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Drinking On Disney No Downer

Okay, so maybe it’s not as dramatic as Snow White dating Dracula, or Mickey Mouse getting a DUI…but who ever thought Disney would be the first cruise line to relax the rules on alcohol?

There’s a new wine and beer policy for passengers who want to bring bottles onto Disney ships, and it’s the most realistic (i.e. forgiving) one we’ve seen.

Each adult cruising with Disney can bring two bottles of wine or champagne, or six bottles of beer, in carryon luggage — not in checked bags.

Here’s the kicker…

Each adult can do the same thing at each port!

That makes Disney the first cruise line we know of to allow beer or wine to be purchased in ports and consumed on ships. Most lines confiscate any on-shore purchases and keep them until your cruise ends.

The new policy has regulations, of course. Exceed your limit and you won’t see the bottles until your cruise ends. Take a bottle to a restaurant and you’ll pay corkage. Bring liquors or spirits…boom, gone until end of your cruise. Forget to pick up your confiscated bottles…bye-bye.

And finally, your wine or beer can only be consumed in restaurants or state rooms — not in public areas.

After all, who wants to be Goofy?

In the news…

• Carnival Conquest passengers spot debris that may be from sunken ship
• Gratuities going up by at least 13 per cent on Princess ships in January
• Disney bookings for 2017 Caribbean cruises open to the public tomorrow

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival Victory christens Amber Cove


Star Princess
4 nights
November 8, 2015
Vancouver, Victoria, Los Angeles
Inside: $139
Cost per day: $34
www.princess.com

Carnival Stops Carry-on Drinks

Drinks

It was in the port of Manta, Ecuador that we saw a fellow passenger buy a family-sized bottle of coke, then empty most of it so he could re-fill it with rum or some other spirit before getting back on the cruise ship.

How tacky, we thought.

Today, Carnival is being accused of being tacky, for preventing passengers from doing just that. No more bottles of liquid of any kind can be brought onto ships from ports and, with few exceptions, from embarkation points. The exceptions are that passengers are each allowed to bring a bottle of wine, up to 12 cans (unopened) of water or soda and — to ease the pain of the people who are pains — the price of pre-ordering a 12-pack of water is being cut from $4.99 to $2.99.

The cruise line’s philosophy is that the step is being taken to (a) make its passengers safer and (b) to speed up the embarkation process that is being slowed by checking every bottle with fluid that shows up in luggage.

Hmmm…

We are left to presume that “safety” has to do with the smuggling of explosives, the same reason airlines don’t allow liquids from outside security areas. And the embarkation process is only going to be faster if people stop bringing as many bottles as they hope will slip past security people and cameras.

Naturally, the people are upset and are accusing Carnival of driving up profits by forcing people to buy more (liquids) on the ship. They’re also saying the cruise line will back down on this, because eight years ago non-alcoholic drinks were banned and it was later retracted.

A more logical explanation is that Carnival is instituting the policy because too many people are breaking the rules…just like the guy with the bottle of “coke” in Manta.

In the news…

• New Zealand latest market to report cruise boom (Yahoo)
• Disney Magic sails into Norwegian fjord that inspired 'Frozen'
• Newest Princess sale 'Great Getaways' good through July 7

Today at portsandbows.com: Un-Cruises expanding south

Carnival Splendor
7 nights
September 6, 2015
New York (return):  Boston, Portland, Saint John, Halifax
Inside: $389
Cost per day: $55
www.carnival.com

Royal Caribbean And 'The Wine'

Okay, it’s time to whine about wine again.

As regular consumers, we once lugged 17 bottles back in luggage from Europe and were greeted by customs with “Welcome home” and no questions about wine. That was one of the times that we were lucky enough — and we always tell the truth when asked — to beat the system.

On cruise ships, a couple of times we’ve taken more than our quota on board and, while Vintagessometimes we’ve paid the corkage fee, sometimes we’ve been lucky, too. Consequently, we are owed nothing when it comes to taking more wine than is allowed — free.

So today we celebrate the success of “whining” for other passengers with similar taste.

Royal Caribbean’s rules — and every cruise line is different — were that two bottles could be taken on board, and were subject to a $25 corkage fee if they were consumed in public places. Such as restaurants, bars, by the pool, in the elevator…

That’s changed.

