Where can I get drinks onboard?

drink dispensers

You can order drinks from waiters in cruise ship restaurants, at bars and in the theaters before onboard shows. At the buffet, you can find drink-dispensing machines for milk, juice, water (cold and hot) and coffee; there's usually a bar in the buffet for other drinks, or you can order from a waiter. In your cabin, you can get drinks delivered via room service, and you'll find a limited selection inside in-cabin mini-bars. In general, passengers are permitted to drink pretty much anywhere and can take drinks from a bar and walk with them to their cabins or other onboard locations.

Do I have to pay for nonalcoholic drinks on a cruise ship?

Luxury cruise lines and any other line with an all-inclusive pricing structure will offer all drinks free of charge. On most mainstream cruise lines, however, only certain beverages are included in the fares. Complimentary drinks typically include tap water, basic coffee, tea (iced or hot), hot chocolate (from a packet or machine), milk and specific juices with meals. Soda, sparkling water, other juices (including freshly squeezed orange juice), smoothies, brand-name coffee and specialty coffees (lattes, cappuccinos, etc.) tend to cost extra. Disney is one exception; it includes soda in its cruise fares.

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How much are drinks on cruises?

Bottled water can range from $1.50 to $4.25, depending on bottle size, while name-brand sparkling or still water can cost $3 to $5. Soda starts around $2, while other beverages (name-brand iced tea, Red Bull, juice at a bar, etc.) might cost $2 to $5. Mocktails (virgin cocktails) and smoothies run around $4 to $5. Coffee drinks will be $2 to $6, depending on type and size. Of course, prices vary by cruise line and can change at any time. Cruise lines will also tack on an automatic 15 to 18 percent gratuity to the price of each drink.

How can I save money on cruise ship drink prices?

souvenir cups

Mainstream cruise lines usually offer soda packages, where you receive a souvenir insulated cup with a lid and unlimited soda refills for a set price or a sticker for your key card that signals soda has already been paid for. Prices run from $4 to $8 per person, per day, and certain lines will have separate prices for adults and kids. Some lines might also offer bottled water packages or general nonalcoholic drink packages. You can learn more about them in our story on all-you-can-drink packages.

Some cruise lines also offer a nonalcoholic drink special of the day. Look for information on discounted drink prices in your ship's daily newsletter.

Can I bring soda, bottled water or other nonalcoholic drinks onboard?

Yes, you are allowed to bring "reasonable quantities" of soda, juice, bottled water, iced tea or other sealed soft drinks onboard most cruise ships. Check with your line to find out what amounts they deem reasonable. The range stretches from a 12-pack per person to cases. Also, double check whether you must carry it on yourself or if you're able to check it in with luggage handlers.

Most cruise lines prohibit passengers from bringing their own small coffeemakers onboard. If you must have your own coffee, consider packing a small French press and your own ground coffee and requesting hot water from room service or your cabin attendant.

How can I learn more about nonalcoholic drinks on my ship?

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The What to Expect on a Cruise series, written by Cruise Critic's editorial staff, is a resource guide, where we answer the most common questions about cruise ship life -- including cruise food, cabins, drinks and onboard fun -- as well as money matters before and during your cruise and visiting ports of call on your cruise.