a "mixed" drink, the "shelf" of liquor matters very little. Of course, you don't want "rot gut" stuff, but I've yet to find a cruise line that serves low-end booze, even as a "house" brand.

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I'm of the opinion that in a "mixed" drink, the "shelf" of liquor matters very little. Of course, you don't want "rot gut" stuff, but I've yet to find a cruise line that serves low-end booze, even as a "house" brand.

 

I agree. I don't think I could tell one rum from another in some of the rum punch drinks, or one tequila from another in a tequila sunrise. If the booze is the main or only constituent of the drink, that's a different matter.

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You can get just about any of the drinks on the cocktail list under the Signature Beverage Package. You can also get almost all the liquors. The exceptions are higher end single malts and higher end tequilas. For those you'll need the Elite Beverage Package.

 

The biggest difference in in the wines. Under the SBP, you can get a Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon from Santa Carolina, a Shiraz from Back Opal, Zonin Pinot Grigio, La Terre White Zinfandel, Santa Carolina Chardonnay, Snoqualmie Select Riesling, Pol Clemant Sparkling Wine and Cantine Maschio Brut Prosecco.

 

Under the EBP, you can get every wine on the by the glass list with the exception of Veuve Clicquot Chanmpagne.

 

Here's the list from the Eurodam in December. This was pre-price increase, so just pretend the limit was $8 and use that as your basis. Tasting Notes & Wine Ratings, where available, are included.

 

http://www.evernote.com/l/AFjO4s9zhRBIEqQyc98MV9eRomI9wpGkhzE/

 

(bold is mine) RUN, do not walk, away from Pol Clement!!!! I didn't care for any of the wines by the glass under the package limit. DH liked the Shiraz.

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I'm looking for feedback on the Signature and Elite beverage packages.

 

I've sailed Celebrity in the past with the Premium beverage package (upgrading from the included Classic package). Specifically, we did this because many mixed drinks and most martinis on Celebrity were priced above the cutoff for the classic package, and we didn't want to miss out.

 

Reviewing standard bar menus for HAL, it looks like many (most?) mixed drinks are around the $8 mark. If so, it appears that the Signature beverage package covers almost all drinks.

 

I know that the Elite package covers drinks up to $15, but what are these beverages? Better wine? Better liquor? Is there something I'm missing?

 

Thanks for your thoughts... it's been about 12 years since I've sailed Holland America, so I'm clueless other than what I can find online.

 

Maybe HAL is planning to slowly raise their Alcohol & Wine Prices !:eek:

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I know that the Elite package covers drinks up to $15, but what are these beverages? Better wine? Better liquor?

 

Yes. IMO, $8 doesn't buy you much in they way of decent wine on HAL. For spirits, I only drink gin and vodka, so the Hendrick's and Grey Goose are fine on the base package, but the wine is a whole different story.

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The Signature Beverage Package covers only house wines and only some alcohols whereas the Elite Beverage does give you choices of better wines and almost all alcohols.

 

 

 

Not totally true! We just returned from the Eurodam Repo and the SBP is now $9 and below which covers several wines, white and red. It also covers many of the posted special drinks with some including above well liquors. We like our Bourbon and the SBP covered JB, Makers Mark, Tatoosh, Bulliet, and Knob Creek. The Elite package covers the "top shelf" stuff, which is limited so IOHO the SBP is the ticket assuming you are drinking at least 6-8 drinks, etc. per day.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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You are hard pressed to find a liquor that is not covered. Even Grey Goose vodka is included. Yes, the single malt selections are above the $8 limit. Wines are the only area where the SBP comes up short. But now, with the increase to $9 for most cocktails, they have raised the SBP limit to $9. In the past, the cost of the SBP (if you actually purchase it, not get it through Explore-4) would get you about 6-1/2 $8 drinks per day. After that you are drinking free. With the drink prices raised to $9, and the SBP limit raised to match, the break even point is now 5 drinks, and anything above is free.

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One of the first things I did after boarding was grab an MDR wine list and look up the by-the-glass ratings while we still had cellular Internet in port. (We like to do our homework before we begin the real work of tasting the wine. And by tasting, I mean drinking.)

 

We opted for the EBP because it really opens up the wine choices. My wife is a big Pinot Noir fan and there aren't any covered by the SBP. It also allowed us to have real Champagne every day.

 

Please bear in mind that this is from December on the Eurodam. Some wines have probably changed and this was from when the SBP limit was $8, so use that price point as your frame of reference.

