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A Comprehensive Guide to NCL Drink Packages

What are the NCL Drink Packages? What do they cost? Are they worth it when cruising Norwegian? Here is a 2023 guide on what you need to know for NCL Beverage Packages.

Norwegian Cruise Line offers a few different beverage packages, but their NCL Premium Beverage Package is the most popular one.

This package comes with their Free at Sea promotion, allowing passengers to choose from 5 free perks. Or you can choose them all, depending on the promotion being advertised at the time of booking.

Normally, what’s included with your cruise fare is filtered water, regular coffee, tea, and some fountain juices.

The NCL Drink Packages are a great way to save money on drinks while cruising. You’ll have access to a wider and unlimited selection of drinks by purchasing one of the packages.

Most NCL cruisers take advantage of the Free at Sea Perk, the Premium Beverage Package, which can be a great deal. Even with the 20% service charge/gratuity added to this perk.

If you enjoy cocktails daily while on vacation, choosing the Premium Beverage Package as one of your free perks will pay off.

Read everything you need to know about NCL’s Free at Sea Perks.

If you don’t drink or aren’t one to imbibe, perhaps the soda package would be a better option and save you some money. You’ll want to use our cruise drink calculator below to see if buying the soda package is cheaper or paying the gratuities for the Free at Sea Open Bar perk.

featured blog image | ncl drink packages
What are the NCL Drink Packages? What do they cost? Are they worth it? Here is a 2023 guide on the NCL Beverage Packages.

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In this article, we will cover the following NCL Drink Packages that are available for purchase via Norwegian Cruise Line:

First, it’s important to note that the NCL drink packages that are alcoholic are only available for passengers aged 21 and over.

Second, the price of the package will vary depending on the length of your cruise. Any examples we provide are based on a 7-day cruise.

Third, Tasty Itinerary is not affiliated with Norwegian Cruise Line, nor do we work for the cruise line.

NCL Drink Packages

Update March 2023: This article reflects recent changes and terms Norwegian has made to drinks packages. Also, note the NCL Corks & Caps package no longer exists.

We answer some of the most frequently asked questions and dive into the NCL drink packages the cruise line offers below.

fruity drink on cruise railing by the sea

Are drinks free on Norwegian Cruise Line?

No, drinks are not free on the Norwegian Cruise Line. Not even if you choose the Norwegian Premium Beverage Package as a Free at Sea perk because you still have to pay a 20% beverage service charge of the value of the package ($305 in gratuities for two passengers for a 7-day cruise), however, it is still a fantastic value.

Does NCL drink package include gratuity?

No, the gratuities are not included with the NCL drink packages. An additional 20% service charge will be added to the value of the drink package.

Is NCL drink package worth it?

The NCL drink packages can be worth it if you justify the price and gratuities paid with the number of drinks you think you’ll consume. If you like to drink multiple alcoholic beverages daily, the gratuities paid for the NCL Premium Beverage Free at Sea perk will likely be worth it.

The best to find out if any of these drink packages are worth it are by calculating if the amount of drinks you'll have throughout the cruise will add up to the amount of the package or more.

Calculation example:

($10 per drink) x (how many drinks a day) = estimated total for one cruise day

(total of one cruise day) x (# of days of your cruise) = estimated total for the entire cruise

You can check out some of the NCL Drink Prices below and use our handy Cruise Drink Package Calculator.

Does NCL Premium Beverage Package include bottled water?

The short answer is no. Bottled water is not included with the NCL Premium Beverage Package.

Be aware there are conflicting reports as NCL temporarily included 6 1L water bottles (delivered to your stateroom on embarkation day) with the Free at Sea NCL Premium Beverage Package. According to reports, that is no longer the case. Customer service onshore and offshore can’t seem to provide a straight answer.

Bottled water packages can be purchased separately.

The only beverage package that does include unlimited bottled water (still and sparkling) is the NCL Premium PLUS Beverage Package.

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Are drinks free on Norwegian Cruise Line?

The free drinks included with your cruise on NCL are ice tea, regular coffee, filtered water, and some free fountain juices in the buffet.

Sodas, specialty coffee, alcoholic drinks, frozen drinks, and bottled water are an extra charge unless you have an NCL drink package that covers these drinks.

Are frozen drinks included in NCL drink package?

Frozen drinks are included in the Premium Beverage Package, Premium Plus Beverage Package, and the Hawaiian Beverage Package.

