A decade ago, cruise lines were battling a reputation for “booze cruises”. Today, cruising is so much more than buffet food and drinking to excess.
So how does the passenger who doesn’t want the “drinks package” but still enjoys a glass of wine fare? After all, encouraging responsible consumption is in everyone’s interests, right?
Many lines limit passengers bringing their own tipple on board. So the price of a single glass can have a big impact on the cost of your holiday.
And finding the price of a glass of wine isn’t easy. We had to dig deep – and, with some lines, call up and ask. Making the important hip-pocket decision about drinks packages more difficult.
So who came out best? Viking Ocean Cruises, the deluxe cruise line, has come out on top with the cheapest glasses of wine at sea – and they offer wine and beer with lunch and dinner as part of their inclusions!
How the other cruise lines stack up? Here are the results of our survey.
Red: from $11, White: from $11, Sparkling: $13
Princess Cruises revamped their wine menu in November last year, with Master of Wine and Master Sommelier, Doug Frost. Mr Frost is one of four individuals in the world to simultaneously hold both titles.
The new menu offers nearly 50 per cent more selections with a total of 142 wines. For the prices above, sample the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2017 Chardonnay from Domaine d’Aussières, Languedoc, France, as well at the Mionetto Gold Brut Prosecco, NV, Veneto, Italy.
Red: from $9, White: from $9, Sparkling: $8.5
On P&O Cruises, you can find the largest wine menu at the Waterfront restaurant. At the prices above, you can get a Gulfstream Cabernet Shiraz from Barossa, a Sauvignon Blanc from Wirra Wirra, Hiding Champion, Adelaide Hills and a Azahara Moscato from Victoria.
You can also grab yourself a glass of wine at bars such as the Explorer Hotel on Pacific Explorer. Explorer Hotel is a modern Aussie pub with a smaller wine list compared to the Waterfront but you can find your favourite Aussie beers, ales and ciders here. Wine prices also start from $9.
Viking Ocean Cruises
Red: from US$5 (AU$7), White: from US$5 (AU$7), Sparkling: US$5.5 (AU$7.7)
Wine, beer and soft drinks are all included with lunch and dinner on board Viking. But if you fancy a glass outside of meals, their house red, white and sparkling wine comes at an unbeatable price, starting from US$5 (AU$7).
Red: from US$9.5 (AU$13.3), White: from US$9.5 (AU$13.3), Sparkling: from US$9.75 (AU$13.65)
These prices are from the general bar menu which can be found in most bars like the Grand Bar and Horizons fleetwide. For the prices listed above, you can get Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay from La Terre, California and house sparkling wine. The Horizons bar does a happy hour, noted in the daily programme on board.
You’ll also be able to find a larger variety of bars on larger ships and some of them have additional specialty menus. Martinis, which is on both R-class and O-class ships, has a whole menu of exclusive martinis.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Red: from US$7.95 (AU$11.13), White: from US$7.95 (AU$11.13), Sparkling: from US$10.95 (AU$15.33)
20% gratuity and beverage service charge will be added to your check.
The general bar menu and prices are the same across the Norwegian fleet. At the prices above, you can get yourself a glass of Sangiovese from Bolla Chianti DOCG Tuscany, Italy. For white wine lovers, sample their White Zinfandel from Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi, California and Sauvignon Blanc from Gran Araucaria “Reserva” Chile. For the sparkling wine, they have Extra Dry Romio Prosecco from DOC Veneto, Italy.
Norwegian has up to 22 bars and lounges across the fleet, each with its own unique vibe and some may also have special menus. Look out for their range of happy hour specials and drinks of the day. For something special, try Surgarcane Mojito Bar, which has a whole menu of mojitos! Exclusively on nine Norwegian ships.
Carnival Cruise Line Australia
Wine and Spirits: $8.75 – $14, Beer: $8.25 – $8.95, Cocktails: $10.50 – $13.50
Carnival Cruise Line has over 16 bars and lounges across the Australian fleet and their wine menu features red wines like Pinot Noir from Mirassou, Sauvignon Blanc from Oyster Bay and Domaine Chandon ‘Brut’ from California.
Red: from US$6.80 (AU$9.52), White: from US$6.80 (AU$9.52), Sparkling: from US$8.80 (AU$12.32)
A 15% gratuity is added to your bar charges and dining room wine account.
Cunard has a range of bars and lounges on board where you can enjoy sea views while you sip on a glass. The main bar menu features wine from Australia, Italy and France, but you can also get a taste of wines from Argentina, Portugal, Austria and South Africa.
From the prices above, you can enjoy Portugal’s Casa Ferreirina red and white wines. The Esteva, for the red and Planalto Reserva for the white. They also have Zonin Special Cuvée, Prosecco, Brut Non Vintage, Italy as part of their selection of sparkling wines. Head to Gin & Fizz at the Midships Bar to taste the artisan gins crafted exclusively for Cunard in collaboration with Pickering’s Gin.
Red: from US$8 (AU$11.2), White: from US$9 (AU$12.6), Sparkling: from US$15 (AU$21)
Royal Caribbean adds an 18% gratuity charge to each drink order.
The line has numerous bars across their fleet, each with their own theme and decor. Experience a little piece of Manhattan at the Trellis bar, have fun in the tiki-chic of The Bamboo Room or feel the drums and trumpets at Boleros.
The wine menu features red wines like Terrazas de los Andes, Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, Beringer’s, White Zinfandel and Presecco from Ruffino. These wines are available at starting prices listed above.
*Prices are subject to change
Vote in this year’s special Readers’ Choice Awards
No doubt 2020 will go down in cruise history as the year of the pandemic – a once in a generation event. And this year’s Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice Awards will reflect it.