(3:40 p.m. EDT) -- Toast or tsk? The unlimited alcohol packages currently offered on the Britain-based Independence of the Seas won't be available during the ship's new seasonal deployment in Florida.
Royal Caribbean recently announced that "Indy," a year-round Southampton stalwart since 2010, will adopt a more traditional dual passport strategy: Starting in November 2012, it will split time between Southampton (spring, summer Europe cruises) and Fort Lauderdale (fall, winter Caribbean sailings). The alcoholic beverage packages won't be part of the redeployment. (It will, however, be offered on the transatlantic repositioning cruise from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale.)
"As Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand, our ships' offerings are tailored to the markets from where they draw their guests," spokesman Harrison Liu explained in an e-mail. "Independence of the Seas [from] Southampton was primarily a British product. When the ship sails in the Caribbean, the onboard offering will be adjusted to cater to a more North American and international clientele, as well as reflect the cultural norms here."
The all-you-can drink packages, which start at $29 per day (all brews, house wine by the glass and a 25 percent discount on other liquors and wines) were launched in March 2011 on a trial basis. The program is available on Grandeur of the Seas, Legend of the Seas and Independence, three ships catering to predominantly non-U.S. passengers. Grandeur divides its time between South America (cruises from Colon, Panama, and Cartagena, Columbia) and the Mediterranean (from Palma De Mallorca, Spain and couple other homeports). Legend is Royal Caribbean's year-round Asia-based vessel.
"The drinks package will not be expanded to additional ships yet," added Liu.
Over the past two years, unlimited booze packages have firmly achieved trend status, with new offerings introduced by Celebrity Cruises, Oceania Cruises, MSC Cruises and Royal Caribbean. Celebrity Cruises, a Royal Caribbean sister line catering to British, American and Australian passengers, offers all-you-can drink packages fleetwide, regardless of destination.
--by Dan Askin, News Editor
Cruise Line Alcohol Policies