Jump to content

NCL - Are the FREE Offers Really Free


Recommended Posts

On sea days you can have a few drinks, take a nap, have a few more, eat dinner, take a nap...

This is the first time I  have  paid for any fee for a drink package . Last time I cruised on NCL was Dec 5 2015  7 nights  from Houston, W. Caribbean and there was no cost not even the gratuity..maybe it was hidden in the $499 cruise fare(incl tax).... also no single supplement and booked within 10 days of sailing.   This time paying  gratuities on drink package, but still a very good deal for someone who drinks 2 glasses of wine at dinner and specialty coffees :).  There was also a price drop 24 hours after I booked and paid... I called NCL  and they gave me an on board credit of $40, to equal the price drop that i mentioned ( from 239 to 199 )    

 

50+ cruises many different lines. First Cruise 1994 7 night Eastern Caribbean , Carnival Destiny Miami return...Last Cruise 2/19-3/19... Costa Luminosa Santiago to Singapore :)  How times change ......

Edited by MortgageChick
Link to post
Share on other sites

There thought of it that way -- the drink tax used to be a lot loss but now, looking back at the cruises I booked, it is averagin around $200 per person.

 

Hmmm....thinking, especially because I'm the only drinker and my wife really does not....so at most, a soda here or there.

Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, zackarykeef said:

It's definitely not really "free." Is the drink package a good deal if you're going to drink instead of paying per drink? For sure. And we all know we have to pay gratuities on that. Where it's not "free" is that they advertise it that way next to a price, which is a seemingly good deal. Then you go to book it...that price is the "sail away" rate, which doesn't include the perks, and the next cheapest rate including the perks is $250+ more expensive.

 

I was thinking about doing a last-minute, quick 5-day since I live downtown next to PortMiami, I randomly had a few days off, and inside cabins (which I normally wouldn't stay in) were only $199/pp! After the mock booking and choosing the perks, the total for 2 people was $1300 😂 I was shocked. Anyone else have a similar experience?

 

I love NCL and will continue to cruise with them. I just know this is how it works, and everyone needs to tell themselves that as well. I do think that price increase is a LITTLE ridiculous...it has always been like this i.e. never really free, but I've never noticed it this bad. That tacked on $900 total when all was said and done, which is crazy IMO. Anyway...looking forward to sailing the Encore in April (so long as I get in the Vibe, since there appears to be a severe lack of outdoor space 😭)

 

Happy cruising, y'all!

Was $1300 for an inside cabin for 2 with it’s single perk (Beverage)?  Or did you upgrade the cabin and take more perks?  Those cabin upgrades and perks really can really run the fare way up.

 

On the other hand there are some great deals if you don’t need all that.  DH has a solo inside with beverage package on 5 night for $407 incl taxes and bev gratuities and we were then able to apply a full CruiseNext certificate (so effective  cost $282).  The 5 nighter thereafter he is foregoing the beverage package and has an effective cost after CruiseNext of $132 for solo inside.  I am booked solo in sailaway balcony cabins, so despite his inside booking, he will have use of a balcony.  And with low or no single supplements plus current CruiseNext deal, booking separately made sense.  

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

So here's a real life, real-time example of the real cost of the Free at Sea beverage package. Obviously one would need to calculate this on a particular sailing of interest but this is illustrative of a cruise I have coming up on the Escape on Dec 7, 7 nights out of Miami.

 

(NOTE: I'm in Canada so all prices in CAD)

 

The all-in Sail-Away Inside (IX) rate is CAD $1525 per couple and includes NO Free at Sea perq choices.

 

The all-in rate for the least expensive Inside cabin (IF) that does include one Free at Sea perq choice is CAD $2163 per couple (this price has the auto-grats for the beverage package included).

 

As such the true cost of the "free" beverage package is CAD $638 per couple on this sailing (~$485 USD at today's exchange). That's ~32 beverages at a cost of $15 USD each to break even over the course of the cruise or 2.3 drinks per person per day @ USD $15 / drink.

