Is it worth buying the CHEERS! program on your next Carnival cruise so you don’t have to worry about paying for drinks as you go? CHEERS! is best-known for being Carnival’s unlimited alcoholic drink package, but there is actually a lot more to it than that. It certainly does include alcoholic drinks, but despite the popular misconception, it isn’t truly unlimited.
Carnival caps alcoholic beverages at 15 per passenger, per day, regardless of whether they’re paid for with a drink package or not, assuming the passenger isn’t visibly intoxicated. There is no limit on non-alcoholic beverages if you have CHEERS!, however.
With that in mind, the CHEERS! program includes the following:
- Beer, wine, and cocktails up to $20 each
- Non-alcoholic frozen cocktails
- Energy drinks
- Specialty coffees
- Hot tea
- Bottled water
- Other non-alcoholic bottled beverages
In addition, you can get 25% off the cost of wine or cocktails that cost more than $20, and on all bottles of wine. You can also get 25% off beverage seminars and classes offered on board the ship.
CHEERS! does not include any drinks sold with souvenir glasses (like those it typically offers on embarkation day). You can’t use it for any room service or mini-bar purchases. And, you can’t use it to purchase beverages that are typically shared, such as buckets of beer, just to name some of the main exclusions.
How much does the CHEERS! program cost?
The CHEERS! program can only be purchased for the entire length of your cruise — not on a day-by-day basis. And it’s important to realize that if one person in your cabin buys CHEERS!, everyone else in your cabin who is 21 or older must buy it as well.
In most cases, CHEERS! can be purchased before your sailing for $59.95 per person, per day. The onboard price is $74.95 per person, per day.
For cruises of three to five nights departing on Dec. 1, 2023 or later, the CHEERS! program will cost an additional $10 per day, making the prepaid and onboard rates $69.95 and $84.95, respectively.
An 18% service charge (gratuity) is also added to the package upon purchasing.
Here’s how it works: Let’s say that you and a companion (over 21) are booked on a 7-night Carnival cruise. If you buy CHEERS! before your sailing date, you’d pay $59.95 per day, per person, for seven days, for a total of $839.30. Adding the 18% service charge makes the total $990.37 for two people.
Is it worth it for you?
In many cases, the answer is a clear yes or no. If you’re actually going to max out and utilize 15 alcoholic beverages each day of your cruise, the CHEERS! program is a good value. And if you aren’t planning to drink at all, the answer is an obvious no. But the bulk of cruisers fall somewhere in between.
It also complicates matters that different types of drinks have different prices. A can of beer and a specialty mixed drink won’t cost the same amount, for example. Here’s a quick pricing reference from Carnival’s website:
|Type of Beverage||Price Range|
|Beer||Starting at $6.50|
|Wine by the glass||Starting at $9.50|
|Mixed drinks and spirits||$7.50 to $20.00|
|Specialty cocktails||Starting at $10.50|
|Specialty coffee drinks||$2.50 to $4.25|
|Water||$1.50 to $5.00|
Data source: Carnival.com
If you want to do the math and calculate your savings potential, ask yourself how many of each category of beverage you’d likely order in the average day. Add up the prices and compare it with the per-day cost of the CHEERS! program for your cruise to see if the cost is justified.
Of course, there are other benefits of the CHEERS! program to consider. For example, you can order a drink or specialty coffee you aren’t sure you’ll like — and if you don’t like it, simply order another one without wasting any money. And since bottled water is included, you can simply ask for one every time you order a drink and carry them with you throughout your trip.
The bottom line is CHEERS! can certainly be worthwhile on your next Carnival cruise, even if you don’t plan to drink a lot of alcoholic beverages. But it depends on your preferences, budget, and how much you’ll utilize the various beverage options that come with it.
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