No Wine-ing about Cruise Policies

One of the touchy issues about cruising, it seems, is alcohol. For us, alcohol means wine, our “liquid accompaniment” of choice.

Can you take it on board? What if you buy a bottle in a port? Is there a corkage fee? Do you put it in your luggage and hope nobody finds it? Are you stuck paying premium prices for mediocre wine, or exorbitant prices for good wine?

Here’s a snapshot of cruise line wine policies…

Carnival: One bottle per adult allowed, at embarkation only. Anything more is confiscated and could be destroyed.
Norwegian: Zip. No “intoxicating liquors or beverages…” are allowed.
Celebrity: Two bottles per stateroom on embarkation, subject to $25 corkage if c consumed in any shipboard restaurant.
Holland America: Corkage of $18 per bottle when brought to restaurants. No stated limit.
Princess: Apparently, as much as you want; no mention of corkage.

These are for wine/champagne only. Almost all cruise lines will confiscate and hold any alcohol bought in ports, wine included.

Charging corkage on wine is understandable, especially if you take a bottle to dinner, just as you would pay corkage in a restaurant on land. No wine drinker we know would object to that.

Okay, now for one of our experiences…

Embarkation was in San Francisco. Because we didn’t want to miss the ship, we arrived a couple of days early. Because we had a couple of days, we made the “mistake” of going to the Napa Valley. Because we did that, our luggage was…heavy.

This was a Norwegian cruise, as it happened. It was 19 days long. As you have read, Norwegian’s policy was no wine allowed. We carefully packed our little (?) cache in our baggage….and all the bags arrived at our stateroom door, untouched. So we were lucky on that one.

We did pay corkage on the restaurants, as we had after taking wine on previous cruises. And we were quite happy to do that. For us, it’s part of the price we pay to cruise — a nice wine with a nice dinner. For cruise lines that don’t want to lose the alcohol component of their revenue, there’s clearly no hard-and-fast rule.

Of course, to participate in any of this, you have to be 21.

It’s a long time since that was our problem!

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