I use to debate cruising vs all inclusive vacations, and then I went on a cruise. Prior to our first cruise I did a lot of research on the Carnival CHEERS Drink Package. Research was necessary because I really wanted to understand the pro’s and con’s of the CHEERS Drink Program.
Updated Feb 11, 2020 to include new rules and new prices.
Carnival CHEERS Drink Program
We spent years going on all inclusive vacations so I was a tad worried about heading on a cruise and paying for drinks. Kent and I do like to indulge a bit while vacationing. Luckily Carnival (and many other cruise lines) implemented a CHEERS Drink program. Plus every year the program just keeps getting better and better.
Kent and I opted into the program before we even hit Miami ( paid in advance) and did not regret it at all. Before leaving port we decided to try and monitor the alcohol closely so that we could provide a true evaluation. Tipping with each drink allowed us to know exactly how much we had been drinking each day.
How does the CHEERS Package Work
CHEERS! is an all-inclusive beverage program that allows guests to enjoy a wide range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages by paying a flat daily rate. Guests must be 21 or older to purchase CHEERS! and each adult assigned to the same stateroom must purchase the program.
Special bonus, as I said the program gets better every year. they have enhanced the CHEERS Drink program to include a greater variety of non-alcoholic beverages, as well as a wider selection of high quality brand-name spirits and wines by the glass.
- The cost to pre-purchase CHEERS! prior to your cruise is $54.95 USD per person/day for short cruises and 51.95 a day for longer cruises, plus 18% gratuity. As a bonus if you purchase in advance you can save 10%.
- CHEERS! can be purchased online at www.carnival.com/Funshops or by contacting ‘The Fun Shops’ Department . Cut-off for pre-purchase is at 10:00pm ET, the evening prior to the cruise departure.
- Once on board your ship, you can sign up for CHEERS! at a bar location and the cost is $56.95 USD per person (or 59.95 for 3/4 day cruises.
What is included in CHEERS
Non-bottled water, lemonade, unsweetened iced tea, hot chocolate and non-specialty coffee and tea are all free on your cruise. But you will need CHEERS Drink Program if you wish to have:
- All spirits, including cocktails, cognacs, whiskies and other spirits, as well as beer and wine (and Champagne) by the glass, with a $20 USD or lower menu price per serving ( it use to be restricted to $10.00 usd)
- Zero-Proof frozen cocktails (including smoothies), sodas (including specialty sodas) and juices
- Specialty coffees and hot tea served in the main dining rooms, specialty restaurants and coffee bars (use to be not included)
- Milkshakes, where applicable
- RockStar energy drinks, Powerade, Vitamin Water, Coconut Water and Honest Tea
- 500ml bottled water and other non-alcoholic bottled beverages served in bars and lounges
- Large format (1 liter and 1.5-liter) bottles of water in the main dining rooms and specialty restaurants (new)
- A 25 percent discount off the menu price for any spirit, cocktail or wine by the glass, costing above $20 USD per serving
- A discount of 25% off the menu price for wine and champagne by the bottle and larger format water bottles purchased outside the main dining rooms or specialty restaurants
- and a 25 percent discount off beverage seminars and classes
Carnival Cruise Drink Costs
Fifteen drinks limit? Even when the program was restricted to 10.00 per drink I believe it was worth it. Now even if you are not a “spirit and wine” person is it worth it? At $6.00-7.95 per beer you would need to drink maybe 9 beer per day. Can you do that? If you like wine, well after 8 glasses you are even. Actually with wine, order the 14.00 glass and you only need 4-5 drinks to be ahead.
Let’s examine our normal day on a cruise. Even if you only have a few drinks poolside, then maybe a pre-dinner cocktail, a glass of wine with dinner and then a few drinks at the Casino or a show you have made it worthwhile.
A margarita will cost you $8.95 or maybe a pina colada for the slightly lower price of $8.25. Let’s try hard liquor ranging from $6.95 to $20.00. Have I convinced you yet?
Of note buckets of beer are not covered, so don’t start sitting poolside and order buckets for the pals.
Pro’s of CHEERS Drink Package
- One solid price that can be pre-purchased before leaving
- all liquor is included now even high end spirits
- $20.00 per drink means you do not need to purchase bottles of wine, enjoy high end wines all night
- 15 drinks is pretty close to All-Inclusive
- No additional fees and expenses popping up on your bill at the end of the cruise
Con’s of CHEERS Drink Package
1) everyone in the Cabin over 21 must purchase
2) only 15 drinks, but actually Carnival’s rule is 15 drinks maximum even if you are not on the CHEERS drink program so is this really a con?
3) not included drinks served in the souvenir glasses or served through room service are not included, nor are bottles of liquor. And those buckets of beers you see groups ordering on the lido deck? Those are out, too.
4) No buying rounds or drinks for your buddies. You are restricted to one drink per person and I believe the time limit is 5 minutes. This was a bit of a pain on our first cruise because they would not let Kent go get each of us a drink at the bar if I wasn’t there. Subsequent cruises once they knew us and as long as he had my card all was good.
My Evaluation of CHEERS Drink Program
Honestly the con’s are not even con’s. Purchasing the CHEERS drink package was the smartest option. If you both like to drink even moderately this is well worth the price. However, if one of you does not drink then I would not recommend the purchase.
The only change or recommendation I would make to Carnival about the current program is an exception to the Cabin rule in special circumstances.In the event that one of the Cabin mates is pregnant or a card carrying AA member they should be excluded from purchasing. Just one small little item I would change.
Other than that, purchase the program and enjoy your cruise worry free,
Carnival Cruise Tips and Tricks
For more on Carnival Cruise travel, check out Serenity, The Burger Bar and a Trip around Deck. I mean cruising is the way to go baby. Worried about what to take with you now that you have the drinks taken care of? Maybe a few tips and tricks to help you reduce luggage size and mayke the cabin comfortable? I have discovered the secret to productive packing and I don’t mind sharing.