A sailaway from port doesn’t seem quite as celebratory without a glass of Champagne or cocktail in hand. But if you don’t have a drink package for your cruise, ordering these sailaway glasses of bubbly every day — and a glass of wine at lunch and dinner — can add up quickly during a weeklong vacation.

If you’re sailing with MSC Cruises, the line offers five options for all-inclusive drink packages, with two for nonalcoholic beverages. If you know you’ll be imbibing daily, it might be worth purchasing a drink package rather than buying cocktails a la carte. Also, bottled mineral water, soft drinks, specialty coffees and soft-serve ice cream on some ships (gasp!) are not included in your cruise fare, so you’ll have to factor in the additional cost of those beverages — and the beloved frozen treat — along with any alcohol you plan to consume.

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We’ve broken down the list of MSC Cruises’ drink packages to explore which refreshments are (or are not) included and the cost per person, per day. We’ve also answered the most frequently asked questions to help you determine whether or not a drink package will save you money on your next cruise.

What’s included in MSC Cruises’ drink packages?

MSC CRUISES/FACEBOOK

Here are the details of MSC Cruises’ five drink packages. If one passenger books a drink package, all guests traveling together in the same cabin and dining at the same table must also book a package. Beverage packages are not transferable, and you cannot use them to buy drinks for friends.

None of the drink packages include items purchased at the signature venues, which include Venchi 1878 (chocolate, coffee and gelato), Lavazza (coffee), Jean Philippe (chocolate, coffee, crepes and gelato), Starship Club (robotic bartender on MSC Virtuosa) and Hola! Tacos & Cantina.

Related: What is the best cruise ship cafe? I spill the tea on the best cups of joe at sea

Minors Package

The Minors Package is for children ages 3 to 17 on European itineraries and ages 3 to 12 in the Caribbean and North America. It must be purchased when underage guests are traveling with adults who’ve purchased a beverage package.

This package covers a wide variety of nonalcoholic beverages. They include mocktails, fresh fruit and protein cocktails, energy drinks, flavored water, sodas by the glass or bottle, hot beverages (think regular coffee and tea) and soft-serve ice cream. (Note that soft-serve ice cream is complimentary only on MSC ships sailing from the U.S.)

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Guests can use the package to purchase drinks in the self-service buffet; the main restaurant; on Ocean Cay, the line’s private island; and at bars on the ship. Kids can only use the package in the specialty restaurants if the adults traveling with them have purchased an Easy Plus or Premium Extra package.

Alcohol-Free Package

The Alcohol-Free Package includes the same beverages as the Minors Package, but it’s available to purchase for adults (or anyone 13 and older in the Caribbean and North America).

The same restrictions apply regarding where you can (and cannot) use the package on and off the ship.

Easy Package

MSC’s Easy Package offers both alcoholic and nonalcoholic options for adult passengers. The list of covered beverages includes select classic or international cocktails; a variety of spirits (vodka, gin, rum, tequila, brandy and whisky); house wines (white, red, rose and sparkling); Heineken on draft or in the bottle (the brand of beer may vary); nonalcoholic cocktails and mixed drinks; fountain or canned soft drinks; fruit juices by the glass or in the bottle; bottled mineral water; and hot drinks such as espressos, cappuccinos, lattes, hot tea and hot chocolate.

You can use the package in the bars, the main restaurant and the buffet, and on Ocean Cay, but not in the specialty restaurants or signature venues.

Easy Plus Package

The next upgrade in MSC Cruises’ drink packages is the Easy Plus option, which covers drinks up to $10. The included beverages with the package are a selection of classic and frozen cocktails; protein shakes and fresh fruit cocktails; well spirits, liqueurs and cordials; a variety of bottled and draught beers; mocktails and all nonalcoholic beverages; bottled mineral water; and the hot drinks included in the Easy Package mentioned above.

The Easy Plus Package also provides a selection of wines by the glass and a 10% discount on bottles of wine. You can use this package in the main restaurant, at the bars, in the buffet, on Ocean Cay and in the specialty dining venues. It is not available to use in the signature venues.

Related: 8 best drinks to order with a cruise ship beverage package (and 3 to avoid)

Premium Extra Package

If you enjoy Champagne, fine wines and premium spirits, you’ll want to splurge on MSC’s Premium Extra Package for your cruise vacation.

This package covers drinks up to $16; a wide selection of international and premium cocktails; mocktails and nonalcoholic drinks; premium spirits, liqueurs and cordials; fresh fruit and protein cocktails; a wide variety of draft and bottled beers; bottled mineral water; and classic or specialty hot drinks (Irish coffee, anyone?).

You can also purchase bottles of wine and Champagne at a 25% discount and order fine wines and Champagne by the glass (up to $16). You can use the package everywhere except for the signature venues.

If you’ve reserved accommodations in the MSC Yacht Club, the line’s ship-within-a-ship private enclave, you will automatically receive the Premium Extra Package as part of your cruise fare. You may use it to purchase beverages at the Top Sail Lounge and exclusive restaurant in the Yacht Club and at any of the complimentary or specialty dining venues around the ship.

What are the MSC drink package prices?

The Purple Rain cocktail on MSC Meraviglia. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

MSC’s package pricing is based on the length of the cruise, with longer voyages having a lower price per day. You’ll save at least 15% on the price if you purchase the package online before your cruise rather than on board. (The current prices listed below come in at even higher savings.) All gratuities are included in the prices.

The following package prices are per person, per day.

