If you’re cruising on a budget, you might be wondering whether you can take your own drinks on a cruise. Whilst bar prices on board many ships are similar to your local pub back home, some cruise ships do charge a little more – particularly if exchange rates aren’t in your favour and you’re charged a service charge on top.
So, if you’re looking for ways to save some cash on your cruise holiday, bringing a bottle of wine or spirit to drink in your stateroom could be an easy way to save some of your hard-earned holiday spending money. But, before you go ahead and stash the Stella in your suitcase, you’ll need to be aware of the drinks policy of the cruise line you are sailing with.
Can you take drinks on a cruise ship?
The policies for bringing your own drinks on a cruise vary depending on the cruise line. Some cruise lines let you bring your own alcohol, soft drinks and water on board, but others strictly forbid it. Out of the cruise lines that allow you to bring alcohol, most limit this to one bottle.
Read on for the lowdown on which drinks you’re allowed to bring with each cruise line…
What drinks can you take on a cruise?
Most family-friendly cruise ships allow you to bring one 750ml bottle of wine per person on-board the ship. You are allowed to drink the wine in your stateroom. If you prefer to drink it in one of the bars or restaurants, a corkage fee will be charged.
There are exceptions to this rule. Costa and MSC Cruises does not allow guests to bring any alcohol on board whatsoever. Norwegian Cruise Line doesn’t limit how much wine you can bring, but guests will be charged a $15 fee per bottle, no matter whether they drink it in their stateroom or in a public area.
Princess Cruises allow you to bring one bottle free of charge and their alcohol policy states that guests will be charged a corkage fee of $15 for each additional bottle. However, the fee may not always be enforced. Sanna Burns from VeganCruiser.co.uk states that she always brings her own vegan wine when she sails with Princess Cruises and has never yet been charged the corkage fee.
Disney Cruise line is a little more generous, allowing two bottles of wine per person, as well as allowing you to swap this allowance to six beers should you prefer. P&O Cruises also allow more than average, with up to one litre of wine, beer or spirits per person.
How many drinks can you take on a cruise?
|Cruise Line||Alcohol allowance per passenger||Non-alcoholic drinks allowance per passenger|
|Carnival||One bottle of wine||12 x 330ml cans or cartons|
|Celebrity||One bottle of wine||No limit|
|Costa||Not allowed||Water only permitted for medical needs|
One bottle of wine
|Disney||Two bottles of wine or six beers||No limit|
|MSC Cruises||Not allowed|| |
Water only permitted for medical needs
|NCL||Unlimited wine – $15 fee per bottle||Water only permitted for medical needs|
|P&O Cruises||One litre of wine, Champagne, beer or spirit||No limit|
|Princess Cruises||One bottle of wine for free.|
$15 per additional bottle
|Royal Caribbean||One bottle of wine||12 x 500ml bottles, cans or cartons (per stateroom)|
The table above shows how many drinks each passenger can bring on their cruise.
If you plan to drink more than this, then it might be a good idea to get a drinks package. Pop your details in the form below and I’ll send you my handy drinks package calculator so you know whether to get one or not.
Whilst many cruise lines don’t have set limits on the amount of soft drinks or water each passenger can bring with them, many do require that they are carried on as hand luggage and not checked in with your suitcases.
How to stop wine bottles from breaking in your luggage
Imagine opening your suitcase to find a bottle of red wine has smashed all over your clothes. You’d have to go for the tie-dye look all holiday! This has happened to me once before with shower gel which was bad enough, but I imagine that alcohol and broken glass would be 100 times worse!
Don’t take the risk, instead buy a wine bottle protector to make sure your glass bottles can’t smash in transit.
Cruise line policies on bringing your own drinks on-board a ship:
Should you wish to check the exact policy on bringing your own alcohol, you’ll find links to each of the cruise line’s alcohol policies below:
- Celebrity Cruises
- Costa Cruises
- Disney Cruise Line
- MSC Cruises
- Norwegian Cruise Line
- P&O Cruises
- Princess Cruises
- Royal Caribbean
Can you take soft drinks on a cruise?
Most cruise lines do not restrict guests from bringing their own soft drinks or water on board to drink in their stateroom. However, the policy on this varies depending on the cruise line with some cruise lines restricting all drinks, only allowing water when it is needed for medical reasons.
Carnival Cruise Line allow guests to bring soft drinks in cans or cartons but not bottles. This is because people have been known to sneak alcohol using plastic bottles. The limit is twelve 330ml (12-oz) sealed cans or cartons per passenger.
Celebrity Cruises allow guests to bring on unlimited water or soda when they embark or in port. If you wish to bring a case of soft drinks you could attach a luggage tag, check it in with your luggage and it will be delivered to your stateroom.
Costa Cruises do not allow guests to bring any soft drinks whatsoever on to their cruise ships. Water is only permitted if it is for medical needs and guests should let the cruise line know if they need to bring on water or distilled water for this reason.
Cunard allows guests to bring on unlimited soft drinks and water on board at the start of the cruise and also in ports of call.
Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line allow guests to bring unlimited soft drinks on board in their carry-on luggage when they embark but not in checked suitcases. Disney Cruise Line offer soft drinks for free with meals, but there is a charge at other times and bottled water is always chargeable on board.
MSC Cruises do not allow guests to bring any soft drinks or water on to their cruise ships. If you need to bring water for medical reasons, you should let MSC Cruises know before you cruise as they may require you to fill in a form.
Since 2016, Norwegian Cruise Line have prohibited guests from bringing any soda, juices or water on board. The exception is purified or distilled water for medical needs which must be in factory-sealed containers.
P&O Cruises allows guests to bring unlimited soft drinks and water on-board their cruiser ships. You can also bring more soft drinks on-board at each port of call too if you wish.
Princess Cruises allow guests to bring unlimited soft drinks on-board its ships including soda, juices and water. These can be in cans, bottles or cartons. You can also bring small coolers full of non-alcoholic beverages if you wish.
Royal Caribbean allows guests to bring non-alcoholic drinks as carry-on items on embarkation day. The limit is twelve 500ml (17-oz) cans, cartons or bottles per person.
Bringing drinks on a cruise
The reason why some cruise lines have started to limit the drinks brought on board is to speed up the security process. All luggage is checked for prohibited items, including alcohol. In the past, guests have attempted to sneak alcohol on board in a variety of ways, a common one being in soft drinks bottles. Prohibiting soft drinks, or limiting them to cans or cartons instead of bottles makes it much harder for people to sneak alcohol onboard.
If you’re thinking of sneaking extra alcohol onboard a cruise ship you should remember that as more passengers are caught doing this, it will increase the likelihood of more cruise lines following suit in limiting or banning bringing your own drinks on board.
Cruisers often ask “Can you take soda on a cruise ship?” Or, “Can you take energy drinks on a cruise?” As far as I’m aware, cruise lines don’t tend to distinguish between different kinds of soft drinks and so this should be fine. If you have experienced otherwise, please let us know in the comments below.
Saving money by bringing your own drinks on a cruise
If your cruise line allows it, then bringing your own alcohol on board can be an easy way to save money on your cruise holiday. Just be sure to buy a wine bottle protector to make sure your bottles don’t smash in your suitcase!
On our recent cruise onboard P&O Britannia, I brought a litre of gin and my husband brought a litre of rum on-board. We also brought several large bottles of lemonade. Doing this saved us over £400, compared to how much it would have cost us to buy the same drinks in the bars. Plus, we found it much more convenient to have these in the fridge in our room and enjoy a drink whilst getting ready to go out in the evening.
Do you like to bring your own alcohol or soft drinks on a cruise? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.