To smuggle or not to smuggle?... That is the big cruise question!

10th Nov 2011
To smuggle or not to smuggle?... That is the big cruise question!

When you’ve spent a fortune on your holiday, are you really bothered about the cost of the drinks on board? Would you take your booze with you…..even if the company threatened to take it away or worse kick you off the ship? That was the question posed to members of the  following the release of its report outlining the policies and rules of bringing alcohol onboard imposed by the major cruise lines.

Over the last 10 years, the cruise lines have increased the cost of alcoholic drinks on the ships, much to the frustration of regular cruisers who use the web site. It seems more guests are risking taking their own alcohol on board, although with tighter security restrictions in place, for general safety, it’s easy for cruise staff to see what passengers are carrying.

So what’s a cruise passenger to do when the cost of booze continues to rise and cruise lines are imposing tougher restrictions? Well, if you ask members they would say club together and get around it! ‘Supersub’ from Ormskirk made a good point when he said, “On a cruise calling at San Juan, there was a duty free shop with exceptionally cheap prices with a notice saying it was against US Federal Law to interfere with a passengers duty free spirits. We got back on the ship (Princess) with a litre each of Scotch and Bacardi and it was promptly confiscated by security. After a reminder to Guest Relations about the law, it was delivered to our cabin within five minutes!”

With some lines charging $6.00 plus tip for a glass of wine and around $5.00 plus tip for a bottle of beer it’s understandable that members like ‘Skipper Tim’ from Huddersfield make comments like, “Royal Caribbean’s policy is probably the strictest and most exploitative of all cruise lines. Neither alcoholic nor non-alcoholic drinks are allowed to be brought on board. Not even water! Of course, Royal Caribbean is very happy to sell you drinks on board and at probably the highest prices of any cruise line. To sail with Royal Caribbean, one has to be of extremely firm resolve not to be ripped off on everything, not just drinks.”

Comments from other members seem to suggest that whilst the cruise lines may threaten heavy handed tactics, in reality few people seem to lose their booze but the threat of the ‘naughty room’ is always there…even for passengers returning from excursions which encourage passengers to buy alcohol. Of course the luxury lines such as Regent, Seabourn and Crystal appear to have the most relaxed approach but there again, alcohol is included the price of the cruise, so bringing your own could actually save them money!


Commenting on the report and the 120+ posts from members, Seamus Conlon, Managing Director of, said, “All of the cruise lines surveyed have a booze policy regarding taking wines, beers and spirits onboard. Some of them are actually quite ambiguous and it’s down to whoever is checking bags at port embarkation. It can be really scary but most of our commentators are prepared to take the risk and there are some great tales on the thread! It’s clear that when guests have paid many thousands of pounds for their cruise, many feel peeved that they are then penalised on board with the high cost of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks as well as the tips.”

“The general feeling amongst our members is that it’s worth the risk to bring on your own supplies and the companies are ultimately losing business, simply because the cost of a drink on board is too high. Cruise lines are in the business of making money -just because you are getting a cheap cruise, don’t expect the alcohol prices to be low too. If you like a tipple – especially good wines and spirits, then perhaps look at one of the inclusive cruise lines as this may work out better value for you.”


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