Minors Package

  • Advance purchase: One- to six-night cruise, $21; seven-night or longer cruise, $19
  • Onboard purchase: One- to six-night cruise, $25; seven-night or longer cruise, $22

Alcohol-Free Package

  • Advance purchase: One- to six-night cruise, $30; seven-night or longer cruise, $28
  • Onboard purchase: One- to six-night cruise, $35; seven-night or longer cruise, $33

Easy Package

  • Advance purchase: One- to six-night cruise, $49; seven-night or longer cruise, $46
  • Onboard purchase: One- to six-night cruise, $60; seven-night or longer cruise, $57

Easy Plus Package

  • Advance purchase: One- to six-night cruise, $64; seven-night or longer cruise, $61
  • Onboard purchase: One- to six-night cruise, $76; seven-night or longer cruise, $72

Premium Extra Package

  • Advance purchase: One- to six-night cruise, $88; seven-night or longer cruise, $85
  • Onboard purchase: One- to six-night cruise, $104; seven-night or longer cruise, $100

You can also take advantage of MSC’s special promotions on select sailings that include a beverage package. For example, a current promotion online has 40% off cruise fares and includes a drink package (the Easy Plus Package), Wi-Fi and up to $400 of onboard credit per cabin, depending on the category booked. You can upgrade the drink package before you sail (at a discounted price) or once on board the ship for full price.

Related: How to get free or cheap drinks on a cruise

MSC cruise drink packages FAQ

ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

What happens if I want to purchase a drink that costs more than the package allowance price?

If you want to order a cocktail, glass of wine or spirit that’s not included in the package you’ve purchased, you will only pay the difference in price between the package allowance and the price of your beverage.

Are the drink offerings the same on all MSC Cruises?

You’ll find a variety in the selection of beverages and ingredients used to make cocktails, depending on the destination of your MSC cruise and the time of year. If you thoroughly enjoyed one type of wine during your summer cruise in the Mediterranean, you might not be able to order the same wine on board your Caribbean cruise during the holidays.

Related: 17 best cruise ship bars

What is the best time to buy MSC Cruises drink packages?

As I mentioned above, it’s best to purchase your drink package online before your cruise for the lowest price. The MSC Cruises website advertises discounts of up to 15% when you purchase in advance of your sailing rather than on board the ship. Once your cruise is booked, you can select the package of your choice for your voyage under the “Manage Your Booking” section.

Are drink packages available on MSC Cruises ships?

Drink packages are available on all MSC Cruises ships, except for vessels sailing to South Africa or China.

Is a drink package included if I book a world cruise?

The line’s Dine & Drinks package is included if you’re embarking on a world cruise with MSC. The package covers house wines, draft beer, soft drinks and mineral water at the buffet and in the main restaurant during lunch and dinner. This package is only available to guests sailing on the world cruise; it is possible to upgrade the package.

Can you upgrade an MSC Cruises drink package?

Yes, all passengers have the option to upgrade their packages. Before your sailing, upgrades are only available if the package is included in your cruise promotion; the upgrade will be available at a discounted price. Otherwise, you can upgrade your beverage package once you board the ship, but it will be at full price.

Is there a limit on drinks with an MSC Cruises drink package?

The all-inclusive packages do not put a limit on the number of alcoholic beverages, specialty coffees, bottled mineral waters or other drinks you can order each day.

Is an MSC Cruises drink package right for you?

MSC CRUISES/FACEBOOK

If you enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail or aperitif, have a glass of wine (or two) at dinner and possibly even splurge on a chocolate martini for an after-dinner drink at the show, a drink package could be a worthwhile investment for your cruise.

Many people also prefer bottled water over the free water available at the dining venues and lattes or cappuccinos over regular coffee in the morning. If that’s you, the cost of the individual nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages can add up quickly during a weeklong cruise. And you could pay a lot more for purchasing a la carte drinks than you would with a beverage package, especially if you plan on ordering fancy wines and specialty cocktails.

For example, if you’re on a four-night cruise, the Easy Plus Package will cost you $64 per person, per day, which includes gratuities, for a total of $208. There is no limit to either the nonalcoholic or alcoholic beverages you consume, so if want one or two lattes to start your day, have a glass of wine and bottled water at lunch and have a few bottled waters by the pool, you’re probably already at about half of the daily price (or more) of the package if you were purchasing the items individually.

Add to that a pre-dinner drink, a glass of wine or two at dinner with bottled mineral water, and then maybe a cocktail later in the evening, and you’re easily past that $64 per day — and you’ve had to pay gratuities on the bar bills.

Related: Are cruise line drink packages worth the price? What to know before you buy

An advantage of buying one of the two higher-tier packages is the discount on bottles of wine. If you enjoy ordering bottles of fine wine at dinner, then this could be a plus if you have one of the more expensive packages.

If you’re cruising in the Middle East, you should know that MSC Cruises will not serve alcohol due to Saudi law while the ship is docked in a Saudi Arabian port. Alcohol will be served again once the ship is sailing in international waters. But if you have a few days in Saudi Arabia, that’s something to consider when purchasing a beverage package.

Bottom line

Doing the math is the best way to determine if a drink package makes sense. If you think you’ll want all the beverages that come at an extra cost on the ship, then the best option is to purchase a package pre-cruise online. Buying the package beforehand affords the most significant discount and will save money over waiting to purchase it on board the ship.

Also, if you’re traveling with someone in the same cabin (or you plan to dine with them) and they want a drink package, you won’t have the choice to purchase a package — you’ll have to spring for one, too.

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