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Celebrity Cruises UK have just announced a sale for cruises starting next year. There are free cabin upgrades – e.g. book an Ocean View, get a Balcony – and cheap flights to Barcelona and Rome for cruises on Celebrity Reflection and Celebrity Equinox. But the most startling offer is this: free ‘Classic Drinks’ package on ex-UK sailings on Celebrity Eclipse from Southampton and Celebrity Infinity from Harwich, next year.

Celebrity have been offering their drinks packages for a few years. There’s a plethora of them, covering (just) non-alcoholic drinks, or both non-alcoholic and alcoholic. The Classic Alcoholic package includes the following:-

  • soft drink selections such as Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Fanta Orange and Coke Zero;
  • fresh squeezed and bottled juices;
  • Premium Coffees and Teas;
  • Non-Premium Bottled Water; plus (now the interesting stuff)
  • all beers up to $5 per serving; and
  • spirits, cocktails and wines by the glass up to $8 per serving.

(Here’s a link to a page on the Celebrity site detailing the range of packages available.)

The cost of that is $50.60 per day, and I think there are gratuities to pay on top of that at a rate of 15% which makes a rather clumsy total of $58.19. The packages are ‘per person’, and you’re not allowed to buy drinks for two people on one package – i.e. if you and your spouse just have one package between you then only one person’s drinks can be bought with it. So in practice (unless one of you doesn’t drink) you need to buy a package each. Over the course of a 14-night cruise, that’s $1,416.80 for two people (plus gratuities). And, rather unbelievably, that’s what Celebrity are offering, for each of the first two people in a cabin, for free.

It’s hedged around with lots of T&Cs, of course – you can read the full list for all the offers here – but it does seem a remarkable deal. In fact, it makes me wonder what is happening to ex-UK cruise bookings for next year – we’ve recently seen P&O cancel several cruises for next year and (mostly) substitute them with shorter, cheaper cruises. (Alternatively, perhaps Celebrity have increased the cost of the basic cruise…)

To be honest I’m not sure about these drinks packages – they do seem to be an invitation to drink too much. I’m an enthusiastic drinker, especially of wine and malt whisky (probably excluded from the Classic package….) but I also like to have a few sober days during a longer cruise. The drinks packages don’t support this at all – if you buy one then you have to pay the full package price for each day, either for the whole cruise if it’s booked in advance, or for all the days remaining if it’s booked on board, so once you’ve bought it there’s a strong incentive to keep drinking, in order to get your money’s worth. I probably wouldn’t actually buy one myself. But if it’s free….

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