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Drop the Water Bottle!

Carol Sottili

Carnival Cruise Lines yesterday announced that it has changed its beverage policies. Passengers are no longer allowed to take nonalcoholic beverages onboard, including water. And they will now be limited to one bottle of wine per adult upon embarkation only. The new policy also warns that ship personnel will confiscate and discard any outlawed beverages. Carnival will continue to charge a $10 corkage fee per bottle for personal wine consumed in the dining room ($14 for the Supper Clubs).

Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said the rule was changed because security and embarkation personnel were reporting that passengers were "abusing" the previous guidelines, which allowed cruise-goers to carry on board a "small quantity" of nonalcoholic beverages, wine and champagne, both at embarkation and while in port.
Asked whether the abuse related to passengers carting cases of bottled water aboard, or toting suitcases full of wine, or smuggling vodka disguised as water (hard liquor has never been permitted as a carry-on), Gulliksen said the issue related to "excessive amounts of nonalcoholic beverages being brought on board."

Alternatives? You can drink the free water provided by the ship, or pay $3.50 or so for a bottle of water while onboard. As for soft drinks, you can buy a "fountain fun card" (costs vary, but it's about $15 for a three-day cruise), which entitles you to unlimited sodas.

So what do you think? I visualize lines of passengers dragging wheeled coolers filled with water, soda, etc., and I can see why Carnival might want to establish a little more decorum. A more cynical view is that the line wants to increase profits by selling more of its own water, soda, wine and champagne. What do you think? Anyone been on a recent Carnival cruise where passengers were abusing the BYOB allowances?

By Carol Sottili |  March 30, 2007; 10:01 AM ET  | Category:  Carol Sottili , Cruise Industry
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You cruise, you lose. Okay, I HATE cruises in general, but in Carnival's defense:
Some years ago a group of business colleagues ordered a pizza delivered to one of our rooms at a nice but not 5-star hotel so we could continue working in comfort. The front desk would not allow the pizza to be delivers, not would they let us pick it up and bring it upstairs. They insisted we had to order from their very limited late-night room service menu. Not so different from the Carnival policy, although I don't know how widespread this rule is.

Posted by: Landlubber | April 2, 2007 2:07 PM

I was on a Carnival cruise the week before christmas this year and didn't notice any outlandish abuse of the policy. In fact, a bottle of water per day was supplied in our room and not charged to us.

Posted by: J-Mart | April 2, 2007 2:35 PM


Posted by: Paul | April 2, 2007 7:17 PM

The new culture at Carnival dictates profits must increase.
Old tine cruisers will tell you standards have fallen and prices have risen.
The attitude is 'get them on-board' with generous offers and then nickle and dime them to death!
Very sad.

Posted by: diane | April 3, 2007 2:52 AM

This is greed only. Cruise lines want you to purchase all beverages from them. I have been on 10 cruises and I have never noticed "abuse" by passengers of these types of drink. I have noticed many abuses of alcohol.

Posted by: Carld | April 4, 2007 11:43 AM

I have been on two cruises with Princess Lines and both times after spending most of the day either travelling to the boat or standing for hours in their embarkation lines you finally get to your cabin only to be greeted with a bottle of water along with a sign saying if you drink this water you will be charged (approx $3). Twice I have e-mailed Princess about this policy, surely they could hide the price of a bottle of water in the fare....

Posted by: Jim White | April 4, 2007 11:50 AM

Have been on 10 cruises and never saw any abuse. Some of the other cruise lines let you purchase liquor at ports and carry it to your room for consumption or to take home. Just another way to keep increasing revenues and giving you less. Kind of like the airlines eliminating snacks and making you pay for them if you want them.

Posted by: Ben | April 4, 2007 11:50 AM

I have been on 3 Carnival cruises and the drink prices are high but drinking is optional. I can understand the problem with bringing alcoholic beverages aboard but water?? I don't think it's fair to pay $3.50 for a bottle of water. You pay enough for the cruise to either be able to bring your water or have a bottle of water included in the cost.

Posted by: Paulette | April 4, 2007 12:05 PM

We went on a cruise in January, our 6th, and I was amazed by how many people atually were bringing cases of water and soda's on board. I too think that they should just allow this to be in the price of your cruise. Purchasing a soda card to me is an extra expense I do not want to incur and do feel that this is another way to nickle and dime you to death. I am not alone in my thoughts on this. Others friends who cruise often feel the same way. Maybe it is time for them to rethink their beverage procedures.

Posted by: Evelyn | April 4, 2007 12:10 PM

I cruise on Carnival with my family. My children are actively involved in youth sports, so I know what a 2 - 3 hour event can cost for beverages. I felt that the $15 beverage card was a steal (I felt guilty, as though I had taken advantage of the cruise line). There is a simple answer if you feel cheated or lied to by limiting your carry-on beverages, don't go!

