For many travellers, unwinding with an ice cold beer, a glass of wine, or a delicious cocktail is all part of the holiday experience, but can alcoholic drinks on board cruise ships leave you out of pocket?
Alcohol on board cruise ships has a reputation for being somewhat overpriced, but is it really that bad? Truthfully, the prices are typically on par with those in a hotel bar. That is, more costly than a pint at your local, but not as bad as the prices in some upmarket nightclubs.
Depending on your chosen cruise line, you can generally expect to pay between £2.50 and £3.70 for beers, lagers, and ales, between £3 and £6.50 for a glass of wine, and between £3 and £5 for spirits, plus the cost of mixers.
Cocktails usually cost between £6 and £8, but many cruise lines offer a ‘cocktail of the day’ which can be purchased for a reduced price. These are well worth looking out for and are often highlighted in the daily newspapers on board, delivered to your stateroom.
Do Drinks Packages Work Out Cheaper?
For a one-off price, passengers can essentially drink as much as they please – although there will still be the standard 15 percent gratuity added when sailing on US-based vessels.
Standard wine and spirits packages tend to cost between £9 and £30 per person per day (the cheaper prices are usually only available on luxury cruise lines such as Seabourn and Regent Seven Seas who include a number of complimentary beverages in their base price).
If you prefer drinking premium wines and spirits – such as b/luxury-cruises/regent-seven-seas-luxury-cruise-deals/randed vodkas, for example – expect to pay a little more. £40 per person per day is about average for these ‘top shelf’ drinks.
As for whether prepaid drinks packages work out cheaper, it really depends upon how much you drink. Many cruise lines cite a 25 percent saving when purchasing a drinks package when compared to buying as you go, although for those who consume little more than a glass of wine with dinner, you may find it difficult to get your money’s worth.
Drinks Packages From Your Favorite Cruise Lines
- Cunard Drinks Packages
- P&O Cruises Drinks Packages
- Princess Cruises Drinks Packages
- What’s Really Included in a Cruise Line’s Drinks Package?
Can I Bring My Own Alcohol On Board Cruise Ships?
Whether or not you’re permitted to bring your own alcohol on board cruise ships depends upon your cruise line. Some allow you free reign, provided what you take is considered reasonable for personal use. Others allow limited amounts and others are very strict in regard to enforcing their no-alcohol policies. Here’s a breakdown by cruise line;
Azamara Club Cruises
Guests are not allowed to bring beer or liquor on board for consumption or any other use. Guests who are wishing to bring wine on board with them at the beginning of their cruise may so, however, this is limited to two bottles per stateroom. If the wine is consumed in a one o the restaurants, bars or dining room a corkage fee will be charged.
Alcoholic beverages that are purchased in ports of calls or from the onboard shops will be stored by the ship and delivered to guest’s staterooms on the last day of the sailing.
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line allows each person of drinking age (21 years or older for this cruise line) to bring one 750ml bottle of wine or champagne on board at embarkation only in their carry-on luggage. If you purchase from a port, you will need to hand this over and collect at the end of your voyage.
Celebrity Cruises allow guests to bring two bottles of wine per stateroom (a good reason to travel solo!). Corkage fees will apply if this alcohol is consumed within a bar, restaurant or dining venue on board.
Alcohol purchased in port or from the onboard shops will be delivered to guest’s staterooms on the last day of the sailing.
Both wines and spirits can be taken on board Crystal Cruises, although spirits must only be consumed in cabins, and not in public areas. Wine, on the other hand, can be consumed in the dining room, subject to a corkage fee.
Complimentary select fine wines, champagne and premium spirits, however, are available throughout the ship and are complimentary.
Cunard allow one bottle of wine per person. However, they don’t specifically state that spirits are not allowed. While we don’t condone smuggling, Cunard are reasonable and will only confiscate if absolutely necessary.
Bringing your own alcohol on board Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is not permitted. Any alcohol purchased shoreside must be handed over and it will be then returned at the end of the cruise.
Prepaid drinks packages can be purchased on board which start from £15 per person, per night.
One bottle of 750ml of wine per person of drinking age is allowed to be taken on board at embarkation only. Additional wine or champagne bottles (no larger than 750ml) in carry-on luggage are welcome but will incur a corkage fee each, irrespective of where they are consumed. Guests are not allowed to bring beer, boxed wine, or other liquors and spirits onboard. H
Any alcohol purchased in ports can be collected at the end of the cruise.
MSC Cruises do not allow alcohol to be taken on board however drinks packages can be purchased.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Guests are prohibited from bringing liquor and beer on board, however fully sealed and/or corked wine bottles for personal consumption onboard (for guests 21 years of age or older) is allowed on board and is subject to screening and a corkage fee.
One of the most open cruise lines in terms of bringing alcohol on board, P&O allow spirits, wines, and beers within reason.
Guests may bring up to 1 litre of wine, Champagne, beer, spirit or liquor on board as they embark the ship on arrival at the start of their cruise. Any alcohol that is over the 1-litre limit will be stored and returned to guests at the end of the cruise. No corkage fee is applicable if it is consumed in your cabin.
One bottle of wine per person of drinking age is allowed on board Princess Cruises.
Regent Seven Seas & Seabourn
Both of these luxury cruise lines allow alcohol to be taken on board, but it’s not needed. Passengers on these ships receive complimentary wines and spirits, either in their cabin or with lunch and dinner.