Out to Sea for April 6/13
(c) By Jim and Barb Fox
They’re not exactly “booze cruises,” but drinking on board is becoming more convenient on ships at sea.
|Several cruise lines are offering all-inclusive drinks on board ships and at Carnival’s private island, Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. (Jim Fox photo)|
Many cruise lines are catching the wave of all-inclusive vacations at land-based resorts when it comes to alcohol and dining options.
Royal Caribbean International has two new booze and soft-drink packages while Carnival has the “Cheers” program, known previously as “My Awesome Bar.”
When it comes to cruising, ships have a captive drinking audience with most not allowing anyone to bring liquor on board.
Wine is often an exception, with a corkage fee of up to $20 a bottle when consumed in the dining room or specialty restaurants.
Buying duty-free liquor on the ship is similar to bottles being brought back from a shore excursion as they are held for the guest until the end of the cruise.
|Margaritas at the ready at a poolside party on a Holland America Mexican Riviera cruise. (Barbara Fox photo)|
Royal Caribbean has expanded its beverage program that allows cruisers to pay one price for alcoholic and soft drinks during the voyage.
That’s complemented with dining packages so guests can also save and pre-book the ship’s signature restaurants.
This provides guests with “a greater selection of choices and delivers it to them at an incredible value and convenience,” said Royal Caribbean’s Lisa Lutoff-Perlo.
The Classic Beverage Package is $45 a person daily, plus 15-per-cent tip, providing beer, house wines by the glass and non-alcoholic cocktails, fountain soft drinks and juice.
The all-inclusive Premium Beverage Package at $55 a day also adds frozen drinks and cocktails, including premium brands. Details: RoyalCaribbean.com
Carnival Cruise Line has launched the Cheers Beverage Program on 13 of its ships as well as its private Bahamas’ island, Half Moon Cay, on a trial basis.
Guests pay $42.95 a day, plus 15-per-cent gratuity for a variety of wine, beer and liquor as well as soft drinks and non-alcoholic frozen cocktails, not costing more than $10 each.
For more expensive drinks or bottles of wine and champagne, there is a 25-per-cent discount.
There is also a 15-drink daily maximum for alcoholic beverages and the program does not include bottled water or specialty coffee.
The fee applies for the entire voyage, not per day, and everyone staying in the same stateroom must buy in to prevent additional guests sharing drinks on one card. carnival.com
|Constantin is preparing to serve red wine on the Caribbean Princess. (Jim Fox photo)|
Norwegian Cruise Line is “testing” its Ultimate Beverage Package similar to those offered by Celebrity, Costa, Oceania and MSC for all-inclusive alcohol. ncl.com
Luxury lines such as Regent Seven Seas has the “most all-inclusive” program with unlimited fine wines and premium spirits, free open bars and lounges as well as in-suite mini-bars being replenished daily. rssc.com
Crystal Cruises provides “complimentary” fine wines and premium drinks along with pre-paid gratuities for housekeeping, bar and dining staff.
Dressing to the nines
As many cruise ships loosen dress codes to become less formal, Cunard Line has “renewed its commitment to the joy of dressing up.”
Research with passengers and luxury travellers led Cunard to strengthen its commitment to “special-occasion dressing” three times a week on transatlantic crossings and twice weekly on other sailings.
On the other nights, “in response to growing travel trends,” Cunard will be “informal” where jackets are still required for men but ties are optional.
By day, smart casual remains the style of choice among passengers.
“Formal nights are a chance for the ladies to sparkle in cocktail dresses or full-on evening gowns, while for the gentlemen, dinner jackets – or tuxedos or dark suits – always bring a touch of sharp, 007-type style to the occasion,” said Peter Shanks, Cunard president.
“The glamour of dressing to the nines is a hallmark of travelling with Cunard and distinguishes us from the mass of cruise operators where dressing up has become a thing of the past,” he added. cunard.com
Carnival operational review
After a series of embarrassing and well-publicized ship breakdowns that inconvenienced guests, Carnival Cruise Lines has launched a “fleet-wide comprehensive operational review.”
“The cruise line is making significant investments to enhance the level of operating redundancies and the scope of hotel services that can run on emergency power, and further improve each ship’s fire prevention, detection and suppression systems,” said Gerry Cahill, president and ceo.
Jim and Barb Fox can be reached at email@example.com