It's hard to imagine a better summer vacation than a cruise. With itineraries, activities, and excursions readily available for your customizable schedule, cruises are, without a doubt, one of the best vacation ideas that anyone can easily enjoy, catering to every member of your party's interests from the get-go.
As fun as cruises can be, one big question on most travelers' minds is: “What exactly is my cruise line's stance on alcohol?” Indeed, some cruises have relatively lax approaches to alcohol, maintaining inexpensive drink packages and even allowing you to bring limited amounts of alcohol onboard. Other cruise lines' alcohol policies are strict regarding spirited libations, offering more costly drink packages or outright banning outside alcohol from being brought onboard at all.
Here's a helpful guide to every major cruise line's alcohol policy, including whether the cruise is all-inclusive, how much drink packages are, and the cruise line's stance on outside alcohol.
Azamara Cruises has a fairly relaxed approach when it comes to outside alcohol. Notably, passengers can bring their liquor, beer, and wine to enjoy onboard their ship. While you can bring this alcohol with you completely free, Azamara charges you $10 per bottle for uncorking fees should an Azamara employee open your bottle for you. Said fees do not apply if you purchased/were gifted a bottle of wine through Azamara's Bon Voyage Gifts.
Azamara isn't technically all-inclusive, but many amenities come with your fare – including beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages. You can also purchase bundle packages through Azamara, most of which come with a larger drink package, Wi-Fi for one device, and hundreds of dollars worth of onboard credit. These packages range from $699 on seven days or less cruises to $1,499 on voyages eight or more days.
Carnival Cruise Line Alcohol Policies
One of the most financially-friendly cruises on the high seas, Carnival Cruise Lines has a somewhat stricter stance on alcohol brought onto their ships. Passengers can bring wine or champagne bottles at most 750 ML on board. (Beer and liquor are expressly banned.) As with Azamara, Carnival has a $15 uncorking fee per bottle should you consume your alcohol in a Carnival restaurant or bar.
Carnival Cruises offer daily drink packages for $59.95 per passenger, with an unlimited soda package costing $9.50 per day per adult ($6.50 per child). Although this is comparatively less expensive than most other cruise companies, at an average cost of $12.95 a cocktail, you'd have to drink roughly four mixed drinks a day for the package to be truly worth it.
As one of the top-tier cruise lines in the country, Celebrity has a stern stance on alcohol brought on their ships. Most tellingly, Celebrity allows passengers to bring up to two bottles of wine per stateroom. If you get your wine bottle to a restaurant or a bar onboard a Celebrity ship, there is a $25 uncorking fee.
Celebrity has three different drink packages available for guests to purchase. At $30 per day per passenger, the Zero Proof Package entitles you to unlimited non-alcoholic drinks like bottled water, alcohol-free cocktails, soda, and specialty coffees. At $89 per day, the Classic Drink Package gives you access to various beer, wine, liquor, and cocktails. And at $109 per day, there's the Premium Package, a combination of the Zero Proof and Classic Drink packages.
Celebrity Cruises occasionally offers complimentary alcoholic beverages during specific nights of their cruises. On embarkation day, the cruise has free champagne, with Celebrity also offering passengers one complimentary cocktail at dinner for their “Evening Chic” nights.
Disney Cruise Line
Given that their main clientele is primarily families with younger children, Disney Cruise Lines has a unique stance on alcohol. Regarding alcohol brought onto the ship, Disney limits passengers to two bottles of wine (no larger than 750 ML) or six beers (no larger than 12 oz), all of which should be brought onboard via passengers' carry-on bags. Guests are asked to consume their alcohol in the privacy of their staterooms or the dining room – although a $26 uncorking fee is applied if a Disney employee opens your beverage for you.
Unlike other cruise lines, Disney does not have any kind of drink package available for purchase. However, as family travel expert Jill Robbins points out, there are ways to get around that. “If you are a beer lover, the best deal going is the beer card,” Jill recommends. “You'll pay a one-time fee of around $15 for a 21-ounce beer mug, five ounces more than the standard 16-ounce pour. You'll still pay the going rate when you order a beer at the bar, but you'll get that extra five ounces.” Before disembarking the vessel, you can exchange your beer card for the mug and take home a fun souvenir.
For fans of mixed drinks, Jill also recommends sticking with the drink of the day, a discounted cocktail that changes daily.
MSC Alcohol Policies
Of all the cruise lines on this list, MSC has arguably the most unbending rules regarding alcohol on their cruises. In contrast to other cruise lines, MSC forbids outside alcohol from being onboarded by passengers. However, MSC has all-inclusive options for booking your fare and several different drink packages.
