When considering additional costs for a cruise vacation on a Carnival fun ship, one of the concerns is always beverages. Drink prices for most beverages are not included in the price of the cruise fare. While prices can change at any time, understanding what drinks may cost on your next cruise can help the overall vacation budget, and give vacationers a chance to try new cocktails.
Carnival Beverage Prices
Unless you are drinking free tap water, coffee, milk, or juice provided by the ship, expect added costs to quench your thirst. Like many of its competitors, Carnival Cruises tacks on a 15 percent gratuity to its beverage prices.
Pricing provided here is based on a February 2014 bar menu from the Sunshine, a Carnival vessel. Keep in mind that prices and beverages available are subject to change without notice and may vary depending on port of embarkation. Prices are quoted in in U.S. dollars.
Still & Sparking Water
- Water is available from $1.50 to $4.25.
- Imported water, such as Perrier or San Pellegrino, runs from $3 to $5 each.
Soft Drinks & Smoothies
- A standard 12-ounce can of soda sells for $2 on most Carnival Cruise ships and has been the same price for years.
- Expect to pay $3 for a 20-ounces of Powerade and $4.75 for a Rockstar energy drink.
- Specialty teas are available on some ships and range from $2 to $3.50, depending on the type of drink.
- Fruit smoothies are available for $5 each and include variations of mango, banana, strawberry and peach based mixes.
Domestic & Imported Beer
- The charge for a 16-ounce domestic beer is generally $5.75 with a few specialty lime flavors pushing the price to $6.25 each.
- Carnival offers several different 12-ounce imported beers, including Corona for $4.95 each, and six other 16-ounce varieties including Guinness and Heineken for $5.95 each.
- They offer a Gluten-free beer for a bargain price of only $5 each, though prices can vary depending on the brand.
- Non-alcoholic beer is sold for $4. Spiked cider or hard Lemonade is sold for $5.75 each.
Champagne and Wine
- Bottles of wine sell from $22 and up, depending on the type and vintage. At the bars and lounges, a 6-ounce glasses sell for between $6 and $12.
- If you plan on drinking wine or champagne with each meal, the dining staff can hold a bottle for you, therefore making a bottle purchase a better deal than individual glasses.
- Some ships offer additional events for wine lovers. A hosted wine tasting often ends with a sales pitch for the onboard wine package. Purchased bottles can be saved for the end of the trip, or kept by the sommelier and consumed over the course of the cruise. These are usually premium vintages, and the per glass price compared to the menu makes them worth consideration.
In regards to corkage fees, Carnival Cruises continues to charge $10 per bottle for personal wine consumed in the dining room and $14 in the steakhouse or supper club.
A classic cocktail such as a margarita, Long Island iced tea, or a mojito will cost $8.75 each in a regular glass, but are generally more expensive when served in souvenir cups, funnel cups, or carved coconuts.
Martinis & Specialty Cocktails
- A standard martini, cosmos, appletini will set you back $9 while premium martinis with higher brands of alcohol adds $1.
- A blended specialty drink like a daiquiri or the drink of the day is $7.50 each, with an upgrade available to Bacardi rum for $2 extra.
Other Hard Liquor
- "Sippin' Drinks" like shots of vodka, bourbon and fingers of scotch sell for between $6 and $10 each.
- Some higher-end tequilas are up to $12 each.
- Cordials and Liquors for after dinner are usually $6 to $7 dollars.
How to Save Money on Drinks
There are ways to cut down on your bar tab while onboard Carnival cruise ships. Some of the most popular include:
- Bottomless Bubbles. Carnival's Bottomless bubbles package costs about $15 per day and entitles you to unlimited soda throughout the duration of your trip. Purchasing the card on the first day of the cruise is the best option, because prices are not reduced as the cruise goes on. A 15% gratuity is added to each beverage.
- CHEERS! Beverage Program. If each member of your cabin over the age of 21 is willing to invest $50 per day per person, the ships offer an adult beverage program. All drinks under $10 are included in the program, which allows for 15 drinks in a 24 hour period. This program is offered on three-day or longer cruises and the 15 percent gratuity is still applied. This program also includes free sodas and non-alcoholic frozen drinks, and 25 percent off bottled water, wine by the bottle or any drink above the $10 limit.
- Drink specials. Carnival publishes "Drinks of the Day" in its daily newsletter. You can save a few dollars by purchasing these beverages. Additionally, most Carnival ships offer "Early Bird Specials" on select alcoholic beverages, such as Bloody Marys and mimosas. You can save money by ordering these drinks before noon or before dinner at your favorite bar.
- Bar and soft drink credits. Carnival allows passengers to purchase credits for use on soft drink and bar sales. The credits come in the form of tickets and sell for discounted rates prior to setting sail.
- Funship dollars. Carnival now offers gift certificates that friends, family members or businesses can purchase for passengers to help defray onboard expenses, including beverages. Funship Dollars come in denominations ranging between $25 and $500 and can be applied as an onboard credit to a passenger's account.
- Free alcohol. Passengers are treated to free champagne at onboard art auctions, the Captain's Cocktail party, past passenger mixers, and scheduled tastings. Members of the loyalty program are also greeted with in-room toasts on embarkation day.
- Think before you drink. Monitor the tab by keeping a running total of the number of drinks you consume daily. Set a daily limit beforehand. Knowing when you have reached your limit is also a good way to avoid excessive drinking and huge beverage bills.
Carnival's Beverage Policy
Bringing Water and Soft Drinks
As of July 2015, the Carnival beverage policy has been updated. Each guest is currently allowed to embark with one case, (12 cans or fewer) of 20-ounce smaller sodas or waters. Bottles are not allowed, only canned beverages. These can be transported in a 12"x12"x12" or smaller cooler. No larger coolers are accepted.
In addition, vacationers are allowed to bring one bottle of wine or champagne per adult upon embarkation. The bottle must be packed in carry-on luggage. If bottles of alcohol are purchased in ports of call or at onboard gift shops, they are held by the staff until the end of the voyage.
The minimum age for the purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages in Carnival Cruises' bars, lounges, and gift shops is 21 years of age. However, the company does reserve the right to refuse the sale of alcoholic beverages to anyone. In addition, if you appear younger than 21, you will be asked to show a picture identification prior to being served.
Understanding Beverage Costs
Drinks, whether alcoholic or soft drinks are not included in cruise prices. Understanding how much they typically cost can help you plan your vacation budget and raise a toast to a great cruise.