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


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