Mainstream cruise lines, including Carnival, don’t offer many complimentary drink options on the ship. So for many cruisers, the bar bill ends up being a large portion of their vacation budget. If you’re cruising on Carnival, a Carnival Cruise Line drink package lets you pre-plan your drink budget so you’re not hit with a huge bar tab at the end of your cruise!
Carnival offers drink packages for all ages, at various price points. But is a Carnival beverage package worth it? I’ll help you decide if you should buy one and which drink package is right for you.
Carnival updated its beverage package pricing in January 2020. I’ll explain what each package currently includes and how much it will cost for your cruise.
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Carnival Cruise Line drink packages available for 2020 and beyond
Although Carnival offers a small selection of complimentary beverages around the clock (tap water, non-specialty coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate, lemonade, and unsweetened iced tea), you might want to expand your drink options without having to pay each time you order.
Unlike some cruise lines that offer a wide range of drink packages, Carnival makes their prepaid beverage packages simple. There are only two options: one for soft drinks only, and one for both alcohol and soft drinks.
Bottomless Bubbles is Carnival’s prepaid soda package, available for both children and adults. This option includes all-you-can-drink soda, sparkling water, and fruit juices.
The cost for Bottomless Bubbles is $5.95 per day for children under 18, and $8.50 per day for adults age 18 and up. An 18% gratuity is added to the price at the time of package purchase.
In January 2020, Carnival began the switch from Coke products to Pepsi products. Ships may still serve some Coke products until their supply is depleted.
Tip: If you’re a die-hard Coke fan, you can always carry on a limited amount of your favorite Coke products in cans. Learn more in How to Bring Your Own Drinks on a Cruise.
The new Pepsi lineup is as follows:
- Diet Pepsi
- Pepsi Zero Sugar
- Caffeine Free Pepsi
- Diet Pepsi Caffeine Free
- Sierra Mist
- Sierra Mist Zero Sugar
- Mug Root Beer
- Mountain Dew
- Diet Mountain Dew
- Bubly Sparkling Water (Lime, Grapefruit, or Orange)
Dr. Pepper and Diet Dr. Pepper are also usually added to the list for cruises departing the ports of Galveston and New Orleans.
You can also buy a reusable Carnival soft drink tumbler for $5.95 with Bottomless Bubbles ($9.95 without the program).
Tip: Consider waiting to buy your soft drink tumbler once the ship is in international waters to avoid paying sales tax at the embarkation port.
Bottomless Bubbles is not available on Europe itineraries.
For a 7-day cruise, this drink package would cost $49.15 for a child and $70.21 for an adult.
CHEERS! Beverage Program
CHEERS! is Carnival Cruise Line’s all-inclusive beverage package. Available for guests age 21 and over, CHEERS! includes a wide range of alcoholic beverages, mocktails, and an expanded range of non-alcoholic drinks compared to Bottomless Bubbles.
The cost for CHEERS! is $56.95 per person, per day, plus 18% gratuity, for cruises that are five days or longer. Beginning January 1, 2020, this price has increased by $3 per day for three- and four-day cruises.
Carnival offers a 10% savings off the cost of the package if you purchase before you sail.
The CHEERS! package includes:
- All cocktails, spirits and beer and wine by the glass with a menu price of $20.00 or lower
- Soda, mocktails, energy drinks, specialty coffees and teas, 500ml bottled water and other non-alcoholic bottled beverages
- Self-service beer stations
- Large bottles of water in the dining rooms and specialty restaurants
CHEERS! also includes all soft drinks in the Bottomless Bubbles package plus:
- Pure Leaf Unsweetened Black Tea
- Pure Leaf Sweet Tea
- Gatorade (Lemon-Lime or Fruit Punch)
- Propel (Berry, Grape or Kiwi Strawberry)
- Starbucks Frappuccino
- Starbucks Double Shot Espresso
Guests with the CHEERS! package also are eligible for a 25% discount off spirits or wine by the glass above $20.00, wine and champagne by the bottle, and beverage seminars and classes.
For a 7-day cruise, this drink package would cost $429.11 if you pre-purchase it, and $470.41 if you buy it on board.
Common questions about Carnival Cruise Line drink packages
If you’ve never cruised with Carnival before, or it’s been a while since your last cruise, you probably have some general questions about how the Carnival Cruise Line drink packages work. I’ll answer the most common ones here. If you have a question that I haven’t answered, just drop it in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer it.
Do you need to tip for drinks purchased with a Carnival beverage package?
All Carnival drink packages have an extra 18% gratuity on top of the list price. So, you won’t need to tip your bartender or server each time you order a drink with your beverage package – you’ve already pre-paid your tips.
However, you can always add an extra tip for your favorite bartenders, if you choose.
Do you need to pay tax on your drinks?
When you’re out at sea in international waters, you don’t need to worry about paying tax on any of your drinks. But when you’re in port, some local authorities require cruise lines to collect tax on the menu price of any beverages you buy. Taxes are charged to your on board account if you’re buying drinks one-by-one or using a beverage package.
The tax percentage varies by port, but it’s never a huge amount – generally somewhere between 5-10% of the cost of each drink. If a jurisdiction charges tax, it will be charged on each drink when the ship is in port and in its territorial waters.
Do Carnival drink packages work on their private islands?
Carnival’s Bottomless Bubbles and CHEERS! packages can’t be used to order beverages on the private islands of Half Moon Cay and Princess Cays.
How old do you have to be to buy an alcoholic beverage package on Carnival?
You must be age 21 or over to purchase or use the CHEERS! package on all Carnival cruises, regardless of the legal drinking age at any ports you might visit.