 

Edited by cdnsteelman
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, cdnsteelman said:

So here's a real life, real-time example of the real cost of the Free at Sea beverage package. Obviously one would need to calculate this on a particular sailing of interest but this is illustrative of a cruise I have coming up on the Escape on Dec 7, 7 nights out of Miami.

 

(NOTE: I'm in Canada so all prices in CAD)

 

The all-in Sail-Away Inside (IX) rate is CAD $1525 per couple and includes NO Free at Sea perq choices.

 

The all-in rate for the least expensive Inside cabin (IF) that does include one Free at Sea perq choice is CAD $2163 per couple (this price has the auto-grats for the beverage package included).

 

As such the true cost of the "free" beverage package is CAD $638 per couple on this sailing (~$485 USD at today's exchange). That's ~32 beverages at a cost of $15 USD each to break even over the course of the cruise or 2.3 drinks per person per day @ USD $15 / drink.

 

And you've done exactly like most should do the MATH! Only the individual/couple can determine it's "worth".

 

It was mentioned once but gets lost is you can try different drinks and get out of your comfort zone. Don't like it get something else without the quilt of drinking it because you paid for it.

 

Pax know their cost going in, no bill at the end, which can add up quicker than most think.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, cdnsteelman said:

So here's a real life, real-time example of the real cost of the Free at Sea beverage package. Obviously one would need to calculate this on a particular sailing of interest but this is illustrative of a cruise I have coming up on the Escape on Dec 7, 7 nights out of Miami.

 

(NOTE: I'm in Canada so all prices in CAD)

 

The all-in Sail-Away Inside (IX) rate is CAD $1525 per couple and includes NO Free at Sea perq choices.

 

The all-in rate for the least expensive Inside cabin (IF) that does include one Free at Sea perq choice is CAD $2163 per couple (this price has the auto-grats for the beverage package included).

 

As such the true cost of the "free" beverage package is CAD $638 per couple on this sailing (~$485 USD at today's exchange). That's ~32 beverages at a cost of $15 USD each to break even over the course of the cruise or 2.3 drinks per person per day @ USD $15 / drink.

 

Oh, totally forgot that the drinks are in USD, so my $200 pp taxes is really like $150 USD which then turns out to be 20 drinks over 7 days for 2 people -- easy, even if one of us is not a drinker.

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, cdnsteelman said:

So here's a real life, real-time example of the real cost of the Free at Sea beverage package. Obviously one would need to calculate this on a particular sailing of interest but this is illustrative of a cruise I have coming up on the Escape on Dec 7, 7 nights out of Miami.

 

(NOTE: I'm in Canada so all prices in CAD)

 

The all-in Sail-Away Inside (IX) rate is CAD $1525 per couple and includes NO Free at Sea perq choices.

 

The all-in rate for the least expensive Inside cabin (IF) that does include one Free at Sea perq choice is CAD $2163 per couple (this price has the auto-grats for the beverage package included).

 

As such the true cost of the "free" beverage package is CAD $638 per couple on this sailing (~$485 USD at today's exchange). That's ~32 beverages at a cost of $15 USD each to break even over the course of the cruise or 2.3 drinks per person per day @ USD $15 / drink.

 

This is a good example of the costings, but I would add one other factor.

 

There is another difference between an IX and an IF, which may have a value to some people, the ability to chose your room. This is quite important to some people. To those who don't care about the location, the whole price difference is an extra cost due to the beverage package, whereas for others a few hundred dollars could be due to room preference.

 

As an example, there are some specific rooms which I like to book on various ships, be they aft rooms, large balconies or specific rooms that I know to be bigger. On many occasions the extra value to me for those rooms is more than the extra cost over a guarantee, so it is arguably cheaper to get the perks than not once you take this into account.

