Last updated: 07:00 PM ET, Tue July 19 2016

Are Cruise Line Beverage Policies Getting Out of Hand? Agents Sound Off.

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Lisa Iannucci | July 19, 2016

Are Cruise Line Beverage Policies Getting Out of Hand? Agents Sound Off.

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

It’s already become commonplace to toss water and other liquids at the airport security checkpoint, so get used to doing it before embarking on your Norwegian cruise too.

According to Norwegian’s website, the new rule became effective for sailings after July 15. No beverages, including water, soda and juices, can be brought on board the ship either as a carry on or in your checked luggage. The only exemptions are purified or distilled water in factory-sealed containers for medical devices or infant formula, and wine.

Norwegian explains that tighter security inspections have resulted in their need to modify its policy. “This modified policy will now bring us in line with other travel industry procedures for transporting beverages and allow security personnel to focus on other screening efforts and not individually inspecting all beverages being brought onboard,” the website statement said.

READ MORE: Norwegian Cruise Line Faces Social Media Backlash Over New Beverage Ban

This follows the Carnival Cruise Line policy change last year that they, too, stopped passengers from bringing bottled water, bottled soda and other bottled nonalcoholic drinks onboard. Passengers are still able to bring limited amounts of soda or juice onboard in cans or cartons.

After taking more than 150 cruises dating back to the 1970s, Eileen Entin, owner of Diamond Cruise & Travel, says that she has seen quite a few changes in cruising, but the “nickel and diming has been around in many forms for a long time.

“Royal Caribbean used to leave chocolates on your pillow,” she said. “Now they don't. One cruise line used to offer free cappuccino. Why offer free cappuccino when the new customer base is willing to pay additional for Starbucks? It's hard to argue with the business of nickel and diming. It allows the cruise lines to show a lower entry price, and the younger generation of cruisers don’t always know how it was in the past so they don't feel they're paying extra, it's just how it is today. We try to find deals for our clients that include shipboard credit, which is cash that can be used on the ship for these extras like Starbucks, Johnny Rockets, the arcade and drinks.”

It’s just one more change that has affected the cruise portion of her business, said Tammy Levent of Elite Travel. “I have seen a decline in cruise sales for many reasons,” she said. “One is the cost factor. Cruises were very inexpensive and people do not see the value in the cruise anymore. If you keep taking away, then people are going to look for other options that give them more value.”

John F. Krieger, travel expert at Cruise Tour Center, says that there are several things going on with the new policies besides security. “Basically, all the cruise lines want to protect their onboard bar revenue since much of the cruise lines profits are now tied to what is spent onboard,” he said. “The average couple spends $565 onboard. Rather than have pricing all over the board, the lines have tried to keep prices higher while giving the customer more amenities like free beverage packages, gratuities, specialty dining, etc. I don’t think you will see this approach going away.”

Susan Moynihan, The Honeymoonist, said that this new policy doesn’t serve the consumer in the slightest and can be misleading. “Cruisers want to be able to compare apples to apples when they are looking at vacation options, and this makes it harder for them to do that,” she said. “It also makes having a travel advisor even more important, so they can decipher what the cruise line is hiding in the fine print, and detail the differences in regulations from line to line.”

The Disney Cruise Line has also changed beverage policies. “For a long time, they were the only cruise that allowed you to bring alcohol on board,” said Greg Antonelle, managing director of Mickey Travels. “The key change in the policy was that they now limit the limiting of the quantities of wine, champagne and beer. They don't allow you to bring on any liquor, but you can restock at each port of call though. Yes, the alcohol policy has changed, but it's still fairly generous and, in my experience with both clients and my own cruises, people were bringing on more alcohol then they could ever actually drink because you are just so busy having fun. Cruising, especially with DCL, can seem more expensive on the front end, but the value of what you get with a DCL fare is more than worth it in my opinion and our clients.’”


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