The Easy Package allows passengers to indulge in classic cocktails, liquor, wine, soda, and specialty coffees. The Easy Plus Package and the Premium Extra Package give you those same basic amenities, improved drink options (like fresh fruit cocktails), and price reductions for any wine or champagne bottles purchased on your ship.
It's crucial to note the cost of each MSC drink package depends on the ship you're traveling on, with a cruise's length and destinations factoring into the cost of the drink package. For example, while the Easy Plus Package costs passengers around $58 per day on cruises in Europe, that same package costs $61 on North American or Caribbean cruises.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Lines has one of the trickier policies for any alcohol brought on board their ships. For starters, passengers are prohibited from bringing beer or liquor, although they can pack as much wine or champagne as they like. However, this alcohol is subject to an uncorking fee of $15 for 750 ML bottles and $30 for 1,500 ML bottles.
Norwegian has several attractive packages for their cruise line's beverages. With the Unlimited Open Bar Package, you have carte blanche for sodas, juices, and all alcoholic drinks under $15, costing vacationers around $109 per passenger per day. The Premium Plus Beverage Package gives unlimited access to all alcoholic drinks, sodas, energy drinks, and Starbucks beverages, all for $138 per passenger per day.
Princess Cruise Line
Like Norwegian Cruise Lines, Princess has a strong stance regarding the alcohol guests can bring on their ships. Beer and liquor are prohibited, but passengers can bring one bottle of wine or champagne (no larger than 750 ML) on their cruise. A standard $15 uncorking fee will be added to your bill should a Princess employee open your bottle for you in the dining room. Guests can bring additional wine or champagne bottles with them, but every additional wine bottle is subject to a $15 corkage fee, regardless of whether you consume them in your stateroom or the dining room.
Regarding alcohol purchased on their cruises, Princess has two packages for guests to consider. The Plus Beverage Package costs $64.99 per passenger per day, allowing you to order drinks under $15, including cocktails, specialty coffee, beer, and wine. Then, there's the Premier Beverage Package which – at $84.99 per passenger per day – gives you access to top-shelf liquors and alcoholic beverages under $20.
Regent Seven Seas
As one of the most luxurious cruise lines in the world today, Regent Seven Seas has a virtually limitless number of amenities that come with the basic cost of your fare. Perhaps most tellingly, all alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are included in your fare, making it one of the most popular all-inclusive cruise lines currently sailing the seven seas.
While you can bring any alcohol with you on your cruise, taking advantage of Regent Seven Seas' all-inclusive plan is more advisable, ensuring you make the most out of your trip financially.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Alcohol Policies
Royal Caribbean, another prominent cruise company with voyages all over the globe, has a strict policy concerning all outside alcohol passengers bring onboard. In particular, guests can pack one 750 ML bottle of wine or champagne per passenger in their carry-on. As per most cruise lines, should you consume your alcohol outside the cabin, you may be subject to a $15 uncorking fee. Royal Caribbean has four different drink packages available for purchase during your cruise or online ahead of your voyage.
The Water Package delivers Evian water directly to your stateroom for either $39 (for 12 one-liter bottles) or $69 (24). The Classic Soda Package gives you unlimited access to soda for $12.99 per passenger per day. The Refreshment Package gives you specialty coffees, teas, bottled water, soda, and alcohol-free cocktails for $29.99 per passenger per day. The Deluxe Beverage Package offers unlimited cocktails, wine, bottled water, specialty coffee, and soda, setting you back anywhere from $65 to $90 per passenger daily.
Viking Cruises Alcohol Policies
Having the most relaxed policy of every cruise line on this list, Viking River Cruises allows passengers to bring any wine, beer, or liquor aboard their ships. If that weren't enough, guests would not incur uncorking fees should they bring their alcohol to areas like the dining room or the bar.
Viking has several complimentary drinks you're free to indulge in at lunch and dinner, including wine, beer, and soft drinks (not to mention free specialty coffee and teas on a 24-hour basis). For unlimited cocktails and alcoholic beverages, guests can also look into purchasing the Viking Silver Spirits Package.
The cost of the Silver Spirits Package differs depending on whether you're on a River Cruise or an Ocean Cruise. For Ocean Cruises, the package is about $19.95 per person per day (or a total of $139.65 for a seven-night cruise). River Cruises are slightly more expensive, costing around $150 per passenger on a seven-night voyage.