Does Virgin Voyages have drink packages? Here’s why Bar Tab might be better

Virgin Voyages is known for giving guests great value by including more than the typical cruise line in its standard fares — all onboard dining, Wi-Fi, gratuities, group fitness classes and basic beverages and soft drinks. But when you’re sailing on an adults-only cruise like Virgin, you might feel one key thing is missing: alcoholic drinks.

Does Virgin Voyages have drink packages like other cruise lines to bundle alcohol pricing into one convenient daily rate? While there’s no such thing as a Virgin Voyages drink package, in true Virgin fashion, the cruise line has come up with a different way to make covering your drink costs less complicated and ultimately give you a better value.

Instead of restrictive drink packages that might not even include all of the top-shelf drink options on board, Virgin Voyages offers a more straightforward program called Bar Tab that lets you add a prepaid beverage credit to your account and earn bonus drink credits for free. You can then use your Bar Tab to pay for any drink served on board.

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If you plan to imbibe across the ship’s dozen or so bars, you might want to consider prepurchasing a Bar Tab. We’re here to explain how it all works.

How does Virgin Voyages’ Bar Tab work?


Virgin Voyages includes what the line considers to be “essential” drinks in its standard cruise fare: still and sparkling water, nonpressed juices, sodas, tea and drip coffee. Sodas are the main differentiator from many other cruise lines, which often charge extra for soft drinks. Everything else — alcoholic or otherwise — is considered a premium drink on Virgin.

Bar Tab is an onboard credit on Virgin Voyages cruises that can only be used for alcoholic beverages and other premium drinks. Purchasing a Bar Tab gives you the chance to prepay for your beverages that aren’t included in your cruise fare (think: alcoholic drinks, specialty coffees and fresh-pressed juices).

But what’s the point of prepaying for your drinks?

The perk is that Virgin Voyages throws in an extra $50 credit for every $300 Bar Tab you purchase, so you’re essentially saving 15% by paying up front. You cannot purchase a Bar Tab in other amounts. (Even if you could, why would you prepay for a different amount if you won’t be rewarded with a $50 bonus?)

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Related: How to get free or cheap drinks on a cruise

Since the whole point of Bar Tab is that it’s a prepaid beverage credit, it can only be purchased before your cruise (through the app or website, or by calling Sailor Services or a travel agent) and must be added to your account at least 24 hours before sailing. The offer isn’t available once you’re on board.

Which premium drinks does Bar Tab cover?

Champagne bar on Scarlet Lady. BHAWNA KHOWAL/THE POINTS GUY

Unlike Sailor Loot, which is Virgin Voyage’s equivalent of onboard credit that can be spent on anything from spa and retail purchases to shore excursions, Bar Tab can only be used for alcoholic beverages and any other premium drinks. (There used to be a loophole where Bar Tab and Sailor Loot credits would combine in the Virgin app, and passengers could purchase non-drink items with their Bar Tab credit, but that has been resolved.)

Aside from alcoholic beverages, premium drinks covered by Bar Tab also include specialty coffees like espresso drinks and cold brew, fresh-pressed juices, smoothies, mocktails and milkshakes (plus boozy shakes!). There’s no need to worry about price limits per drink since Bar Tab is just a credit toward your beverage spend. That’s what makes it so straightforward.

You can also spend your Bar Tab credit on afternoon tea at the Sip Champagne lounge or when you “Shake for Champagne,” an app feature that lets you summon a bottle of bubbly with the click of a button from almost anywhere on the ship. If you’re sailing on a Caribbean itinerary, Bar Tab can be used at the bars at the Bimini Beach Club, too.

Bar Tab will also cover your $25 corkage fee if you bring your own wine bottle to dinner at any of the onboard restaurants. (Virgin cruisers can bring up to two 750-milliliter bottles of wine on board during embarkation per cabin, along with a dozen 12-ounce cans or cartons of water, soft drinks, nonalcoholic beer or dietary supplements.)

Bar Tab doesn’t apply, however, to any of Virgin’s interactive beverage classes, and it can’t be used for any bottles of wine or spirits meant to be taken off the ship (i.e., duty-free liquor purchases).

