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Wine lists on cruise ships


Having just come back from a 14 day Western Med cruise on an American cruise ship, you really have to wonder what is happening to the global wine industry I say this as just a few years ago, the duty free nature of cruising with a major line would turn up the most agreeable vintages at a price that would make you own wine merchant weep. But not any more. A routine 18% service charge is now from this year being slapped on all beverages and the wine line is suffering. Wines purchased in US dollars and offered to us Brits is effectively taxed twice if your credit card has been left to settler the on board drinks bill. The up[shot is that we will continue to pay the prices demanded only secure in the knowing that when we return The wine Society is there to right the wrongs…
Simply if you are going on a cruise think twice about signing up on day one for the wine packages, you could actually be paying out more than if you individually purchased your drinks, bearing in mind that every time you step ashore a world of local vintages await and at the current port of call price which has to be fraction of the ship on board purchase


Some (many?) ocean cruise lines do not allow passengers to take alcohol on board.

I think high alcohol prices on board reflect that many ocean cruises are sold at such low prices they make their profit on addons.

No all crusie lines are the same. Which line did you go on?

We’ve taken a number of river cruises with Viking and wine is included with lunch and dinner and is also on their ocean cruises. If one prefers one can take onboard ones own wine and there’s no corkage.

Silversea is another fully inclusive sea cruising line and I undertand they include premium drinks


Very interesting - I’ve often wondered about the wine on cruises. I’ve not taken one, but I know that there are specialist cruises that hire experts (like Olly Smith) to run a number of events on board, and also that visit specific wine areas (like Bilbao / Rioja)

It would be a shame if people felt they were being ripped off even here, when in theory you could have the benefit of ‘duty free’ drinking, but as @peterm says, I suspect the real issue is that we’ve got to realise that we live in a world where everything is being sold as cheaply as possible in terms of the headline price, and so all the real profits are going to be made on the ‘freemium’ model (all this is free - unless you want to upgrade / jump to the front / get access to special areas / etc.)


I deliberately didnt post the name of the cruise company except that it is American.

You are allowed to take a couple of bottles on board for cabin consumption (or on a payment of a corkage charge use them in the dining room), this applies to most cruise lines but not allowed to consume booze purchased at ports of call it will be held securely until you get off the ship. There are some classic vintages on board ( priced accordingly) and in the main very well kept but wine waiters and assistant wine waiters have gone with the wines now being poured ( again correctly) by waiting staff. Glasses chilled as appropriate. Spirits are now measured with jiggers and freepour is only sometimes carried out. Still the jigger size is like a 1/4 gill so a couple of Bombay and tonics usually does the trick… Prosecco was widely in evidence AS to prices you are right The headline price you pay bears no relation to the over all on board spend ours was all up around UK £1k for 14 nights and the wife does not drink…but by the time you’ve done the shops and presents for the neighbours looking after the cats Tours , transfers and possibly speciality restaurant supplements, £17 a head per day gratuities, not to mention laundry and dry cleaning it all adds up. basically they turn you upside down and shake out the loose change but we love it… I would however caution anyone top ensure the medical insurance IS in place and that you have been truthful in the disclosure of pre-existing medical conditions. A few people were winging it, and one sadly needed an emergency medical evacuation and was not covered The bill could be around £30k


Having been recently in the States, 18% is the mid point suggested gratuity for staff with the bill usually having the amount in dollars suggested for anything up to 22% for you to add on.


When I’ve cruised which is rarely, the wine seemed very welll priced. We used P&O.

The American cruise company which you may have used I looked at their online list and it was expensive and poor by comparison.

This was four years ago so may have changed.


I have been on quite a few cruises and only travel with P & O. I certainly would not sign up wine package as I have thought you would get ripped off. However, saying that P & O keep the prices quite reasonable when buying at dinner and in the bar areas and there is certainly plenty of choice, especially in their Glass House area.
I have attended an event on board with Olly Smith which was excellent - great chat and good pairings of wine and nibbles. Also last year attended an event that was hosted by the ship’s wine sommelier. This was superb as he was so passionate about the wines he had recommended.
At least P & O try to make an effort with their wines. Saying that my expectations being on board have never been that high so when I see an effort being made, I am pleasantly surprised.


Fore the two members who only use ‘British’ P&O the rest of us might be amused by this news snippet

Cruise liner conglomerate Carnival Corporation & plc has signed a shipbuilding contract for a second next-generation cruise ship for its P&O Cruises brand with German shipbuilder Meyer Werft GmbH.

The LNG-powered newbuild is scheduled to be delivered in 2022.

The new ship is part of Carnival Corporation’s ongoing fleet enhancement strategy with 19 new ships scheduled for delivery between 2018 and 2022.

The ship will have 180,000 gross tons and will be able to accommodate approximately 5,200 guests.

It will be similar to its sister ship due for delivery in 2020, and will be the largest cruise ship to be built specifically for the British market, Carnival said.

In addition, the cruise ship will feature “green cruising” design and will be powered by liquefied natural gas both while in port and at sea, thus reducing air emissions.

In short P&O is now an American brand with a british style wrapper…


What is the point of a cruise?


Strange question.

It’s a holiday where you unpack for and stay in one room and the scenery changes and you can visit different places along the way, while having someone else cook meals and washup.


My only cruise was in 1982 on P&O (when it really was P&O rather than Carnival) when the wines were very reasonable, both in price & quality!


My mother is very fond of cruising precisely because she gets a touring holiday without all the constant packing and unpacking and tiring travelling associated with doing it by car, bus or train. We have cruised twice with her, first on Saga to help her and my father celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary and once on the Hurtigruten for Christmas.

Not the kind of holiday we normally choose (yet!) but happy to do it for a good cause. On Saga the wines and prices were excellent, and in fact I think now a certain amount of drinks are included in the price with the option to buy your own if you prefer. The wines on Hurtigruten were excellent and the prices eyewateringly expensive as they were sold at Norwegian prices. You were not permitted to take your own alcohol onto Hurtigruten, though that didn’t stop us taking a bottle of a lovely amontillado sherry and a flask of Scotch with us in our luggage :slight_smile:


Oh you total rebel @JayKay :wink:


The only cruise I’ve been on was as working crew on a square rigged tall ship and, whilst they did cook for us, we all had to take turns on mess duty assisting with that cooking. Um… not quite the sort of cruise you were talking about maybe :relaxed:

They didn’t exactly have a wine list but there was some nice Rioja in the (self-service) bar but you’d better not be caught over the limit when on watch! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


Yup that’s me! Unlike the price of drinks on Hurtigruten, the cabins were small. Here I am modelling my best winter hat and thermals in preparation for a walk on the snow and ice.


Wow… that is small…GREAT hat though.:smiley::wink:


An alternative view might be that you are imprisoned in a structure, subject to food and wine chosen by someone else, lack of scenery between ports of call where you are released for a pre-determined time at a cost and to places chosen by others, to return to your cells and the company of people you perhaps would not have chosen to spend time with.
Sampling local food and wine comes at your extra cost, and, according to a programme on BBC, most passengers choose not to do relying on the all inclusive nature of the cruise.


Lack of scenery? on the Norwegian coast?


Agree, but not many cruises go there!
Am just provoking debate!!


I’m with you on this one, @Ludlow_Steve! Cruises always seemed to me like a vision of hell. Something to do with being stuck on water with the same faces every day… Not quite the ‘esacpe’ from daily life I seek on holiday.
Still, horses for courses. I can see why it would appeal to some.