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Are the Holland America Drink Packages Worth Buying?

So you’re planning a HAL cruise? Then you’ll want to know about Holland America’s beverage packages.

We’ve previously written about Viking Cruises’ bar menu and the cost of drinks on Star Clippers.

We know a fine dinner on a cruise isn’t the same without a fine wine. You may like a cocktail before dinner too.

And it’s all the more palatable if you pay the lowest price for that gin-and-tonic or glass of Chardonnay, right?

That means knowing what drinks cost on HAL and getting details about the Holland America drink packages.

Bottles of liquor lined up in the Grand Dutch Café on the Rotterdam cruise ship
Bottles of liquor lined up in the Grand Dutch Café on HAL’s Rotterdam cruise ship

We’ve gone on several Holland America cruises – to Alaska, along the Eastern Canadian and New England coast, in the Mediterranean and in the Western Caribbean.

Our most recent cruise was an 11-night Southern Caribbean cruise on the new Rotterdam.

Apart from having a good time (naturally!), we made it our mission to find out everything you could possibly want to know about the drink packages on Holland America – cost, bar menus and whether a package is worth it.

Note: All prices are in U.S. dollars.

Holland America drink packages: Alcohol and specialty drinks

Two women drinking cocktails... A Holland America Line beverage package could be good value!
A Holland America Line beverage package could be good value if you like your cocktails! (And your specialty coffees)

Luxury cruise lines like Seabourn include unlimited wine and alcohol in their cruise rates. (See our Seabourn review).

But on most major cruise lines with bigger cruise ships – like Holland America Line (HAL), Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean – you pay for your alcoholic drinks, along with bottled water, soft drinks and cappuccinos.

The flip side is that you pay substantially less for a HAL cruise than for, say, a Seabourn cruise.

(BTW, did you know Seabourn is HAL’s sister cruise line? They’re both under the big Carnival Corporation umbrella.)

Depending on how much you drink – and if you want the freedom to order that second pre-dinner cocktail without worrying about the cost – an all-inclusive beverage package could save you money.

5 Main Holland America beverage packages

There are both alcoholic and non-alcoholic HAL beverage packages.

Cocktails in the Holland America drinks package
What do you fancy for a drink?

1) Holland America Elite Beverage Package

This is HAL’s premium package.

It costs $59.99 per person per day. (See our note on additional service charges in the “Fine Print” section below.)

If you pride yourself on being a connoisseur of cocktails and wine, this is probably the best package.

It includes an array of premium cocktails, beer, spirits and wines by the glass – priced $15 or less – along with unlimited non-alcoholic beverages (like Perrier water, sodas, smoothies and cappuccino).

Among the included cocktails are Master Mixologist Dale DeGroff’s original cocktails, such as the Peruvian-themed “Alliance” with BarSol Pisco (a Peruvian brandy), strawberry, lychee, ginger and Prosecco.

Don’t know who Dale DeGroff is?

Well, if it makes you feel better, we didn’t either until we Googled. He’s been called “one of the world’s foremost cocktail experts” by the New York Times.

Winner of two James Beard awards, DeGroff has also written two best-selling books, “The Craft of the Cocktail” and “The Essential Cocktail.”

As for wines, the Elite package includes, for example, the Sokol Blosser Evolution Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley and Le Grand Courtage Brut Rosé from France.

There are only a few cocktails and wines by the glass that are more expensive than $15.

But if you’d like, say, a $16 Smoked Cherry Old Fashioned (with Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Angostura and orange bitters, smoked with cherry wood) then you need only pay the difference of $1 over and above the $15 limit.

The same is true for a Grgich Hills Chardonnay from the Napa Valley (priced at $25 a glass) – you’d have to pay $10 extra for this glass.

Note: The Elite package has a daily limit of 15 alcoholic drinks per person.

2) Holland America Signature Beverage Package

This is probably the most popular of the Holland America Line drink packages.

The Signature Beverage Package on Holland America costs $54.95 per person per day.

With this package, you can enjoy beer, cocktails, spirits and wines by the glass priced $11 or less. You also get “specialty” non-alcoholic drinks such as Coke, bottled water, cappuccino and smoothies.

Bottles of liquor on display in a bar on the Rotterdam cruise ship
Bar liquor on the Rotterdam cruise ship

Some examples of liquor and wine at $11 or less?

  • Gerard Bertrand Reserve Chardonnay (France) = $9
  • McPherson Shiraz (Australia) = $10
  • Rotterdam Martinez (De Lijn gin, Noilly Pratt dry vermouth, orange curacao and Angostura bitters) = $11
  • Cosmopolitan = $11
  • Grand Marnier = $10
  • Stella Artois beer = $7.75

Note: The Signature HAL beverage package has a limit of 15 drinks per person per day. This includes alcoholic and specialty non-alcoholic drinks.

