5 Basics of Bringing Your Own Wine Onboard Your Cruise Vacation

Cruising can feel like one continuous party. To paraphrase an airline ad, “That’s what we are going for!” You might wonder about bringing your own wine with you on vacation. Doesn’t it make sense to cut out the middleman and drink your own? The answer is “yes and no.”

The cruise lines prefer you drink their wine, not your own. If you buy duty free liquor onboard, it is usually delivered to your cabin the night before you disembark, so you can pack it into your luggage for the trip home.

Here are a few things to consider concerning bringing your own wine onboard.

  1. It might be all right. Read the terms and conditions and the FAQ section of your ticket and the cruise line’s website. The cruise line is aware people choose a cruise to celebrate major life events. They also know wine collectors can be big spenders. You might find the line allows passengers to each bring one or two bottles of wine for special occasions. The rules likely explain they can be enjoyed in your cabin or the dining room.
  2. Enjoy your wine in the dining room. We try to bring a couple of bottles on each Cunard voyage. We intend to open them on the formal evenings in the dining room. Your sommelier will handle all of that. They might charge a $20 or $25 corkage fee to serve you your own wine. We tend to offer the wine to our tablemates and leave some in the bottle for the sommelier and their team.
  3. Buying wine ashore. This might not seem to make sense in the Caribbean, but if you are sailing on a river cruise or port hopping in the Mediterranean, this can be an “aha” moment. In our experience, you don’t get too much attention if you are bringing a bottle or two back with you as you reboard the ship. Wine is heavy and fragile. Buy it to enjoy aboard, not to bring home, unless it is hard to find.
  4. Book a “wine included” cruise. There are plenty of cruise lines offering this feature. If you enjoy wine, pay a bit more for one of these cruises. If your cruise line experience is not inclusive of wine, check out their beverage package. That might make sense. Enjoy their wine.
  5. Review the wine list over lunch. Some wine lists are dozens of pages. Pivk a price point ($40 or $45) and see how many selections your ship offers. Although a service charge is standard, you are skipping out on sales tax, which is a savings. If you don’t finish the bottle at one meal, the staff will likely tag it for you and serve it at your next lunch or dinner. Evaluate your alternatives before deciding to buy and bring your own.

From my point of view, wine is an integral part of the vacation experience. Check out your options and choose the one right for you.

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cover photo:  Bryce Sanders


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