Does my Free at Sea Open Bar apply if the 2nd guest is a minor?

If your 2nd guest on your Norwegian cruise reservation is minor and you choose the Open Bar Free at Sea perk, the child will get the soda package.

NCL Soda Package

  • One of the popular beverage packages
  • $9.95 per person, per day plus 20% gratuity
  • Unlimited fountain drinks
fried chicken, mash potatoes and corn meal with a soda
Enjoying our fried chicken dinner in the dining room with a Pepsi.

The best NCL Drink Package depends on your drinking habits. If you’re a light drinker, meaning you don’t drink alcohol at all, but you do soda, we recommend the Classic Soda Package.

The soda package is available for purchase on all NCL ships. This package includes unlimited fountain sodas.

Norwegian Cruise Line used to serve Pepsi, but they have officially transitioned their ships to Coca-Cola.

graphic | ncl soda package

What is the cost of the NCL Soda package?

The soda package costs $9.95 per person daily plus a 20% gratuity.

Is the NCL Soda Package worth it?

The NCL Soda Package is a great option for those who don’t drink alcohol or want to save money. With the package, you’ll have unlimited access to fountain drinks, saving you money in the long run.

Consider that a cup of soda is around $3-4 each. So if you order 2-3 a day, even if it’s just club soda, it will make up for the price.

If you don’t drink much alcohol, you may consider purchasing a soda package on embarkation day rather than investing in the gratuity that comes with the Unlimited Open Bar Perk ($305 in gratuities for two guests).

However, always do the calculations.

The soda package costs about $84 per passenger, which is $168 for two passengers. Wouldn’t the extra $137 towards the Unlimited Open Bar Perk be worth it? That’s what you have to ask yourself. You can enjoy some virgin frozen drinks.

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NCL Premium Beverage Package

  • Most popular alcoholic beverage package
  • $109 per person, per day, plus 20% gratuity
  • It’s included as one of the Free at Sea promotions as the Unlimited Open Bar Perk
  • Includes sodas and alcoholic drinks up to $15, selected premium drinks that don’t exceed $15
  • Not included: Specialty coffee like Starbucks, energy drinks, orders via room service, and mini-bar items
hand holding a cocktail with nyc skyline in the background
Take advantage of the Premium Beverage Package, but note that you will be charged a small tax fee while docked in US ports.

The NCL Premium Beverage Package is the most popular, and for a good reason. It’s a great value for what you get and one of the Norwegian Cruise Line’s Free at Sea perks.

As we mentioned, you can choose this package as a Free at Sea perk when booking a cruise if it suits your budget and cruising needs.

graphic | ncl premium beverage package

What does NCL Premium Beverage Package include?

The NCL Premium Beverage Package includes a wide variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for up to $15 and 20% off bottles of wine and champagne.

This package does not include specialty coffees, bottled water, room service, or mini bar purchases.

What is the cost of the NCL Premium Beverage Package?

The NCL Premium Beverage Package costs $109 per person daily, plus 20% gratuities. The total cost will vary depending on the length of your cruise.

If you choose this as a free perk, remember that you will have to pay gratuities for the value of the Premium Beverage Package. Which currently adds up to $305 for guests 1 & 2 on a 7-day cruise. Again, we advise you to calculate to see if it’s worth the gratuities.

The Unlimited Open Bar Perk now applies to guests 1-8 who are 21 and over. Minors will receive the soda package if they are guests 2, but not 3-8.

There is an additional tax if you order drinks while docked at a US Port.

You can read the terms and conditions for the Norwegian Cruise Line’s Premium Beverage Package: here.

What happens if you order a drink that is over $15?

If you have the NCL Premium Beverage package that only covers certain alcoholic drinks, liquor, and beverages up to $15, you can pay for the difference out of pocket.

Example: If you order an $18 martini, the premium beverage package will only cover up to $15, so the difference of $3 plus 20% gratuity will be charged to your Seapass. Of course, bartenders will always tell you when a drink isn’t fully covered with the premium beverage package and the cost of the difference. You can then decide if you want to proceed with the extra cost or not.

Check out NCL's updated PDF that list all of alcohols and beverages that are included in the Premium Beverage Package and the Premium Plus Beverage Package.
district brewhouse norwegian joy
Norwegian Cruise Line’s District Brewhouse is the spot to enjoy various beers.

