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Is the P&O drinks package worth it?

Is the P&O drinks package worth it?

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One of the brilliant things about cruising is that you know you’ll never go hungry. However, one thing I always wonder before joining a cruise is whether to buy the all inclusive drinks package – will it be worth it? Ahead of our Caribbean cruise we were seriously tempted by the P&O drinks package – the Ultimate Drinks Package.

But did we go for it? In this post, I take a look at whether the P&O drinks package is worth it and give you some alternatives you might like to consider.

Please note: the price of drinks on P&O cruises and the P&O drinks package included in this post were correct at the time we sailed in December 2019 to January 2020.

Find out whether the P&O drinks package will be value for money for you and what alternativers are available while you are onboard, including free drinks! #drinkspackage #cruise #cruising #tips #drinks #cocktails #travel #travelblog #P&O #cruise line #Azura

How much is the P&O drink package?

The last time I checked, the Ultimate P&O drink package cost £39.95 per person, per day.

To double check, you can find the latest drinks package prices here. My analysis about whether the P&O drinks package is value for money is unlikely to change significantly year to year.

Is the P&O drinks package worth it?

To cut to the chase, the P&O drinks package, and indeed any cruise drinks package, is only worth it if you are going to get value from it. 

You need to ask yourself:

  • How many drinks will you have each day?
  • Will you get value from a P&O drinks package if you have more days ashore than at sea?
  • How much do drinks cost on P&O cruise ships and would buying individually work out better?

It’s also worth noting that P&O don’t charge gratuities or a service charge on top of the price of your drinks, so there’s no extra cost to paying as you go.

Here’s what we decided

On our 15 night Caribbean cruise on P&O Azura we decided not to get the drinks package. Let me explain why…

Don’t get me wrong. We enjoy a drink and can easily sink a bottle of wine with dinner and a few bevies afterwards. We also like a drink by the pool during the day. 

Add to that a very competitively priced P&O drink package (£39.95 per adult in a cabin at the time we sailed) and it might seem like a no brainer.

Caffeine fans can also have as many primo speciality coffees as they want from Costa onboard. Add to that bottles of water in your cabin.

Pub prices

However, when we sailed in December 2019 we found the drink prices on P&O were no dearer than what you would find in a reasonably priced pub in the UK.

So unless you could spend £40 down your local all day, everyday (or nearly £80 for a couple) then you’re going to be falling short of getting good value.

When we did the maths and factored in days ashore and days when we wanted to give our livers a break, the P&O drinks package wasn’t worth it for us. 

What about with kids?

Had we been cruising with our two children we might have thought again.

This is because if you buy the P&O Ultimate Drinks Package for the adults in your cabin the kids automatically get the P&O Children’s drink package included. This is worth £7.95 per child, per day.

If your kids can get through more than a few soft drinks, juices, hot chocolates and fruit cordials each day then that’s worth quite a bit to you.

Bottle of Carib lager on bar table in Caribbean
A few beers ashore could work out cheaper than onboard, depending on the port!

So, as I’ve already mentioned, the P&O drinks package may be value for money for some people.

If you are travelling with kids (the more you have the better value it becomes) or intend to totally relax and spend your days by the pool, then who wouldn’t want a piña colada by their side throughout the day?

Plus, the package includes gratuities and is quite a lot cheaper than the packages I’ve seen advertised by other cruise lines.

Facts about the Ultimate Drinks Package

As with all cruise drinks deals there are T&Cs. These may affect the value you get from the P&O drinks package.

Here’s some of the important questions answered:

When can you buy the drinks package?

The P&O all-inclusive drinks package must be bought before midnight on the second night of your cruise. It costs £39.95 including gratuities. 

Is it cheaper to buy a drinks package on board?

No, P&O do not offer discounts for drinks packages bought onboard.

What does the P&O Cruises drinks package include?

It includes drinks under the value of £6.95.

You get a 20% discount off drinks over this value.

Is there a limit on the number of drinks you can have?

Yes. You can ‘only’ have up to 15 drinks each day.

You cannot order doubles or larger and glasses of wine must be 175ml.

Can you share your drinks with other people?

No. You can’t give free drinks to other people.

You can only order one drink at a time and if you are seated the staff will take your glass away before bringing you another.

