Jump to content
pearose

Free unlimited open bar

Recommended Posts

I see the "Free Unlimited Open Bar" advertised on NCL cruises.  Could someone please explain exactly what this is and how does it work?  Something about it sounds too good to be true.  I have only sailed NCL on my first 2 cruises back in 1998, 2000.  Ever since then we have sailed with Carnival, but have thought about branching out again and trying other lines.  Thanks in advance!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your best bet is to use the search function for his forum for UBP/ Open Bar. This question is asked every day on here. The terms are on the NCL website. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, pearose said:

I see the "Free Unlimited Open Bar" advertised on NCL cruises.  Could someone please explain exactly what this is and how does it work?  Something about it sounds too good to be true.  I have only sailed NCL on my first 2 cruises back in 1998, 2000.  Ever since then we have sailed with Carnival, but have thought about branching out again and trying other lines.  Thanks in advance!

Not really free. Charged a 20% gratuity, about $20 pp/pd. Includes all drinks priced under $15. There is a thread here regarding up charges to the beverage package where you can get a list of prices. Includes soft drinks and juices but does not include bottled water or specialty coffees. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Jerseygich said:

Not really free. Charged a 20% gratuity, about $20 pp/pd. Includes all drinks priced under $15. There is a thread here regarding up charges to the beverage package where you can get a list of prices. Includes soft drinks and juices but does not include bottled water or specialty coffees. 

 

Still better than other cruise lines.  I payed $46 per day plus 18% on Royal Caribbean in July.  That package only include drinks up to $12, but they did have much better liquor choices available with the package.  We drank them out of Whistle Pig and Four Roses Single Barrel during the week...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Along with reading the general info at the website provided in post #3...... you absolutely should spend time reading the T&Cs located at the bottom of the UBP section to understand the meat and potatoes of the UBP. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
55 minutes ago, YankeesFan4Life said:

 

Still better than other cruise lines.  I payed $46 per day plus 18% on Royal Caribbean in July.  That package only include drinks up to $12, but they did have much better liquor choices available with the package.  We drank them out of Whistle Pig and Four Roses Single Barrel during the week...

Definitely is worth it if both in the cabin  are going to drink. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's hardly free.   It is only a value if you really are going to drink enough to make it worthwhile.  You have to drink about 6+ drinks per day to make it worth it.  There aren't that many $15 per drink options.  I was shocked at how heavy the bartenders poured.  If you have a port intensive cruise, it's even tougher to get your money's worth.  

 

We're fairly big partiers especially on vacation, but by Thursday, (day 5) neither of us wanted another drink.  My liver hurt.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, trish1c said:

It's hardly free.   It is only a value if you really are going to drink enough to make it worthwhile.  You have to drink about 6+ drinks per day to make it worth it.  There aren't that many $15 per drink options.  I was shocked at how heavy the bartenders poured.  If you have a port intensive cruise, it's even tougher to get your money's worth.  

 

We're fairly big partiers especially on vacation, but by Thursday, (day 5) neither of us wanted another drink.  My liver hurt.  

Definitely not. Your breakevwn is more like 1-2 drinks per day (unless you are buying soda pop with the package - your 6 drinks a day averages $3/drink. Not!)

Edited by BirdTravels

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, pearose said:

I see the "Free Unlimited Open Bar" advertised on NCL cruises.  Could someone please explain exactly what this is and how does it work?  Something about it sounds too good to be true.  I have only sailed NCL on my first 2 cruises back in 1998, 2000.  Ever since then we have sailed with Carnival, but have thought about branching out again and trying other lines.  Thanks in advance!

The package covers the first $15 of your drink cost. You pay the difference on anything over $15 + 20% gratuity. Drink as much as you want, as often as you want without limit from bars. 

Edited by BirdTravels

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, trish1c said:

It's hardly free.   It is only a value if you really are going to drink enough to make it worthwhile.  You have to drink about 6+ drinks per day to make it worth it.  There aren't that many $15 per drink options.  I was shocked at how heavy the bartenders poured.  If you have a port intensive cruise, it's even tougher to get your money's worth.  

 

We're fairly big partiers especially on vacation, but by Thursday, (day 5) neither of us wanted another drink.  My liver hurt.  