NCL Premium Plus Beverage Package

  • Upgraded version of the NCL Premium Beverage Package
  • $138 per person, per day, plus 20% gratuity
  • Includes all of the benefits of the NCL Premium Beverage Package, plus:
  • Specialty coffees, including Starbucks
  • Bottled water
  • Energy drinks
  • Premium Spirits
  • 40% discount on flights and wine tastings

The NCL Premium Plus Beverage Package is the boosted version of the NCL Premium Beverage Package. This package is worth purchasing or upgrading if premium spirits are important to you and you want unlimited access to bottled water, sparkling bottled water, and energy drinks.

graphic | ncl premium plus beverage package

What does NCL Premium Plus Beverage Package include?

The NCL Premium Plus Beverage Package includes all the benefits of the NCL Premium Beverage Package, including specialty coffees (Starbucks), bottled water, bottled sparking water, energy drinks, and premium spirits.

What is the cost of the NCL Premium Plus Beverage Package?

The NCL Premium Plus Beverage Package costs $138 per person daily, plus 20% gratuities. The total cost will vary depending on the length of your cruise.

Suppose you already have the Premium Beverage Package provided as a Free at Sea perk. In that case, you can upgrade to the most recent promotion program NCL Free at Sea Plus, for $49 per person daily, plus gratuities, to take advantage of the NCL Premium Plus Beverage Package.

It’s only available on cruises of 3 days or more. If you don’t see the offer available on your NCL account, contact your travel agent or personal cruise consultant at Norwegian.

If the option is availabe for your sailing and cruise cabin, you can also just upgrade from the Premium Beverage Package to the Premium Plus Beverage package for an additional $29 per person, per day (adult guests 1 & 2). 

This is only an upgrade that applies to your NCL Free at Sea Open Bar and does not include the other NCL Free at Sea Plus promotions.
wine tasting on norwegian cruise line

Is the NCL Premium Plus Beverage Package worth it?

If you’re a heavy drinker, this is the package for you. Cruisers love its ease and freedom to order what they want to drink throughout the cruise.

Whether that’s Starbucks coffee all day long or full bottles of wine at dinner, the premium spirits also make this package a great value. If you’re looking for the best NCL drink package, the premium plus beverage package is it.

Also, note that if you upgrade to the Free at Sea Plus, the upgrade comes with two additional dinners at specialty dining restaurants for guests 1 and 2, unlimited Internet (no streaming), and $50 off a shore excursion for the 2nd guest.

Does NCL Premium Plus Beverage Package include Starbucks?

Yes! Starbucks and specialty coffees are included with the NCL Premium Plus Beverage Package.

You can read the terms and conditions for the Norwegian Cruise Line’s Premium Plus Beverage Package: here.

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NCL Hawaii Beverage Package

  • For Pride of America sailings only
  • Similar to the Premium Plus Beverage Package
  • $109 per person, per day, plus 20% gratuity
  • Included as one of the Free at Sea perks
  • Unlimited beverages up to $15
  • Included: soda, flat or sparkling bottled water, specialty coffee in restaurants, and freshly squeezed juices
  • Not included: specialty coffee outside restaurants, mini-bar, or vending machines.
holding a pina colada with the norwegian cruise line logo on cup

The NCL Hawaii Beverage Package is great for those cruising to or from the islands on the Norwegian Pride of America sailings. This package is similar to the Premium Beverage package. The biggest difference is that it does include bottled water and specialty coffee in dining rooms.

This package is offered as a Free at Sea promotion if you add it to your cruise fare.

graphic | ncl hawaii beverage package

What does the NCL Hawaii Beverage Package include?

The NCL Hawaii Beverage Package includes unlimited beverages from non-alcoholic to alcoholic drinks for up to $15. That includes all bottled water, restaurant specialty coffee, and fresh juices.

What is the cost of Norwegian’s Hawaii Beverage Package?

The NCL Hawaii Beverage Package costs $109 per person daily, plus 20% gratuities. The total cost will vary depending on the length of your cruise.

Note that if you choose this as a free perk, you will have to pay gratuities for the value of the NCL Hawaii Beverage Package. Which currently adds up to $305 for two people on a 7-day cruise.

Read the terms and conditions for Norwegian Cruise Line’s Hawaii Beverage Package.

