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Windstar Drink Package or All-In Package: Worth It?

If you’re planning a Windstar cruise, you’ll want to know about Windstar’s drink packages, as well as their all-inclusive package.

We’ve just returned from our fifth cruise with Windstar, this time on the Star Pride (see our Windstar Cruises’ review and our Star Pride ship review).

And we get that a fine dinner isn’t complete without a first-rate wine. (They go together like burgers and beer. Tacos and tequila. You get the point.)

Maybe you’re into a pre-dinner or around-the-pool cocktail too?

Everything tastes even better when you snag that gin-and-tonic or glass of Chardonnay at a discount.

So it’s helpful to know the cost of drinks on Windstar Cruises and whether you should get a Windstar drink package (or perhaps even Windstar’s all-inclusive package).

Windstar drinks package
It’s nice to enjoy a glass of champagne on a cruise (even nicer if you get a price-break!)

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

If you don’t mind us bragging a little, we’re pretty adept at nipping menus and digging into the details of drink deals on cruises.

So here’s our ultimate guide on the drinks packages on Windstar Cruises – cost, bar menus and whether a package can save you money.

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

Windstar drink packages (and Windstar all-inclusive package)

Drinks at Candles on the Star Pride
Drinks with our dinner at the alfresco Candles’ steakhouse on the Star Pride

How much are drinks on Windstar Cruises?

Non-alcoholic drinks

As a boutique cruise line, Windstar includes more in their cruise fare than Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America and other major lines that feature big cruise ships.

Non-alcoholic beverages like bottled water, fruit juices, specialty coffees and soft drinks are complimentary on all six of their ships (both the sailing-style yachts and the Star Plus all-suite vessels).

So you don’t need a Windstar beverage package to enjoy a cappuccino with breakfast or to drink purified mineral Natura water in your stateroom. These drinks are included in the cruise rates.

Wine, beer and alcoholic drinks

The prices for alcoholic drinks on Windstar Cruises range as follows:

  • Beer: $5.95 to $7.95 (Average $7)
  • Cocktails: $8.75 to $13.00 (Average $10 to $11)
  • Wine by the glass: $8.00 to $13.00 (Average $10 to $11)
  • Wine by the bottle: $30 to (a whopping) $1,200

Note: An 18% beverage service charge is automatically added to all onboard alcohol purchases.

Beer

You have 14 choices of beer. These are the Windstar drink prices for beer:

  • Miller Lite, Bud Light, Budweiser and Coors Light: $5.95
  • Amstel Light, Corona, Beck’s, Heineken, Carlsberg and Stella Artois: $6.95
  • Paulaner, Guinness, Strongbow Cider: $7.95
  • Heineken non-alcoholic: $5.95

Cocktails

Bartender on Windstar Cruises
Your smiling bartender! (Credit: Windstar Cruises)

See the cocktail menu from our recent cruise on Windstar’s Star Pride cruise ship.

Cocktails are crafted using a combination of house and select brands. You can choose from a selection of over 40 liquors, including Grey Goose, Hendricks, Johnny Walker Black, Ketel One, Glenfiddich and Hennessy.

The specific brands shown on the Windstar drink menu may vary periodically, depending on availability and so different alternative options may sometimes be offered.

Wine on the Windstar drinks menu

See the menu of red and white wines by the glass on our recent Windstar cruise.

Wine display outside the Cuadro specialty restaurant on the Star Pride
Wine display outside the Cuadro specialty restaurant on the Star Pride

The full menu of wines by the glass includes:

  • 12 choices of white wine by the glass
  • 15 choices of red wine by the glass
  • 3 choices of blush and rosé wines by the glass
  • 4 choices of sparkling wine and Prosecco

Janice is the white (and rosé drinker) in our marriage – she typically went for a glass (or two!) of the Amavi Cellars Semillon from Walla Walla, Washington.

George prefers his wine red. And when he spotted the Hangtime Pinot Noir from California on the Windstar Cruises wine list, that became his go-to wine by the glass.

You can also choose from a large selection of bottles of wine.

Of course, the wines are swapped out from time to time, depending on availability or to upgrade the selection.

So what’s shown on the menu highlighted above could be different on your cruise.

Windstar white wine by the glass menu

Couple drinking white wine on Windstar
Here’s to your happiness!