So true 🤪. If only a day or 2 at sea and plan on getting off the ship at every port, may just want pay by the drink. Depends on how much you drink and what.  5 drinks @12.95 plus gratuities or 5 beers at 6.95 plus gratuities per day makes a difference. If know your drinking habits can calculate if it will be worth it

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, trish1c said:

It's hardly free.   It is only a value if you really are going to drink enough to make it worthwhile.  You have to drink about 6+ drinks per day to make it worth it.  There aren't that many $15 per drink options.  I was shocked at how heavy the bartenders poured.  If you have a port intensive cruise, it's even tougher to get your money's worth.

 

Not sure if the OP is asking about the "Free Booze" cruises on Norwegian Sky (which I've never done and can't speak to) or the promoted "Free Drinks" as one of your "Free at Sea" choices.  We've done this a few times.  It is NOT free.  The cruise line makes an assumption about how much a person might spend in a day and charges you 20% gratuity on that amount.  So, $20 per person, per day.  On a 7 day cruise, that's $140 per person.  If your average drink is $11 (assuming some higher, some lower), the breakeven is 13 drinks over that 7 day cruise.  (Call it two drinks per day, every day.)  To me, that's not a tough hurdle.  Sea days, I can easily clear it, and on excursion days, a pre-dinner cocktail and a glass of wine at dinner keeps me whole. 

 

I disagree with the statement "There aren't that many $15 per drink options."  I think there are plenty unless you insist on top shelf.  Almost all beers are covered, although as a craft beer snob, I will admit selection is poor.  Wine is limited, I grant.  But mixed drinks?  There are plenty to be had...plenty.  So while the OP is right that "Free" is too good to be true...it's still a decent deal.  Sure, cruise drink prices are seriously inflated...but these days, most fine restaurants, nice hotels and resorts are right up there in price.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I stated earlier, the Royal Caribbean drink package was $46pp per day PLUS grat's.  That made me have at least 6 drinks per day to make it worth my while....I had that licked either before or at lunch so the afternoon was completely on them!  With this, I just checked, I was charged $136 per person for grat's, for a 7 day, which works out to less than $20 per day, which is under 2 drinks per day for it to pay for itself.  With my two bloody mary's at breakfast each day, NCL will be losing money (at least on THAT portion of the fare)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For us the drink perk is well worth it and very convenient. We just got off a 10 day so Car cruise and the gratuities were about $18 a day. That is equal to about 2 drinks a day, plus if you are drinking without the package you will probably still be tipping. Where people get the idea it isn't worth it is beyond me. BTW, the day after we started sailing they changed the prices of the drinks. Grey Goose is now under the $15 price limit and so is another scotch. I can't remember which cause i am not a scotch drinker but hubby  is and it made him very happy 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got lost somewhere in here.  

 

The package if you "buy" it was about $49 per day per person.  So assuming $100 per day if there are two people in a cabin, that's a $700 per cruise value for a week long voyage.  Now add 18% gratuity & you are adding another $126.  

 

A voyage that used to cost $799 per person when all drinks were a la cart is now selling for $1299 per person because you get the "free at sea" program.  That is a $500 pp difference or $1000 more for the same cruise so I can get $700 worth of "free alcohol."  Now if I select the UBP I still have to pay the tip so add another $126 & I'm now paying more than $1126 to get something that I could have purchased for $826.  Plus being me, I'm still going to tip the bartenders in actual cash to assure good service  Sorry but I don't think that is even close to being "free" at sea or anywhere else. 

 

When I said there weren't many $15 drink options, I meant there weren't many drinks that expensive.  If a beer is $5 & the cost of the promotion is $50 per day, you have to drink 10 beers to break even.   Granted many martini drinks are around $11 but who wants 5 of those per day, especially given the larger size of the cruise glasses.  You are talking 5 is really 7.5 - 8 & given the generous pours, 12-15 shots.  Not that many people can drink that much & still function. Can you say alcohol poisoning?  

 

Sure I saw a lot of people over indulging on embarkation day . . . woo hoo "free booze!"  I also saw a decided drop in visible passengers on day 2.   Many people made themselves so sick they had about 1 drink per day for the rest of the trip.   Seriously they told me that.  

 

So go back:    $826 for 2 people to drink for 7 days. (But you are really paying closer to $1200 because the price of the cabin went up)   On day 1 you run up a $100 bill.  Then maybe for the next 6 days you drink 1-2 drinks each day for 2 people let's even say they drink $22 worth of booze (2 martini type cocktails.   We'll round it up to $150-$300.   The cruise ends.  They paid $1200 to get a "free" UBP of which they consumed $250-$500 worth of alcohol.  How is that a value proposition?  

 

Call me cheap if you like but for me the better value was when the cabin prices were less & I paid per drink.  