Unlimited Starbucks Package

  • $12.95 per person per day for unlimited Starbucks drinks
  • 20% gratuity added to the total cost
  • Includes all specialty coffee and tea drinks served in cups at Starbucks.
  • Package only available on ships that have Starbucks onboard.
  • Not included: Bottled water, canned drinks, and food at Starbucks.
starbucks cafe on cruise ship

What is the cost of the Starbucks Package?

The Starbucks package on the Norwegian Cruise Line costs $12.95 per person per day for unlimited Starbucks drinks. It adds to a total of $108.78 per person based on a 7-day cruise.

The package has to be purchased for everyone staying in the same cabin if they are 18 and over.

graphic for ncl starbucks package

Is the Starbucks Package worth it?

If you’re a huge specialty coffee drinker not planning to upgrade to or purchase the Premium Plus package (it comes included), YES.

And if you’re not purchasing any drink package but love your lattes, frappuccinos, and teas, the cost of a Starbucks package is a good alternative.

When we cruised the Norwegian Joy, we spent $19 with a tip at Starbucks for two lattes one afternoon. The Starbucks drinks a la carte are slightly more expensive than on shore, but we believe it was better prepared than any Starbucks on land near us.

norwegian encore starbucks prices
List of the cost of coffee at the Starbucks on the Norwegian Encore.

Bottled water, canned drinks, and food at Starbucks are not included. Read the terms and conditions for Norwegian’s Starbucks Package.

Drink Prices on Norwegian Cruise Line

We recently sailed on the Norwegian Encore. While we had upgraded to the NCLs Premium Plus Package, I did keep an eye on the cost of the drinks.

Here is a price list of some of the common drinks. You can calculate if a Beverage Package, whether the Free-at-Sea or the Premius Plus package, works for your budget.

Or if you plan to pay for drinks without a beverage package. 

Just don’t forget to add that 20% gratuity that will be added automatically with each drink ordered.

The Free-at-Sea Beverage Package covers alcoholic drinks up to $15. If you order anything over $15, you can pay for the difference and gratuities. That includes if you decide to order your drink with top-shelf liquor rather than well. 

Note that some drinks may vary in price by $1-2 throughout the fleet.

  • Boxed Water: $4 
  • Sparkling Pelligrino: $7
  • Soda: $3-4
  • Bottle of Beer: $7-8
  • Starbucks: $3.50-$6.45
  • Wine/Sparkling Wine: $8-$31 per glass
  • Popular Cocktails: $9 to $12
  • Whiskey Libations: $11 to $14
    The whiskey flights with top-shelf liquor at Malting’s are $20.
  • Martini’s: $11 to $18
    The espresso and chocolate martini everyone loves is the most expensive at $18. Martini flights are $20. 

Cruise Drink Package Calculator

Don’t stress about which package to choose. Our cruise drink package calculator will help you determine if the gratuities charged for the Free-at-Sea NCL Drink Package is worth the cost. Or if you should consider upgrading to the NCL Premium Plus Beverage Package.

See which NCL drink package is the best bang for your buck. You might realize that you do not plan to drink as much to justify the cost of an NCL Drink Package, and it will be cheaper to pay for drinks as you go.

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The NCL Drink Packages provide great drink deals while cruising if you plan to take advantage of them. There are a variety of packages to choose from, so find the one that best suits your needs.

If you don’t drink soda or consume alcoholic drinks, don’t feel obligated to purchase a drink package. To save money, you can go to the buffet for free water, coffee, and juices. Filtered water and regular coffee are always provided in the dining rooms.

Cruise tip: Pack a thermal coffee mug or water flask, and refill these at the buffet. This is one of many things we list in our cruise packing list.

You can also always order drinks à la carte. Just make sure you do those calculations before the first day of your cruise. You can always add a beverage package on embarkation day.

What NCL Drink Package do you normally purchase?

🚢 Book a Cruise with NCL

Wondering if it’s challenging to plan the cruise? Don’t worry. We have you covered there as well. You can check out How to Plan a Cruise and How to Prepare for a Cruise next.

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Quick Cruise Planning Guide

Where to book a cruise?
We like to shop around before booking by going directly to the cruise line and checking out the deals on GoToSea,, Costco Travel, and Cruise Compete. Ultimately, the best advice is to find a travel agent you can trust to help you book a cruise.

Hotels for pre-cruise and post-cruise stays
We always use or to book international accommodations and Expedia or for US accommodations. Airbnb or Vrbo for vacation rentals.

