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Cunard Needs a Better Alcoholic Beverage Package


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Whether at home or on vacation, my wife and I enjoy wine at dinner every night and a martini or Manhattan before dinner. When on a cruise, we might also enjoy a late-night drink if we're going dancing or to a show after dinner. Depending on the cruise line and the beverage package offered by the particular line (we've been on nearly thirty cruises on seven or eight different lines), we might get the pre-paid beverage package or we might just "pay as we go." We've also been on two lines---Seabourn and Silversea---where virtually all alcoholic beverages are included in the cruise fare.

 

In my opinion, Cunard's beverage package is just about the worst we have seen. We were on the QM2 for 21 nights in 2019, and ideally we would have liked a beverage package, if only to know going in how much we'd be spending on drinks. But Cunard's $12.00 a drink maximum was a deal-breaker for us, given that Tanqueray martinis (our favorite) were priced at $12.25 each. We also came to enjoy the Three Queens gins, but they, too, were slightly over $12.00 in martini form. Some of the better wines by the glass were also slightly over the $12.00 cutoff. 

 

For those who have the package, Cunard gives you a 20% discount on drinks over $12.00, but---if my math is correct---we'd still be paying $9.80 for each Tanqueray martini, on top of the $70.00 or so, per person, per day, we'd be paying for the package. Even Norwegian---hardly a "classy" cruise line in most respects---charges you only for the difference in price if the particular drink exceeds the cutoff amount, and their cutoff amount is $15.00 (e.g., a $16.00 drink would cost you only a dollar, plus the tip on the dollar).

 

I think Cunard should re-think their beverage program and prices. Assuming drink prices remain the same in the future, there should be a $15.00 per drink cutoff. I also think that for Grills passengers drinking in Grills venues (we weren't; we had a Britannia balcony cabin), there should be an all-inclusive alcohol policy a la Silversea and Seabourn. I mean, these Grills passengers are paying an awful lot of money already, and Cunard shouldn't be nickel and diming them.

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I'm against an inclusive drinks packages in Grills, we don't drink in the day and even at $15 a glass my one indulgence on a cruise, really nice wine wouldn't be included , so I'd be paying for something I don't use. Nothing is free

 

On a similiar but slightly different but related topic, I  would be happy if the inclusive drinks  in QG bar were just soft drinks,  with of course an appropriate reduction in price.  This would encourage more people to socalise in the lounge or deck before dinner, not sundowners on their balcony

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You're absolutely right. I have the impression that Cunard was dragged into offering a package, so they made it as awkward as possible. 

Personally, we probably don't drink enough to actually come out ahead with a drinks package, but often purchase them on other lines for the convenience sake. On Cunard, there is little convenience with the package and it works out as more expensive. So for us, we don't purchase one. (But appreciate it if it's bundled with a promotion)

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14 hours ago, Windsurfboy said:

I'm against an inclusive drinks packages in Grills, we don't drink in the day and even at $15 a glass my one indulgence on a cruise, really nice wine wouldn't be included , so I'd be paying for something I don't use. Nothing is free

 

On a similiar but slightly different but related topic, I  would be happy if the inclusive drinks  in QG bar were just soft drinks,  with of course an appropriate reduction in price.  This would encourage more people to socalise in the lounge or deck before dinner, not sundowners on their balcony

Interesting comment on socialising. The Grills lounge is often full when we appear for pre dinner drinks. We arrange to meet Mid ships on 3. 

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I've always been a little confused that the 'luxury' or 'ultra luxury' label on cruise ships refers to the all-inclusiveness of the cruise (at least in part). It's never made sense to me. We do enjoy having the included drinks on Crystal and Regent, but I doubt we get value from it and would prefer to drink fewer glasses of special wine to unlimited quantities of 'OK' wine. I've just booked our first Cunard cruise, and it includes the wine package as part of a promotion. Looking through the list of wines available by the glass, I am surprised that some are just over the $12 mark, and that we do not get a credit towards those wines. Why not just make the drinks package more expensive, and include all the wines by the glass? However, I do see that we get a 20% discount on the more expensive wines and also bottles, which is something. I don't think we would be inclined to buy the drinks package if it were not included though.

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On 1/5/2021 at 6:29 AM, majortom10 said:

It is simple if the beverage package on offer is not to your liking or expensive then dont buy it and "pay as you go".

Usually the simplest answer is the best.  There is too much serious stuff to sweat -- why be concerned that heavy drinkers aren't getting the break they want?

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On 1/6/2021 at 7:42 AM, Victoria2 said:

Interesting comment on socialising. The Grills lounge is often full when we appear for pre dinner drinks. We arrange to meet Mid ships on 3. 

 

We normally go up  about 7.15 and find it relatively empty.  Perhaps we're too late for people who have a drink before an early dinner and too early for late diners

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On QE and QV, that's the time we find often the Grills lounge full. Must be pot luck. Post dinner, before the late show, it's usually very easy to get a chair for post dinner drinks. 

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10 minutes ago, Windsurfboy said:

As you say must be pot luck or we were on quiet cruises, post dinner like you said it was so dead we went elsewhere. 

