Among the many benefits of holidaying at sea is that your cruise fare includes all meals, if you limit yourself to the main dining room or other venues included in your ticket price.

But while with some variation, there’s only so much food each person can consume, but a much wider variation is how much each person would like to drink. Cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean see that while one particular passenger may wish to drink themselves silly every night, another may prefer an alcoholic beverage only with lunch and dinner while others stick to soft drinks and bottled water.

As such, Royal Caribbean realises it would be unfair to include drinks in a standard cruise fare, which has led to the creation of Drinks Packages – an important element to consider once your booking is paid and you’re counting down the days until you set sail. Think about how much you may wish to drink onboard and how much you are likely to drink onboard as these two factors may point you in a different direction for which is the right package for you.

Drinks packages can serve as a good way to calculate your total bill in advance, however it is important to note that charges apply daily even if you don’t drink enough to justify the cost. If one person in a party is likely to drink more than another, this is covered as not everybody in a cabin needs to purchase the same package. However, in turn, packages can’t be shared and crew members serving drinks are often on the lookout for abusers of this stipulation.

Packages can be purchased onboard up to four days before the end of your cruise, however may not be available at all if your sailing is less than four days in length. An important point to remember is that all beverages consumed from the mini-bar in your stateroom are not included with any package and are charged separately, similar to any land-based hotel.

A further consideration is that purchasing a drink package is not compulsory and if you choose not to be bound by one or another, you will simply pay for each beverage as you order it. This method may suit you too if you know only a few drinks each day will cater to your needs.

Here we take a look at the selection of packages available on Royal Caribbean voyages in Australia including onboard Explorer of the SeasVoyager of the SeasRadiance of the Seas and Legend of the Seas as well as more than a dozen other ships in other parts of the world.

Bottled Water Package

If fresh water is all you need to quench your thirst, guests can pre-reserve packs of 12 or 24 bottles of a locally sourced, often well-known, brand of spring water. Packets are delivered to a guest’s stateroom by the time they board their ship or soon after ordering. Purchasing your water this way can also result in savings of up to 25% off the regular price of ordering a bottle at a time as you need it.

Royal Replenish – US$22 per person per day.

The entire bar of non-alcoholic beverages opens up to passengers purchasing this package, which is charged for every day of the cruise except for the day you leave the ship at the end of your holiday. Eligible drinks under this package include premium coffees including lattes, teas, sparkling water, fruit juices, non-alcoholic cocktails and fountain soft drinks. Often, on purchasing this package, a souvenir soft drink cup will be issued for guests to fill and re-fill.

Select Package – US$42 per person per day.

The most popular package for travellers keen not to have to think about how much they can or cannot drink and those unsure whether they will really get the full value out of the higher priced packages. Most tap beers are included with this bundle along with wines by the glass up to US$9, plus all non-alcoholic beverages in the Royal Replenish package. Holders of this package also receive a 20% discount off the price of a full bottle of wine.

Premium Package – US$57 per person per day.

Also very popular with many Royal Caribbean cruisers, especially Australians keen to enjoy their time on the ship with round after round of drinks (even though each person can only buy their own drink at a time). Drinks, premium wines and cocktails up to US$14 each are covered by this package as well as frozen cocktails such as daiquiris. All the benefits of the lower-tier packages are also included along with the souvenir cup for fountain soft drinks.

Ultimate Package – US$67 per person per day.

For the ultimate drinker who, when not sleeping or onshore, will be at one of the many bars or lounges onboard. Practically everything being poured onboard is at your disposal except for those ultra-high end tastes, imported or rare spirits. In many cases, the cruise line will have these in stock however will likely charge a small additional fee for these high-ticket items. Most cruisers though tend to aim for a more modest package.