Yes, the price for wine, beer, and liquor on cruise ships is steep! Though there’s not much you can do to save money on beer, for wine and liquor lovers, here are a few money-saving cruise hacks that we share from our cruise experiences and,  you guessed it, our drinking experience!

Upon Embarkation

  1. One well-known hack is to get your wine or liquor bottles on board in ‘checked’ baggage upon embarkation. Many cruise lines (including Celebrity) allow limited numbers of wine and liquor bottles to be brought on in checked luggage.


Be sure to pad the bottle so it doesn’t break and on some cruise lines, it’s best to camouflage it – maybe within a large shoe. Your checked bag will be delivered to your room within a few hours of the time you board the ship. Just be sure not to bring wine or liquor on-board in your carry-on luggage. It will be confiscated.

2. Another option for carrying liquor in your checked bag is by using a collapsible flask from Rum Runners. I’ve never used these, but they are well recommended on Cruise Critic. These flasks do not show a liquor bottle outline when scanned and are flexible so can easily mold to fit in places like your shoes.

3. Don’t lock your ‘checked’ luggage. If you leave it unlocked and they confiscate your bottle, the ship officials usually leave a discreet note in your case informing you that your bottle was confiscated. If you lock your luggage, you’ll be summoned to an onboard location to unlock your bag and then they’ll confiscate it. That first option is much less embarrassing than the second.

4. It’s a good idea to buy one or two drinks when first embarking. Then just keep the empty glass to use when drinking your smuggled wine and liquor. It’s also wise to conceal that glass in your room so the cleaner doesn’t take it away while your room is being cleaned.

Drinks with Dinner

5. It’s not possible to drink your smuggled wine and liquor in the dining room. You’ll need to buy those with dinner. Usually, it’s less expensive to buy a full bottle of wine. Then, if you plan to have only one or two glasses per meal, the dining steward will cork and store your wine so you can enjoy another glass from that same bottle the next night. This can cost less than purchasing one glass every night and may offer a better selection of wines to chose from.

Buying in Port

6. Buying wine and liquor while in port is very tempting, but it’s the most difficult way to get your beverage onboard. To do it with some success, take a water bottle or collapsible bottle – maybe a Rum Runner flask – with you to shore. You could also buy a bottle of water on-shore then once you buy your bottle of wine or liquor, transfer it to the water bottle or collapsible bottle. If it’s an environmentally friendly bottle that’s not see through, the liquor color doesn’t matter. If it’s transparent bottle, it may be best to smuggle only clear liquor like vodka. Remember though, buying while at port has a higher risk of confiscation than bringing it onboard initially in checked luggage.

Check for Happy Hours

7. Many cruises offer happy hour ‘discounts’ at various times, at various onboard bars. Just check your daily itinerary to find out where and when they are. These happy hours’ typically discount individual drink prices or offer 2 for 1 specials. Even if you don’t want two drinks, share with a friend or pour one of the drinks into a water bottle for later. And finally, this one is a hack that beer drinkers can take advantage of too.

Of course, remember to pack a corkscrew to open those corked wine bottles.

All this said, thankfully, cruise lines are starting to include drink packages as incentives to book. If the price is right and if you imbibe, those may be the cruise lines to choose.

Read more in Money Saving Cruise Tips and Find Cruise Deals Faster: Take the Opptee Challenge

*Note: None of the companies or products listed here have contacted us, paid or requested we mention them. All references are entirely the result of Opptee travel research.

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