Last week, Celebrity Cruises announced new routes leaving from Los Angeles (a first for the company), including two new beer-themed voyages: the 2014 Alaskan Brewing Company cruise, which starts at $1,684, and the California Beer Festival At Sea cruise, which starts at $639. And while themed cruises are something we've come across before, the growing popularity of Celebrity's "craft beer cruises" are making us sit up and take notice.
And we're not the only ones interested – after posting their 2013 and 2014 Alaskan Amber Craft Beer Cruise, tickets sold out in less than a month.
To make these trips happen, Celebrity links up with various breweries and beer festivals, such as Alaska Brewing Co., Sam Adams, or California Beer Festival who, in turn, supply the booze. A winning partnership that Celebrity says "has significantly increased our business." And we believe it. We were wondering, though, how the cost and value of these cruises stacks up. After all, you'll pay extra for alcohol on almost any big ocean cruise, and that's not the case with these theme cruises. Here's what we learned.
Consider the tastings and seminars included in the basic rate: a one-hour welcome reception (complimentary beer and appetizers), two one-hour beer tasting seminars (featuring 4–5 beers per session), and a four-course beer pairing luncheon. With beer supplied by the brewery partner, passengers incur no extra cost on their bill. True, these events make up only a small portion of the cruise itself, but they are well-attended, expertly-curated, and aim to educate beer-lovers on rare beers and brewing methods they might not have known about before.
Outside of those events, passengers are generally charged separately for additional drinks consumed in the minibar, bar, or restaurant. However, at the end of this month, Celebrity is offering up an exclusive promotion: any customer who books an oceanview stateroom or higher between August 30 and October 6 gets a complimentary "Classic Beverage Package," which entitles guests to unlimited refills on beers up to $5 per serving, and unlimited refills on spirits, cocktails, and wine up to $8 per serving (soda, bottles of wine, and fresh-squeezed juices come at a 20% discount).
Meanwhile, an upgrade to the "Premium Beverage Package" costs only $10 per person, per day, and offers unlimited refills on all beers, spirits, cocktails, and by-the-glass wines up to $12 per serving. This added cost ends up being worth it, because it facilitates more drinking for passengers whose sole purpose on the ship is to, well, drink.