Proper Etiquette for Transporting Your Excellent Wine Aboard a Cruise Ship

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At some point, you’ll likely pose the same question as countless cruisers before you. Namely – can I bring my own bottle(s) of wine aboard a cruise ship? The answer is usually “yes” – but with conditional rules to be followed to ensure your experience is a pleasant one.

While the cruise lines are (understandably) reluctant to endorse a b.y.o.b. preference, at the end of the day they are about customer satisfaction and in ensuring you will want to become a repeat customer of their cruise line.

To best ensure this, they will generally allow you to bring your own wine on board, as long as you follow and respect appropriate guidelines.

Although policies vary by cruise line, a little research on their web sites generally indicate you can bring a couple of bottles of wine for celebrating a special occasion (e.g. Cunard and Holland America have such a policy). Having said this, their rules usually prohibit your consuming your own alcoholic beverages in public spaces, i.e. you can enjoy them in your cabin but do not bring them into the cruise ship bar areas or around the pools.

There is usually one exception to this no-public-places rule, and that is the dining room. However, you will want to ensure you follow etiquette rules that will make your dining experience a pleasant one. Here are some good rules of thumb:

  • On the first night, order a bottle from the ship’s wine list. Alert the wine steward that you are a wine fan and have brought along some of your own wine.
  • Present the wine you would like at dinner to your wine steward at lunch, to give them ample time to prepare it for the meal to come.
  • When the wine is presented at table, invite the wine steward to try it and share their impressions.
    • If you are seated at a larger table, offer to share your wine with your tablemates.
  • Don’t finish every last drop. Leave about a quarter bottle, presenting it to the wine steward to share with their fellow sommeliers after the dinner service is complete.
  • Although you will typically pay a corkage fee (approximately $20), also tip your wine steward with a white envelope containing cash at the end of the voyage.
  • Don’t bring a bottle of wine they already have on their list.
  • Don’t bring an embarrassingly cheap bottle of wine.
  • If you bring a bottle, plan on also buying a bottle from their list.

In summary, a little planning and courtesy should ensure that your experience with bringing your own wine on board is a pleasant one for all concerned.

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