It's midweek and it’s probably a good bet you already have the weekend in your sights.
With that in mind, today’s crazy cruise tip #8 should be right up your alley.
Who doesn't like to imbibe in adult beverages every so often especially on a cruise vacation? Rather than paying through the nose for drinks on board ship why not bring your own booze?
It’s actually easier than you think.
Bottom line is you can save a lot of money to spend on excursions, gambling or fun adventures and there is virtually nothing to lose. Let me get you in the right frame of mind by saying "Yes, it’s against certain cruise line policies but so what if you get caught?"
#8 Bring your own Booze
If you do any homework prior to your next cruise you will find out when it comes to bringing liquor onboard, most cruise line alcohol policies are cut and dry.
With the exception of wine, you cannot bring your own alcohol on board the ship.
So what can you do?
These are obviously cruise lines that realize they have a captive drinking audience, but still let us party on the cheap.
Omitting true luxury operators like Seabourn and Regent Seven Seas, which include drinks in the fare, There are at least five cruise lines that let you BYOB.
Disney Cruise Line
Azamara Club Cruises
The rules are simple and pretty much the same on all 5 lines.
Passengers 21 years of age and older can bring their own beer and liquor on board for "in-cabin consumption."
It makes no difference whether you bring it on at embarkation or from a port of call.
Liquor purchased at the duty-free shop on board is, however, held until the last night of the cruise.
Be wary about packing liquor in checked luggage though — carry it on instead.
The line reserves the right to remove fragile items (including beverages) from guests’ luggage, and those items will be stored until the end of the voyage.
No walking freely around the ship draped in Captain Morgan bottles.
I got around this little rule by buying a couple of snifty Carnival logo insulated travel bottles (on sale) at the gift shop the first night.
I then just filled our bottles up with ice and the always free onboard lemonade/juice/ice tea and would make periodic trips back to the cabin to mix them with our vodka.
This way I looked like I was really “on board” (wow, another cruise pun) with the alcohol policy and a "happy" Carnival passenger to boot advertising away with my travel bottles yet, at the same time, keeping a steady state of “happy” going right in front of the entire ship staff.
On the last Carnival Cruise they allowed one bottle of wine, per person, brought on board, but you MUST take it with you, in person, through the check in line.
DO NOT put it in your checked bag or they will confiscate it until the end of the cruise at which time they surrender it back to you.
It appears that basically every major cruise line follows this policy.
Once the wine is in your cabin, we just “borrowed” nice wine glasses from the bars/restaurants and used them to tipple a glass before dinner in our cabin then we filled a “tall one” to take with us to enjoy during our nightly dinners.
No questions were ever asked.
One thing to remember, if you bring a bottle of your wine to dinner you will have to pay a "corkage fee" if you consume it in an onboard restaurant.
That fee can run from $10 to $30 a bottle depending on the size of the bottle and the cruise line.
What’s nice though is if you don’t finish it at one sitting your waiter will cork it and bring it to your table for you the next night.
We made sure we brought “nice” wine with us on the cruise and saved over $200 by not having to order bottles with our meals.
Truthfully, nothing pisses me off more than having to pay $150 off the menu for a bottle of wine you can get at a wine shop for $25 a bottle.
How do you enjoy that warm, fuzzy, slightly staggering party feeling while on a cruise without having to fork out $8 to $10 a pop for a beer or mixed drink on the ship?
Almost all of the cruise lines allow you to bring bottled water and some soda on board in limited quantities.
1. Smuggle your own liquor on board in your luggage
My SO and I brought on three (I saw people carrying entire cases of water and soda on board our cruise) 16 ounce bottles of “purified drinking water” of which 2 of them (don’t ask why I did the 2 out of 3 thing – probably just for the gambling rush to see if they would open one) were filled with our favorite Vodka.
All I did was empty the two bottles, fill them with the vodka and then “super glue” the caps on real tight.
We put all three in a couple of zip lock bags to prevent spillage and put them in the center of one of our checked bags.
We also scattered about 25 of the mini bottles of assorted alcohols (rum, schnapps, Drambuie, etc.) that we purchased ahead of time at the liquor store for 99 cents each throughout our bathroom supplies in the luggage in case we had the urge for different types of drinks.
Everything showed up unscathed when our luggage was delivered to our cabin.
This alone probably saved us at least another $200 to $300 right off the top.
So what happens if you get caught by security smuggling in a liter of Vodka?
If it’s in your checked luggage they confiscate it and hold it until the end of the cruise where they return it to you.
No financial loss there huh?
If you are caught with it in your carry-on luggage the worst consequence is you’ll be embarrassed in front of your peers and again lose the booze until the end of the cruise.
Maybe it's not so embarrassing if the couple behind is doing the same thing.
And the couple behind them.
And the couple behind them.
This is a topic everyone loves to be generous in sharing their wisdom and knowledge about.
Some of the more creative ideas I found are:
A. Purchase new caps for your water bottles that you have filled with clear alcoholic liquids so they are “officially” unopened looking.
B. Purchase “Rum Runners” which are re-sealable plastic/vinyl bladders that store your alcohol virtually undetected in your luggage.
C. Wine in a box seems to “smuggle” easy as well because the scanners are looking for metal caps, bands and labels on booze bottles. Plastic and paper hide better.
D. Mouthwash bottles filled with booze can be tinted to match the blue or red colors of the original products.
E. Many liquor stores sell 1 oz. bottles of your favorite liquors for $1 to $5 each. These can even be found in plastic packets sort of like a big ketchup packets. These are nice if you want to bring an assortment of different drinks on board.
F. If you forget to get booze before the trip then buy some during a shore excursion. The same laws of chance apply to bringing booze on board when boarding the ship at a port. If they find it, they will hold it until the end of the cruise. Let me tell you though, on 3 separate occasions I brought booze off the ship in my plastic water bottles and brought it right back on at the end of the day.
Remember there are 3000+ people getting on board the ship embarkation day with full luggage. These same people get off and on the ship for shore excursions. Things are hectic and sometimes security has to be slightly less rigid to make this happen smoothly.
One of the best ways to save is to buy drink coupons ahead of time.
The amount you can save over ship board pricing depends on how much you buy but it will save a lot in the long run, if you are a drinker.
Some folks say it can save them about $100 per cruise.
Find a good bartender, tip generously and ask them what bars they’ll be working in the coming days.
They will treat you right with strong pours and drinks that never find their way to your tab.
Be on the lookout for the “Welcome Back” cocktail party thrown for repeat cruisers by the captain and crew.
Free drinks and food abound.
There are also events on the ship that offer free drinks if you attend them.
As long as you are gambling in the Casino the drinks are free.
Other events include the art auctions, wine tasting and martini making clinics as well as during special cocktail parties and the farewell party the night before returning to your home port.
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