I was trying to be diplomatic!  😄

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Posted (edited)
On 1/5/2021 at 6:30 PM, MarkBearSF said:

I have the impression that Cunard was dragged into offering a package,

But doesn't offering a package turn it into a "drinking ship" like Royal and NCL and maybe even princess?. People just caining the drink? Cunard is a polite ship with polite drinkers who don't really get wasted the way they do other ships. I have been on NCL Pearl and Gem and seen people get wheeled out of Bliss (the club) in a wheelchair. Look at the picture of bliss nightlcub on the Gem posted below. I have seen that table full of drink at 3am with 8 people sat there. And the DJ start playing closing time the song btw and they go up one more time. And it all has to be drunk.  That is not Cunard.

 

image.jpeg.50d26af86bc9a4f4cc46fd29c56559fd.jpeg

Edited by ace2542
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On 1/7/2021 at 5:07 PM, Windsurfboy said:

As you say must be pot luck or we were on quiet cruises, post dinner like you said it was so dead we went elsewhere. 

I have always suspect a lot of people drink in their cabins? Which is allowed, or tolerated at least? To the detriment of the bottom line perhaps?

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Posted (edited)

Having recently cruised with Celebrity, we are very strong against Cunard having a Drink Package.

 

The affordable wines are pretty good with Cunard, the bar drinks miles away from the premade „out of the can“ Cocktails that you are getting with Celebrity.

 

We had the Premium Package on our last Cruise on Edge and all the „included wines“ where terrible and so where most of the Cocktails.

 

If you want Drink Packages or All Inclusive with Cunard, they will go that path for sure because there is no incentive anymore for them to provide quality.

 

Edited by Yoshikitty
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2 hours ago, Windsurfboy said:

P&O have best approach,  no drinks package  but reasonable drink prices,e.g. a good bottle  of Barolo for £45 , £65 On Cunard

P&O do a drinks package it is £39-95 pppd.

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On 1/4/2021 at 8:14 PM, jimdee3636 said:

 

...

In my opinion, Cunard's beverage package is just about the worst we have seen.

...

 

Because of the moderate amount of alcohol we drink, we would never pay for a drinks package. We have been offered the drinks package for the second of our two future voyages due to having booked Princess Grill. Cunard won't lose any money on us.

 

A few years ago we were given a drinks package by Holland America as a perk. We were unimpressed. The permitted price per drink was and still is less than what Cunard offers. Getting a drink in some of the lounges was very difficult. The wine waiters in the restaurant do not provide wine by the glass. The table waiters do that - as if they don't have enough to do. Each dinner we did get one glass of barely drinkable wine, but we were never offered a second one and didn't bother asking.

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I agree with the original posting that the drinks "package" offered by Cunard is a real joke. I often get the drinks package on other lines (if not cruising all inclusive, like Crystal), since I then don't have to keep signing and signing for the drinks, and if my drink becomes too warm (I prefer martinis), then I can have another available to me. I do not drink much, but the packages (including any soda or other included items) make them worthwhile.

 

The FEAR that Cunard will become a ship-of-drunks if a package is offered is pure fear-mongering. I have seen drunk individuals and groups on Cunard, so the line is not immune. 

 

Interesting, too, are the number of people who responded to this post, who don't drink, but felt compelled to offer up a reason why a drinks package is not worth while.  Think of the Cunard spa package; I love the spa, and happily pay for the week-long package. However, someone who does not like the spa would not pay for it. I am also offended by people who responded to an inquiry about a drinks package to insinuate that only alcoholics would want such a package.

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4 hours ago, njguy_south said:

The FEAR that Cunard will become a ship-of-drunks if a package is offered is pure fear-mongering. I have seen drunk individuals and groups on Cunard, so the line is not immune. 

I have never seen anyone really drunk in 6 cruises. But drink when it is my mind free as in included in the price does go down easier.

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43 minutes ago, majortom10 said:

Cunard very rarely, if at all, do free drinks packages for UK cruisers booking Grill Suites its a privilege only for US cruisers.

 

It's a privilege I don't want, l prefer the UK's lower prices, and buy the wine I really like. 

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The package seems to suit our drinking habits. We see at least 2 reds, 2 whites & a rosé that we would drink, and I think they may have cava/prosecco in some bars. Plus, we'll get cheap brandy and separate lemonade and add one to other. We also drink lots of bottled water (need to make do with 0.5L bottles) and have been known to drink liqueur hot chocolate. It should also cover my espresso and americano habit.
I did plan to bring decent wines from our own cellar and pay corkage but can't be bothered with packing 12-14 bottles to fly into Heathrow. We typically pay about 13€ in France on special offers for wines that retail in UK at over £70. Cunard’s prices are likely to top that, so corkage would have been good value.

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I do hope Cunard don't go semi inclusive for the British market as we'd sooner pay for our drinks onboard as it gives us greater freedom, I think. We've managed to pick up some  great bin end packages, once onboard over the years. They don't crop up too often but we they do, well worth grabbing.

 

 

 

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