Does everyone in you cabin have to have a drinks package?

Yes. Everyone in your cabin must have the same package if they are adults.

Children must have the children’s drink package, which includes draught soft drinks, selected long life juices, primo size hot chocolate and fruit squash/cordial by the glass.

This costs £7.95.

Does P&O offer a non-alcoholic drink package for adults?

Yes. The P&O non-alcoholic drinks package costs £19.95 and includes bottled water (500ml only), draught soft drinks, long life juices, primo Costa coffees, teas, hot chocolates, and non-alcoholic cocktails.

Other non-alcoholic drinks, such as canned drinks, can be bought at a 20% discount.

Is your cabin’s mini bar included in the package?

No. Mini bar and room service drinks are not included in any P&O drinks package.

Can you get a P&O drinks package on a mini-cruise?

No, sadly not.

This might be one of those occasions when you could get value for money but drinks packages are only available on cruises of five nights or over.

Other P&O cruises drinks package options

So, we didn’t go for the Ultimate Drinks Package.

But we did get other drinks packages while onboard and know we got value for money verses paying as we drank.

The P&O wine packages

Two wine packages were available on P&O Azura when we sailed. These came in packages of six or 12 bottles.

Buy one of these and you can save up to 20% on purchasing a bottle each night with dinner. 

We bought the Captain’s wine package of 12 bottles for £230, which worked out at £19.16 a bottle. It’s not supermarket prices but it’s still a saving to buy in bulk. 

There were red, white, rose and sparkling wines (not champagne) included on the package wine list.

If you are happy to pay a bit more then there’s the Commodore’s wine package (£270 for 12 bottles), but we enjoyed every bottle in the Captain’s list. 

Glass of wine being held up in front of sunset at sea

You can purchase a wine package at any time during your cruise and get a booklet of vouchers to give to hand over in the main restaurant. 

Take good care of this little booklet as it is paper and could easily get lost.

We had a panic one night when we thought Mr TB had put it through the wash in one of his shirt pockets.

Draught beer package

On Azura, there was also a draught beer package that works in a similar way to the win packages.

They don’t seen to advertise this off the ship but we saw information about it onboard. You get a book of 10 or 20 vouchers and save 15% on buying pints individually.

You can find out more about most of P&O’s drink packages on their website.

What about the P&O Children’s drink package?

This costs £7.95 per child and includes draught soft drinks (Pepsi, Lemonade, Tonic and Soda), selected long life juices, primo size hot chocolate and fruit cordial by the glass.

Each child in your cabin has to have the package and it can’t be shared.

The good news for any mums and dads who buy the P&O Ultimate Drinks Package is that your kids get the Children’s drinks package for free.

This is handy for families with children who consume lots of soft drinks each day and adds a lot value of the adult drinks package.

However, if you are cruising with a baby or young children you won’t get the benefit.

How much do P&O mini bar drinks cost?

In your cabin you have a selection of mini bar drinks including lager, gin in a tin and soft drinks. You can ask your steward to take these away to make room for your own drinks.

The mini bar is slightly more expensive than the ship’s bars, but no more so than a hotel mini bar.

Mini Bar Menu on P&O Azura January 2020

You’ll also find a 1.5ltr bottle of still water in your cabin soon after boarding. This is complimentary and comes with a form attached to sign up to get six more bottles for £11.

The water in your cabin has a chemical taste but is drinkable.

If the taste will bother you then get the water package or bring some cordial. We always travel with a mini Robinson Sauash’d super concentrated cordial bottle. 

What drinks are included in your cruise?

You can get tap water, tea and coffee in the buffets and in your cabin on P&O cruise ships.

Some juices are also available in the buffets. So you don’t need to buy drinks at all if you are happy with these basic beverages.

Top tip: for a free glass of bubbly, make sure you attend the Captain’s drinks reception. Wine can also be on offer at shopping and gallery events during your cruise.

Cost of drinks on P&O Azura

If you’re wondering how much it costs to buy drinks on a P&O cruise here’s a few of the drinks menus from onboard in December 2019 to January 2020.

Prices may have been updated since then.

The P&O pool bar menu prices

Here’s the menu from the Terrace Bar, Aqua Bar and The Retreat.

