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Why NCL Premium PLUS Adult Drink Package?


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I LOVE cruising and have for over 40-years.  In late May 2021, my family of five (5) and I will be going on our “Bucket List” cruise to Alaska, on the New NCL Encore.  This will be my wife and my 41st wedding anniversary.  Our 40th anniversary cruise, was cancelled, like many of you.  After 23 cruises in 40 years (the first was our honeymoon on the Norwegian SS Norway), I wanted to give some opinions on a couple of items that folks ask about all the time.  I wrote a cruisecritic.com  op-ed months ago, about the NCL Haven Experience.   It had GREAT readership and feedback.  So I thought I would write about another topic. Upgrading from the NCL perk for the “Premium Adult Beverage Package” to the “Premium PLUS Adult Beverage Package”.

 

If I have learned anything over the last decades of cruising; there is “No Free Lunch”.  Another words, there is a COST for everything. Many cruisers feel that purchasing a drink package at the retail price from most main stream cruise lines is ridiculously high.  I agree, yet most cruise lines provide an normal adult drink package as a perk (Premium Adult Beverage Package on NCL). From a full disclosure standpoint, this perk with NCL is NOT FREE.  You have to pay the tips on the package which is a confusion point when this perk is offered.  Still a bargain, if the perk is given. What my wife and I ALWAYS do is upgrade to the “Premium PLUS Adult Drink Package”.  The question is WHY?

 

Please understand your situation may differ, so this is just our preferred preferences. My wife LOVES, did I say loves, to drink wine.  At home, we sit on our roof deck almost every night and she takes a bottle up there so she does not have to go down three flights of steps in our town home, to get another glass.  On a cruise ship, my bride loves to sit on our balcony, and sip her wine.  However, when you get all the wine glasses you want with the Premium Adult Beverage Package, you still have to go to the bar to get another one.  If you want a bottle, you can ONLY get it from room service and there is a cost.  When you are dining, you have to keep on asking your waiter for another glass.  If that is all you know, you are fine with it.  However, when I go on vacation, I want to be pampered and so does my wife. I also do not want to have one item on my ship portfolio when the cruise is over.  Been there and done that way to many times.

 

When you upgrade to the “Premium PLUS Adult Beverage Package”, you can order a FULL bottle of selected wines with any of your meals.  You can take the unopened bottle back to your suite or have it delivered.  This allows there to be a bottle of wine (or two) in your room for the night time balcony ritual. Seems like a little thing, but it really made a HUGE difference for my wife’s experience on our last few cruises. 

 

I love premium bottled water.  Especially the nicer brands.  With the Premium PLUS Adult Beverage Package, bottled water is provided while dinning or in any bar.  I always bring these back to the room, just like the wine.  We love lots of water in the suite, especially at night.  Add to this, specialty coffee.  Normal coffee is always complementary for everyone on the ship.  Specialty coffee is NOT.  Every night, after dinner, I order a specialty coffee.  On some ships, there is a Starbucks also which may or may not be included in the Premium PLUS Adult Beverage Package.  Am I spoiled, YES I AM. 

 

Finally, drink cost limits.  We a very few exceptions, most every brand is available to you at NO addition add-on cost when you have the Premium Plus Adult Beverage Package.  If you just had the Premium Adult Beverage Package, you are limited to $15.00 per drink total.  Seems like a lot per drink? It is.  However, what I personally like to do is try the better premium brands.  I want to know what I am missing.  I assure all of you, I look for every opportunity to get the high-end stuff during my cruise, with this package. If I were to put this expense in to a phrase, it would be; “I want to feel like a rock star for one week a year!”  Is it worth the extra money, probably NOT.  Do I do it every time, YES I DO!

 

Feel free to comment and ask any question on this topic. I hope my experiences help some of you make a choice.  Cruise well, be safe and stay healthy.

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  • 4 months later...

Thanks for this!

I have a point of confusion with the Premium Plus package and bottles of wine.  In some places on the website, it says 'with meals'.  In other places, it says 'with dinner'.

Are you able to confirm which it is?  If I want a bottle of Chablis with lunch, (or a bottle of bubbly with breakfast, for that real 'rock star' feel) will that be included?  Or am I limited to the bottle of Barolo at dinner?

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  • 2 months later...
On 1/3/2021 at 4:06 PM, Named-Tawny said:

Thanks for this!

I have a point of confusion with the Premium Plus package and bottles of wine.  In some places on the website, it says 'with meals'.  In other places, it says 'with dinner'.

Are you able to confirm which it is?  If I want a bottle of Chablis with lunch, (or a bottle of bubbly with breakfast, for that real 'rock star' feel) will that be included?  Or am I limited to the bottle of Barolo at dinner?

