Some like paying as you go, others swear by drink packages and other pre-paid amenities. While Virgin Voyages works a bit differently, you may be able to have a few drinks (or more) without breaking the bank.
Over the past several years, many cruisers have become quite used to the idea of paying for drink packages that allow unlimited (or nearly unlimited) alcoholic beverages, specialty coffees, fresh-squeezed juices, and bottled water. To the surprise of some, Virgin Voyages has not yet announced that they'll offer a drink package. While many things could change as the line "tests the waters", no one knows if this will become an option in the future.
Does that mean you have to pay for every single drink on Virgin Voyages?
Not at all. Filtered water, brewed coffee, juices, sodas, and teas are included in your cruise fare. Oh, and you won't find prices for specialty dining - all the food onboard is included as well.
How much do alcoholic beverages cost?
All cruise lines are businesses, and they all strike some balance of onboard revenue (drinks, retail, spa, etc) and revenue generated from cruise fares. Virgin Voyages promises reasonable drink prices - and it looks like they're delivering. Your perception of reasonable will likely vary depending on where you live, what other cruise lines you've sailed, and other factors, it does seem that their prices are much lower than many contemporary and premium cruise lines. In fact, they're also lower than we tend to see around South Florida - where Virgin's first ship, Scarlet Lady, will be based.
Many beers will cost just $5-6. Cocktails featuring name-brand liquors such as Tanqueray and Jack Daniels will set you back about $9. Wines of course can vary a lot - but nearly half of the wines served by the glass on Virgin Voyages will be under $10. All off these prices include gratuity/service charge. Compare that with, say Carnival, who on average is charging $1-2 more than these prices - while also assessing an 18% service charge. For example, a Heineken on Carnival Panorama this month, will cost you $6.75 + 18%, for a total of $7.97. On Scarlet Lady, that will set you back $6 even. Feeling like Champagne? Just shake your phone and have a bottle brought right to you.
One Option to Save on Drinks - and Maybe More
It's not just cruisers who like drink packages for knowing what their tab will be in advance - cruise lines love being able to better forecast revenue, and they're rewarding sailors (cruisers) for helping with just that. If you pre-pay for some onboard credit, you'll get some for free. Ordinarily Virgin says you'll get $50 for every $300 you prepay, but right now, they're offering up an extra $50, so if you prepay $300, you get $400 in onboard credit - or "Sailor Loot" as they call it.
Sailor Loot can be used for any number of onboard expenses, such as spa treatments or retail purchases. It's not yet clear if the extra funds you get for prepaying can be used only for bar purchases, but it seems the original portion of the funds can be used as you'd like.
How does it work?
Purchase a $300 prepaid bar tab and we’ll double our usual $50 bonus, giving you $100 extra to spend at any bar on board or at The Beach Club. Available for a limited time. Cheers!
How does Bar Tab work?
Load up with Sailor Loot (onboard currency) and any premium beverages you buy will be deducted from your Bar Tab.
What’s in it for me?
For every $300 pre-purchased, Sailors receive a limited-time bonus $100 (regularly $50).
How do I start my Bar Tab?
Start your Bar Tab on shore before you set sail by contacting Sailor Services at 954 488 2955 or your First Mate.
There is One Group of Sailors Whose Drinks Are Included
Guests in Mega RockStar Suites - the most lavish accommodations on Scarlet Lady, have their drinks included. Don't be mistaken, they're not free, these RockStars will be paying a premium for these accommodations, but that premium means that paying drink by drink won't be something they'll need to do. This includes a customized bar in the room (stocked based on your requests), drinks throughout the ship, excluding Scarlet Lady Locker selections (ultra-premium wines and such).
The suite life on Virgin Voyages looks pretty impressive - and you can check out more of the amenities, including a video tour here (scroll down to the bottom).