The lure of cruise vacations offered by Carnival is that you can budget your entire trip very easily, given the all-inclusive nature of cruises. All transportation to ports, sleep accommodations, meals and on-board entertainment are included with your ticket. Yet cruise lines' policies regarding beverages complicate the budget picture. The company doesn't want thousands of passengers to have access to unlimited alcohol. Additionally, expensive soda prices could really bankrupt a ship if doled out limitlessly. However, there are tricks to scoring free drinks.
Water from a fountain is free to all passengers in any dining area any time of day or night. But be aware that bottled water and sparkling water -- conveniently found in your fridge and listed on menus -- are not free. In the past, passengers were allowed to bring as much bottled water aboard as they wished, but the newest policy does not allow any water brought on board.
Coffee, Cocoa and Tea
Dining rooms and the Lido buffet area provide you with free regular coffee, decaf coffee, hot chocolate, hot water and tea anytime. In the dining rooms, you can also get flavored coffees and cappuccinos free of charge, but there are additional fees if you visit one of the small cafes aboard.
Iced tea and lemonade are offered free of charge all day long. The buffet area serves free morning juices like orange, apple, mango, guava and fruit punch, but they come at a charge later in the day unless you have purchased a special additional package. Free milk, skim milk and chocolate milk are available at the buffet and in the dining rooms.
While alcohol is not customarily free aboard any Carnival cruise ship, there are certain ways to score free drinks. Be sure to attend the Captain's Meet & Greet party, which offers free champagne. The Welcome Back parties also provide free alcoholic beverages. Free champagne can be had at the art auction. And -- it's not technically free -- but you are allowed to bring one bottle of wine aboard the cruise ship upon embarkation.
Soda and Juice
Soda and juice are not free aboard the cruise ships, but you can participate in Carnival's Unlimited Soda Program. When you purchase the program, you'll receive a sticker to place on your card entitling you to limitless sodas and juices from the casino bar, lobby bar, pool bar or dining rooms. This card cannot be used for room service. Juice is also free in the Brasserie aboard the Carnival Inspiration.