 

In the UK, you still get the perks with sailaway cabins, so the only difference between them and other categories is the ability to chose your room. From a very quick look at some pricing, it seems that a couple are charged about £100-200 less for a sailaway inside over other categories, which gives an indication of how much people are prepared to pay for this.

 

It's another example of how individual preference can make a huge difference. There is certainly no correct answer for everyone.

Link to post
Share on other sites
37 minutes ago, xcell said:

Oh, totally forgot that the drinks are in USD, so my $200 pp taxes is really like $150 USD which then turns out to be 20 drinks over 7 days for 2 people -- easy, even if one of us is not a drinker.

 

37 minutes ago, xcell said:

 

37 minutes ago, xcell said:

I agree, one has to do the math each time.  With only one drinker, we do not find it worth the cost of double gratuities for him to have the drink package.  He just does not drink that much.  We do brink his favorite wine and pay corkage.  He is getting the package when solo in a cabin.  Everybody is different.  

 

Back to your math.  You seem already converted the difference from CAD to USD on your original calculation with gratuities included, so it is not clear to me why you’d do a second conversion.  Also, the divisor might be different for different drinkers; it helps if you have an idea what one’s typical drink costs.

Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, KeithJenner said:

This is a good example of the costings, but I would add one other factor.

 

There is another difference between an IX and an IF, which may have a value to some people, the ability to chose your room. This is quite important to some people. To those who don't care about the location, the whole price difference is an extra cost due to the beverage package, whereas for others a few hundred dollars could be due to room preference.

 

As an example, there are some specific rooms which I like to book on various ships, be they aft rooms, large balconies or specific rooms that I know to be bigger. On many occasions the extra value to me for those rooms is more than the extra cost over a guarantee, so it is arguably cheaper to get the perks than not once you take this into account.

 

In the UK, you still get the perks with sailaway cabins, so the only difference between them and other categories is the ability to chose your room. From a very quick look at some pricing, it seems that a couple are charged about £100-200 less for a sailaway inside over other categories, which gives an indication of how much people are prepared to pay for this.

 

It's another example of how individual preference can make a huge difference. There is certainly no correct answer for everyone.

Sometimes categories like IF go into guarantee status as well, so one may not get to choose the cabin, just get a perk.  When one does get to choose the cabin, that is a benefit if one can lock in a good location, but sometimes only cabins left in the lowest category are bad or really bad.  In that case, I’d rather take a shot with a gty than lock in a bad cabin.

Link to post
Share on other sites
48 minutes ago, Starry Eyes said:

Sometimes categories like IF go into guarantee status as well, so one may not get to choose the cabin, just get a perk.  When one does get to choose the cabin, that is a benefit if one can lock in a good location, but sometimes only cabins left in the lowest category are bad or really bad.  In that case, I’d rather take a shot with a gty than lock in a bad cabin.

Yes absolutely.

 

It's another example of different circumstances affecting the decision. We tend to book quite early at the moment so we get a good choice of cabins. If I was booking last minute then I would be much more likely to book a guarantee (if available, they sometimes aren't in the UK).

Link to post
Share on other sites

I just look at the price of the "free" perks as added to the cost of the cruise fare, which I am paying up front. You may very well get a lower fare (our 7-day cruise was $200 pp less without the perks) if you do not want or need the perks, and you save the extra perk expenses as well.

 

But if you like the open bar and specialty dining, then it's quite possibly a good deal, only you can make that call. It's a lot more expensive to get "free" stuff, that is for sure, but we thought it was a decent value.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, KeithJenner said:

There is another difference between an IX and an IF, which may have a value to some people, the ability to chose your room. This is quite important to some people. To those who don't care about the location, the whole price difference is an extra cost due to the beverage package, whereas for others a few hundred dollars could be due to room preference.

Absolutely there are lots of puts and takes. The delta between the sail away and the non X fares can range significantly and I would personally never let NCL select my cabin so it's a sunk cost for me anyway. I was simply just magnifying the $$ factor in my example and this is something newer cruisers may miss.