So you could have a cappuccino before breakfast, another cappuccino mid-morning, a beer and a Perrier at lunch, a margarita by the pool mid-afternoon, a pre-dinner martini, two glasses of wine and another Perrier with dinner, a Limoncello after dinner and a night cap after the evening show.

And you’d still have four drinks to use up!

Again, if you’d like to try a drink that costs more than $11, you only need to pay the difference.

3) Holland America Quench Beverage Package

This Holland America drink package is their no-alcohol package.

It costs $17.95 per guest a day.

Enjoy juices, Coca-Cola products, Red Bull, mocktails, bottled water, premium coffees (like espresso and cappuccino) and other specialty non-alcoholic options with this package.

We can’t do without our cappuccinos and lattes, so we were grateful HAL treated us each to their Quench package on our most recent Rotterdam cruise.

Toward the end of our voyage, we found out that even milkshakes (which cost $4.50) are included. Guess which one of us couldn’t resist promptly using their Quench package to order a chocolate milkshake that afternoon!

Note: There’s a limit of 15 non-alcoholic drinks a day in the Quench package.

4) Holland America Coca-Cola Package

Here’s one for soda lovers – the Coca-Cola Freestyle package. It includes unlimited Cokes and fountain sodas.

The cost is $8 per person a day.

Note: This drinks package is only available on Pinnacle Class ships (Konigsdam, Nieuw Statendam and Rotterdam).

5) Holland America Water Package

HAL offers two water packages:

  • Bottled water: You can order six 34-ounce glass bottles of Acqua Panna spring water (with a screw cap that can be closed) for a cost of $25.50.
  • Cans of water: Or you can get twelve 12-ounce aluminum cans of purified water (with electrolytes) for a cost of $33.75.

The cans or bottles of water will be delivered to your stateroom. (They fit nicely underneath the glass cabinet containing your wine and other glasses.)

Fine print: For all Holland America drinks packages

  • Both adults must buy: Traveling as a couple or two friends together? Both of you must buy the package. It’s not possible for one of you to buy the package and “share” it with your husband, friend or other traveling companion.
  • Excluded: Packages exclude drinks you take from your in-room mini-bar (yes, you have one!), drinks you order when dining in your room, self-service draft beer (there are beer machines on the pool deck to pour your own beer) and drinks bought on HAL’s private island, Half Moon Cay.
  • Duration: You have to buy the package for every day of your cruise – you can’t buy it, say, for the first few days only or for every second day.
  • Service charge: An 18% cruise gratuity is automatically added to your bill for all Holland America liquor packages and non-alcoholic packages.

Holland America wine packages

As well as the Holland America alcohol packages (for cocktails, beer and wines by the glass), there are also packages for buying wines by the bottle – called the Sommelier Suite. (See our post on Holland America’s wine packages for complete details.)

Holland America Line Sommelier Suite

In brief, HAL has three wine packages:

  • Cellar No. 1
  • Cellar No. 2
  • Cellar No. 3.

Each of these packages offers a choice of seven white wines and seven red wines.

The wines come from Italy, France, Spain, Argentina, California, Chile, Washington, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Austria.

You can choose to buy a package of either four, six or eight bottles, and you can save up to 25% on the per-bottle price by buying a package.

Note: Like the Holland America cruise drink packages, you pay an 18% service charge on top of the Holland America wine package prices.

1) Cellar No. 1

  • Examples of the white wines: Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling (Washington) and Danzante Pinot Grigio (Italy)
  • Examples of the red wines: Deakin Estate Shiraz (Australia) and Chateau des Trois Tours Bordeax (France)

2) Cellar No. 2

  • Examples of the white wines: Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) and Domaine Les Salices Chardonnay (France)
  • Examples of the red wines: Meiomi Pinot Noir (California) and Frescobaldi Castiglioni Chianti (Italy)

3) Cellar No. 3

  • Examples of the white wines: Laurenz V “Singing” Gruner Veltliner (Austria) and Chamisal “Stainless” Chardonnay (California)
  • Examples of the red wines: Arboleda Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile) and Chateau du Trignon Cotes du Rhone (France)

Holland America drinks prices and menus (no package)

What’s the cost of drinks on Holland America cruises if you don’t buy a package?

Cocktails

The average cost is $11.

See, for example, the featured cocktail list in the Ocean Bar on the Rotterdam:

Holland America Ocean Bar cocktail prices

And here’s the cocktail list from the Crow’s Nest Bar on the Rotterdam:

Holland America drinks prices from the Crow's Nest Bar on the Rotterdam cruise ship

Hard liquor

Drinks like Drambuie and Kahlua range in price from $7 (Jagermeister) to $25 (Hennessy XO).

Drinks menu and prices on Holland America cruise

Beer

You’ll also find several types of beer on the Holland America drink menu.

