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When it comes to drinking on board a cruise ship, there’s a rule that has even the most dedicated cruisers scratching their heads and claiming it’s a “rip off.”

Beverage packages are often offered on cruises, allowing guests to pay in advance to cover the cost of alcoholic drinks at bars and restaurants on board the ship.

But there’s often a catch, and that can be terribly frustrating.

If one person wants to purchase the drinks package, everyone must be in the same cabin, even though the packages are charged per person, per day, and strictly speaking are not shared.

Australian couple Christine and Dave Russell, who have taken several cruises a year for the past decade, discovered how annoying the rule was when Mrs Russell decided to give up drinking 12 months ago.

It meant that on three Carnival cruises, Mr. Russell had to miss out on purchasing the drinks package because Ms. Russell would have been forced to pay $111 ($72 USD) per day.

“If you multiply that by two and only one person drinks, it’s a lot of money,” she told news.com.au.

“I’m not going to drink $100 a day worth of soda. In general, I don’t drink soft drinks anyway, I only drink water.”

Ms Russell described the rule as ‘frustrating’ and ‘irritating’.

Australian couple Christine and Dave Russell, who have taken several cruises a year for the past decade, discovered how annoying the rule was when Mrs Russell decided to give up drinking 12 months ago. AP

The policy of Carnival is that the “Cheers!” A beverage package, including up to 15 alcoholic drinks per day and other non-alcoholic drinks, must be purchased by each adult assigned to the same stateroom.

Sharing is not allowed.

News.com.au contacted a number of major cruise lines sailing in Australia with similar conditions – including Carnival Cruise Line, P&O Cruises, Cunard, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean – and none could provide a reason.

Carnival Australia, the parent company of seven cruise brands in Australia and New Zealand including Carnival, P&O, Cunard and Princess, instead said it was taking the Responsible Service of Alcohol seriously and that drinks packages were optional.

“Our drinks packages are completely optional and guests have the freedom to purchase drinks individually at competitive prices, allowing them to tailor their cruise experience to their personal preferences,” a Carnival Australia spokesperson said.

The policy of Carnival is that the “Cheers!” A beverage package, including up to 15 alcoholic drinks per day and other non-alcoholic drinks, must be purchased by each adult assigned to the same stateroom. REUTERS

“Our terms and conditions for drinks packages are in line with general industry standards that have been in place for years and reflect other catering industries when they opt for a set menu or drinks package.

“Guests who are pregnant or do not drink alcohol do not need to purchase a drinks package and we offer a wide choice of non-alcoholic drinks.”

Consumer Champion’s Adam Gleger, who advocates for Australian consumers facing challenges in the travel industry, told news.com.au the rule was “unreasonable” and “a profit-making exercise”.

While he believes drink packages on cruises are a brilliant idea, he said cruise lines shouldn’t pressure people to buy them if they don’t want to.

Mr Glezen, who is a cruiser himself, said it was “disappointing but not surprising” that the cruise lines had not given a reason for the rule.

“They have not given a reason because there is no explanation that would show them in a decent light,” he said.

“I am fighting for this to change, because a drink package should be optional for each individual.”

“If someone drinks, he or she should be able to purchase the drinks package without others in the cabin being obliged to purchase the same package.”

“I met a number of people who were quite annoyed by the situation.”

He believes that any cruise line that decides to break tradition and “get rid of the ridiculous rule” will have an advantage over their opposition.

Virgin Voyages and Disney Cruise Line, which had their first seasons in Australia this summer, have both scrapped traditional drinks packages.

Instead, Virgin allows guests to pre-pay their “Bar Tab” and receive a bonus onboard credit.

It promotes its offering as different from other cruise brands, with “no restrictive drinks packages with unreasonable rules here”.

Disney’s offers include bottled wine and refillable beer mug packages, where guests receive a 21 oz glass mug and can refill it for the price of a 16 oz beer at any bar on the ship that serves draft beer.

Royal Caribbean has a slightly different take on the traditional rule that the same drinks package must be purchased by those staying together.

If a guest does not drink alcohol in the stateroom, a ‘Refreshment Pack’ must be purchased, which includes soft drinks, coffee, tea, juices and non-alcoholic cocktails.

Travelers have shared mixed reactions to cruise drink packages online, with some warning it’s not worth it and others explaining how they got their money.

News.com.au contacted a number of major cruise lines sailing in Australia under similar circumstances, but none could provide a reason. Amy Harris/Invisie/AP

An Australian TikTok user, who goes by “jasmintiexo,” detailed every drink she ordered during an eight-day Royal Caribbean cruise.

It showed that she could get $US1151.50 (about $1760) worth of drinks for $US520 (about $795).

See below how major cruise brands in Australia are applying the rule to drinks packages.

Carnival Cruise Line

If you select the option “Cheers!” An alcoholic beverage package must also be purchased by each adult assigned to the same stateroom, starting at $111 ($72 USD) per person, per day.

There is a limit of 15 alcoholic drinks per day.

Sharing is not allowed.

Consumer Champion’s Adam Gleger, who advocates for Australian consumers facing challenges in the travel industry, told news.com.au the rule was “unreasonable” and “a profit-making exercise”. Peter Cripps – stock.adobe.com

If the beverage package is part of an offer received from Carnival, it applies only to the 1st and 2nd adult in the cabin; If the 2nd passenger is under 18 years old, the “Bottomless Bubbles” package (soda and juice) will be assigned for $7.50 (approximately $5 USD) per day.

Carnival Cruise Line told news.com.au: “If any of the guests cruising together choose not to purchase a package, he or she always has the option to enjoy drinks a la carte.”

Celebrity cruises

Guests must purchase the same beverage package for all guests of legal drinking age in the same stateroom. Packages may not be shared.

Instead, a non-alcoholic beverage package will be added for teens 13 to 17 years old, pregnant guests, and recovering alcoholics or guests with a medical condition that prevents them from consuming alcohol.

Alcoholic beverage packages start at US$89 ($136) per person, per day.

Cunard

Each adult assigned to the same stateroom must purchase the same beverage option.

Sharing is not allowed.

On a five- to 14-night cruise, the “Beers, Wines and Spirits” package starts at $72 ($110) per person, per day.

P&O Cruises

If two or more guests over 18 years of age share a cabin, all guests must purchase the same drinks package.

There is a limit of 15 alcoholic drinks per day. Sharing drink packages is not allowed.

Alcoholic beverage packages start at $99 ($65 USD) per person, per day.

Princess Cruises

The requirement for alcoholic beverage packages to be purchased by more than one guest is not included in the updated terms and conditions.

However, in the FAQ, Princess Cruises states that third and fourth guests in the same stateroom are not required to purchase or use the selected package of first and second guests in a stateroom as standard, implying that the first two guests must purchase the same package .

Alcoholic drinks are limited to 15 drinks per day and may not be shared.

The alcoholic beverage packages start at $110 ($72 USD) per person, per day.

Royal Caribbean

If you purchase the “Deluxe Beverage Package” it is required to be purchased by all guests of legal drinking age in the same stateroom.

Packages cannot be shared.

If a guest does not drink alcohol in the stateroom, a “Refreshment Pack” must be purchased.

This includes soft drinks, coffee, tea, juices and non-alcoholic cocktails.

Prices may vary depending on the departure.

The alcoholic beverage package reportedly costs between $US56 ($86) and $US105 ($161) per person, per day, and the “Refreshment Package” costs $US29 ($44) per person, per day (both excluding gratuity).





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