As a first-time cruiser, you may be wondering if you can bring alcohol on your cruise. I’ve been on 22 cruises to date and have encountered a variety of rules in regards to alcohol.
I have put together this guide to simplify the rules of different cruise lines and provide some advice based on my experiences when cruising.
Can You Take Alcohol on a Cruise?
There are many cruise lines where guests are able to take alcohol on the cruise. This is usually only on embarkation day. There are some cruise lines that don’t allow guests to bring any alcohol on board at any point in the cruise.
This post provides a photo guide to the alcohol policies of all major cruise lines. Drinking ages and corkage fees are also discussed as well as other alcohol-related frequently asked questions.
Why You Might Have to Pay a ‘Corkage Fee’
A corkage fee is an amount that cruise lines sometimes charge for you to drink alcohol you’ve bought onboard. The corkage fee isn’t actually anything to do with the staff uncorking your drink so you can’t avoid it by opening it yourself. I’m sure many have tried!
If you enjoy your drinks in your cabin you normally won’t have to pay the corkage fee although some cruise lines do apply a corkage fee to all drink bought onboard, regardless of where it is consumed. Only being able to drink in your cabin might sound a bit rubbish but having a drink on the balcony during a sail away is AMAZING.
The diagrams below show if there are corkage fee’s applied to any drinks.
Cruise Lines Alcohol Policy Guide:
Can You Bring Alcohol On an Azamara Cruise?
You may bring your own favourite liquor, beer or wine for private consumption in your suite or stateroom. If you wish to consume your liquor, beer or wine in any shipboard restaurant, bar or dining venue, each bottle is subject to a corkage fee. – source
You are able to bring the alcohol mentioned above onboard on embarkation day or when docked in port. There is a corkage fee if you’d like to consume the alcohol in any bar, restaurant or public space. The corkage fee is $10 which I don’t think is too bad!
It is one the lowest corkage fee on this list.
Drinking Age With Amazara: 21
Can You Bring Alcohol on a Carnival Cruise?
Guests are prohibited from bringing alcoholic beverages on board with the following exception – at the beginning of the cruise during embarkation day only, guests (21 years of age and older) may bring one 750 ml bottle of sealed/unopened wine or champagne, per person, in their carry-on luggage. – source.
It’s worth noting that any alcohol bought onboard during the cruise will be taken away and returned on the last night of the cruise.
There is a corkage fee $15 to enjoy your wine in a bar or restaurant.
Drinking Age With Carnival: 21
Can You Bring Alcohol on a Cunard Cruise?
You may bring wine or champagne on board (over the age of 21) to celebrate special occasions. However if it is consumed in any of the dining rooms, alternative restaurants or bars then each bottle will be subject to a corkage fee. – source.
The corkage fee is currently $25.
Drinking Age With Cunard: 21
If you’d like to learn more about cruising with Cunard, my other Cunard content can be found here.
Can You Bring Alcohol on a Celebrity Cruise?
Guests are not permitted to bring alcoholic beverages onboard; with the exception of embarkation day when guests are permitted to bring onboard with them up to two (2) bottles of wine (which are subject to a corkage fee) per stateroom. – source.
Alcohol bought onboard in the shops of the cruise ship will be held and returned to guests at the end of their cruise.
Drinking Age With Celebrity: 21
If you’d like to learn more about cruising with Celebrity, my other Celebrity content can be found here.
Cruise & Maritime
It is not permitted to bring alcohol aboard at embarkation and any alcohol purchases made ashore during the cruise should be handed to Security on re-joining the ship. – source.
Any alcohol confiscated will be returned to passengers when they disembark.
Drinking Age With Cruise & Maritime: 18
Can You Bring Alcohol on Disney Cruises?
Disney Cruise Line Guests 21 years and older may bring a maximum of 2 bottles of unopened wine or champagne (no larger than 750 ml) or 6 beers (no larger than 12 ounces) on board at the beginning of the voyage and at each port of call. These beverages must be packed in carry-on (not checked) bags or luggage. – source.
Spirits are prohibited onboard and will be taken away until the end of the cruise. It is up to the guest to collect these at the end of the cruise. Apparently, they’ll be destroyed if you don’t!
It’s worth noting that only unopened beers/wine can’t be bought onboard. If the packaging is already open you won’t be allowed to bring it onboard.
There is a corkage fee of ¢25 to consume your alcohol in one of the dining rooms.
Drinking Age With Disney: 21
Can You Bring Alcohol on a Fred Olsen Cruise?
Fred. Olsen does not permit guests to bring their own alcohol on board for consumption. – source.
Another easy one. Nope!
Drinking Age With Fred Olsen: 18
Can You Bring Alcohol on a Holland America Cruise?
Each guest 21 years and older may bring one bottle of wine or champagne (no larger than 750ml) onboard in carry-on luggage at the beginning of the voyage.