Sorry for the late reply.  For some reason I did not get a notification you commented. Here is my experience.  Any meal, if my wife ordered a bottle of selected wine, it came back to the room with her.  What you will notice is that regardless of the restaurant (Haven or Specialty) this holds true.  I am quite sure, even at breakfast, you can do this.

On a side note.  My wife loves wine.  Some days, she would drink a bottle at dinner.  Then order aother bottle.  Have one glass just so she could take the rest of the bottle back to the suite.  Sounds petty however, having a bottle of wine chilling for time on the balcony at night is a huge thing for her enjoyment. 

I hope I helped. 

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We upgraded to the premium plus on one cruise and it was great.  My wife also likes to drink nice wine and champagne.  I drank Johnny Blue and another blend of 21 year old Scotch all week.  The water and premium coffee were just icing on the cake for us.  We paid for it with onboard credit so we are debating in the future if it is worth it for us to upgrade.  The Champagne was $35 per glass and I heard the scotch I was drinking was $50 a shot so it paid for itself very quickly.  My wife had a couple glasses a day and I ordered doubles a couple times per evening plus the water and premium coffees each day.  I think for most people the regular premium package is sufficient but if you like higher end Scotch or wines it is worth it to be happy for the week.  I think for us it will be decided on a each cruise basis.

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Posted (edited)

We were on the Encore December 2019, staying in Haven and DH and I decided to upgrade to Premium Bev package.  It was wonderful!! The wine, the champagne, (both by the glass and the bottle) the scotch, the bottled water, the coffees, the fresh squeezed juices, I could go on and on. Definitely took our already amazing vacation up a notch! Cheers 🥂

Edited by ohiocruisemom
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On 8/20/2020 at 5:21 PM, Sthrngary said:

....You have to pay the tips on the package which is a confusion point when this perk is offered....

 

Not true....in the UK we do not have to pay any tips on the package, although you could argue it is included in the price quoted. That is the case, no matter the country of pricing....nothing in life is free!

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On 3/13/2021 at 4:37 PM, hamrag said:

 

Not true....in the UK we do not have to pay any tips on the package, although you could argue it is included in the price quoted. That is the case, no matter the country of pricing....nothing in life is free!

Allow me to explain.  In the United States, when the Premium Beverage Package is offered as a perk, you can take it or not.  If you take it by checking the box as you reserve your booking, the booking total about goes up.  You have no choice, it is not like room gratuities which you can chose to prepay or not.  That increased about is a 20% charge for this "PERK" which is tips.  This is commonly known by all NCL travelers however very confusing to those the are not aware it of it.  I hope this clarifies the question. 

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On 8/20/2020 at 6:21 PM, Sthrngary said:

I LOVE cruising and have for over 40-years.  In late May 2021, my family of five (5) and I will be going on our “Bucket List” cruise to Alaska, on the New NCL Encore.  This will be my wife and my 41st wedding anniversary.  Our 40th anniversary cruise, was cancelled, like many of you.  After 23 cruises in 40 years (the first was our honeymoon on the Norwegian SS Norway), I wanted to give some opinions on a couple of items that folks ask about all the time.  I wrote a cruisecritic.com  op-ed months ago, about the NCL Haven Experience.   It had GREAT readership and feedback.  So I thought I would write about another topic. Upgrading from the NCL perk for the “Premium Adult Beverage Package” to the “Premium PLUS Adult Beverage Package”.

 

If I have learned anything over the last decades of cruising; there is “No Free Lunch”.  Another words, there is a COST for everything. Many cruisers feel that purchasing a drink package at the retail price from most main stream cruise lines is ridiculously high.  I agree, yet most cruise lines provide an normal adult drink package as a perk (Premium Adult Beverage Package on NCL). From a full disclosure standpoint, this perk with NCL is NOT FREE.  You have to pay the tips on the package which is a confusion point when this perk is offered.  Still a bargain, if the perk is given. What my wife and I ALWAYS do is upgrade to the “Premium PLUS Adult Drink Package”.  The question is WHY?

 

Please understand your situation may differ, so this is just our preferred preferences. My wife LOVES, did I say loves, to drink wine.  At home, we sit on our roof deck almost every night and she takes a bottle up there so she does not have to go down three flights of steps in our town home, to get another glass.  On a cruise ship, my bride loves to sit on our balcony, and sip her wine.  However, when you get all the wine glasses you want with the Premium Adult Beverage Package, you still have to go to the bar to get another one.  If you want a bottle, you can ONLY get it from room service and there is a cost.  When you are dining, you have to keep on asking your waiter for another glass.  If that is all you know, you are fine with it.  However, when I go on vacation, I want to be pampered and so does my wife. I also do not want to have one item on my ship portfolio when the cruise is over.  Been there and done that way to many times.