Windstar red wine by the glass menu

Swirl, sniff, sip – ahhh…

Windstar beverage packages

Two alcoholic drinks packages are offered on all Windstar ships:

  • Topmast Discoveries Beer & Wine Package
  • Captain’s Exclusive Beverage Package

There’s no daily limit on how many drinks you can have with either package.

But Windstar encourages the “responsible use of alcohol” and they may limit serving drinks to guests to avoid intoxication (we’ve never noticed them having to do this).

Topmast Discoveries Beer & Wine Package

This Windstar alcohol package costs $55 per person a day.

It includes:

  • Domestic and imported beer
  • At least 33 varieties of wine by the glass

There’s an 18% beverage service charge which is added to the cost of the package. It equates to $9.90 a day.

So the total cost of this Windstar drinks package comes to $64.90 p.p. a day.

Captain’s Exclusive Beverage Package

The Captain’s Exclusive Beverage Package is designed for guests who fancy, say, a Strawberry Pimm’s at sunset or sipping a scotch under the stars – or who just like to have a cocktail whenever they want.

It costs $65 per person per day.

This Windstar Cruises beverage package includes:

  • Unlimited beer (domestic and imported)
  • At least 33 varieties of wine by the glass
  • Unlimited cocktails (based on house and select brands), liqueurs, cordials and aperitifs
  • Mini-bar beverages

An 18% beverage service charge (amounting to $11.70 a day) is extra. So the total cost of this drinks package is $76.70 p.p. a day.

So, is a Windstar drink package worth it?

The Star Bar on the Wind Star ship
The Star Bar on the Wind Star ship

Depending on your preferences and drinking habits, a Windstar Cruises drinks package could be good value.

By our calculations, using average prices, you’d have to drink about 5 glass of wine a day (7 to 8 glasses of beer) to break even with the Topmast Discoveries Beer & Wine Package.

For the Windstar premium beverage package (i.e., the Captain’s Exclusive Beverage Package), again using average prices, you’d have to consume a minimum of 6 cocktails (or 3 cocktails and 3 glasses of wine) a day to meet the break-even point.

If you’re leaning toward getting a drinks package, read on however, because the better package, in our view, is Windstar cruises all-in package.

Windstar All-In Package

Windstar has an all-inclusive cruise package (called the “All-In Package”) which costs $89 per person per day (if bought in advance).

This all-inclusive package includes:

  • Unlimited beer and wine (and, of course, non-alcoholic drinks, which are complimentary anyway)
  • Unlimited cocktails and hard liquor, based on house and select brands (you can choose from more than 40 liquors such as Grey Goose, Hendrick’s, Johnny Walker Black, Ketel One, Glenfiddich, Hennessy)
  • Mini-bar drinks
  • Unlimited WiFi
  • All gratuities

See details on the Windstar website.

Cost differs for pre-purchase vs. purchase onboard

To get the package for a daily $89 a person, you have to book this all-inclusive package at least 5 days before your cruise departure.

If you decide to wait until you’re onboard the ship, you can still buy the all-in package. But the cost will be $99 per person a day.

Why Windstar Cruises’ all-inclusive package is better than just a drinks package

The all-inclusive package makes more sense to us because of what you’d otherwise have to pay for gratuities and WiFi.

The cruise gratuities for Windstar are $16 per person a night (for your stateroom attendant, dining room servers and other staff). For a 7-night cruise, these Windstar gratuities amount to $112.

As well, there’s an 18% service charge that’s automatically added to both drinks packages (and the bar bill for all alcoholic drink purchases).

As for Wifi, the cost is $35 a day for service that’s good enough for email, social media and Internet browsing.

This cost can be shared if you’re okay with logging out to allow your partner to log in (and vice-versa). But this may end up being a bit of a pain. (We know, we tried it.)

So the gratuities and WiFi alone cost $51 day p.p. (for your own WiFi) or $33.50 a day p.p. if you split the WiFi.

This means the drinks portion of the $89 All-In Package p.p. per day is only:

  • $38 a day per person (if you get your own WiFi) – $89 less $51 for gratuities and WiFi ($16 gratuities and $35 for your own WiFi = $51.00)
  • $55.50 a day per person (if you share the WiFi) – $89 less $33.50 for gratuities and WiFi ($16 gratuities and $17.50 shared WiFi = $33.50)

The drinks portion alone ($38) is considerably less than the Captain’s Exclusive Package ($65 + 18% service charge = $76.70) and the Topmast Package ($55 + 18% service charge = $64.90) if you get your own WiFi package.