Although the change has not yet been made on Royal Caribbean’s website, the two bottles per stateroom can now be taken to a cruise ship restaurant, for dinner, and there’s no corkage. This “news” was broken by passengers and later confirmed by the cruise line. The same rules apply to champagne (750-ml bottles only, not magnums). And if it’s more than two bottles, they will be confiscated and returned on the last day of the cruise.

It’s not perfect, because perfect in our world would be allowing you to take as much as you want, and charging you corkage in the restaurants. At least then you can drink your own wine.

But this news is worthy of a toast!

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Holland America Zaandam
14 nights
November 24, 2014
Santiago, Puerto Montt, Puerto Chabucu, Chilean Fjords, Strait of Magellan, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Cape Horn, Port Stanley, Montevideo, Buenos Aires
Inside: $799
Cost per day: $57
www.hollandamerica.com

 

Celebrity Toasted By Wine Spectator

CellermastersIn case you were wondering…

* * *

Celebrity has, arguably, the premier wine reputation among cruise lines. We won’t argue the point. Our best and most complete wine experiences have been on Celebrity ships, starting with a knowledgeable sommelier from (of all places) Mumbai. Knowledgable sommelier…aren’t they all?

Anyway, the Wine Spectator has enhanced the reputation by awarding 10 Awards of Excellence — of a possible 12 — to Celebrity for its wine lists. It’s an instant replay.

Last year, Celebrity also won 10.

* * *

Cruise lines are being encouraged to equip their ships to use shore-based electricity in port and burn less diesel fuel. However, the left hand doesn’t always know what the right is doing with regards to the ports.

When the Carnival Miracle stopped in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago, it was unable to hook up to shore power even though the ship is equipped for it.

The reason?

The ship’s hook-up is on the starboard side. The Port of Vancouver assigned the Miracle a port side connection. Consequently, the ship was forced to burn diesel during its stay in one of the world’s most ecologically sensitive cities.

* * *

When Quantum of the Seas leaves on its two-night, pre-inaugural cruise after arriving in North America in November, it will be making special wishes.

The Make-A-Wish chapters from New Jersey and New York are selling passage on the new ship to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, long an active charity on Royal Caribbean ships. Quantum leaves Bayonne, New Jersey at 4 p.m. on November 14 and returns at 7 a.m. on November 16, so you’re on the ship for about 39 hours.

Passage is for balcony cabins, at $1,495 for obstructed and $1,995 for unobstructed.

In other words, it’s pretty much a donation in return for being first to sail on Quantum of the Seas in North America.

Today at portsandbows.com: Opera on the rivers

Celebrity Century
8 nights
November 11, 2014
Sydney (return): Melbourne, Adelaide, Port Lincoln
Oceanview: $835
Cost per day: $104
www.celebritycruises.com

A Cruise Wine Policy That Almost Makes Sense

Just when you think common sense is prevailing when it comes to cruise passengers and bottles of wine, Holland America doesn't go far enough. The "most permissive" cruise line will now allow its passengers to take as many bottles as they wish to lug onto the ship and pay corkage for wine.

The first bottle is free…providing it is consumed in the cabin. But really, who knows where it's consumed? The rest — and there is no limit — is subject to $18 corkage, Trio of wineper bottle. Princess does the same thing, but charges $15 corkage. Norwegian charges corkage on everything.

Look, passengers are always going to "smuggle" (that's what it has been) wine onto a ship. On ships where abstinence of your own wine is the practice, the rules have been that — if caught — passengers had to line the hallways when their wine-infested luggage didn't show up, then either have the bottles confiscated until the end of the cruise or pay corkage for whatever was found, on the spot. If you don't think the hallways were lined, then you haven't been caught.

Then, the rules were relaxed.

Passengers were allow to take a specific number of bottles (usually two) to be consumed ONLY in the cabin. In the dining room, they paid corkage ($15 or $20 a bottle). So, if you are allowed to take two bottles and pay corkage for your dinner wine, why not allow more? 

The passengers win, because they get to have their own wine…and most cruise-line wine is either good or affordable, but not both.

The cruise line wins, because they have happy passengers who are willing to pay corkage, compensating the cruise line for lost income from buying wine from the menu.

It's not about beating the cruise line for wine charges. It's about having the kind of wine you like, when you like it, without paying ridiculously inflated prices.

Holland America almost gets it.

When one cruise line does get it, as they say in Italy…saluté!

Norwegian Sky
4 nights
February 24, 2014
Miami (return): Grand Bahama IslandNassauGreat Stirrup Cay
Inside: $129
Cost per day: $32
www.ncl.com

 

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