Update (9:43 a.m. EDT) -- A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean confirmed the policy is in effect for all beverage package purchases made pre-cruise and onboard for select sailings, and it will apply to all ships' sailings on or after December 31, 2017.
(October 5, 11:10 a.m. EDT) -- All Royal Caribbean passengers 21 years of age and older (18 years in Australia and the U.K) are now required to purchase the Deluxe Beverage Package (DBP) if at least one other person in their cabin has one. The new policy comes after nearly three months of testing on select Harmony of the Seas sailings.
Royal Caribbean's DBP is the line's only alcohol-inclusive beverage package on offer. It costs $55 per person, per day.
Cruise Critic first heard of the news from its Royal Caribbean forums, where several members report seeing the requirement on their online cruise booking management systems. The following note now appears under the DBP overview, as posted by Cruise Critic member rukkian: "Each adult of legal drinking age assigned to the same stateroom must purchase this package."
Cruise Critic member RoLaHa also posted exclusions to the policy -- which include pregnancy, recovering alcoholic, medical reason, religious reason and does not consume alcohol due to personal preference.
However, uncertainty remains around whether the new policy is fleetwide, or if some ships are excluded.
Rukkian added: "Yesterday somebody from our sailing called in and they said it did not apply to Allure at all, and was only for a couple of ships, which is obviously wrong, since it is enforced on our cruise planner."
Cruise Critic member Biffco also said: "Just went and purchased it for our upcoming Anthem cruise (November 25) and was able to buy just one for our stateroom of 2 guests (over 21). Not sure what will happen upon check-in, but I wasn't forced to purchase for all individuals in our stateroom."
A number of members, such as beatleman, have expressed disappointment regarding the new policy: "Just great RCCL you have spoiled my Ovation cruise next Feb. by making the drink package unavailable to purchase singularly. I will not be participating in this cash grab as my wife rarely drinks."
Others, like mr walker, appeared to be more understanding of the changes: "Seemed to be inevitable that it would go this way i.e. if one passenger in a cabin gets AIBP [an all-inclusive beverage package] all adults in the same cabin must also."
The member notes that if passengers followed the rules of the package, rather than trying to split drinks, it might not have changed. "The number of people sharing, boasting about it and encouraging others to do likewise on social media just made it a definite. Whilst not everyone cheated, and the ones who didn't are penalised along with those that did, I don't see how this can be interpreted as a lack of loyalty on [Royal Caribbean's] part. They are not the ones who broke the rules."
The change comes just days after Norwegian Cruise Line raised its Ultimate Beverage Package price to $89 -- making it the most expensive alcohol package in the mainstream cruise industry.
Cruise Critic has contacted Royal Caribbean for a statement, and will update this story as more information becomes available.
--By Gina Kramer, Editor