P&O pool bar menu
P&O pool bar menu
P&O pool bar menu

P&O lounge and bar drinks menu

P&O drinks menu on Azura 2020

Here’s the menu for the Planet Bar, Mala Bar and Brodie’s Bar.

P&O drinks menu on Azura 2020
P&O drinks menu on Azura 2020
P&O drinks menu on Azura 2020
P&O drinks menu on Azura 2020
P&O drinks menu on Azura 2020
P&O drinks menu on Azura 2020
P&O drinks menu on Azura 2020
P&O drinks menu on Azura 2020
P&O drinks menu on Azura 2020
P&O drinks menu on Azura 2020

How many bottles of alcohol can you bring onboard P&O cruise ships?

Don’t forget that you can bring alcohol onboard when you embark your P&O cruise. 

We each brought a litre bottle of spirits that we’d bought in duty free at the airport on our way to the Caribbean.

You could use your allowance to bring a litre of wine, Champagne, or beer instead. We opted to bring our own pre-dinner drinks.

Two litre bottle bottles of spirits in cruise ship cabin

If you buy anything else in port during your cruise this will be taken away when you board the ship.

It isn’t gone forever though. You are given a ticket and will get your booze back at the end of your cruise. 

Be aware of personal allowances for spirits if you are flying back to the UK.

So, is the P&O drinks package worth it?

It wasn’t for us, but that doesn’t mean other people wouldn’t get value.

If you like lots of alcoholic or premium drinks while on holiday then it’s worth looking into, especially if you have lots of sea days.

It’s also something to consider if you don’t want to bring your own one litre bottle allowance onboard.

More cruise posts

If you’d like find out more about Caribbean cruises with P&O then take a look at these posts:

What do you think about cruise drink packages? Do you think they offer value for money or do you prefer to pay as you go?


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Find out whether the P&O drinks package will be value for money for you and what alternativers are available while you are onboard, including free drinks! #drinkspackage #cruise #cruising #tips #drinks #cocktails #travel #travelblog #P&O #cruise line #Azura

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Marilyn Makins

Friday 27th of January 2023

Hi only just booked a 15 day cruise around the Caribbean islands on p & o shop from Barbados on 18th February this year can anyone tell me if we need a visa? It’s our first time cruise and real novices and although the cruise rep who I booked it with did her best to give me all details but nothing was mentioned at time of booking and it wasn’t until the confirmation arrived that I noticed that we ‘may’ need visas?? would appreciate any help or maybe a direct link?? Tia Marilyn

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Sunday 29th of January 2023

Hi Marilyn, cruise ship passengers do not require a visa for Barbados unless you are flying out early and staying in a hotel/other accommodation before joining your ship. I hope that helps. Have a wonderful cruise! Claire

Alexis

Thursday 26th of January 2023

I have an on board value to spend - can you use this towards a drinks package to bring the price down going on the Azura for New Year

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Friday 27th of January 2023

Hi Alexi, this is a question to ask P&O direct as I don't know the answer myself. I suspect you may have to buy the package onboard rather than in advance so that it is added to your onboard account where you have the credit. Please check in advance. The customer service team is always very helpful.

Denis McLean

Tuesday 17th of January 2023

How much are specialty coffees?

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Tuesday 17th of January 2023

Hi Denis, I'm afraid I don't know the most up-to-date speciality coffee prices but primo sized (275ml) Costa coffees are included in the drinks package.

Eve Nicholson

Tuesday 26th of July 2022

Hi Claire, this is really very helpful, thank you. We are going on the Christmas 35 night to Carribbean, for that length of time would it be better to pay as we go and do we have to then add gratuities?

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Wednesday 27th of July 2022

Hi Eve, I'm glad you've found this post helpful. P&O don't charge gratuities or a service charge on top of the price of your drinks, so there's no extra cost to paying as you go. So, it all comes down to whether you'll make the most of the £39.99 per day. Have a great cruise! Claire

Fee

Wednesday 20th of July 2022

Hi .. if I am on a 15 day cruise and we don’t get on ship until late .Can I buy the drinks package the next day on board .As paying £80 on arrival night will be a waste .Is this possible

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Thursday 21st of July 2022

Hi Fee, that was possible when we did this cruise in 2019/20. We paid for our Retreat passes the day after joining. However, check with P&O to see if their T&Cs have changed since then. Claire

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