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  #1  
Old July 19th, 2013, 11:38 PM
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jenninlaca jenninlaca is offline
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Default Review of Premium Beverage Package on Allure (June 30 sailing)

Just returned from Allure on the 6/30 sailing. I did a lot of research and debated whether to get the drink package for my husband and me. I ultimately decided to go for it because 3 of our traveling companions (different cabins) decided to do it and I thought it would be a fun way to splurge and not worry about the bar tab after the fact. We prepaid online and our Seapass was all set with the sticker when we checked in during embarkation.

Overall we had a very good experience with the drink package and all 5 adults enjoyed having it. I think I generally drank enough to get a good value out of it. I did not keep every receipt and calculate it to the dollar, but generally I had a mimosa or two in the morning, a drink or two in the afternoon, a couple of glasses of champagne or martinis at dinner, the dessert shot in the MDR, and a cocktail or two after dinner depending on where we went. BUT, there is no doubt that I ordered more drinks than I otherwise would have. I would have had my share on the cruise, but I found that with the drink package if I had 10 or 15 to sit down and was near a bar we would get a drink. If we were paying as we went we most likely would not have gotten those "quick" drinks or the "take back to the cabin while we get ready for dinner" drinks. By day 4 or 5, I was definitely feeling like I did not need any more drinks for awhile, although remarkably I was never drunk or hung over. So overall in terms of VALUE, I feel that yes, I got my money's worth based on what I consumed, and yes, I enjoyed having the package and the freedom to just order whatever and whenever without worrying about how much I was spending. Could I have enjoyed the cruise and overall paid less money for alcohol? Absolutely. I think if I was paying by the drink I probably would not have run up a tab as high as the cost of the package. Very similar to the way food tends to go on cruises for a lot of people. You order more because its available and already paid for. Its enjoyable to do that although you don't need that extra dessert or entree and if you were paying a la carte you would no doubt eat less, skip appetizers, share desserts etc.

One consideration on cost was that my husband was definitely going to purchase the soda package anyway. So for him I considered the premium drink package to be $6 per day "cheaper" - since it included the soda he would have purchased. Also, the break even point is closer than people think if you are drinking the $8 or $9 martinis, since the $55 per day price includes tax and tip. Also my decision on getting the package factored in that we were on the Western itinerary so all drinks on Labadee are included, and we did not do an excursion in Jamaica so we spent most of that day on the ship. If you are on an itinerary where you will be off the ship on at least 3-4 days, it is harder to justify the package.

in terms of what was included in the package, we had very few issues. On embarkation day for lunch we ate at Giovanni's table. I first attempted to order champagne and they told me that they did not have the house champagne available and then I attempted to order the elderflower lemonade cocktail from the regular bar menu (available at every bar) and was told that the elderflower was not included on the package. I did not think that was actually true but they seemed to be a bit confused that day so I did not argue the point and just ordered something else. Later on the ship I was able to get the elderflower lemonade at several locations with no problem. I cannot think of anything else we ordered that was not given to us, including the more expensive speciality martinis at the Champagne and Martini bar (which are not on the regular bar menu elsewhere). We ordered margaritas and they were made with no questions asked. The margaritas on the RCI bar menu all call for Patron, and Patron is supposedly not included in the package but I did not watch them make our drinks so I don't know if they substituted some other tequila but either way we got the margaritas (I did not like the margarita mix on board, though). On Labadee we had a cabana and I tried to order a mimosa and was told they did not have champagne at the bar. Instead I had a Labadoozie, which was good and the cabana attendant brought it in a plastic cup rather than the souvenir glass.

At 150 Central Park the excellent cucumber cocktail that they try to push at the beginning of the meal as a "palate cleanser" is not included and it is $15 per person, but we really really enjoyed this cocktail and I would pay for it again. $15 is expensive but it is in line with the cost of drinks at most restaurants in L.A. where I live. Later in the 150 CP meal the waiter tried to steer us toward the expensive wines but not in a high pressure way. I asked whether we could get the house wines since we had the drink package and that was not a problem, glasses of house wine and champagne were brought over.

In terms of souvenir glasses generally, we were served some drinks in them (not at our request). The bartenders did not seem to care about the "no souvenir glass" rule with the package. I suspect this varies by bartender and location. And if you are turned down for a certain drink as not being available, I would just go to a different bar and see if you get a different answer. But I did not get the impression that they are trying to screw people over who have purchased the package.