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, cdnsteelman said:

So here's a real life, real-time example of the real cost of the Free at Sea beverage package. Obviously one would need to calculate this on a particular sailing of interest but this is illustrative of a cruise I have coming up on the Escape on Dec 7, 7 nights out of Miami.

 

(NOTE: I'm in Canada so all prices in CAD)

 

The all-in Sail-Away Inside (IX) rate is CAD $1525 per couple and includes NO Free at Sea perq choices.

 

The all-in rate for the least expensive Inside cabin (IF) that does include one Free at Sea perq choice is CAD $2163 per couple (this price has the auto-grats for the beverage package included).

 

As such the true cost of the "free" beverage package is CAD $638 per couple on this sailing (~$485 USD at today's exchange). That's ~32 beverages at a cost of $15 USD each to break even over the course of the cruise or 2.3 drinks per person per day @ USD $15 / drink.

 

I love math. 🙂   Isn't there another cost to factor in?  The prepaid service charge on the drink package of hundreds of USD. Making the cost of drinks even higher.  Although if you normally tip that amount it would be a wash.

Edited by davencl
Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, davencl said:

I love math. 🙂   Isn't there another cost to factor in?  The prepaid service charge on the drink package of hundreds of USD. Making the cost of drinks even higher.

No - it's factored in to my math per my notes above.

Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, cdnsteelman said:

Absolutely there are lots of puts and takes. The delta between the sail away and the non X fares can range significantly and I would personally never let NCL select my cabin so it's a sunk cost for me anyway. I was simply just magnifying the $$ factor in my example and this is something newer cruisers may miss.

 

It's a great example. We just took a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Breakaway and choose the sailaway balcony rate, at $499 pp (regular rates were about twice that, so quite a bit more). I did this only after checking what the worst balcony cabins were on the Breakaway - the partially obstructed balconies at the bow that are above the theater. We lucked out and instead got a forward balcony that was one cabin away from the mid-ship category. We were very pleased.

We don't usually get the drink package anyway because we rarely drink on the ship. But we did order two drinks one evening with our "bonus OBC" we got for missing a port. My Jamison's and my wife's Bay Breeze came to something like $38 with the mandatory gratuity. So if you drink more than one drink per day I think the plan is probably worth it.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/29/2019 at 10:12 PM, CarolRoy said:

Are the free offers really free.  If you take the Unlimited Bar Free Offer, do have to take if for the whole cruise. Is this considered the drink package.  I know they charge a 20% grat on it.  But can you just order a drink here and there and be charged the grat on individual drinks?

 

Also with the Free Speciality Dining Offer.  How many dinners would you get.  And again I know there is a 20% grat added.

 

We have only sailed twice on NCL (we have done over 45 cruises).  We are looking at an 11-night Epic cruise.

 

Thanks for any help.    

Answer in order....

 

-YES...the drink package perk is free while you pay the gratuities on it as you mentioned

-Dining package is 3 dinners at a specialty restaurant are free if that’s one of your perks.  Again, you only pay for your gratuities.

 

The gratuities are charged on the total amount on the cost of the package.  You CAN NOT do a partial perk (where you only take the package for a certain number of days on your cruise).

 

Epic is one of my favorite cruise ships.  You’ll love it!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would not do the math at $15 per drink, unless you are always ordering stuff that costs more than $15. The fact is, many of the cocktails you will get are $11 or $12, and if you like beer occasionally, as I do, it's a lot less per drink. A glass of cheap wine may be valued at $9 or so.

 

I would probably rate the per-drink value at $11 average and not $15.

 

Still with a break even of just three drinks per day, it's not even worth doing the math 😉

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, salty dingo said:

I would not do the math at $15 per drink, unless you are always ordering stuff that costs more than $15. The fact is, many of the cocktails you will get are $11 or $12, and if you like beer occasionally, as I do, it's a lot less per drink. A glass of cheap wine may be valued at $9 or so.

