Cruises are a great time to relax, and that often means indulging in a drink… or three. Treating yourself can really add up, but there are ways to get the most for your money.
Peter Tobler is the new director of marine hotel operations for Windstar Cruises and has more than 30 years of experience managing beverage operations for brands like Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line, as well as luxury lines Seabourn and Cunard. He gave us his best tips for finding your sea legs.
1. Order a Bottle/Save it For Later. On many cruise lines, if you don’t finish the bottle of wine you ordered at dinner, you can ask the steward save it for another night. Check with your cruise line for specific rules and fees, but light drinkers can save money this way since they won’t have to buy everything by the glass.
2. Plan on Throwing Back a Few? Invest in a Beverage Package. Beverage packages vary from line to line so find one that fits your needs. At Windstar, packages are now available per-guest instead of per-cabin. The cruise line is also adjusting their packages to give options to those who will only drink wine, or those who want more options with liquor, beer, and wine included.
3. Buy the Beverage Package Before You Get on Board. It’s usually cheaper to buy your package in advance. Even if there isn’t a special rate, throwing down an extra $300 seems like a lot more when you’re already on board. But when you’re booking the cruise for $10,000, adding an extra $300 doesn’t really seem like much.
4. Bring Your Own. Most people don’t know that some cruise lines allow you to bring your own alcohol, during the first day, and drink it in the dining room with a corkage fee or in your room. Windstar allows you to bring two bottles of wine or champagne per cabin for a seven-day trip or three bottles for an eight or more day trip. But make sure you check with your cruise line’s rules, x-rays will catch you if you try to sneak on anything not allow. Yes, even your vodka dyed blue in the mouthwash container.
5. Consider a Themed Cruise. If you really want to drink, consider an alcohol themed cruise. There are wine, beer, and tequila cruises to choose from. Windstar has a food-and-wine themed cruise through France, Spain, and Portugal and includes expert-led wine tasting.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Buy Alcohol in Port, but Don’t Expect to Consume It on Board. Alcohol purchased at ports is kept by the ship’s crew and given back the last night. The upside: you’ll remember your journey every time you pour a glass.