And if you share a WiFi package, the drinks portion ($55.50) is still less than the Captain’s Exclusive Package ($76.70 with service charge) and the Topmast Package ($64.90 with service charge).

So, financially, you save money by getting the All-In Package rather than one of the drinks packages.

Dinner with wine at Cuadro
Dinner with wine at Cuadro

Windstar beverage program details

Some of the details you’ll want to know include:

  • The minimum drinking age on Windstar Cruises is 21 years old.
  • The Topmast, Captain’s Exclusive and All-In Packages are sold per person and must be bought in advance or within the first 2 days of your cruise.
  • You have to buy the package for the entire duration of your cruise. (You can’t get it for, say, certain days.)
  • You can buy a drinks package just for one person. Unlike some other cruise lines, both guests in the same cabin don’t have to buy the Windstar Cruises drink package. This is especially useful if one of you doesn’t drink alcohol, for example.
  • An 18% beverage service charge is added to the Topmast and Captain’s Exclusive Packages (but not to the All-In Package).
  • All beverage packages work anywhere throughout the ship – at all onboard bars and lounges, the Amphora main dining room and specialty restaurants. (Check if room service in your cabin is excluded, however.)
  • Buy any package and you’ll save 30% on all bottles of wine priced $100 or less.

See Windstar’s Order Form for buying a package, which includes details.

Windstar alcohol policy

Can you bring alcohol on Windstar Cruises?

Yes. You’re allowed to bring onboard two bottles of wine or champagne for a 7-day cruise or three bottles for cruises 8 days or longer.

You’re free to drink them (no charge) in your cabin or suite. But if you want to drink one of the bottles, say, in one of the dining rooms on the ship, a corkage fee (about $15 USD) plus an 18% beverage gratuity will be charged.

If you buy wine or alcohol at ports-of-call on your cruise, it will be taken away and returned to you the last night of your cruise.

Bottom line: Is Windstar’s All-In Package worth it?

Glass of white wine with scallops on Windstar Cruises
Yes, please, we’ll have a glass of wine with our scallops (Credit: Windstar Cruises)

The All-In Package can definitely be worth it because it includes the premium Windstar Cruises drink package (i.e. the Captain’s Exclusive Beverage Package).

You have to pay gratuities anyway and you’re probably going to want to get WiFi.

And we already mentioned that the drinks package portion of the All-In Package is less than either of the drinks packages, even if you’re willing to split a WiFi plan.  

So why not get the all-inclusive cruise package? It’s a no-brainer, as it will save you money.

Obviously, if you know that the most you’ll drink is maybe one or two glasses of wine with dinner, then the All-In Package is not for you.

But if you’d like to have a drink by the pool, a pre-dinner cocktail and wine with dinner (and maybe with lunch too), then the All-In Package makes sense.

Plus, having the package means not stressing about your onboard account when your cruise wraps up.

What’s your view?

Have you bought one of the Windstar drink packages or the All-In Package?

Drop us a line and let us know what you think! You can share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Craving more cruise information?

Windstar and Paul Gauguin: Discover the best cruises in French Polynesia! We compare Windstar Cruises with Paul Gauguin.

Seabourn: What’s it like to cruise on on the luxury Seabourn line? See our review of Seabourn. (Think lots of free champagne!)

Viking Ocean Cruises: In our Viking Star review, we dish on why Viking Star was named the “world’s best ship” – and why Viking’s cruise experience is such a pleasure.

Our top travel tips and resources

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Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours, plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out Viator (a TripAdvisor company) and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more. We also have and recommend Medjet for global air medical transportation and travel security.

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Photo credits: 2, 4 © 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.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!

Bev T.

Tuesday 18th of July 2023

Article very useful.

Do you know what the average pour of a glass of wine on Windstar is? (i.e., 5, 6 or 9 oz.)

Thx.

Janice and George

Saturday 22nd of July 2023

Hi Bev,

Interesting, the menu doesn't say...

But they seemed generous to us :-). Probably around 7 ounces? The wine pours seemed to get bigger with the second glass :-).