Norwegian Cruise Line, the lone, major Miami-based cruise line that still allows passengers to bring drinks on board, will join its competitors in banning the practice as of July 15, the line announced this week.
Starting next Friday, passengers aboard Norwegian ships won’t be allowed to bring any beverages — beer, liquor, water, soda or juices — on board as carry-on or checked luggage.
The cruise line said on its website that the ban will streamline the embarkation process, which is often bogged down by inspections of bottles potentially concealing alcoholic beverages. Alcohol, except wine, is prohibited on board because it competes with the cruise business’ money-making engine: drink packages.
This revised policy brings the company in line with other best practice travel security protocols and reduces the need for individual time consuming screening and package inspection of large volumes of beverages.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Sealed wine bottles will still be allowed but will incur a corkage fee that depends on the size of the bottle. Norwegian’s rationale: few guests bring wine and the bottles can be easily processed.
Also exempt from the new policy is purified or distilled water in factory-sealed containers for use in medical devices or infant formula. Open beverages of any kind must be consumed or discarded before boarding, Norwegian said.
Drinks purchased at ports of call will be stored on board and returned to guests on the last night of the cruise. But any bottled or open drinks cannot be brought back on the ship when guests embark from a port.
The only exceptions will be wine and purified or distilled water in factory-sealed containers for use in medical devices or infant formula.
Other major cruise lines have already instituted no-drinks policies.
Miami-based Royal Caribbean International bans beer, liquor, fortified wines and non-alcoholic drinks at the point of embarkation. Guests are limited to two bottles of wine or champagne per stateroom.
Doral-based Carnival Cruise Line also prohibits bottled beverages but allows a maximum of 12 sealed, unopened cans or cartons of non-alcoholic beverages. Guests are limited to one sealed bottled of wine or champagne, subject to a corkage fee.
On board, drink packages fill the gap — but can cost a pretty penny. The “Ultimate” drink package on Norwegian Cruise Line, which includes all beverages — alcoholic and non — is about $79 a day per person. Carnival Cruise Line’s Cheers! beverage program is $49 a day per over-21 traveler and includes most drinks. Royal Caribbean’s International’s drink package costs fluctuate depending on season, but an all-inclusive “Unlimited” package can cost about $70.
For a couple on a week-long voyage, a drink package means about a $1,000 investment.