Posted by: John | April 4, 2007 12:55 PM

I am a wine collector, writer, and wine traveler. why should I be compelled to lower my own living standards and be compelled to drink inferior wines at riduclous markups? Enjoying wines as part of travel is a priority.Although I love cruising basically, I will not consider travelling with Carnival or any other line that restricts
my access to any everyday pleasure.

Posted by: Robert Bentley | April 4, 2007 2:58 PM

I was on a Carnival cruise in July and while I carried a 6 pk of water on board, which I consumed in 2 days, I still ended up paying the cruise lines an extra $12 for water for the rest of the trip. Like the lady said, don't go, but I say travel another cruise line. If it will make any of you feel better, I travelled through South Africa on a train and had to pay for water which promted me to vow to never use that tour again.

Posted by: Gladys | April 4, 2007 3:07 PM

I went on 2 Carnival Cruises last year. One in August and the second in November. I did not see anyone abusing the ship's beverage regulations at all. After my November cuise, all alcoholic beverages were confiscated by Airpot personnel. This was the day after the terrorist plot in England.

Posted by: Howard | April 4, 2007 3:13 PM

My family took a Christmas cruise on Carnival to Mexico last year. We carried on board enough wine for 1 btl red and 1 btl white for each evening's dinner since we were celebrating special events and wanted special wines. We expected to have them taken on embarkation and held for us, but that was not the case. We were told they could go to your rooms. We were charged corkage fees every night we brought btls to the dinner table.

Posted by: Janet B. | April 4, 2007 3:18 PM

My husband & I cruised 3 times last year, twice on Carnival, once on Celebrity. We never saw any abuse. I would be interested to see if these people live near the port they are cruising from? We live in Ohio, we get the cruises very cheap, it's the Air that costs... Our 'bar' bill is nothing compaired to the airfair to get to the port.
Florida folks, quit complaining!

Posted by: Geri C | April 5, 2007 7:53 AM

Keep in mind that Carnival effectively is exempt from US taxes. So all you US taxpayers are subsidizing the same people who will not let you bring on your own drinks.

Posted by: Garak | April 5, 2007 10:31 AM

Feb.25th Carnival Victory to Mexico. I noticed a family with a case of soda while we were embarking in Miami. thought it was very odd. We each had a individual bottle of water and were not challenged. There was coffee, sodas and water available for free in the buffet dining part of the ship 24/7. So I don't understand the fuss. We only once bought the $3.50 bottle to take a shore in Mexico, which I thought a NECESSITY. We were very pleased with the service and the cruise.

Posted by: Joan | April 5, 2007 2:43 PM

Don't you get it? In order to seemingly keep the price of the cruise down - they nickel and dime you to death on other things, like the insurance you can take out to cover lost luggage, missed flights, etc. Also have you ever noticed how much higher the airfare is through the cruise line compared to what you can get it for on your own? Don't be fooled, they have many ways to get your money IF YOU ALLOW IT!

Posted by: JAN | April 5, 2007 11:04 PM

Maybe they are trying to keep you from falling overboard! Couldn't they just use higher railings. I can handle the price of a mixed drink or two, but to charge us for water - come on - water should ALWAYS BE FREE.

Posted by: J.B. | April 5, 2007 11:09 PM

We've cruised with a Carnival-owned cruise line several times, but choose to bring our own quality wines rather than the inferior jugwines which they sell. I'd happily pay for quality wine if it was provided. The posession and transport of water, however, is a right and it should not be limited. If the nickel and dime mentality of cruise lines continues, I'll stay home. It's just more corporate slamming of the consumer.It's as dishonest as ATT.

Posted by: john | April 7, 2007 9:58 PM

I will not be taking Carnival or any other line that limits the bottled water I take on board. Water is important to me and I want to take on water I can trust.

Posted by: katdid | April 12, 2007 2:27 PM

We took a cruise in 2000 and found that they had plenty of beverages for free. Tea, coffee, juices and even bottled water in our room when we arrived. We had a great time and did purchase special beverages - tropical ones - they had a special one at a lower price every day.It was a wonderful time with our family - 9 of us went.We are going again in 3 weeks. Bon Voyage!!!!!

Posted by: Kathy and Don from In | April 14, 2007 2:02 PM

Seems as if Carnival has backed off on its hardline policy. Here's the latest from the Carnival Web site:

"All alcohol, additional quantities of wine/champagne or excessive quantities of non-alcoholic beverages will be confiscated and discarded without compensation. Guests may purchase a variety of beverages on board the ship."

Key phrase is "excessive quantities." I'd say a six-pack of water would not be questioned, but if you roll up with several cases, it's a no go. But that's just a guess. Any eyewitneses been on a Carnival cruise in last week or so?

Posted by: Carol Sottili | April 19, 2007 3:03 PM

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