 

When you upgrade to the “Premium PLUS Adult Beverage Package”, you can order a FULL bottle of selected wines with any of your meals.  You can take the unopened bottle back to your suite or have it delivered.  This allows there to be a bottle of wine (or two) in your room for the night time balcony ritual. Seems like a little thing, but it really made a HUGE difference for my wife’s experience on our last few cruises. 

 

I love premium bottled water.  Especially the nicer brands.  With the Premium PLUS Adult Beverage Package, bottled water is provided while dinning or in any bar.  I always bring these back to the room, just like the wine.  We love lots of water in the suite, especially at night.  Add to this, specialty coffee.  Normal coffee is always complementary for everyone on the ship.  Specialty coffee is NOT.  Every night, after dinner, I order a specialty coffee.  On some ships, there is a Starbucks also which may or may not be included in the Premium PLUS Adult Beverage Package.  Am I spoiled, YES I AM. 

 

Finally, drink cost limits.  We a very few exceptions, most every brand is available to you at NO addition add-on cost when you have the Premium Plus Adult Beverage Package.  If you just had the Premium Adult Beverage Package, you are limited to $15.00 per drink total.  Seems like a lot per drink? It is.  However, what I personally like to do is try the better premium brands.  I want to know what I am missing.  I assure all of you, I look for every opportunity to get the high-end stuff during my cruise, with this package. If I were to put this expense in to a phrase, it would be; “I want to feel like a rock star for one week a year!”  Is it worth the extra money, probably NOT.  Do I do it every time, YES I DO!

 

Feel free to comment and ask any question on this topic. I hope my experiences help some of you make a choice.  Cruise well, be safe and stay healthy.

Sthrngary, thank for this good information.  My wife and I are booked on the Joy next year and I upgraded to the Premium Plus package for pretty much the same reasons you do.  This is our second cruise with NCL and the first time we upgraded the drink package.

 

Could you perhaps clarify a couple of points.  If both my wife and I have Premium Plus, does that mean we can get 2 bottles of wine with dinner?  Is this limited to one meal a day? 

 

Also, I see conflicting information, does the bottle have to opened in order take it back to the room?

 

Thank you again, I appreciate you sharing your knowledge.

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1 hour ago, WarfRatWA said:

Sthrngary, thank for this good information.  My wife and I are booked on the Joy next year and I upgraded to the Premium Plus package for pretty much the same reasons you do.  This is our second cruise with NCL and the first time we upgraded the drink package.

 

Could you perhaps clarify a couple of points.  If both my wife and I have Premium Plus, does that mean we can get 2 bottles of wine with dinner?  Is this limited to one meal a day? 

 

Also, I see conflicting information, does the bottle have to opened in order take it back to the room?

 

Thank you again, I appreciate you sharing your knowledge.

Went to dinner with another couple that did not have upgrade. Had three bottles at dinner.  Glasses were brought out for all four of us. We also were able to order bottles at lunch. We were not able to order Veuve by the bottle nor bring bottles back to our room. I asked. 

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On our last cruise ending March 1st 2021, Panama canal we were able to order a bottle of verve to take away at the end of our meal, that was the haven restaurant. 

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In 2018 I had the regular promo which I was pleased with twice ~ $118 in fees. I averaged around 35-40 drinks per cruise- spaced out every few hours. Had I paid for the upgrade, I would essentially be getting more of the premiums, and therefore less of the regular items I enjoyed so I skipped as there is a limit to how much rational alcohol (or irrational) someone can consume on a cruise.

I would stick with some Woodford, Dark and Stormies and some other things, but never got around to the Wine Cellar which I regret nor Moscato at dinner.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Trimone said:

On our last cruise ending March 1st 2021, Panama canal we were able to order a bottle of verve to take away at the end of our meal, that was the haven restaurant. 

 

Which ship were you cruising on, through said canal, during the past month?

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I too am contemplating upgrading my drinks package for our October cruise in the med,if it goes.Does the upgrade option stay on your NCL account before you sail?Does anyone have an up to date wine list on the regular package please?

If i upgrade I may wait till closer to sail date in case it's cancelled. What are people's thoughts on that.

Thanks

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3 hours ago, tfg said:

If i upgrade I may wait till closer to sail date in case it's cancelled.

I agree with this. I wouldn't upgrade until just prior to the cruise. 

 

Click on the link for the list of beverages. This is from 01/2020.