Edited by trish1c

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, trish1c said:

I got lost somewhere in here.  

 

The package if you "buy" it was about $49 per day per person.  So assuming $100 per day if there are two people in a cabin, that's a $700 per cruise value for a week long voyage.  Now add 18% gratuity & you are adding another $126.  

 

A voyage that used to cost $799 per person when all drinks were a la cart is now selling for $1299 per person because you get the "free at sea" program.  That is a $500 pp difference or $1000 more for the same cruise so I can get $700 worth of "free alcohol."  Now if I select the UBP I still have to pay the tip so add another $126 & I'm now paying more than $1126 to get something that I could have purchased for $826.  Plus being me, I'm still going to tip the bartenders in actual cash to assure good service  Sorry but I don't think that is even close to being "free" at sea or anywhere else. 

 

When I said there weren't many $15 drink options, I meant there weren't many drinks that expensive.  If a beer is $5 & the cost of the promotion is $50 per day, you have to drink 10 beers to break even.   Granted many martini drinks are around $11 but who wants 5 of those per day, especially given the larger size of the cruise glasses.  You are talking 5 is really 7.5 - 8 & given the generous pours, 12-15 shots.  Not that many people can drink that much & still function. Can you say alcohol poisoning?  

 

Sure I saw a lot of people over indulging on embarkation day . . . woo hoo "free booze!"  I also saw a decided drop in visible passengers on day 2.   Many people made themselves so sick they had about 1 drink per day for the rest of the trip.   Seriously they told me that.  

 

So go back:    $826 for 2 people to drink for 7 days. (But you are really paying closer to $1200 because the price of the cabin went up)   On day 1 you run up a $100 bill.  Then maybe for the next 6 days you drink 1-2 drinks each day for 2 people let's even say they drink $22 worth of booze (2 martini type cocktails.   We'll round it up to $150-$300.   The cruise ends.  They paid $1200 to get a "free" UBP of which they consumed $250-$500 worth of alcohol.  How is that a value proposition?  

 

Call me cheap if you like but for me the better value was when the cabin prices were less & I paid per drink.  

Hmm. Me and my girlfriend have 3 or 4 mimosas just to get outta bed in the morning. How much are they a la cart?

 

My experience has been this is how much cruise cost. This much ok. So when I get on board if I have a semi bad hangover I can drink that 5th mimosa and not worry about how much its costing me. If I dont get the drinks package I feel that im held back and nickel and diming myself.

 

After all there are almost always sail away rates if your that concerned with the normal cost.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, trish1c said:

I got lost somewhere in here.  

 

The package if you "buy" it was about $49 per day per person.  So assuming $100 per day if there are two people in a cabin, that's a $700 per cruise value for a week long voyage.  Now add 18% gratuity & you are adding another $126.  

 

A voyage that used to cost $799 per person when all drinks were a la cart is now selling for $1299 per person because you get the "free at sea" program.  That is a $500 pp difference or $1000 more for the same cruise so I can get $700 worth of "free alcohol."  Now if I select the UBP I still have to pay the tip so add another $126 & I'm now paying more than $1126 to get something that I could have purchased for $826.  Plus being me, I'm still going to tip the bartenders in actual cash to assure good service  Sorry but I don't think that is even close to being "free" at sea or anywhere else. 

 

When I said there weren't many $15 drink options, I meant there weren't many drinks that expensive.  If a beer is $5 & the cost of the promotion is $50 per day, you have to drink 10 beers to break even.   Granted many martini drinks are around $11 but who wants 5 of those per day, especially given the larger size of the cruise glasses.  You are talking 5 is really 7.5 - 8 & given the generous pours, 12-15 shots.  Not that many people can drink that much & still function. Can you say alcohol poisoning?  

 

Sure I saw a lot of people over indulging on embarkation day . . . woo hoo "free booze!"  I also saw a decided drop in visible passengers on day 2.   Many people made themselves so sick they had about 1 drink per day for the rest of the trip.   Seriously they told me that.  

 

So go back:    $826 for 2 people to drink for 7 days. (But you are really paying closer to $1200 because the price of the cabin went up)   On day 1 you run up a $100 bill.  Then maybe for the next 6 days you drink 1-2 drinks each day for 2 people let's even say they drink $22 worth of booze (2 martini type cocktails.   We'll round it up to $150-$300.   The cruise ends.  They paid $1200 to get a "free" UBP of which they consumed $250-$500 worth of alcohol.  How is that a value proposition?  

 

Call me cheap if you like but for me the better value was when the cabin prices were less & I paid per drink.  