Can I book my own shore excursions?
Yes, you’ll save money booking your own excursions and not with the cruise ship. We like to use Viator or WithLocals. Don’t forget to read up on our tips for booking.

Car Rentals
We like to rent a car at cruise ports and for the freedom to explore on our own when the destination makes sense. We also sometimes rent cars during our pre-cruise stay or on embarkation day.

Should I book cruise insurance?
Yes! Cruise insurance is essential. We always book with a third party rather than the cruise line. Compare pricing on

Packing for a Cruise? Don’t miss our essential cruise packing list.


Thursday 7th of September 2023

I am not a heavy drinker. I plan to only buy 2 beers a day. How much for a single can of say Bud or Miller light?


Friday 8th of September 2023

Hi Andy - A bottle of beer is around $7-8 each.


Wednesday 16th of August 2023

Why don't any of these blog entries state how much a soda costs? If I knew how much a soda costs, I can determine if the ~$10/day is worth it for me. Thank you!


Wednesday 16th of August 2023

@Kathy, Thanks! I must have missed it.


Wednesday 16th of August 2023

Hi Ann - Actually, yes, as stated above in the blog a cup of soda is around $3-4.


Tuesday 1st of August 2023

We have the beverage package and three specialty dinners on the Getaway this fall. Is the beverage package included when we are at one of the specialty restaurants?


Monday 7th of August 2023

Hi Claudia - Apologies for the late reply, we just got off an Alaskan cruise on Norwegian. To answer your question, the beverage package can be used in the dining room and are subject to the same guidelines and restrictions. So if you have a Premium Beverage Package, you can order cocktails and wine up to $15 (you can always pay the difference if you do order anything over $15). If you have the Premium PLUS Beverage Package then you can literally order anything from top shelf cocktails, expensive glasses of wine and even the specialty coffee. Have a great cruise!


Wednesday 31st of May 2023

Thank you so much for all the incredible info! Headed out of NYC to Bermuda this summer with our giant family of 21 people ranging from 5 to 80 years old! Trying to manage the expectations of the 20-year old's in the group in regards to the drinks package. A promotion that was included is the Ultimate Beverage Package for Groups. During a phone call with NCL they explained it as 2 drinks per person per transaction. So I assume that works great say at the pool bar or casino, but they said that would be 2 drinks per sit down meal. Do you know if that's enforced or is it a little more open at the dinner table to order say a pre-dinner drink, 2 glasses of wine with dinner and then a cordial? Would tipping the waiter help or make things awkward? Sorry first cruise for all of us! Thanks again :)


Thursday 1st of June 2023

Hi Catherine - NCL's policy states, a passenger with the Unlimited Beverage Package can order 2 drinks per transaction. Meaning that you can order 2 pina coladas at a time, if you wish.

Perhaps when speaking to customer service, they are see dinner as one transaction and stating that you'll only be able to have 2 drinks max. That's not the case, I've never experienced any limits ordering multiple drinks at dinner, including a cordial.

What I have experienced at times is the waiter being so busy that I don't get the chance to order another drink. You should be able to order unlimited drinks that are included in the package.

It doesn't hurt to get a pre-dinner drink and bring that with you to dinner. Many passengers do this, especially during busy dinner times. There are bars usually easily accessible not far from the dinner venues.

Tips are always appreciated. We always tip at the end of our meal if the service was excellent. Of course, you can tip ahead when placing your drink order and whisper, "keep 'em coming." I'm sure they'd be happy to oblige.


Sunday 28th of May 2023

So here is our issue. I drink strictly Starbucks, no sodas whatsoever. My husband only drinks Diet Coke. There are only two of us in the cabin. So do we have to get drink packages galore or what?


Monday 29th of May 2023

Hi Holly - That's where it gets tricky. NCLs policy is that all passengers within the same cabin must purchase the same package. It is not helfpul in situations like this.

I can totally relate as my husband doesn't drink alcohol and yet I do, this becomes an issue sometimes when cruising. I pay for alcohol as I go now. However, from personal experience we have been able to purchase a soda package just for him and not me once onboard NCL ship in the past. I've read others that have done similar, even with upgrades when one person upgrades a package and the other doesn't, once onboard. You can try to go that route and wait to see if they'll allow you to make these separate purchases on board, but it is not a guarantee.

The other dilemma is that I believe that the Starbucks package is sold online and not onboard, don't believe that has changed. We do have an upcoming cruise on NCL and I'll be on the lookout to see.