Fancy a Blue Moon Belgian White, Guinness Stout or Michelob Ultra? A 16 ounce glass is yours for $7.75.

List of beers on Holland America Line

Holland America wines by the bottle

Wine enthusiasts will be pleased to know there are more than 100 wines on HAL’s list of wines by the bottle.

All of the wines have been selected by James Suckling, one of the world’s foremost wine critics.

Some examples on the JS Wine List:

  • Stemmari Moscato (Sicily, Italy) = $36
  • Louis Latour Pouilly Fuisse (Burgundy, France) = $70
  • Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand) = $77
  • Figgins Estate Red Blend (Walla Walla Valley, Washington) = $149
  • Louis Jadot Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru Burgundy (France) = $286

Holland America Line wines by the glass

You have a choice of:

  • 4 sparkling wines by the glass
  • 2 rosé wines by the glass
  • 10 white wines by the glass
  • 11 red wines by the glass

Some of these wines have received a quality score of 90 (out of 100) from Suckling.

Non-alcoholic drinks

Holland America drink prices for some of the most common non-alcoholic beverages are as follows:

  • Bottled water (16 ounces) = $5
  • Canned water (12 ounces) = $3.75
  • San Pellegrino water (large bottle) = $6
  • Aqua Panna water (large bottle) = $6
  • Perrier sparkling water (small bottle) = $3.75
  • Coca-Cola and soft drinks = $2.75
  • Red Bull energy drinks = $5
  • Milkshakes = $4.50
  • Smoothies = $2

Specialty coffee

A medium-size cappuccino, café latte or espresso costs $3.50 each.

Large specialty coffees cost $4.25 each.

Specialty coffee in the Grand Dutch Cafe on a Holland America cruise ship
We loved our lattes and cappuccinos on the ship’s Grand Dutch Café

Added gratuity

An 18% gratuity is automatically added to your account for all alcohol and beverage purchases.

What drinks are free on Holland America?

Don’t worry, you’re not going to go thirsty if you don’t buy any of the Holland America Line beverage packages!

As you’d expect, your cruise fare includes complimentary beverages like regular brewed coffee, tea, non-bottled water, iced tea and juice at breakfast.

Is the drink package worth it on Holland America?

Signature Package

Let’s look first at the Signature package, as that’s the most popular.

You’d have to spend about $55 a day on alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to break even. This would equate to about two cappuccinos, one bottled water and four cocktails or glasses of wine (or six beers) a day.

Skip the specialty coffees and bottled water, and you’d have to drink about five cocktails or glasses of wine a day to break even.

So if you think you’re going to drink five or more alcoholic drinks a day (cocktails or wine), then, yes, the package is worth it.

You’ll save on any extra alcoholic drinks. And your cappuccinos and soft drinks will be free too (to a maximum of 15 drinks in total, of course).

Elite Package

For the Elite package, you’d have to spend about $60 a day on alcoholic drinks to break even.

Now, here’s the thing. If you think you might like four or more $15 cocktails or glasses of wine (or six or more $11 cocktails or glasses of wine a day), then the Elite package will definitely save you money.

Remember, this premium beverage package allows you up to 15 alcoholic beverages a day (priced under $15 each).

HAL Signature vs. Elite Beverage Package

If you’d prefer premium drinks that cost more than $11, then it’s worth getting the Elite package rather than the Signature package.

With just two $15 drinks a day, you’ve justified the extra charge to upgrade from the Signature to the Elite package.

As well, you wouldn’t have to worry about specialty coffees, sodas and bottled water – you could drink as many of these as you’d like!

Three cocktails
Choices, choices!

Last words on the Holland America drink packages

Depending on your preferences and drinking habits, one of HAL’s cruise drink packages could be good value.

Definitely consider the Elite package, for example, if you like finer cocktails and wines, prefer cappuccinos to regular coffee, can’t do without bottled water and think you’d drink four or more alcoholic drinks a day.

With a package, there’s also the benefit of not worrying about your onboard account at the end of your cruise.

It’s a nice feeling not to have to think about the bill every time you order a drink (and question whether you should get it or not)!

As for wine, the Holland America Sommelier Suite packages should also save you a little money.

We’re not big cocktail or beer drinkers. But we love wine with dinner.

So the Sommelier Suite Cellar No. 2 wine package (the six-wine package) made sense for us (rather than the Signature or Elite packages).

It saved us a bit, and it was a fun way to taste some wines that we hadn’t tried before.

What do you think? Is a Holland America beverage package worth it for you? Let us know in the Comments below!

More cruising inspiration and information:

River cruises: Say hello to the world’s best river cruises!

Gratuities: How much are gratuities on a cruise? Should you pay extra? What about removing tips?

Ponant: Ooh la la! Cruise in style the French way! See our review of the Ponant line.

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Holland America Line beverage packages
Holland America drink packages

Photo credits: 1, 4, 10 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase


About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

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