All information below is based on my experience cruising with NCL in 2016.
The ultimate beverage package is currently being offered as one part of NCL’s current free at sea promotion. I recently had the package when I took a Caribbean cruise on board the Norwegian Getaway. I really enjoyed having cocktails by the pool and prosecco with lunch. There’s normally upwards of 10 bars on an NCL cruise ship meaning that you can have drinks all day everyday and still not need to try the same thing twice. Despite being the highest package available it isn’t ‘unlimited’.
In addition to beer/wine/cider/cocktails/spirits the UBP includes all fountain sodas and juices from the bars.
The UBP drinks package does not include:
- Tea/Coffee from the atrium. This is by far the best tea/coffee on the ship, much better than what you’d find in the garden cafe but it isn’t included in the unlimited beverage package.
- Bottled water.
- High priced whiskeys/cocktails. There is often a limit on price per drink, this is currently $15, where drinks above this are not included. When ordering a drink with a value of above $15 you have to pay the extra and pay an 18% gratuity on the extra amount. I never found any drinks that I wanted over $15 so I can’t imagine that this is a problem for most people.
- If a drink comes with a promotional glass/cup you will not get the glass. It is possible to pay extra for it but when ordering the drink with the UBP they will assume that you do not want it.
- Room service.
There are a couple of other things that I wish I had known:
- If you are 18 you cannot have the ultimate beverage package. NCL is an American company and as a result you must be over 21. Bit annoying if you’re 18-21 from the UK and used to be able to drink.
- All people in the same cabin (over 21) must purchase the ultimate beverage package if one does. I suppose this is to stop people from sharing drinks but can be quite annoying if only one of you is a drinker!
- If you order a spirit and mixer they are meant to give you a single shot of alcohol. I don’t think that they measured this out on any occasion on my recent cruise meaning that we often had drinks which seemed more like “Jack Daniels with a splash of coke” than a regular Jack Daniels and Coke. Not that I’m complaining.
- You are allowed two beverages per person per transaction.
- You cannot buy the package on sailings which are than two days or less.
A note about purchasing the UBP as part of a promotion: Currently if you book the package as part of the ‘free at sea’ promotion in the UK then you do not have to pay an extra 18% gratuity on the drinks package. However, if you book the package from the US you have to pay for the gratuities.
Norwegian sky: “Effective 4/22/15, guests booked on Norwegian Sky for 2016 sailings and beyond will receive: unlimited soda and juice, designated spirits, cocktails, wines by the glass, bottled and draft beer.” The same rules apply but it effectively is just a ‘free bar’ ship, there is also no $15 limit for drinks as all drinks are displayed on an ‘all inclusive’ menu with no prices.
Despite these exceptions I would still wholeheartedly recommend the ultimate beverage package if you’re including it in part of a promotion. As the package is meant to be $79 a day (plus gratuities) so you really do have to drink a lot to get your moneys worth if you’re purchasing it as an extra and not as part of a promotion. If you do purchase the package make sure to try the raspberry mojito in the mojito bar, it is absolutely amazing!
My favourite drinks:
- Mango meltdown slushy! This was served at the bars on the decks and was so so so yummy. it is refreshing and perfect for a sunny day. (I think I’d still drink it even if it was cold though!)
- Raspberry Mojitos – I definitely had too many of these…
- Angry orchard cider. I’ve never had this brand before but it was a yummy apply cider. Can’t go wrong there. It sometimes came in a can and sometimes a bottle depending where I got it from.
What’s your favourite drink onboard NCL? Let me know in the comments.