Planning and tracking your Carnival Cruise bar tab
A Carnival Cruise can be both an easy and an affordable vacation. After you choose the itinerary, there’s little else to plan unless you decide to take an onshore excursion. Plus, for the most part, everything is included in the booking price, so you don’t have to spend your holiday time managing your budget. One exception is the purchase of certain beverages. However, with a little research and pre-planning, even this topic can be addressed and taken care of long before you set sail.
Free for all
Carnival Cruise Line serves a number of non-alcoholic drinks throughout the cruise in the main dining room, the Lido Marketplace restaurant (the buffet) and via room service. These beverages include non-bottled water, lemonade, unsweetened iced tea, hot chocolate, and non-specialty coffee and tea. Guests also are permitted to bring a limited amount of non-alcoholic beverages on board as long as they are packaged in cans or cartons. Each guest may bring 12 sealed, unopened cans/cartons of 12 ounces each or less.
Budgeting for beverages
For those interested in beverages on a Carnival Cruise other than those mentioned, prepare to break out the Sail & Sign card. As of 2017, soft drinks start at $2 per serving; sports drinks start at $2.95; and additional drinks, such as specialty coffees and smoothies, go up from there. Beer generally starts at $4.95 per serving, liquor usually begins at $5.50 per serving, and wine starts at $5.75 per glass. It doesn’t take long for beverage purchases to blow the budget.
Programmed for savings
To help passengers save on beverage purchases, Carnival Cruise Line offers two onboard beverage programs. For non-alcohol drinkers, the Bottomless Bubbles program provides guests with a selection of soft drinks and juices – only – throughout the cruise. Guests can get a 16-ounce glass serving every five minutes; sharing is prohibited. The cost is a daily rate of $4.95 plus 15 percent gratuity per person age 17 and younger. For those 18 and older, the daily rate is $6.50 plus 15 percent gratuity.
Travelers 21 years and older who want specialty and alcoholic beverages may purchase the Cheers! program. This program permits participants to receive a maximum of 15 alcoholic beverages (priced at $50 or less each per day), as well as specialty coffee drinks, smoothies, soft drinks, juices, bottled water and other non-alcoholic drinks. The daily rate is $49.95 plus 15 percent gratuity per person if booked prior to sailing; that rate increases to $54.95 plus 15 percent gratuity per person if booked on board. Also, if one adult in a stateroom purchases the program, each adult assigned to the same stateroom also must purchase the program.
Sip up the savings
To make the most of a beverage budget, first decide how many drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, each person in the group probably will want during the cruise. If the cost of these drinks exceeds the cost of the beverage programs, then sign up for the programs. However, if everyone would like some of these drinks but not a lot, consider bringing them with you.
For instance, bring a 12-pack of soda for each of the kids for a longer cruise. Each adult also can bring on board one 750-ml bottle of sealed/unopened wine or champagne in carry-on luggage. If you want to have this wine while dining in the main dining room, steakhouse or at one of the bars, expect to pay a $15 corkage fee per bottle.
Anyone wanting bottled water should consider pre-ordering bottled water from Carnival Cruise. A 12 pack of 16.9-ounce bottles can be delivered to the stateroom for $4.50. An order also can be placed on board, but it will incur a 15 percent gratuity as well. Whether purchased before or after sailing, this option is still more affordable than buying individual bottles of water at the bar or dining room.
Everyone wants to enjoy their Carnival Cruise, including having good food and drinks. By planning ahead, everyone in the group can make sure they have the beverages of their choice while at sea.