Fruity cruise cocktail

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 carry on my favorite bottle of liquor? How about bringing our own bottle of wine to dinner? If bringing booze onboard is prohibited, what's the best way to sneak it onboard, and what humiliation will I face if caught?

Drinking rules certainly vary across lines. Several companies lower the drinking age to 18 when sailing from non-U.S. ports; luxury outfits often include open bars and allow for unrestricted "bring your own booze" as well; and many lines charge a corkage fee for consuming your own wine in the dining room.

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 cruise lines, including rules about drinking age and bringing alcohol onboard, as well as information on scoring free drinks and notable specialty bars. Cheers!