Are there any Virgin cruise drink package deals? How else can I save on drinks?

Cocktails on Virgin Voyages. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

While Virgin Voyages doesn’t have drink packages, as we’ve mentioned, the line often runs limited-time offers that include free Bar Tab credits. In November 2023, I saw an offer awarding $300 in free drink credits on four- to six-night sailings and a $600 Bar Tab credit for seven-night or longer sailings.

Virgin also sells a few cruise package add-ons that include Bar Tab credits or other free drinks. For example, when you add the Splash of Romance package to your sailing, you get daily cold-pressed juices, a complimentary Shake for Champagne and an exclusive Sailaway Hour, among other perks that aren’t beverage-related.

Similarly, the celebratory Splash for Your Bash package includes drinks for your group at two special private events: a bottomless brunch and a dinner party.

Related: Are cruise line drinks packages worth the price? What to know before you buy

Passengers staying in a Mega RockStar Quarter suite always receive unlimited complimentary premium drinks (valued up to $25 per drink) and two bottles of wine per day (valued up to $90 per bottle). The suites cost a premium, but you won’t have to spend anything extra on beverages once you’re on board.

Finally, enrolling in Virgin Voyage’s loyalty program, called Sailing Club, can also get you free drinks. Starting with your third cruise with Virgin, you’ll be eligible for a free $100 Bar Tab annually, a daily $10 specialty coffee credit and an invitation to an exclusive cocktail event on future sailings through the end of 2024.

Is a Virgin Voyages Bar Tab worth it?


A few big differences between Virgin’s Bar Tab and the typical drink package format on other cruise lines make getting your money’s worth easier with Bar Tab.

Virgin Voyages does not require that every guest in a cabin have their own Bar Tab (unlike many other cruise lines, which require all adults staying in the same cabin to pay for their own drink package). In fact, you can share your Bar Tab credit with your cabinmate (no need to be present when they’re ordering) or even pay for friends’ (or strangers’) drinks, which comes in extra handy if you still have credits to spend at the end of your sailing.

As Virgin’s website says, “it pays to prepay” — that is, if you know how much you plan to drink. The main downside is that your prepaid Bar Tab is nonrefundable, so if you have any credit left over at the end of your sailing, you will lose the unused amount.

To make sure that adding a Bar Tab to your account is worthwhile and saves you money rather than wastes it, you’ll want to be sure that you do not prepay more than you and your buddies can drink. You might also benefit from using your Bar Tab credit as a helpful way to stick to a specific beverage budget.

Related: We tried every bar on Virgin Voyages and ranked them from best to worst

On Virgin Voyages, the specialty coffees average $4, beers average $6 to $7, basic cocktails average $10 and wines by the glass average $11. You can use these prices to estimate how many drinks per day it would take to spend through a $300 or $600 Bar Tab credit.

For instance, with a $300 Bar Tab on a six-night sailing, you’d need to spend at least $50 per day on drinks to break even. Divide this by two if you’re sailing with a partner, and it’s clearly doable to meet your spend of $25 per person per day with only three alcoholic drinks each. Double your Bar Tab to $600 for that six-night sailing if you can see yourselves each ordering roughly five alcoholic drinks daily.

If your sailing is on the shorter side, say four nights, you might have to squeeze in some extra liquid fun to burn through a $300 Bar Tab, as you’ll need to spend $75 per day on drinks. That’s at least seven or eight drinks per day if you’re imbibing solo (more if you mainly drink beer) or only four drinks per person daily if you’re sharing the Bar Tab with a cabinmate.

Bottom line

Virgin’s Bar Tab offers such a flexible format that it’s hard to go wrong with it if you plan to drink alcohol on your cruise (as long as you’re not staying in a top suite with included beverages).

If you typically spend at least $300 on drinks when you’re cruising — whether on your own or among your travel companions — you might as well prepay for a Bar Tab and save 15% with Virgin Voyage’s $50 Bar Tab bonus offer.

If you’re on a short cruise and your group doesn’t drink alcohol, it might be harder to use up a $300 Bar Tab on specialty coffees and fresh-pressed juices alone.

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