 

https://www.ncl.com/sites/default/files/premium-plus-beverage-package-2020.pdf

 

Good luck with the cruise, hope it sails. 

Cheers

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18 hours ago, WarfRatWA said:

Sthrngary, thank for this good information.  My wife and I are booked on the Joy next year and I upgraded to the Premium Plus package for pretty much the same reasons you do.  This is our second cruise with NCL and the first time we upgraded the drink package.

 

Could you perhaps clarify a couple of points.  If both my wife and I have Premium Plus, does that mean we can get 2 bottles of wine with dinner?  Is this limited to one meal a day? 

 

Also, I see conflicting information, does the bottle have to opened in order take it back to the room?

 

Thank you again, I appreciate you sharing your knowledge.

WarfRatWA:

 

You both can order a bottle of selected wine.  Example, my wife orders white and I order red wine.  That is no issue at all.  We never attempted to get a bottle at Breakfast however I give it a 99.99% chance they would accommodate you.  Folks have adult beverages at breakfast all the time.  What I can confirm is lunch and dinner are no issue at all.  Bottle water from any bar is also no issue at all anytime. 

 

On the bottle being opened prior to taking them with you, my experience is yes.  They want to make sure the person with the plan is not taking wine to give to someone else.  Kind of petty but I can work with that system.  All my wife wants is a bottle with a couple of glasses of wine for the balcony at night when we come back to the room.  Sometimes we have two open bottles, lunch and dinner.

 

I hoped I help you and enjoy your trip. 

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23 hours ago, Sthrngary said:

You have no choice, it is not like room gratuities which you can chose to prepay or not.  That increased about is a 20% charge for this "PERK" which is tips.  This is commonly known by all NCL travelers however very confusing to those the are not aware it


It's commonly known by NCL cruisers because NCL is the only cruise line that charges gratuities on a "complimentary" beverage package. Celebrity tried to implement the same policy, which only lasted a few weeks. The outcry was overwhelming, and they backed off immediately.

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After talking with the wife, I think we have decided to upgrade ourselves. She loves Starbucks and we would probably have 2-3 drinks from there a day. Then there is the fresh squeezed juice in the morning, another 2 or 3 each. Then the bottled water, another 1 or 2 if not more. And then there is the wine list, which has a wine I REALLY like on it.

 

At $5 per drink (just throwing a number out there), between lets say 2 Starbucks drinks each ($20), 1 juice each ($10), 2 bottles of water each ($20). Right there we are at the extra $30 each per day and that's not including the "Top Shelf" liquor and the Wine. Plus we're on a New's Year Eve cruise so the "nicer" Champagne and Sparkling Wines will be nice

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3 hours ago, Sthrngary said:

WarfRatWA:

 

You both can order a bottle of selected wine.  Example, my wife orders white and I order red wine.  That is no issue at all.  We never attempted to get a bottle at Breakfast however I give it a 99.99% chance they would accommodate you.  Folks have adult beverages at breakfast all the time.  What I can confirm is lunch and dinner are no issue at all.  Bottle water from any bar is also no issue at all anytime. 

 

On the bottle being opened prior to taking them with you, my experience is yes.  They want to make sure the person with the plan is not taking wine to give to someone else.  Kind of petty but I can work with that system.  All my wife wants is a bottle with a couple of glasses of wine for the balcony at night when we come back to the room.  Sometimes we have two open bottles, lunch and dinner.

 

I hoped I help you and enjoy your trip. 

Sthrngary,

 

Excellent.  Very much appreciated.  I don't anticipate any shortage of wine as we are sailing H2 and will likely select wine for our 3 bottles.  I was just looking to educate myself in event the situation arose.  Can never be too prepared.  lol.  Not worried about breakfast as I wouldn't want wine to get in the way of my Bloody Mary.

 

Most helpful, thanks again. 

Cheers! 

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Who knows what this will all look like after this pandemic is over. I have my doubts NCL will continue to offer premium spirits if they return to normal cruising. Look at some airlines, still offering boxed meals and no alcoholic beverages because “Covid”, more like penny pinching at this point. 

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18 hours ago, JustAPilot said:

I have my doubts NCL will continue to offer premium spirits if they return to normal cruising.


I still remember my first cruise on NCL in 2013... drinks were made with dive bar generic well liquor, with an $8 max on any beverage package drink. Having been on Carnival a few months earlier with premium brands as the base, we were mortified, and made sure to include this on our guest service comment cards.

Say all you want about NCL changes and cutbacks in the past decade, but their bar service (drink quality, staff training, standardized) has improved exponentially over the last 10 years. It's impossible to know what things will look like post-pandemic, but I can't see NCL going back to the NY bar at 3 am drink strategy. 

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