For those turning 21 during the cruise, you’ll be able to purchase alcohol à la carte with a valid ID starting on your birthday. You won’t be able to purchase a CHEERS! package in the middle of the cruise.
Carnival issues a sticker for each guest that purchases a beverage package, and the sticker goes on your Sail & Sign card. Only one beverage per sticker will be served at a time.
Carnival (like most other cruise lines today) requires that if one person buys the CHEERS! package, every person 21 and older in the same stateroom must also purchase the package. Cruise lines have implemented this policy to crack down on beverage package sharing.
Many cruise lines will waive this requirement if you don’t drink because of pregnancy, a medical condition, religious beliefs, or if you’re in recovery from substance abuse. However, Carnival is known to be very strict with this policy. You can try reaching out to Carnival to ask for an exemption, but it’s not very likely that they’ll budge.
How do you buy a Carnival Cruise Line drink package?
Before your cruise, you can pre-purchase Bottomless Bubbles or CHEERS! online at www.carnival.com/Funshops or by calling 800 522-7648. The cut-off time for online pre-purchase is 11:59 PM EST the day before embarkation. The call center closes at 9:00 PM EST, so their cut-off time is a bit earlier.
Both packages will also be available for purchase on the ship on embarkation day and the first full cruise day. You can get Bottomless Bubbles at the lobby, casino, and pool bars.
Tables will be set up around the ship on embarkation day and the next day where you can buy the CHEERS! package.
Can you buy a drink package for certain days of the cruise?
It would be nice to pick and choose which days you have a drink package (like sea days only, please!), but once you buy a package you need to buy it for each remaining day of your cruise. Take this into consideration if you have a lot of longer shore excursions when you won’t be on the ship to use the package.
In order to minimize your costs, consider waiting until the second day of your cruise to buy a beverage package. You’ll just need to pay for any drinks you consume on embarkation day. But, remember that you save 10% if you pre-order the CHEERS! package before your cruise. Do the math to see which option saves more money for your situation.
Does Carnival ever offer a free drink package?
I’ve never seen Carnival offer a free beverage package as a perk for booking a cruise. That’s not to say it will never happen, but it’s pretty unlikely. Carnival’s business model is to keep prices low, and for guests to pay for any extras on an à la carte basis.
How much are drinks on a Carnival cruise if you buy them individually?
If you’re considering buying a drink package for your first Carnival cruise, you’re probably wondering what the menu prices are if you buy drinks individually.
Here are typical menu prices for a variety of drinks on Carnival:
- Beer: $6 – $8 per glass
- Wine $8 – $14 per glass
- Mixed drinks: $7 – $20
- Soft drinks: $2.50
- Specialty soft drinks: $2 – $5
- Bottled water: $1.25 – $5
Is there a limit to how many drinks you can get per day with a Carnival beverage package?
You’re allowed to drink an unlimited amount of non-alcoholic drinks with both Bottomless Bubbles and the CHEERS! package. (You do need to wait five minutes between drink orders, except if you’re ordering bottled water along with your drink.)
However, you can only have 15 alcoholic drinks per day. That sounds like a lot, but lots of cruisers can (and do!) reach that cap. Bartenders and servers track drink orders on their POS system, so you can always ask how many drinks you’re up to if you lose track!
Once you hit the 15 drinks, you’re not allowed to order more alcohol, even if you try to pay out of pocket. The 24-hour period resets every morning at 6 AM.
Are there any restrictions on where you can use a Carnival drink package?
You can use your Carnival drink package for onboard purchases only. When you’re in port, you can’t use the package off the ship, even on a Carnival-sponsored shore excursion.
Carnival Cruise Line drink packages also don’t apply to drinks ordered through room service or the Interactive TV system, or for beverages from your stateroom’s minibar.
The CHEERS! package also can’t be used for the following alcoholic drinks:
- Drinks in souvenir glasses (but you can ask for the same drink in a regular glass)
- Bottles of liquor
- Drinks offered at the gangway
- Cocktails meant for sharing
- Floaters, pitchers, tubes or buckets
- Wines from the enomatic wine machines
If your cruise departs from Galveston or New York, the CHEERS! package doesn’t go into effect until 6 AM on the second day of the sailing.
Is it worth it to get a drink package on a Carnival cruise?
When deciding if it’s worth it to buy a drink package on Carnival, it all depends on how much you think you’ll be drinking. If you’re sure you’ll only have a couple of drinks each day, it’s a far better deal to just pay as you go.
For the average cruiser, five alcoholic drinks per day is about where the break-even point is for the CHEERS! package. If you like to drink higher-end wines or spirits, your break-even point could be lower. Remember, the package includes drinks that normally cost up to $20 each!
Your soft drinks, bottled water, and specialty coffees are also included, so factor those costs into your decision as well. Those little purchases can add up over the length of your cruise.
But if you have a cabin-mate who doesn’t drink much, it might not be worth having to buy an expensive package for someone who won’t use it much.
If you’re a soda drinker, Bottomless Bubbles can be a money-saver. Know you’ll have at least three soft drinks each day? Then it really makes sense to buy this package.
Want to learn more about cruise line beverage packages? Read my article Are Cruise Drink Packages Worth It? to learn more.
Don’t forget to check out these resources before your Carnival cruise:
- Faster to the Fun: The Ultimate Guide to Carnival’s Skip-the-Line Pass
- Ultimate Guide to Room Service on Carnival Cruise Line (With Menus)
- How to Bring Your Own Drinks on a Cruise
- The 19 Best Cruise Accessories You Need to Pack
Have you bought a drink package on a Carnival cruise? Did you think it was worth it? Let me know in the comments below!
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