There are few issues of substance that get cruisers buzzing like alcohol policies. The daily number of message board questions on drinking ages and other booze-related regulations is mind-boggling. My 18-year-old son is served in London, so can he have a beer on a U.S. ship? Can I bring a cooler filled with cold ones or my beer helmet? How about bringing our own bottle of wine to dinner? If bringing booze onboard is prohbited, what's the best way to sneak it onboard, and what humiliation will I face if caught?
Drinking rules certainly vary across lines -- European companies like Costa Cruises may lower the drinking age to 18 when sailing from non-U.S. ports; luxury outfits often include open bars, and allow for "bring your own booze" as well; and some lines have even outlawed bringing wine onboard, something that's almost always acceptable. (There is, however, usually a corkage fee assessed for consuming your wine in the dining room.) But, we can typically break the rules down into three main categories: drinking age, rules for bringing booze onboard and all things wine.
So that you might know the rules before you're seeing double, take a look at our comprehensive list of alcohol policies for the most popular lines. Cheers!
Editor's Note: We're only dealing with the official rules here, and not considerations of fairness or how crafty folks circumvent alcohol policies. To see how cruisers really feel about onboard policies, check out our Members Speak Out: The Great Liquor Debate.
--updated by Graham Kates, Cruise Critic Contributor, and Dan Askin, News Editor