The days when the package cost $49 per day per person are long gone. It is now $99 per person per day plus the 20% gratuity.

 

So, if someone drinks enough for that to be worth it then they are getting over $1,600 value.

 

Of course, the current retail cost of the package means that it isn’t worth it for most people, so that whole comparison goes out of the window. The value of the promo beverage package to someone is whatever they would pay a la carte for the drinks they consume (plus something for the convenience of not having to worry about the final bill).

 

As for the difference in the cost of the cabin, that depends on a number of factors. For example, some cabin categories don’t offer sail away prices, some people place a value on being able to select their location and some specific cabins are worth more to some people. In those cases there is no extra cost for the cabin when taking the promo.

 

As I always say when this is being discussed, there is no fixed answer to this. It depends on individual circumstances, and we are all different.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/19/2019 at 6:44 AM, newmexicoNita said:

For us the drink perk is well worth it and very convenient. We just got off a 10 day so Car cruise and the gratuities were about $18 a day. That is equal to about 2 drinks a day, plus if you are drinking without the package you will probably still be tipping. Where people get the idea it isn't worth it is beyond me. BTW, the day after we started sailing they changed the prices of the drinks. Grey Goose is now under the $15 price limit and so is another scotch. I can't remember which cause i am not a scotch drinker but hubby  is and it made him very happy 

I think many people consider the cost of the drink package to include the gratuities, as you said. However, in order to be eligible for the package, you must purchase a non sail away rate, which has a cost when compared to sail away. So, for example, let's assume sail away rate is $549. Free at sea rate is $799 per person, 7 day sailing. The cost, in this example, is $250 extra per person to get a cabin assignment plus $140 gratuity per person, so $390 per person. Or roughly $55 per person, per day. 

 

Everyone has to make their own decision about what is isn't valued. But just realize that a position can be taken that the drink package is more than $18 per person per day.

 

I hope we can agree the package is not free. It is certainly not unlimited, no water, no coffees, upcharges everywhere, although there is no limit on amount of included beverages.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's my take....Granted I'm not "an experienced" cruiser, I was on one cruise last year on Royal, and am going on Breakaway in August.  This is the breakdown of these two cruises:

 

Royal Adventure of the Seas 7 day from Bayonne, NJ 

2 inside Promenade View Cabins (2 adults, 2 kids)

NO free travel to get to NJ (granted, I live 20 minutes from the Pier)

NO offer of upgraded dining

NO offer of UDP (Paid $46pp per day plus 18%) - $646.36 give or take

NO offer of $50 per port for shore excursions (not that we booked with RCL, or will book with NCL, maybe use at Harvest Caye)

NO offer of 250 minutes of Wifi (Bought unlimited wifi package for work purposes) $12/day - $144

Cruise Fare for both cabins - $4100

Drink Package - $646.36

Internet Package $144

Parking at Bayonne Cruise Terminal $140

Total Spent - $5030 give or take

 

NOW.....Breakaway

2 Oceanview Cabins (again, 2 kids, 2 adults)

FREE Air from Newark to Miami

FREE UBP (yes, paying gratuities) (for one cabin)

$50 Per Port Excursion Spending (for one cabin)

FREE Dining Package (yes, paying gratuities)

ONE MORE PORT - due to the fact that we're going out of Miami as opposed to NJ, MUCH BETTER itinerary!

Total Spent $6100

 

After breaking it down, on Royal, I had to drink around 4 drinks per day to make it worth my while, which as stated on an earlier post, had no problem doing that as wife and I tend to drink when away...

 

Given the fact that I am flying a family of 4 down to Miami (will get rides to and from EWR, only 15 minutes away), I think that NCL may be the better deal with the FREE AT SEA promotion.  I'm getting an additional port, an oceanview room, upgraded dining options and from what I see, much better entertainment.  


So....to sum it up, I like the free at sea program, because I think it is a better value. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, blcruising said:

I think many people consider the cost of the drink package to include the gratuities, as you said. However, in order to be eligible for the package, you must purchase a non sail away rate, which has a cost when compared to sail away. So, for example, let's assume sail away rate is $549. Free at sea rate is $799 per person, 7 day sailing. The cost, in this example, is $250 extra per person to get a cabin assignment plus $140 gratuity per person, so $390 per person. Or roughly $55 per person, per day. 

 

Everyone has to make their own decision about what is isn't valued. But just realize that a position can be taken that the drink package is more than $18 per person per day.