Generally bar service was very good and I never felt like anyone looked down on the package or did not give us good service because we had a package. The only thing I did not like about the package was having to sign a receipt every single time (including every round in the main dining room). From reviews on CC I had the impression that we may not have to sign any slips. Signing a slip at the bar was not a big deal but having to pass our cards and sign for every single drink in the MDR during dinner was a bit of a hassle and seemed really unnecessary. I am not clear as to why they cannot just keep a tab (like at a restaurant) and bring you a slip at the end of the meal with all of your drinks. Its a lot of extra work for the servers and in the middle of the meals they are returning cards and asking you to sign slips. Every adult at our table had the package so it was not as if anyone was going to be charged anything for drinks. Notably at 150 Central Park they did not collect cards with each round of cocktails. During our meal at Chops we paid $25 corkage and had a nice bottle of wine that we brought on board. That's a hefty corkage but it was a nice bottle and the equivalent bottle at Chops would have been around $60.

On the last night of the cruise we were chatting with a food and beverage manager who said that approximately 1,000 people on our sailing had purchased the package, so apparently it is very popular. He said that nobody on our sailing had their privileges revoked, but on other recent sailings there had been a few people whose passes were cancelled (and they were not issued refunds). He said that the bartenders and servers are watching to make sure that people are not sharing the pass and if they catch you doing that they will first give a warning, and after that the pass will be revoked. He also mentioned that there are a few occasions when they have cancelled drink packages if the people are too drunk and behaving badly. It did not sound as though this was a frequent problem. I am not clear as to whether they would stop serving you that night, or revoke the pass entirely for the remainder of the cruise.

As for extra tipping, I assume that the primary reason why they have you sign slips each time is so the servers have the opportunity to get extra tips, because they could track your drinks by computer when they swiped your card without you having to sign each time. I did feel somewhat guilty each time not adding anything, although RCI is very clear that tip is included in the package. My general rule is that if I was just getting one drink and leaving the bar I did not tip extra but if the bartender served me more than one drink I would tip extra before leaving. Not necessary but I wanted to do it. Between two adults we probably tipped an extra $30-40 collectively during the week, mostly in $1 increments. We left a nice tip for the beverage server in the MDR who served us most of the evenings.

So that's my review of the drink package. I would be happy to answer any questions.
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  #2  
Old July 19th, 2013, 11:46 PM
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marshabear marshabear is offline
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even though we will not be purchasing this package, (we are not big drinkers), I just wanted to say this is a wonderful review and thanks for sharing! alot of people will benefit from it....




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  #3  
Old July 19th, 2013, 11:49 PM
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jenninlaca jenninlaca is offline
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Thanks MarshaBear.

I should add that I suppose having to sign slips is not a downside of the package since you would have to do that every time if you were paying, but if they did not make you sign slips that would be a significant point in favor of getting the package!
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Old July 19th, 2013, 11:52 PM
sideways2 sideways2 is offline
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Thank you so much for this information! It's great to hear from someone who has actually used the package.
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  #5  
Old July 20th, 2013, 01:37 AM
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I purchased this package for my first upcoming cruise with RCI, so I appreciate the review!! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience. It certainly helped me to better understand the package!
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Old July 20th, 2013, 02:16 AM
macjemm macjemm is offline
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I also purchased the premium package on a recent FOS cruise and felt it to be extremely annoying to always have to pass over the card and sign. Great review!


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Old July 20th, 2013, 03:48 AM
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dforeigner dforeigner is offline
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We get the premium drink package when sailing on board Celebrity. But from what I have been reading, on RCI it does not include specialty coffee, premium water or fresh squeese juices. Is this correct?
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Old July 20th, 2013, 04:51 AM
ashea07 ashea07 is offline
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Default Red Bull Included?

Was Red Bull included as a mixer? My boyfriend and I are debating the package, but he prefers vodka and red bull, so if red bull isn't included, he isn't interested. Thanks for taking the time to write this, lots of helpful info!
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Old July 20th, 2013, 08:11 AM
macruisefan macruisefan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dforeigner View Post
We get the premium drink package when sailing on board Celebrity. But from what I have been reading, on RCI it does not include specialty coffee, premium water or fresh squeese juices. Is this correct?
You are correct. That is the key reason I am debating if it is worth it for my upcoming Oasis cruise. Loved the package on Celebrity. But it was definitely enhanced with the ability to get a premium coffee, or a large bottle of Evian anytime.
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Old July 20th, 2013, 08:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macruisefan View Post
You are correct. That is the key reason I am debating if it is worth it for my upcoming Oasis cruise. Loved the package on Celebrity. But it was definitely enhanced with the ability to get a premium coffee, or a large bottle of Evian anytime.
Bummer. Thanks for the information though.
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Old July 20th, 2013, 08:19 AM
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clarea clarea is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dforeigner View Post
We get the premium drink package when sailing on board Celebrity. But from what I have been reading, on RCI it does not include specialty coffee, premium water or fresh squeese juices. Is this correct?
Correct, and another big difference is that Royal does not assign a max dollar value to the drinks included in their package, so there's always some confusion on what's included. If you want a drink that's not included in the Royal package (say a more expensive glass of wine), you pay full price, whereas on Celebrity you get a credit for having the package.
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Old July 20th, 2013, 08:29 AM
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The4OfUs The4OfUs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashea07 View Post
Was Red Bull included as a mixer? My boyfriend and I are debating the package, but he prefers vodka and red bull, so if red bull isn't included, he isn't interested. Thanks for taking the time to write this, lots of helpful info!
We are considering this too, and using this price list to figure it out - there are drinks with Red Bull, just noticed -

