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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.

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.

2024 update: the price of drinks on P&O cruises and the P&O drinks package included in this post were correct when we sailed. I have updated this post with information about P&O’s revamped drinks packages to make it relevant for 2024.

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

Updated P&O drinks packages

In 2023 P&O scrapped the Ultimate Drinks Package and gave their drinks packages a revamp, introducing four new options for passengers onboard for five nights or more:

  • The Refresh drink package 
  • The Alcohol-free drink package 
  • The Classic drink package 
  • The Deluxe drink package 

But what’s included in each?

The Refresh Drink Package – previously known at the P&O Children’s drink package

This very basic packages is best suited to kids and adults who can’t be without a few basic soft drinks. It includes regular and large soft drinks (Pepsi, Papsi Max and Lemonade) on tap and small glasses of juice or squash throughout your cruise.

The Refresh drink package costs £10.95 per person, per day.

If you are sailing with children aged 16 or under and buy either the Classic of Deluxe drink packages (see below) your children will get the Refresh Drink Package for free.

The Alcohol-Free Drink Package

This package is best suited for adults who want free flowing non-alcoholic beverages. It includes the same soft drinks and juices as the Refresh drink package, plus:

  • 300ml bottles of water
  • Mixers
  • Bottled juices and soda including sugar-free
  • Non-alcoholic drinks (over 18s only)
  • Selected Costa Coffee (small) and teapigs
  • Non-alcoholic cocktails (over 18s only)

This Alcohol-Free Drink Package costs £24.99 per person, per day

The Classic Drink Package

This packages works best if you want to add alcohol to your drinks package. It includes everything in the Alcohol-free package plus:

  • Selected cocktails like Piña Colada and Mai Tai
  • Selected 25ml measures of spirits like Marabelle Gin, Golden Tide Rum, Smirnoff Vodka, Bell’s Whisky
  • Beers and ciders like Birra Moretti, Heineken, John Smith’s
  • Selected 175ml glasses of wine like Pinot Grigio, Rioja, Malbec
  • Fortified and dessert wine like Graham’s Port
  • 125ml glasses of Prosecco

If you want to top up your round with premium beverages you can get 20% off on products excluded from this drinks package like bottles Champagne, large bottles of water, craft beers, the full range of Costa Coffee and premium wines, cocktails and spirits.

The Classic Drink Package costs £44.95 per person, per day.

Save more: get 10% off the Classic Drinks Package when purchased at the time of booking an Early Saver and Select Price holiday of five nights or more sailing from March 2024.

The Deluxe Drink Package

P&O’s top tipples drink package is for passengers who enjoy premium drinks. It includes everything in the Classic Drink Package plus:

  • The full range of Costa Coffee beverages including Frappés and Fruit Coolers
  • Premium cocktails like Aperol Spritz and the Sunset Cooler
  • 50ml spirits like Grey Goose, Salcombe Gin, The Tidal Rum and Johnnie Walker
  • Craft beers like St Austell Brewery Tribute and Okell’s IPA
  • 250ml glasses of wine like Côtes de Provence Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot
  • Perfect serve range of spirits like Grey Goose Vodka, Salcombe ‘Start Point’ and The Tidal Rum

If you want to top up your round with premium beverages you can get 20% off on products excluded from this drinks package like bottles of wine and Champagne, large bottles of water and signature spirits.

The Deluxe Drinks Package costs £54.95 per person, per day.

How much is the P&O drink package?

I’ve included all the prices above but in summary:

  • The Refresh drink package – £10.95 per person, per day
  • The Alcohol-free drink package – £24.99 per person, per day
  • The Classic drink package – £44.95 per person, per day
  • The Deluxe drink package – £54.95 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 (it was £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 Coffee 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 £44 down your local all day, everyday (or nearly £90 for a couple) then you’re going to be falling short of getting good value from the top drinks package.

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 Classic or Deluxe Drinks Package for the adults in your cabin the kids automatically get the P&O Refresh drinks package included. This is worth £10.95 per child, per day.

If your kids can get through more than a few soft drinks, juices 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 P&O Drinks Packages

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

Here’s some of the important questions answered:

When can you buy the drinks package?

Your P&O drinks package can be bought when you book your cruise right through to midnight on the second night of your cruise. It’s not available after day two and must be bought for every day of your cruise from that point.

Is it cheaper to buy a drinks package on board?

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

You might actually find it cheaper to buy in advance depending on offers available at time you book.

What does the P&O Cruises drinks package include?

Each of the four drinks packages have a detailed list of what’s included. See my explanation above or visit the P&O website for the most up to date information.

If you by the Classic or Deluxe packages you get a 20% discount off drinks that are not included.

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

Yes. You can ‘only’ have up to 15 drinks each day and there must be 15 minutes between your orders.

Your daily allowance resets at 6am each day.

You cannot order doubles or larger spirit measures, or glasses of wine larger than your package allows.

Can you share your drinks with other people?

No. You can’t give 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?

Everyone aged 18 or over in your cabin must have the same drinks package.

If you are in the same cabin as children aged 16 and under they will receive a complimentary Refresh Drinks Package where all adults have purchased a Classic or Deluxe Drinks Package.

Any guests aged 17 years must purchase either a Refresh or Alcohol-Free Drinks Package when any adults in the same cabin purchase a Classic or Deluxe Drinks Package.

Be aware that the Classic and Deluxe Drinks Packages can only be purchased by guests over the age of 18 on UK, European and Asian cruises, or those aged over 21 if your cruise visits USA or UAE waters.

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

Yes. The P&O non-alcoholic drinks package costs £24.95 and includes bottled water (500ml only), draught soft drinks, juices, sodas, primo Costa coffees, selected pigteas, 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 P&O Drinks Package.

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

You will need to check if these are available on your cruise when you board as they cannot be bought in advance.

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 make a saving on purchasing a bottle each night with dinner. 

When we sailed, 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 at the time we sailed), 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 Tin Box 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 worked in a similar way to the wine packages.

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

You’ll need to check if this is available on your P&O ship.

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 is now the Refresher Drinks Package and costs £10.95 per child and includes draught soft drinks (Pepsi, Pepsi Max and Lemonade), selected juices 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 Classic and Deluxe Drinks Package is that your kids get the Refresher 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 large 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 a set price.

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 will have been updated since then so take these as indicators of what you might expect plus inflation.

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.

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?

More cruise reading

Here’s some more posts I’ve written about cruising:

Need more help planning your next cruise?

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Collecting cruise tips ahead of your holiday? Why not save this post about the P&O drinks package and other drink options.

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


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


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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