If you’re considering an NCL cruise you may be wondering if the Norwegian drink package is included in their Free at Sea promotion. The short answer is yes, it’s called Open Bar and it’s included in the price of your cruise if the Free at Sea promotion is available when you decide to book your cruise. Fear not, though, it appears that despite advertising with an end date, the Norwegian drink package and Free at Sea isn’t going anywhere. Obviously, this could change, but it seems like Free at Sea is what I call an evergreen promotion, an offer that will continue for an extended period of time.
Now that you know the Norwegian drink package is part of Free at Sea, there are some other things you should know about this promotion. First, while some ocean cruise lines are including alcoholic drink packages in their prices (I’m looking at you, Celebrity) most others offer their drink packages as an additional cost. Celebrity includes the taxes and gratuities in their offer and the other cruise lines include those two items in their packages, Norwegian has decided to offer the alcoholic drink package for free, but many guests are surprised to see additional taxes per person for the open bar on their invoice.
What other details about the Norwegian drink package you should know about?
Free at Sea includes NCL’s Premium Beverage Package (which used to be called Ultimate Drink Package). Premium Beverage Package includes spirits, cocktails, wine by the glass, and bottled or draft beer up to (and including) $15 and unlimited soda and juices. You can order any of these things at any bar, lounge, or restaurant and at Great Stirrup Cay. If your preferred drink is more than $15 it will be discounted $15 putting the balance on your account.
If these limits are a concern, there’s always the option to get the Premium Plus package. Premium Plus includes everything from the Premium Beverage Package plus the widest selection of beverages by the glass, such as Veuve Clicquot, Patrón Añejo, The Macallan Quest and more. Also included: select bottles of wine with dinner, bottled still and sparkling water, fresh squeezed juice, energy drinks, and specialty coffee!
What the PBP doesn’t cover is room service, package sales, ship specific promotions or beer buckets, designated Super Premium brands, bottled wine (but there is a discount), mini bar purchases, bottled water, fresh squeezed juices, specialty coffee beverages, specialty Starbucks locations, Coco’s, energy drinks, vending machines, wine stations or spirits, cocktails, draft or bottled beer and glasses of wine over $15 USD.
Sailing to Hawaii? That’s a different Norwegian drink package altogether. The Hawaii Beverage Package (Pride of America only), includes a variety of beverages up to $15 USD retail price. Including fountain soda, freshly squeezed juice, bottled water (flat and sparkling), non-alcoholic beer, and specialty coffee (specialty coffee in the dining rooms only). The Hawaii Beverage Package does not include specialty coffee outside of the restaurants, room service, mini bar purchases, or vending machines.
All qualifying individuals, meaning adults 21+, in the same stateroom are assumed (and required) to accept the drink package as part of the Free at Sea offer. The drink package is for the entire cruise so if you’re thinking of ways to save money on the taxes by skipping some days, you’re out of luck. Packages may not be shared and are non-transferable and non-refundable. If you’re planning to grab drinks for your whole party (or be the life of the party and get ’em for everyone around you) that won’t work either. With the Norwegian drink package, you’re limited to two drinks at a time.
There is a way to remove the Norwegian drink package from your reservation if you’re not going to have any drinks onboard for one reason or another. Doing so removes the taxes and gratuities from your reservation total. NCL’s terms and conditions are pretty specific to say there are no exceptions for one passenger not using the drink package for health or religious reasons so if you take the drink package (or not), it’s for everyone in the room. Some cruise lines offer exceptions but it hasn’t come up with any of my NCL clients so your mileage may vary.