 

 

Sparkling:

 

 

 

  • Cantine Maschio Brut Prosecco Treviso, Italy - $6.25 - Crisp and stony, with floral, white peach and slivered almond notes riding the lively bead. 85 points WS
  • Pol Clement, France - $5.95 - This is the house sparkling wine. A pale yellow robe with bright glints. Delicate aromas of fruit and white flowers, with nuances of toasted bread and dried fruit. - It scored an 84 aggregate on CellarTracker, but their ratings are often generous.
  • Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne Réserve France - $12.50 - This balanced Champagne is ripe and juicy, with crème de cassis and Honeycrisp apple fruit flavors accented by details of honey, smoke and biscuit. A fresh and creamy aperitif. 90 points WS
  • Domaine Chandon Brut California Classic - $13.00 - Lively and crisp, with user-friendly flavors of tart apple, lemon and spicy vanilla. 89 points WS
  • Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne - $17.50 -Bright and lightly toasty, this elegant Champagne layers flavors of cassis, crushed hazelnut and lemon meringue pie on the creamy bead. 90 points WS

 

 

White Wine:

 

 

  • Zonin Pinot Grigio Latisana del Friuli Albola - $6.25 - A simple white, with some apple and banana character. Medium-bodied, offering good acidity and a light finish. - 84 points WS
  • Ruffino Pinot Grigio - $11.00 - Intense, clean notes of meadow flowers, pears and pleasant hints of golden apple. The bouquet is fresh and fragrant, yet complex, showing refined notes of sage and mint, with a nice touch of mineralinty typical of Pinot Grigio - Mid 80s
  • La Terre White Zinfandel - $6.25 - No rating found.
  • Gruber-Rosh1tz Riesling (Spelled wrong on list - Also, I can't spell it correctly here because CC doesn't like the fact that there's a naughty word in the second word in the winery name. The #1 is supposed to be an i.) - $8.50 - Subtle, fruitful Riesling which reveals its subtle charms rather slowly. The nose is shy but the palate shines with ripe, aromatic apricot fruit, accentuated by lemon freshness and centered around a concentrated core of fruit and zest. This is slender but generous, refreshing and lasting. - 88 points Winemag.com
  • Snoqualmie Select Riesling - $7.25 - Moderately sweet, offering apricot and pear flavors that remain ripe as the finish lingers. - 85-87 points
  • Zonin Moscato - $8.50 - Excellent as dessert wine it matches perfectly with jam tarts fruit salads and pastry. Low alcohol 7% - 84 point avg
  • Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc - $7.00 - This has lots of zip, with bracing lemon zest, thyme and white peach notes that race through the brisk finish. - 87 points WS
  • Domaine Laroche Chablis - $13.50 - Lovely balance and expressive flavors of apple, peach and lemon highlight this juicy white. Leaves a mouthwatering impression on the stony finish. - 89 poiints WS
  • Goose Ridge Chardonnay - $7.25 - Fresh and lively, sleek and silky, with pretty pear and clotted cream flavors achieving a refreshing balance. - 87 points WS
  • Formation Monterey Sauvignon Blanc - $9.75 - I can find nothing on this Formation's Sauv Blanc.
  • Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc - $12.25 - Lean, with grass, citrus zest and ruby grapefruit flavors that are juicy and vibrant. Toasted herb and floral details linger. - 87 points WS
  • Santa Carolina Chardonnay - $6.25 - A fruity style, with Gala apple and pear tart flavors that are clean and direct. The spicy finish has some smoky notes. - 86 points WS
  • Vina Santa Carolina Chardonnay - $6.50 - It's not clear if this is the Reserva di Familia or not, I'm assuming it is, because Santa Carolina produces two Chards and this one is more expensive than the one above it, - Rich and well-crafted, with concentrated ripe pear, apple pastry and almond tart notes. The buttery finish is long and spicy, supported by fresh acidity. - 89 points WS


  • Penfolds Chardonnay South Australia Koonunga Hill - $8.50 - Refreshing, with lime zest and tangerine flavors that have a spicy edge. Compact and intense. - 87 points WS
  • Rosemount Estate Chardonnay - $9.75 - Polished, expressive and exuberant, with pear and grapefruit aromas and flavors, remaining vivid through the finish. 86-88 points. Note: If 2013 vintage, it's only an 83.
  • Chateau Stet Michelle Mimi Chardonnay - $9.75 - The aromas on this wine are light and nuanced with notes of pear, butter and pineapple. It's full bodied in feel, clean in style showing good weight and viscosity while retaining a pleasing sense of lightness. - 88-90 points, Wine Enthusiast


 

 

Red Wine:

 

 