 

I would probably rate the per-drink value at $11 average and not $15.

 

Still with a break even of just three drinks per day, it's not even worth doing the math 😉

 

Exactly! I'm a beer drinker most of the time, with some bloody mary's in the am and some gin & tonics in the evening mixed in.

Even with my wife, who's a light drinker, it's totally worth it. My wife likes to try different drinks and she usually doesn't like them (lmao) so the package saves me in the end. And she'll drink sodas all day too.

I like not having to think about it. Simple is as simple does.

In addition, with the way the price has gone up for specialty dining, I would almost never go. But with the perk, it makes it a good value and I look forward to trying a few on my upcoming Encore sailing.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I do not believe the perks are free at all.  Plus the gratuities are added upfront.  My perspective is that I see total cost of the sailing right away.  I like that, gives me a better idea of what I am paying for as a total for the sailing.  Minus shore excursions and other additions that we might want to indulge in.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Definitely seems like a great deal to me. I got a balcony on 7 day Alaska cruise on the Joy, and paid $1399 pp including the "free" offers. Yes, the gratuity was pricey, but still a lot cheaper than paying separately for the drink package. $1400 for a balcony on an Alaskan cruise is, IMO, dirt cheap, especially compared to what other lines are charging WITHOUT drinks or dinners. I feel like I saved a ton of money going with NCL (my first NCL cruise). 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/4/2019 at 7:00 AM, salty dingo said:

I would not do the math at $15 per drink, unless you are always ordering stuff that costs more than $15. The fact is, many of the cocktails you will get are $11 or $12, and if you like beer occasionally, as I do, it's a lot less per drink. A glass of cheap wine may be valued at $9 or so.

 

I would probably rate the per-drink value at $11 average and not $15.

 

Still with a break even of just three drinks per day, it's not even worth doing the math 😉

 

 

We never take the drink package, and I used to tell people the 3 drink per day thing. But we did order two drinks on board our last cruise and the bill was $38 with the mandatory 20% gratuity. I had a Jamison's and my wife had a Bay Breeze. That's almost a break even on the ~$20 a day gratuity for the package. I understand why people who drink like the ~$20 per day drink package!

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/4/2019 at 6:37 AM, davencl said:

I love math. 🙂   Isn't there another cost to factor in?  The prepaid service charge on the drink package of hundreds of USD. Making the cost of drinks even higher.  Although if you normally tip that amount it would be a wash.

 

NCL adds a mandatory 20% service charge on all drinks, so it isn't just the $9 or $10 for a "bottom shelf" mixed drink. It's more like $10.80 or $12 per drink. So at 2 drinks you are at a breakeven with the ~$20 per day drink package.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Forgetting for a moment the tired and ongoing debate of the worth for the perks, if you so choose, you can go bare bones and get great deals.  If you don’t mind NCL picking your cabin, don’t drink anything but coffee, juices and water, eat only on the Garden Cafe or the MDRs, just attend the free entertainment, you can score great deals.

 

I’ve seen those deals as low as $200-$300/pp for a 7-day cruise. Just pay the DSC and you’d be hard pressed to find ANY vacation deal that’s better.

 

That said, most of us want a few drinks on board....we want the kind and location of the cabin we prefer.  We want a specialty meal or two.  Still, the perks aren’t a bad deal...especially when compared to the rates of other cruise lines to get a cabin we want, in a place we want, throwing in some drinks and specialty dinners.

 

I find NCL offers really good value, regardless of the perks (or lack of, depending on what I want) when I look to book.  Probably explains while I sail them more than than any other line.

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
      • Forum Assistance
      • SPECIAL EVENT: Q&A with Barbara Muckermann, CMO Silversea Cruises
      • ICYM Our Cruise Critic Live Special Event: Explore the Remote World with Hurtigruten!
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...