There is no corkage fee is the bottle is consumed in your cabin but if you bring any more than one bottle of wine per person you will be charged a corkage fee regardless of where you consume the alcohol. There is an $18 corkage fee for any extra wine bought onboard.
The wine bought on board can’t be any larger than 750ml.
Drinking Age With Holland America Line: 21
- 18 if cruising from Europe, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia & New Zealand.
- 21 elsewhere.
Alcohol that has not been purchased on board may not be consumed in any public area of the ship or in your cabin. – source.
It is worth noting that guests can bring on some alcohol but it’ll have to stay at reception until the end of the cruise. There is a limit of 1.5 litres per person. I do appreciate that the diagram above says ‘can you BRING alcohol on a cruise’ and technically the answer to this one is yes, but I don’t think I’m counting alcohol that you can bring on board but not have!
Drinking Age With Hurtigruten: 18
Can You Bring Alcohol on a Marella Cruise?
Marella will confiscate all alcohol brought on-board by passengers, with the exception of alcohol purchased on the outbound flight to the ship – proof of purchase will be required. – source.
It is worth noting that Marella are an all-inclusive cruise line with hundreds of alcohol drinks already included in the cruise fare. For the full alcoholic drinks, list check out this post: Marella Cruises – All Inclusive Drinks List
Drinking Age With Marella: 18
If you’d like to learn more about cruising with Marella, all Marella content on the site can be found here.
Can You Bring Alcohol on an MSC Cruise?
Passengers are not permitted to bring onboard any such drinks for use during the voyage, whether for consumption in their own cabins or otherwise. – source.
MSC have a very simple policy. The answer is no!
Drinking Age With MSC:
- Normally 18
- 21 on US/Caribbean itineraries
If you’d like to learn more about cruising with MSC, all MSC content on the site can be found here.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Can You Bring Alcohol on a Cruise With Norwegian Cruise Line?
Guests may bring sealed bottles of wine on board for personal consumption. They will be checked prior to embarkation and a corkage fee applied at that time. – source.
The corkage fee is applied at the time of embarkation. This means that you can’t avoid the fee by simply drinking the wine in your cabin, the fee will have already been applied. The fee also varies by the size of the wine. $15 for a 750 ml or $30 for 1500 ml.
If you buy alcohol in the ports of call or the ships onboard the alcohol will be returned to you on the last day of the cruise.
Drinking Age With Norwegian Cruise Line: 21
Can You Bring Alcohol on a P&O Cruises Cruise?
Each guest aged 18 years (21 years in United States of America and United Arab Emirates ports) and older may bring up to 1 litre of wine, Champagne, beer, spirit or liqueur on board as they embark the ship for the first time only. – source.
Any alcohol bought above the limit will be stored and returned to guests on the last night of their cruise.
Passengers can only consume spirits and liquors bought on board in their cabin. Passengers may take wine/champagne/beers to the main dining room or bars but there will be a corkage fee of £20 per bottle.
Drinking Age With P&O:
- Usually 18
- 21 when in United States waters
- Guests aged 16 and 17 may be bought wine/beer/cider to drink in the restaurant if accompanies by a parent or guardian.
If you’d like to learn more about cruising with P&O, my other P&O content can be found here.
Can You Bring Alcohol on a Princess Cruise?
Guests agree not to bring alcoholic beverages of any kind onboard for consumption, except one bottle of wine or champagne per adult of drinking age (no larger than 750 ml) per voyage which will not be subject to a corkage fee. – source.
You are able to bring more than the one bottle of wine mentioned above but all other bottles will be subject to a $15 corkage fee each.
Drinking Age With Princess Cruises: 21
If you’d like to learn more about cruising with Princess, my other Princess content can be found here.
Can You Bring Alcohol on Royal Caribbean Cruises?
On boarding day, guests may bring onboard two (2) 750 ml bottles of personal wine or champagne per stateroom in their carry-on luggage. – source.
If you were to bring more than the allowance mentioned above you would have the alcohol confiscated and returned to you on the last day of the cruise. This includes alcohol which might be purchased in the onboard shops or in ports of call.
If you were taking a back to back cruise you could bring on four bottles on embarkation day, you’d be allowed to keep two and two would be bought two you at the start of the second cruise.
Drinking Age With Royal Caribbean:
- 21 if sailing in North America, Dubai, United Arab Emirates or on any private island.
- 18 if sailing from South America, Europe, Asia, Australia or New Zealand.
I’m from the UK where the drinking age is 18. I used to find strange going on cruises where the drinking age was 21 when I was between 18-21. It’s very strange being able to drink at home but then not on holiday!
If you’d like to learn more about cruising with Royal Caribbean, my other Royal Caribbean content can be found here.
Can You Bring Alcohol on Viking Ocean Cruise?
Guests may bring alcohol and beverages with them, purchase alcohol ashore at destinations that sell alcohol, or they may purchase from the onboard shop. Alcohol can be consumed in the guest’s stateroom or in public spaces, including the restaurants. There is no corkage fee. – source
This is by far the most relaxed, and amazing, alcohol policy of any cruise line. Hooray for Viking!
