• Teelesia Martin

8 Legit Ways to Save on Alcohol During a Carnival Cruise

Are you tired of watching Youtube videos on how to sneak alcohol on a cruise? I know you've heard about the mouthwash bottle trick and collapsible drink pouches. Although I've heard great things, I've never tried these techniques. It just seems like too much! I don’t wanna chance my alcohol tasting like the remnants of some "I thought I washed it out good but apparently not so much" bottle. And I'd hate to hide some liquor in my luggage only for it to spill on my clothes from a cheaply sealed pouch. Now I'm left walking around (without alcohol) yet smelling like Uncle Earl who always drunk. Lol No Thank You!

If you’re like me, you are likely interested in what legitimate ways you can save money on alcohol during your Carnival cruise without buying the drink package or finessing your sneaky tactics through security. Here's your cheat sheet:

1. Find Happy Hours Onboard

Many cruise lines offer happy hours at different bars at various times, once onboard. However, it’s not something the cruise director is going to jump on the intercom and tell you about. You would need to be observant of floor signs or promotions at the bars, in the gangways and even on the TV monitors from time to time. These happy hours vary by cruise line, ship and route. For Carnival, always check the ‘Fun Times’ pamphlet for the ‘what’s happening’ on and around the ship. Happy Hour times and locations are sure to be listed there. And remember, just because one bar has happy hour, doesn’t mean they all honor the same promotion. Be sure to check around for which happy hour suits your taste buds.

2. Attend Liquor & Wine Tastings

Some cruise lines offer full size drink tastings while others (Carnival) offer miniature cups of each liquor. Nevertheless, it’s a great way to partake in FREE drinks and try a variety of different liquors without pulling out your sail & sign card (aka, your money while onboard). If you get lucky enough to end up on a ship with full sized drinks, you may get a flight of 4 to 5 cocktails at 6-8oz each for about $25 per person or less. I haven’t had this experience but I’ve read about it on some other lines (Norwegian). That’s a great deal of savings when the average drink is $8-$15 per drink. For wine, you usually get the standard pour or a little less for the tastings. Sometimes it is limited to 2 or 3 choices but that’s 2 to 3 FREE tastings/glasses of wine that you may have paid for or never tried. Can't beat that!

3. Attend Ladies Night

Ladies, we all know the social entertainment industry loves to cater to us. Check your ‘Fun Times’ pamphlet for Ladies Night at different bars and lounges around the ship. They are likely offering FREE shots, complimentary champagne or half off drinks to ladies before a certain time. Use this benefit to your advantage.

Girls Trip Tip: Your crew should be in attendance at every ‘Ladies Night’ onboard, just saying.

4. Play in the Casino and rack up your points to get FREE drinks

Are you a gambler? For luck or addiction or just because you heard the benefits? No judgement here, I got you! If you play enough games and earn enough casino points onboard a Carnival cruise ship, the cocktails, beer, wine, soda, juice, everything, will all be FREE, as long as you’re playing. The Carnival Players Club says the standard point level that must be reached to qualify for FREE drinks from slot play is 1,000 points on sailings less than 5 days and 1,500 points on sailings 5 days or longer. For table players, the points are pretty similar based on level of play.

5. Use the Wine/Champagne Allowance

The Carnival Beverage policy allows 1 bottle of wine/champagne per person. You can legally bring these drinks onboard in your carry-on luggage and freely take them to your stateroom, no sneaky tactics necessary. Be sure to check the beverage policy for your cruise line prior to setting sail. This resulted in a lot of morning mimosas for me!

6. Purchase bottles for your stateroom prior to embarkation

Carnival allows 2 bottles per room that you can purchase prior to embarkation of your cruise. Bottles range from $50-$150 per bottle, depending on your liquor type. You can sip on Southern Comfort for $75 per bottle or plan to splurge on Patron for a whopping $125 per bottle. Obviously, these prices are a lot higher than bottles at your local liquor store but they still come out cheaper than what you’d pay for several of those same drinks at the bar on a cruise.

Mathematicians, here’s a real life example:

We purchased 2 bottles of Tito’s Handmade Vodka for $85 per bottle. Each bottle made about 10-12 drinks, depending on how strong of a drink we were in the mood for.

Meanwhile, at the nightclub bar onboard, a screwdriver (Tito’s and orange juice) that was half the size, was $9.21 per drink. Twelve of those drinks (watered down and full of ice) would equal $110.52. We just saved $25.52 with a bottle and definitely got more liquor and a better buzz.

7. Go to the "Welcome Aboard" Parties

Go play all the games and enter into the contests and competitions. Bingo, Karaoke, gender competitions, trivia shows and many other onboard events are almost always giving out FREE drink/bottle prizes.

8. Visit the Nightclub/Lounge

Carnival is known to randomly announce drink specials during parties and nightclub sessions. Keep an ear out for the DJ. He may just say “$5 shots for the next 5 minutes for everybody who visits the bar”. This happened to us on our cruise. Such an easy way to knock off some dollars and quickly be on your way to intoxication. We also heard “the next 5 people to tip the bartenders get a FREE beer of your choice”. It’s obviously encouraging patrons to tip but also doesn’t specify a specific amount. So you could walk away with a FREE beer after tipping $2 USD. Sounds like a deal to me.

Sidenote: You should always tip for Great Service. You could be helping change someone's life.

Is the drink package worth it? Always be sure to do the math and see what suits you. Take into consideration all of thee above and below:

  • How much do you plan to drink?

  • How much do you actually end up drinking on vacation?

  • What alcohol do you drink? (beer, wine, liquor)

  • How many days will you be at sea?

  • The length of the cruise?

  • The price of the beverage package?

I hope this post gave you a lot of insight on legitimate ways to save on alcohol during your Carnival cruise. Nevertheless, don't tie yourself to your stateroom, mixing and drinking your previously purchased bottles. You're on vacation, get out, move around, enjoy the ship, be sure to bring a good quality cup for day drinking around the ship.


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