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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

Reasons for Cruising's Extra Costs

Sometimes, it gets a little wearying to hear cruise passengers complain about having to pay for soda pop. In all the years we've been on cruise ships, that's always been the case so in the end, there are only three words to say:

Deal with it.

Besides alcohol, charging passengers for pop may have been the first "extra source" of income for cruise lines. Like everybody else, we were shocked at the tactic the first time we went cruising. Over time, we have come to understand, because generally cruise lines have kept the cost of cruising in line, while searching for other ways to make a buck. That is, after all, what business is all about, isn't it? Is it just a coincidence that fares have stayed affordable as cruise lines have added extra cost options.

And one more thing:

For people who think cruising should be an all-inclusive experience, because that's what it's always been, here's a few things to remember:

1. You don't have to pay for the pop…don't drink it.

2. You don't have to pay for booze…don't drink.

3. You don't have to pay to dine at a specialty restaurant…there are always enough eateries included.

4. You don't have to go on a shore excursion…you can just be a passenger.

5. You don't have to pay for souvenir photos…take your own, or go home without them.

The fact is, you do have a choice. If you want to pay your cruise fare (plus gratuities and taxes) and nothing else, you do have that option.

Diamond Princess
16 nights
September 22, 2012
Anchorage, Sapporo, Aomori, Vladivostok, Shanghai, Dallan, Beijing
Inside: $898
Cost per day: $56

All-You-Can-Drink Alcohol Policy

One of the appealing things about cruising, it seems to us, is that there are really no surprises. You sail somewhere for seven days. You spend seven nights in the same bed. You eat 21 or so meals, and you pretty well know what the quality will be, give or take a pork chop. Drinks are extra.

You don’t expect surprises. On our first cruise, paying for soft drinks was a surprise. It just never occurred to us that they wouldn’t be included on such an all-inclusive vacation. That has never changed, almost without exception.

Eventually, you could buy one-day all-you-can-drink soda passes.

Now, using an idea first floated on Celebrity ships, Royal Caribbean is introducing the same policy for alcohol drinks on three of its ships.

Here are the options:
• For $29 a day, unlimited beer and house wine, and 25% discount on other drinks
• For $39 a day, add “all liquor” and cocktails to the package, except premium and specialty brands
• For $49 a day, add all wine that sells for up to $10 a glass and premium liquor

Celebrity, which is owned by Royal Caribbean, received a positive response to the package. If Royal Caribbean customers feel the same way, it’s only a matter of time until every ship in the fleet follows suit. If that happens, it could become an industry trend.

It would seem customers will like the opportunity to be able to budget for booze, rather than find at the end of a cruise that you bill is bigger than you expected. Will it encourage passengers to drink more on a ship? Probably not. When people are on a vacation with no need for a designated driver, their consumption is not normally dictated by the dollar.

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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