The Ultimate Beverage Package! I was really excited about this part of our cruise. This would be the first time that I would have access to unlimited alcohol on my cruise. Was this going to be a good thing or a bad thing? There would be many positives. I wouldn’t have to worry about shopping for wine before the cruise. I wouldn’t have to borrow a corkscrew from one of the bars. I would be able to order drinks on the spur of the moment! The only downside would be that I would probably spend some time being hung over. But I was happy when they handed us our sea passes with UBP stenciled in the upper right-hand corner.
Our cruise was booked via Casinos At Sea. The cruise was “comped” based on A.’s playing in the Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi. When I called to book the cruise, I was delighted to find out that the UBP was also “comped.” We would only have to pay the 18% beverage package gratuity. At the time we booked the cruise, the UBP was priced at $59/day/person. Our gratuity worked out to about $80 each for the UBP. This is an incredible deal and I was thrilled.
We could drink anything in the bars or restaurants, as long as the price was less than $15. There are very few drinks that are priced more than this, and all the wines by-the-glass are less as well. As I recall, the only drinks that were more were the ones that came with a souvenir glass, and you could order these with the UBP and they would put it in a regular glass.
My goal was to sample all the drinks available on the ship. I realized the very first day that this plan was way too ambitious. I am no longer a 20-year-old college student, and I just can’t drink at the pace that would be required to sample all that was available. The mixed drinks are too sweet and contain too much alcohol for me to have more than a couple a day. And I HAVE to have several glasses of wine with dinner!
The first day was my heaviest drinking day. I had a Cherry Limeade ( thumbs down—too sweet) at the pool bar shortly after lunch. About an hour before dinner, we had the Basin Cucumber Twist martinis (highly recommended) at Magnums. Then I had a couple of glasses of red wine at dinner, and a glass of wine later on in the casino. Good thing the next day was a sea day!
The next day I had the drink of the day at the pool bar (Pain Killer—another too sweet drink), the usual wine with dinner, and a Lavender Patch martini at Magnums (again, too sweet). On port days, I just drank wine with dinner, or perhaps just one glass of wine in the casino. On the last day of the cruise, which was a sea day, I had just one mixed drink like a pina colada, while I was in the hot tub, and a couple of glasses of wine with dinner. I think that if I were on a longer cruise, I would be settling down to 2-3 glasses of wine a day and that’s it.
The UBP was great and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to try it. I wouldn’t buy it at full retail because I just can’t drink that much. Norwegian has just increased the price to $79 a day. This is actually $93.22 a day with the gratuity. And both occupants of the cabin have to buy one. This would have been an especially terrible deal for us because A. never drank more than two drinks a day. Norwegian does include the drinks package on many of their cruises, however.
Unfortunately I didn’t get around to tasting the Mojitos in the Sugar Cane Lounge! The problem I have with all the cocktails are that they are just too sweet for my taste. Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. I never drank so much on this cruise that it affected my activities.
One thing to be aware of with the UBP is that it does not include waters and specialty coffees. We had a special drink card that was attached to our casino players’ card that did include these items if they were consumed while we were in the casino. If we ordered a glass of wine in the casino, they asked to see our ship’s cards.
In my next post, I’ll give a quick run down of the bars, and post their menus with prices.