Carnival allows passengers to bring 1 (one) sealed bottle of wine or champagne aboard in their luggage. You can also bring a 12-pack of soda, bottled water, juice, etc. Other than the bottle, you can’t bring any other alcohol. Some people choose to smuggle alcohol on – either hidden in luggage or worn on your person in some sort of wine bra or leg bag – but THIS IS AGAINST THE RULES AND IT WILL BE CONFISCATED IF IT IS FOUND. I am not promoting this option. But this is the option some people choose.
I am a person who is easily caught doing things. If I am in a group of people doing Something Wrong, I am the one who will be singled out, without fail, and penalized. So I did not wear a wine bra. And because I flew into town from Pennsylvania, I didn’t want to pack any booze in my luggage (other than a bottle of champagne I acquired prior to boarding the cruise). And so, I had two options: Pay for all my drinks as I went along, or purchase a drink package. (A third option: abstain from alcohol. No thanks!)
For a five-day cruise, my price for the Carnival Cheers Package in April 2018 was $298.71 (which breaks down to $51.95 per day, plus 15% included gratuity). This seems pretty steep, but let’s discuss what’s included in the price:
- All spirits, including cocktails, cognacs, whiskies and other spirits, as well as beer and wine (and Champagne) by the glass, with a $50 USD or lower menu price per serving
- Zero-Proof frozen cocktails (including smoothies), sodas (including specialty sodas) and juices (also included in the Bottomless Bubbles program)
- Specialty coffees and hot tea served in the main dining rooms, specialty restaurants and coffee bars
- Milkshakes, where applicable
- RockStar energy drinks, Powerade, Vitamin Water, Coconut Water and Honest Tea
- 500ml bottled water and other non-alcoholic bottled beverages served in bars and lounges
- Large format (1 liter and 1.5-liter) bottles of water in the main dining rooms and specialty restaurants
- 25 percent discount off the menu price for any spirit, cocktail or wine by the glass, costing above $50 USD per serving
- 25 percent discount off the menu price for wine and champagne by the bottle and larger format water bottles purchased outside the main dining rooms or specialty restaurants
- 25 percent discount off beverage seminars and classes
(This info was yoinked directly from the Carnival website to ensure accuracy.)
As you can see, the Cheers program does not only include alcohol. It also includes soda, specialty coffees, specialty waters, energy drinks, milkshakes, and discounts on larger purchases. The Cheers program also recently started including top-shelf alcohols, so go crazy. Get your money’s worth. Upgrade all your cocktails and mixed drinks to include The Best booze available. Get a $40 glass of wine you’d never usually try to drink along with your dinner in the dining room.
Here’s a drink menu from one of the specialty bars:
(Let me take a moment just to emphasize that, although the price of Cheers includes pre-paid gratuity and thus you are absolved of having to tip after every drink purchase, please consider tipping additionally for good service.)
Also included are the specialty coffees (which come in regular and SPIKED), and fancy milkshakes and floats (also regular or SPIKED). These were SO fun. And while I drank coffee from the Lido deck or the dining room on a regular basis, it was nice to get an iced latte or a spiked cafe Cubano in the middle of the day. And I love a good milkshake, but with a splash of spirits it became even better.
There are limitations, of course. Besides the price limit, there’s also a drink limit – 15 alcoholic drinks a day. If you start with a mimosa at breakfast, you’re quickly going to reach this limit. I am 5’2″. I would need my stomach pumped if I had 15 drinks. But if you’re a heavy drinker, be aware of this. Also, keep in mind you will be leaving the ship for excursions. The drink package is not valid when you’re on Half Moon Cay, and obviously in other destination ports you’ll be purchasing all your drinks as you go. In addition, group drink situations are not included: fish bowls, buckets of beer, beer towers, etc. But keep an eye out for the pub’s happy hour and you can grab these at a discount. We got a few fish bowls to accompany a competitive game of Jenga.
Regardless of whether you get the Cheers program or not, I recommend bringing a water bottle with a built-in water-filter so you can fill up throughout the day. It’s much more convenient (for me) than having to pick up a bottle of water every time I want a drink. Plus, I could take it off the ship with me on excursions.
I was super motion-sick the first night of our cruise because of a storm, so I only had 3 or 4 drinks the first day (mostly before embarkation) and was too nervous to drink super-heavily the rest of the trip as a result. Even so, with all the beer, spiked milkshakes, spiked coffees, and included sodas, it was definitely still worth it. I definitely drank more than $50 worth of beverages each day. If you don’t smuggle your alcohol in (NOT ALLOWED, BUT SOME PEOPLE ARE SUCCESSFUL, I AM NOT ENDORSING THIS), I recommend the drink package on your Carnival Cruise.
Let’s end this post with an important quote: You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning. Cheers, friends!