Drinking Age With Viking: 21
If you’d like to learn more about cruising with Viking, my other Viking content can be found here.
There is already a lot included in the Viking cruise fare which is may why they don’t mind people bringing on their own alcohol. Viking ocean cruises include drinks with meals such as wine, beer or soft drinks.
Do Cruise Lines Search Your Luggage For Alcohol?
Yes, cruise lines can and do search all luggage that comes onto the ship. When you check in your luggage it’ll be scanned similarly to how your luggage is scanned at the airport. Before you embark the cruise ship you’ll have to walk through a metal detector and have your hand luggage scanned.
Every time you get off in a port and return to the ship your luggage will be scanned again. It depends on the port as to who scans your luggage. If you’re embarking in a big port the scanning may take place in the terminal building itself. If you are in a smaller port the security checks may happen on the ship. It is also possible to have security checks in both the terminal and the ship.
Cruise lines are completely within their rights to search anything that you bring on board at any point of the cruise.
Can You Sneak Alcohol on a Cruise?
Many people have and continue to try. Cruise lines aren’t silly though, they know where to look. A particular favourite of people in recent years has been to try to hide alcohol in a mouthwash bottle, cruise lines cottoned onto this one pretty fast though! Royal Caribbean actually says on their website that they search mouthwash bottles.
What Happens if You’re Caught Smuggling Alcohol on a Cruise?
If you’re caught attempting to bring on too much alcohol the most likely thing to happen is that the alcohol will be taken away from you. Dependant on the cruise line you might get it back at the end of the cruise or it might be ‘destroyed’.
Your Alcohol Will Be Confiscated
I have been on LOADS of cruises where I have seen alcohol being taken off passengers. It definitely does happen, this isn’t an empty threat.
When you embark a cruise you will have to go through security in the terminal. The staff at security are there to check for things like alcohol and dangerous items.
You MIGHT be Allowed to Collect it at The End of The Cruise
Some cruise lines allow you to collect the confiscated alcohol at the end of your cruise. Some do not. Carnival usually does not allow this, they simply ‘discard’ all alcohol.
I’ve been on cruises before where I have seen the table at the end of the cruise where passengers come to collect their confiscated alcohol. I couldn’t believe how many people had tried to sneak it onboard. I personally don’t think it would be worth the effort at all. Bringing an extra bottle to the cruise ship, having it confiscated and having to take it all the way home again doesn’t seem like a great idea to me!
Worse Case Scenario For Alcohol Smugglers!
In a worst-case scenario, the cruise line can refuse to let you board the ship. Royal Caribbeans policy says that it may ‘disembark or not allow to board’ any passengers who are caught trying to sneak alcohol onboard.
This is unlikely to happen but it really is possible. I personally would never risk and would encourage you not to try either.
Can You Bring Soda on a Cruise?
The rules in regards to bringing on soda vary as much as the rules about bringing on alcohol. Some cruise lines will allow you to bring on soda and some will not. Some cruise lines allow you to bring on soda on embarkation day only and others will allow you to bring it on at any point in your cruise.
Similarly there are some cruise lines where you’re not allowed to bring on any soda at all. I personally very rarely bring my own soda on a cruise. I may bring a bottle or two in my hand luggage but usually purchase a soda package.
How much do drinks cost on a cruise?
The cost of drinks on a cruise is similar to that that you might find in a bar or pub on land. They generally tend to be on the higher-priced end but the prices really aren’t as crazy as some people fear. On an MSC cruise, you could expect to pay €3 for a can of soda or around €5 for a beer.
It is worth noting that on a lot of cruise lines you will have a gratuity automatically added onto all bar purchases. It usually isn’t possible to remove these.
Do you need ID to buy alcohol on a cruise?
Amazingly you sometimes do! Considering that all of your information is on your cruise card I often find it a bit hard to understand why cruise lines would require passengers to carry ID. Normally you don’t need it but if you look particularly young you might.
Some cruise ship venues which are adult-only may ID passengers at the door. I took a cruise with Royal Caribbean on the Independence of the Seas and couldn’t believe that guests were having to show their drivers licenses or passports to get in. When I was a child and used to cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line they would cut off a corner of my cruise card to show that I was a child. I think this makes sense, it’s difficult to stick it back on!
What Cruise Lines Let You Drink at 18 on a Cruise?
Many cruise lines let guests drink at 18. This depends more about the cruise destination than the nationality of the passenger.
If a cruise is from the North of America, other another location where the drinking age is 21 then all guests must be 21 to drink. This is true regardless of if they are able to drink at 18 in their home country. Similarly, guests from America could be able to drink at 18 on a cruise in Europe if that cruise lines policy has a drinking age of 18.
Cruise Lines which have an 18 drinking age in some destinations include Cruise & Maritime, Fred Olsen, Hurtigruten, Marella, MSC, P&O, Royal Caribbean.
Where to Next?
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