http://www.shipcruise.org/royal-cari...-drink-prices/
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Old July 20th, 2013, 08:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clarea View Post
Correct, and another big difference is that Royal does not assign a max dollar value to the drinks included in their package, so there's always some confusion on what's included. If you want a drink that's not included in the Royal package (say a more expensive glass of wine), you pay full price, whereas on Celebrity you get a credit for having the package.
Double bummer. Guess it may not be worth it.
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Old July 20th, 2013, 08:56 AM
constable145 constable145 is offline
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You said 5 people purchased it. How did you end up with an update odd number? Was someone able to purchase it for only themselves and not a cabin mate? Or were there only 5 in your group?

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Old July 20th, 2013, 10:58 AM
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sarahleebones sarahleebones is online now
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Great review...thanks for taking the time to post this.

I hope you don't mind, I've snagged it for our cruise blog at http://www.9daysontheexplorer.blogspot.ca

If this is a problem, let me know and I will remove it
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Old July 20th, 2013, 11:21 AM
paulsurf paulsurf is offline
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Thanks for the review
Plan on purchasing the package for wife and I on upcoming FOS cruise in September
Question: we usually order a bottle of wine each night and know the package offers only
" house wine " by the glass. How bad is the house wine ? We are dinning 4 nights in the specially restaurants and from what I have read for us on those nights ...drinks prior to dinner on the package then order a decent bottle of wine of course outside of the package and on the nights in the MDR see if the " house wines" by the glass on the package are " drinkable"
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Old July 20th, 2013, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsurf View Post
Thanks for the review
Plan on purchasing the package for wife and I on upcoming FOS cruise in September
Question: we usually order a bottle of wine each night and know the package offers only
" house wine " by the glass. How bad is the house wine ? We are dinning 4 nights in the specially restaurants and from what I have read for us on those nights ...drinks prior to dinner on the package then order a decent bottle of wine of course outside of the package and on the nights in the MDR see if the " house wines" by the glass on the package are " drinkable"
Obviously, taste in wine is personal, but our opinion is that the house wine has been improved since St. Martin has replaced La Terre. It's drinkable, but I would still be buying something different to go with a dinner in the specialty restaurant.
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Old July 20th, 2013, 12:03 PM
paulsurf paulsurf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clarea View Post
Obviously, taste in wine is personal, but our opinion is that the house wine has been improved since St. Martin has replaced La Terre. It's drinkable, but I would still be buying something different to go with a dinner in the specialty restaurant.
Thanks
Agree, 2 nights in Chops / 2 Nights in Portofino's .....will call for need to order bottles for taste and ambience of the venue.
Not familiar with St Martin but willing to give it a try for evenings in MDR. Have read on some posts ,as people's taste are different, goods and bads and appreciate you find it improved from the La Terre. As time continues perhaps RCI will tweak the package to make it similar to the Celebrity package which includes some premium wines.
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Old July 20th, 2013, 12:36 PM
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rrraydon rrraydon is offline
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Thanks for your feedback.. it sounds like something I may purchase after all.
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Old July 20th, 2013, 12:38 PM
labeachcomber labeachcomber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jenninlaca View Post
Thanks MarshaBear.

I should add that I suppose having to sign slips is not a downside of the package since you would have to do that every time if you were paying, but if they did not make you sign slips that would be a significant point in favor of getting the package!
I've read a number of posts about the "hassle" of signing slips. Is it really that big a deal? Yes, on RCI they make you hand over your card every time and sign, whereas if I recall on Celebrity you just flash the card. But I don't think that's a reason why you wouldn't get the package if you really wanted to drink.

Biggest complaint is that you can only get house Chardonnay or Cabernet if you wanted wine. On Celebrity, any glass of wine under X dollars was included.


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