 

I hope we can agree the package is not free. It is certainly not unlimited, no water, no coffees, upcharges everywhere, although there is no limit on amount of included beverages.

I don't think anyone has ever claimed the package is free. Of course you are paying one way or the other, but what you and others forget is: along with the drink package you are getting other perks; maybe extra specialty dining; shore excursion excursions, inter net time. Whatever, it isn't all about booze. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, newmexicoNita said:

I don't think anyone has ever claimed the package is free. Of course you are paying one way or the other, but what you and others forget is: along with the drink package you are getting other perks; maybe extra specialty dining; shore excursion excursions, inter net time. Whatever, it isn't all about booze. 

Interior rooms pick one perk. I don't know anyone who would pay $250 per person to get three specialty dinners, or 3 $50 credit on Shore tours that are priced $30-40 more than the competition, or unlimited slow internet. So, when you scrape away the other perks, I think, it is most definitely about booze, evidenced by the topic of this thread and the countless pages of comments.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Before NCL started the awful price bundling, we would buy a wine package for our cruise.  For a two week cruise, we spent about $500 total on alcohol.  Once we became Platinum we got the free bottle of wine with a meal at Le Bistro, that reduced our alcohol spending.

 

When NCL first added the beverage package with the price (about 3 years ago) they didn't charge gratitudes on the beverage packages.  However, we discovered that our favorite wine, Cabernet choice on that package was not so great.

 

NCL places an outrageous value on the beverage package so your gratuities are almost as much as what we spent for a wine package.  So on our last NCL cruise we declined the beverage package and I brought my own wine, paid the $15 per bottle corkage fees.  The cruise we had was 7 days and we spent less on alcohol that what we would have paid JUST for the gratuities.

 

Also, cruise prices have inflated far faster than if NCL just let us buy a cruise without promos.  Now Royal C. seems to beat NCL when we compare prices.  Royal don't bundle.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, blcruising said:

Interior rooms pick one perk. I don't know anyone who would pay $250 per person to get three specialty dinners, or 3 $50 credit on Shore tours that are priced $30-40 more than the competition, or unlimited slow internet. So, when you scrape away the other perks, I think, it is most definitely about booze, evidenced by the topic of this thread and the countless pages of comments.

There are exceptions to every rule as most of us accept. You are talking an inside cat. the overall debate is based on the over all package. For anyone who wants to forgo the perk benefits fine. That is their choice. My point is, as a general rule there is a lot more to the perk plan than just the booze package. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, 4774Papa said:

Before NCL started the awful price bundling, we would buy a wine package for our cruise.  For a two week cruise, we spent about $500 total on alcohol.  Once we became Platinum we got the free bottle of wine with a meal at Le Bistro, that reduced our alcohol spending.

 

When NCL first added the beverage package with the price (about 3 years ago) they didn't charge gratitudes on the beverage packages.  However, we discovered that our favorite wine, Cabernet choice on that package was not so great.

 

NCL places an outrageous value on the beverage package so your gratuities are almost as much as what we spent for a wine package.  So on our last NCL cruise we declined the beverage package and I brought my own wine, paid the $15 per bottle corkage fees.  The cruise we had was 7 days and we spent less on alcohol that what we would have paid JUST for the gratuities.

 

Also, cruise prices have inflated far faster than if NCL just let us buy a cruise without promos.  Now Royal C. seems to beat NCL when we compare prices.  Royal don't bundle.

 

This is where everyone has to judge for themselves about what works best and where their value is. I am glad we have so many choices on cruises and cruise brands. Each has its own value. Oh btw I agree about the days they had no booze package but the wine package. We also always purchased it on board, then we got our free bottle and our TA always sent us one We drank very little other booze so our bar bill was lighter. They still offer the wine package. In fact the first day on the ship they push it pretty hard or did on the Dawn. I still enjoy the UBP because I don't have to think about what that extra martini is costing me or should I have a drink in the show tonight or in the casino? But that is me. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, newmexicoNita said:

There are exceptions to every rule as most of us accept. You are talking an inside cat. the overall debate is based on the over all package. For anyone who wants to forgo the perk benefits fine. That is their choice. My point is, as a general rule there is a lot more to the perk plan than just the booze package. 

Unless I misread,  your post from earlier today focused only on the beverage package and how it cost $18 and how it was beyond you how people could think it is not a good deal. I didn't see any mention of other perks and the value they may bring

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • 2019 Cruisers' Choice Awards
      • NCL Sail-Away Giveaway Sweepstakes - Win a 7-Day Cruise on Norwegian Joy!
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Community Contests
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×