And another thing ... 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 bottle. (You know what their problem is.) Caught by security with a liter of Grey Goose? You'll be embarrassed in front of your peers -- and lose the booze until the end of the cruise. But there are a few exceptions: lines that know they have a captive drinking audience, but still let us tipple on the cheap. Omitting true luxury operators like Seabourn and Regent Seven Seas, which include drinks in the fare, check out five lines that let you BYOB.
Disney Cruise Line
The Mouse lets passengers 21 years of age and older bring their own beer and liquor onboard for in-cabin consumption. It makes no difference whether you schlep it on at embarkation or from a port of call. Liquor purchased at the duty-free shop onboard a Disney Cruise Line ship is, however, held until the last night of the cruise. It's rare to see a big-ship line with such a liberal policy, but, then again, passengers are paying a premium to cruise with Disney. Beverages must be packed in carry-on -- and not checked luggage. The line reserves the right to remove fragile items (including beverages) from passengers' luggage, and those items will be stored until the end of the voyage.
Disney Cruise Fares:
According to the Cunard Line FAQ micro-site, "there is no restriction to the amount [of alcohol] that can be carried onboard" at embarkation or in port. So go to town! (Literally, go into town and purchase a bottle of spirits.) The sober approach comes with a caveat: Cunard "reserves the right to remove alcohol at the gangway should the need arise." It's "not Cunard's intention to invoke this policy as a matter of course and [it] will only implement on occasions where [it] considers it likely that the health, comfort, safety and enjoyment of guests may otherwise be compromised." (Note: There is a $20 corkage fee when consuming wine/Champagne in an onboard restaurant.)
Cunard Cruise Fares:
Azamara Club Cruises
Two-ship luxe-lite line Azamara Club Cruises makes passengers pay for most alcoholic drinks -- wine and beer are currently included with lunch and dinner -- but liquor can be brought aboard and consumed in-cabin without issue. There is a $10 corkage fee for consumption of personal alcohol outside the cabin, and liquor purchased in an onboard duty-free shop will be delivered to the cabin the night before disembarkation.
Note: In 2013, Azamara is opening up the bars. Boutique Wines, a range of international beers, and select call-brand liquors will be included in the cruise fare starting with the first Europe sailings (March 27 on Azamara Quest and May 15 on Azamara Journey). Beverages can only be obtained at bars and lounges when they are open. The BYOB policy won't change.
Azamara Cruise Fares:
Oceania Cruises Oceania Cruises is another luxe-lite line that makes you pony up for booze onboard. Bringing your own, however, is allowed. Passengers may consume their own beer or liquor, brought on during embarkation or from a port of call. But keep the party in the cabin, says Oceania. (Any wine consumed in the dining room or a public area will be subject to a corkage fee of $25 per bottle.)
Oceania Cruise Fares:
According to British line P&O Cruises, passengers are welcome to bring a small amount of alcohol with them. There is no restriction to the amount. P&O does, however, reserve the right to remove alcohol at the gangway should the need arise (just like sister line Cunard). If, quoting the policy, it's "likely that the health, comfort, safety and enjoyment of passengers may otherwise be compromised."
Just for Fun
When it comes to its alcohol policies, NCL is no different from any other big-ship line. You cannot bring liquor. Period. End of story. But, as with most other lines, you can bring wine. You just have to pay a corkage fee if you consume it in an onboard restaurant (or even to take it onboard). That fee is where Norwegian Cruise Line stands out. Those bring bottles onboard must pay a corkage fee of $15 for 750ml bottles, $20 for 1,000ml and $30 for 1,500ml. Ah, the novelty-sized 1,500ml wine bottle.