  • Light Horse Jamieson Ranch Pinot Noir - $9.75 - Smoky, oaky aroma leads to meaty flavors with notes of rhubarb and red cherries. The texture is on the soft side and the body is medium. On the finish those oaky notes meld with the fruit for a soft finale. - 88 points Wine Enthusast
  • Meridian Pinot Noir - $9.75 - Fresh, with snappy cranberry and wild berry flavors that are pleasant and easy-drinking. - 85 points
  • Batasiolo Barbera D'asti - $9.75 - High-toned boysenberry and raspberry flavors, with bright acidity and slightly chewy tannins. Moderate length. - WS 84 points
  • Santa Carolina Merlot - $6.25 - There's plenty of freshness to the juicy red plum, dark cherry and black olive flavors, accented by appealing green herbal notes. Finishes with hints of dried mint and chocolate. - 88 points WS
  • Greystone Cellars Merlot - $9.25 - Jammy and soft, with simple cherry and cola flavors. - 84 points
  • Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot - $12.25 - Broad and generous, with expressive cedar, blueberry and cream flavors that glide over polished tannins into the long, precise finish. - 87 points WS
  • Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon - $6.25 - Zesty, with dried green herbal notes to the fresh red plum and berry flavors. Olive and mineral accents show on the finish. - 88 points WS
  • Rosemount Estate Shiraz - $11.00 - Velvety, ripe and expressive, playing its lively blackberry and dark plum flavors against a hint of mint as the finish lingers. - 87 points WS
  • Black Opal Shiraz - $7.25 - Light and zippy, with a tart edge to the ripe berry flavors - 87 points WS
  • Pacific Bay Cabernet Sauvignon (Wine list says California, but online info indicates Chile) - $7.25 - No ratings found


  • Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon - $9.75 - A crunchy red, showing good cut to the dried berry and cherry flavors, with plenty of savory details. Dried green herb hints show on the finish. - 86 points WS
  • Penfolds Koounga Hiill Cabernet Sauvignon - $9.75 - Firm in texture, with juicy currant and spice flavors, finishing on a peppery note. - 86 points WS
  • Line 39 Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon - $9.75 - Big and brawny, this has bold, ripe fruit aromas and flavors that are shaded by thyme and dill, and backed by very firm tannins and good acidity. The mouthfeel is full and astringent, and the mouth-puckering tannins last on the finish. - 86 points Wine Enthusiast
  • Luigi Bosca La Linda Malbec - $8.50 - A zesty style, redolent of cherry and licorice flavors, with notes of pepper in the mix. The juicy finish has some paprika details. - 87 points WS
  • Niebaum Coppola Claret - $13.50 - Seriously tasty and full-bodied, this inky-colored wine is packed with ripe fruit, fine tannins and firm texture, and needs a juicy steak or tender roast as a table mate. A core of black cherry and black plum is shaded by spicy oak. - 88 points Wine Enthusiast
  • Peter Lehmann Portrait Shiraz - $14.75 - Bursting with blueberry and plum flavors, this offers chocolate and Earl Grey tea accents. Velvety and smooth on the long finish - 88 points WS

 

NOTE: WS means that the rating comes from Wine Spectator. WA is Wine Advocate.

 

The rating scale is as follows:

 

 

  • 95-100 Classic: a great wine
  • 90-94 Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style
  • 85-89 Very good: a wine with special qualities
  • 80-84 Good: a solid, well-made wine
  • 75-79 Mediocre: a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
  • 50-74 Not recommended

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One of the reasons we look up the wine ratings is because wine price does not always equal wine quality. The best Merlot, for example, is the house wine by Santa Carolina. If you did a blind tasting of the three Merlots, you can pick out the Santa Carolina as the best one.

 

How do you do a blind tasting? It's easy. Ask your wine steward to bring you all the choices but keep their identities a secret until you've had a chance to taste. (Tip your wine steward at least $5 that night.)

 

You can run this experiment with several varietals, but I wouldn't do them all in one sitting. If you you throw in the Chablis with the Chardonnays (because Chablis is made from Chardonnay grapes) you will have a seven glass tasting flight. That's kind of a lot - even if you share.

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One of the reasons we look up the wine ratings is because wine price does not always equal wine quality. The best Merlot, for example, is the house wine by Santa Carolina. If you did a blind tasting of the three Merlots, you can pick out the Santa Carolina as the best one.

 

How do you do a blind tasting? It's easy. Ask your wine steward to bring you all the choices but keep their identities a secret until you've had a chance to taste. (Tip your wine steward at least $5 that night.)

 

You can run this experiment with several varietals, but I wouldn't do them all in one sitting. If you you throw in the Chablis with the Chardonnays (because Chablis is made from Chardonnay grapes) you will have a seven glass tasting flight. That's kind of a lot - even if you share.

 

Appreciate your fine work tonight. All things considered, I'll just bring my own six bottles of wine aboard.

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There are some HAL Signature drinks that are above the $8 or $9 threshold that are delicious. For example, the Rusty Knot is $9.95 (Tatoosh and St Germaine, I highly recommend). I am not sure if there are enough of those types of drinks to make the Elite package worthwhile. I tend to have my cocktails during the happy hours....

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I've yet to find a cruise line that serves low-end booze, even as a "house" brand.

 

NCL's 2013-era house brands were INCREDIBLY bad. Like, East Village NYC dive-bar level. They've improved greatly in that regard (and raised their cruise prices accordingly).

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BTW, everyone's feedback is excellent, and very appreciated.

 

It seems that the limited wine choices might be a deal-breaker on the signature package. It's more just having the option, and the peace of mind in beverage purchases. If Chandon (among others) is included in the Elite package, we may just end up heading in that direction.

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