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Enjoying a laid-back beverage by the pool or a sophisticated drink in the specialty dining room is one of the highlights of a cruise holiday, but it can also mean that additional costs pile up quickly. Here, Don Bucolo of EatSleepCruise.com shares his top tips for scoring free drinks on your next cruise.
Bring It Onboard
We would never suggest you break the cruise ship’s policy and bring beverages onboard that are prohibited; however, almost all cruise lines allow you to bring 2 bottles of wine on board in your carry-on. Granted, you still have to buy the wine pre-cruise, but you will be drinking your favourite vino for less than half the price if you take advantage of this allowance. Also, note that some lines even allow you to bring a bottle of wine or 6 pack of beer on board at every port.
Have It Included in Your Fare
Here is where a good travel agent or pre-cruise discount shopping can save you big bucks. Throughout the year, cruise lines run deals in which they offer perks that may include free or discounted beverage packages. So, set up your cruise alerts early and keep your eye out for special promotions being advertised by the various cruise companies. If you time things right, you could walk away with your entire bar bill paid in full by the cruise line.
Use Your Cruise Loyalty Rewards
Cruising with the same company can open you up to a whole new world. The more you cruise, the more perks you earn. These perks can include free cocktails and mixed drinks, hosted events at which complimentary drinks are provided, and other discounts that will lower your bar tab. Make sure you are enrolled in the cruise line’s loyalty program (which is usually automatic) and then be on the lookout for coupons or other deals on future cruises.
Join the Captain for a Toast
Regardless of the cruise line, there will likely be a Captain’s Reception during one evening of your cruise. Along with the opportunity to take a picture with the Captain and listen to his/her speech, these events almost always offer complimentary drinks. Granted, the offerings might be limited to champagne or wine, but hey, they are still free. We always get dressed up in our elegant attire and make an appearance at this event to score a few free drinks and a photo op.
Buy in Bulk
Throughout the cruise, there will be plenty of drink specials that can save you money. During the day, there are often sales on buckets of beer (which can equate to one free beer). Happy hour specials can offer 2-for-1 deals on cocktails. Drinks of the Day are usually offered at discounted rates. And, some cruise lines even offer drink cards, which are another great way to score some free drinks. Sometimes, the more you buy, the more you save!
Don’t Be Shy, Get Involved
Who are those people who decide to join the silly pool deck contests or night time game shows? Well, for starters, they are probably avid cruisers who know it might be a way to score free drinks. Even if the cruise staff does not buy you a round of drinks during the event, participation prizes may include a free bottle of wine or champagne. A little alcohol is not a bad consolation prize for having fun while on holiday.
Get a Package
Drinks packages have infiltrated most major cruise lines. Starting at around $50 a day, these packages include a wide variety of beer, wine, and liquor. Depending on the cruise line, some premium spirits, as well as other non-alcoholic beverages like espresso drinks, soda, and bottled water, may also be included. In our experience, these packages end up saving you around 30-40% off your bar bill, depending on your consumption. Now that equals a whole lot of free cruise drinks!
While we cannot erase the sad feeling of your cruise holiday coming to a close, we hope these seven helpful tips will at least make your last night on the ship less stressful. With all the money you saved from lowering your bar tab, why not put a deposit down on a future cruise? That way, you will have something to look forward to as you are departing the ship.