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Bringing Alcoholic Beverages on a Cruise: What You Need to Know

Planning to save some money on that cruise by bringing your own wine or liquor on board? Or perhaps you have a favorite wine that you prefer over what will be offered by the cruise line. Better check first to see just what the rules are. You may have a vision of sitting on the balcony of your cabin with a glass of wine and enjoying the sunset—but you may not be drinking the wine you brought on board, because it was confiscated when you boarded!

You will get it back when the cruise is over but that really defeats the purpose.

Cruises are a pretty good bargain–price is low, plenty of food and great scenery and entertainment. But let’s face it, these cruise lines are in business to make money. And, just like restaurants on land, alcoholic beverages can be a good source of revenue. As a result, most—but not all–cruise lines discourage bringing your own wine or liquor on board. And those policies are subject to change as well.

They have been down this road before, so if your cruise line prohibits bringing alcoholic beverages on board, then don’t try it! In addition to being morally wrong, you will most likely get caught and suffer the embarrassment of having it confiscated as you try to board.

Naturally we are not promoting excessive drinking, but realize many of you like a glass of wine—well, you are probably Catholic, right? Someone once quipped “the only thing Catholics don’t feel guilty about are drinking and sex”.

OK, getting back to our serious discussion, we want to be sure that you have the right information. There is a bit of confusion over just what can and cannot be brought on board and as we mentioned it varies by cruise line. Also, most cruise lines that do allow wine brought on board require it only be drunk in your cabin. You can bring it to dinner, but be prepared for a steep corkage fee that will likely be more than the wine cost in the first place.

Just to make things more complicated, even those cruise lines that do allow you to bring wine on board require it to be in your carry-on luggage. Their reasoning is that any bottles might be subject to breakage and are therefore confiscated until the end of the cruise. This does not apply to the “box wines” that have become popular in recent years, since breakage is not a concern.

Picking up some rum in Jamaica or some fine wine in France? Don’t count on drinking it on board ship. Most of the rules stated above will still apply if your cruise line does not allow you to bring alcoholic beverages on board. So be sure to know the rules for your particular cruise line in advance.

Two cruise lines with the least restrictions at this time are Disney Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Their policies are quite liberal, but check with them for the exact details. For that matter, check with any cruise line if you plan to bring alcoholic beverages on board.

And if you do bring a bottle or two on board, we suggest you give your room steward a bit extra in advance to be sure you can perhaps get a corkscrew and some decent wine glasses in your cabin.

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