9 Clever Ways to Drink For Free on Your Cruise

drink free cruise package alcohol
Put a dent in your bar tab with these strategies. - Photo by Princess Cruises

Drinking on a cruise is not cheap. Drink packages can cost around $50/day, and individual cocktails are comparable to what you'd pay in a major city. We’ve documented some of the crazy schemes cruisers hatch to sneak alcohol on board, but you don’t have to resort to smuggling just because you want a few free drinks. Here are 8 (perfectly legal) ways to drink for free on your cruise:

1. Free Beverage Perks

carnival cruise free drinks rail group

Keep an eye out for special offers that include a free drink package. - Photo by Carnival Cruise Line

When you book your cruise, look for special offers like a free beverage package or onboard credit. For example, Norwegian’s “Free at Sea” deal offers a choice between five perks, and free open bar is at the top of the list.


2. Loyalty Pays

princess cruise drink for free pool

Cruise lines reward repeat customers with special parties. - Photo by Princess Cruises

If you sail multiple times on the same cruise line, you'll earn "status" in the line's loyalty program. Once you reach a certain tier, you'll be invited to the loyalty parties. These events usually include free drinks.


3. Book the Right Excursions

red frog brewery drink for free

Tour of the RedFrog Brewery on Carnival Vista, the first brewery at sea. - Photo by Carnival Cruise Line

Some cruise excursions include visits to breweries or distilleries that offer free samples as part of the tour. In many Caribbean ports, you can find “booze cruise” excursions that offer an open bar during your excursion, and some all-inclusive resorts booked through Resort for a Day have open bars or generous food and beverage credits.


4. Casinos

casino ncl breakaway drink free cruise

Blackjack table on Norwegian Breakaway - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

Booze doesn't flow as freely in a cruise ship casino as it does in Las Vegas, but if you're a frequent player or a high-roller, you may earn free drinks while you're playing on your current or a future cruise. Check with the casino host for the requirements.


5. Art Auctions

art auction drink free cruise carnival

You don't actually have to buy anything at an art auction. - Photo by Carnival Cruise Line

Art auctions on cruise ships almost always offer at least one free glass of champagne to all comers. The auctioneers hope the free booze will reduce your inhibitions and make you more likely to bid, but there's no requirement you buy - you just have to show up.


6. Captain's Parties

captains party carnival cruise drink free

Captain's party on Carnival - Photo by Carnival Cruise Line

Most cruise lines offer a Captain's party, usually before dinner on the first formal night. The Captain will give a short speech welcoming guests, and waiters and waitresses will circle with trays of free drinks.


7. Tasting Events

duty free cruise drink free

Duty-free liquor store on Norwegian Joy - Photo by Norwegian Cruise LIne

Duty-free shops on cruise ships sometimes hold events where they offer special discounts on alcohol and provide free samples. It'll be a small, thimble full of alcohol, but free is free, right?


8. Sail on a Luxury or River Line

luxury river cruise free drinks

Most luxury lines include drinks in the fare. - Photo by Seabourn

Most luxury cruise and river cruise lines include at least some free beverages. Luxury lines like Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, and Crystal include an open bar, as does upper-premium line Azamara Club Cruises. On river lines like Viking, beer and wine are included with dinner. The service and dining will be far superior on these lines, but if you’re just in it for the drinks, it's probably not worth the significantly higher cruise fare.

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What other ways are there to get a free drink on a cruise?

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