Drinking At Sea

Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2012 |
All cruise lines have different policies on alcohol, making it a bit of a puzzler as to what is and isn't allowed if you're sailing with a new line. Here are some of the policies from the most popular cruise lines:

 by Baynham Goredema Flickr Creative Commons

Carnival- Most importantly, you need to be 21 to drink on all of the Carnival ships. You can't bring liquor onboard, it will be taken and stored until disembarkation (this includes liquor bought onboard in port), but you may bring one bottle of wine or champagne- there are corkage fees in the dining rooms.

Celebrity- Wine but not liquor may be brought onboard, however beware of the very high corkage charges- $25! the general drinking age is 21, but on cruises departing from countries with a different drinking age, those 18 and above may drink if they are with a parent and the parent signs a waiver. A bit of a nuisance for those used to an 18 drinking age! The casino offers free drinks on occasion.

Crystal- Their minimum drinking age policy is a bit more complicated than others- for liquor, the age is 21, and for beer or wine it is 18, except when docked at a US port or within 3 miles of the shore- then it is 21 across the board! Alcohol may be brought onboard but can only be consumed in cabins, not public spaces. This goes for alcohol bought in port and on the ship- the limit to booze brought onboard from a port is one litre.

Cunard- You may bring a bottle of wine or champagne onboard, and there is a $20 corkage fee should you wish to drink it with dinner. No liquor can be brought onboard at embarkation, however currently Cunard does not police alcohol carried on from a port stop. Alcohol purchased onboard is held until the end of the cruise, however this policy is under review as well as the one regarding port stops. The minimum drinking age is 18, or 21 in US territorial waters.

Holland America- Holland America also has an across-the-board minimum drinking age of 21.Wine can be brought onboard at embarkation, but not liquor- and anything bought during port stops or at the duty-free shops on the ship will be held until the end of the cruise. The corkage fee is $18.

MSC- The drinking age is 21 on US and Caribbean itineraries, and 18 on all others. No alcohol can be brought onboard at any stage, and anything bought in port or on the ship will be held until the end of the cruise.Keep a look out for free drinks at the Captain's Cocktail Parties, and for singles at receptions.

NCL- Liquor may not be brought onboard, and anything purchased during the cruise will be held.Wine is allowed, and there are considerable corkage fees in the dining venues. The drinking age is 21.

P&O UK- You may bring small amounts of alcohol on with you at embarkation, with no official set limit, but the line reserves the right to remove excessive amounts. Liquor bought in duty-free will be retained until the end of the cruise. 18 is the minimum drinking age, with leniency towards 16-17 year olds in restaurants with parents present!

P&O Australia- No alcohol can be brought aboard at any stage, it will be held until the end of the cruise- as will any alcohol bought in duty free onboard. The minimum drinking age is 18.

Princess- The minimum drinking age is 21 years, with the exception of the Grand Princess which cruises in the UK market, and the Sun Princess and Dawn Princess both of which cruise in the Australasian market, where the age is 18. Wine or champagne only may be brought aboard during embarkation or port stops, and there is a $15 corkage fee in restaurants. Duty-free will be held until the end of the cruise. For some free cocktails, be at the Captain's Welcome, Champagne Waterfall and Captain's Farewell.

Royal Caribbean-  The drinking age is 21, unless the ship departs from a country with a lower age, then it is typically 18. The line has a very strict policy against alcohol being brought onboard at any point, and duty-free purchased onboard will be held. Members of the Loyalty Programme have access to a nightly self-service free bar.

Several of the more upscale luxury cruise lines have complimentary alcohol as part of the package, so you don't have to worry about bringing your own! These include Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea which all have the free booze flowing at all times, and Azamara which includes wine with lunch and dinner.

Author: Ryan Posa+

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