Bringing Alcohol on Board
There’s one question that’s usually at the top of most frugal cruisers lists, and that’s just what to do about alcohol? Smuggle or Drink Package?
Since no one wants to pay full per drink prices, we’ll go over the basics for how to get more for less, and bend the rules.
Between on board freebies, drink specials, packages, and loose rules, there’s a way for everyone to save money.
Most cruise lines allow one 750ml bottle of wine per passenger, as long as its packed in your carry on luggage. You may want to look into the rules for your favorite cruise line, but we’ve never had a problem with this on Holland, Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean, or Norwegian. You will pay a corkage fee if you want to drink the bottle in the dining room, but you won’t pay at all if you open it in your room. Ask a bartender for two wine glasses if there aren’t already some in your stateroom.
Some cruise lines, have a fairly liberal alcohol policy. Both Cunard and Disney for example allow a reasonable amount of alcohol to be brought on board as long as it fits in your checked luggage. We have brought two 750ml bottles of hard alcohol each on board multiple times on these lines.
Lastly, take advantage of freebies. Many lines have free liqueur toppings for icecream, so its perfect if you enjoy kahlua or irish cream. Free champagne with art auctions or the duty free tastings are a no brainer!
You never know, you just may win a bottle of champagne in a free raffle!
Although the daily drink special isn’t typically a good deal, happy hour specials and drink samplers or mixology classes usually are. However if you’re interested in smuggling, you’ve got a few options.
The Original RumRunners are a popular way to smuggle alcohol on board cruise ships. Fill them at home, put them in your coat pocket, and walk through the metal detector unnoticed.
Blasani concealable sneak flask set, an alternative to rum runners, but it’s the same concept.
If your ship has multiple stops and you are planning on doing some walking in town, simply stop in a store and buy a small bottle of alcohol (500 or 700ml). They’ll conveniently fit inside a bottle of water. The cruise security will check your water bottles on embarkation day, but they are unlikely to check when you’re coming back hot and sweaty from your day trip. It’s easy to do this trick if you can fit a bottle of water in your baggy pants pocket, or just hold it in your hand if its a clear liquor.
Keep your eyes open when leaving the ship on your port day and notice if the metal detectors are being used. Sometimes they aren’t at all.
The Drinks Package
Prices and included items vary by cruise line, so you’ll need to look into the details for your cruise. A few things to keep in mind…
On most lines, all members of a stateroom over the age of 21 must buy the drink package if anyone does. This is to stop sharing.
You must buy the drink package on the first day of the cruise, so you need to make your decision quickly.
Run to the bar, look up the price of the drinks you plan to drink most often and see if the package is worth it. This is the only way to really determine if you should buy the drinks package or not.
It’s also a great idea to meet people on your cruise who do have the drinks package. Chances are they’ll buy you a drink or two before the cruise is over.
All port pictures on this site were taken by Ben and Rea and copyright Cruise It Yourself unless otherwise noted.
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