Cruise lines and their liquor policies

The door inches open to more relaxed BYOB rules

As an industry, the major cruise lines have been, historically, fairly unaccommodating when it comes to guests enjoying their own personal bottles of alcohol. X-ray scanners and security personnel work overtime during the initial boarding process and at ports of call to ensure that “contraband” booze doesn’t find its way into your cabin.

Grey Goose is your chosen tipple? A bartender will happily pour you a shot—and charge it to your cabin. Enjoy Chimay Belgian ale at home? Buy it onboard (if you can find it). Only sodas, water and non-alcoholic beverages have tended to escape scrutiny at X-ray machines during the boarding process for most cruise lines.

But rules on wine have long been a grey area: Some lines post no restrictions as to what guests may bring onboard, others haven’t allowed wine at all—most have had a policy somewhere in between, permitting a small quantity. (Don’t even get us started about inconsistent enforcement from one embarkation port to the next.)

Industry leader Royal Caribbean International recently decanted a new policy for wine-lovers, allowing cruisers to bring up to two bottles of wine per cabin onboard at embarkation. Previously, the line had a strict “no alcohol” policy for carry-ons. Now, if you’re celebrating a special occasion while onboard a Royal Caribbean ship, there’s no reason not to dust off something special from the cellar at home.

Of course, there are restrictions: Bottles must be 750ml or smaller, and if you choose to drink your wine at one of Royal Caribbean’s restaurants, bars or other common areas, be prepared to fork over a $25 corkage fee per bottle.

As cruise aficionados know, Royal Caribbean isn’t exactly a trendsetter with the new rules. The line is actually catching up to most of the industry, adjusting its policy to be more in line with its major competitors.

By contrast, most of the luxury cruise lines continue to have fairly liberal BYOB policies. Of course, most of them already include wines with meals in their cruise fare.

But it did get us to thinking: When it comes to alcoholic beverages, how do the carry-aboard policies of the major cruise lines compare today?

Carnival Cruise Lines
What you can bring onboard at embarkation: One bottle of wine per person (age 21 and up).
Corkage fee: $10 in the main dining room; $14 in steakhouses.
What you can’t bring onboard: Spirits, beer.

Celebrity Cruises
What you can bring onboard at embarkation: Two bottles of wine per cabin.
Corkage fee: $25
What you can’t bring onboard: Spirits, beer.

Cunard Line
What you can bring onboard at embarkation: There are no restrictions on alcohol brought onboard, but the number of wine or champagne bottles will be “at the port authorities discretion.”
Corkage fee: $20
What you can’t bring onboard: Nothing specified.

Disney Cruise Line
What you can bring onboard at embarkation: Alcohol is permitted but must be hand-carried in carry-on luggage. Carry-on alcohol may not be consumed in public areas but can be opened at Palo and Remy restaurants (with corkage fee).
Corkage fee: $20
What you can’t bring onboard: Nothing specified.

Holland America Line
What you can bring onboard at embarkation: Wine may be brought onboard but cannot be consumed in any public venues, except for bars and restaurants (with corkage fee).
Corkage fee: $18
What you can’t bring onboard: Spirits (no policy specified for beer).

Norwegian Cruise Line
What you can bring onboard at embarkation: Wine—no limitation specified.
Corkage fee: $15, regardless of whether opened by a crewmember or passenger or not at all.
What you can’t bring onboard: Spirits (no policy specified for beer).

Princess Cruises
What you can bring onboard at embarkation: One bottle of wine per adult.
Corkage fee: $15
What you can’t bring onboard: Spirits, beer.

Royal Caribbean International
What you can bring onboard at embarkation: Two bottles of wine per cabin
Corkage fee: $25
What you can’t bring onboard: Spirits, beer.

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