WSJ on Cruise Lines Wine Lists

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Arv R
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#1 Post by Arv R » January 12th, 2017, 3:07 pm

Pretty damning I think

https://www.google.com/search?q=wsj+win ... gws_rd=ssl

First story after the sponsored ads, called "How to Navigate Cruise-Ship Wine Lists"
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Tim McCracken
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#2 Post by Tim McCracken » January 12th, 2017, 3:22 pm

When I was on Cunard, the wine list was a bit pricey but they had deals where you could prepay for a wine package. It cut the price substantially, and they had a decent list. In addition, I brought on at least half a case of wine. I tipped heavily the first night and never was charged corkage.

The wine list on Star Clippers was small but adequate.

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Nick Ellis
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#3 Post by Nick Ellis » January 12th, 2017, 3:55 pm

Which part is worse?

A. Being stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean with only (most likely cheap) Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc.

B. Being stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean with people who would revolt if they couldn't get Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc.

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#4 Post by ChrisG » January 12th, 2017, 4:06 pm

Was on NCL over the Thanksgiving holiday. Their list, while not spectacular, was more reasonably priced than most restaurants. You can bring wine on board, the corkage is $15/bottle, paid when you are boarding. They apply a sticker to show that it's been paid and you can then bring it to any restaurant on the ship or drink it at your leisure.
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#5 Post by E. Mark Larson » January 12th, 2017, 4:47 pm

On Princess it helps to know your wines. Low end wines on their list are priced similar to that of restaurants. So, sure enough, if you want to order a bottle of Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, you will pay 200% of retail price. However, if you move up the list a bit, the pricing becomes more interesting. In October I enjoyed a bottle of 2012 Tignanello for $79 in one of their specialty restaurants (this wine is not on the dining rooms' wine list). I don't think you can buy 2012 Tig in any retail store in the U.S. for $79. I may be wrong.

Similar to ChrisG's report on NCL, Princess also allows passengers to carry on as many 750ml bottles as they would like. Each adult can bring on one bottle at no charge which may be consumed in the passenger's cabin or can be taken to any of the dining rooms or restaurants where it can be enjoyed with dinner for a $15 corkage charge. Bottles in excess of the "free" one will be subject to an immediate $15 corkage and can be taken to any of the dining rooms or restaurants with no additional charge.

I, generally, bring a half a case, or so, of my own wine when we cruise.

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Marshall Gelb
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#6 Post by Marshall Gelb » January 12th, 2017, 5:06 pm

I read the article and it seems to have quite a few holes. She mentions only a few cruise lines and i am not sure how hard she looked. We have cruised on Regent multiple times and it is completely all inclusive. The wine served during meals is usually quite good and totally without charge. In addition, the wines vary depending on itinerary with many regional wines being featured. In addition , the multiple bars throughout the ships have many varied wines to drink.As a matter of fact, the restaurant staff will bring you a bottle that you enjoyed at any of the other bars on board for your dinner. The various specialty restaurants also carry wines tailored to their cuisine. Yes, there is a "reserve " list but it is not too outrageous and frankly, usually not needed. In addition, after boarding a cruise after spending a week in Chateauneuf, I brought over two cases on board which I shared with friends with absolutely no corkage.We received wonderful service from the somm including decanting some of the younger wines. I am sure that cruise lines differ but I can only honestly discuss ships that I have actually BEEN on. [soap.gif]

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#7 Post by Jason T » January 12th, 2017, 5:19 pm

Nick Ellis wrote:Which part is worse?

A. Being stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean with only (most likely cheap) Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc.

B. Being stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean with people who would revolt if they couldn't get Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc.
I think the part about being stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean is the worst part.
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#8 Post by RichardFlack » January 12th, 2017, 5:54 pm

Arv R wrote:Pretty damning I think

https://www.google.com/search?q=wsj+win ... gws_rd=ssl

First story after the sponsored ads, called "How to Navigate Cruise-Ship Wine Lists"
Looks like a paywall.

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#9 Post by Arv R » January 12th, 2017, 7:58 pm

generally if one snoops around google, even if the story is a subscriber one, it can be found that can be read for free. try looking at cached versions too.

i just can't really get over how the cruise lines think they are being gracious letting people drink their own wine in their own room for free.
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#10 Post by andy velebil » January 12th, 2017, 10:05 pm

Last year I did a Disney cruise (wasn't that bad, rarely saw kids thankfully) and they had a 2-wine bottle per person max at each boarding. No charge for any bottles. That means when you get off for a shore excursion you can find more wine and bring 2 bottles per adult on board when re-boarding. That came in handy when we stopped along the way and I had already mapped out a wine store nearby to restock.

Later this year I'll be on a NCL and that is unlimited bottles for the $15 per charge, charged when you get on the ship so you can take it to any restaurant on the ship or in your room.

My Haven level room on the NCL later this year also includes the all you can drink booze thing, with wine up to $15/glass limit included. You only pay the dollar amount above it (and there is a 20% discount on bottles of wine, including champagne and sparkling wines). No idea what wines they have but I'll be digging for any good ones. Though I am taking a decent amount of my own bottles and just paying the corkage since I can take them to the restaurants or anywhere else on the boat if I want.


EDIT: to correct the 20% off part.
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#11 Post by Tom Wheltle » January 12th, 2017, 10:09 pm

NCL must have loosened their regs - they were wizard-of-oz-no-way-no-how ten years ago!

Similarly, Princess will be charging us $15 per to bring wine on board, even though we plan to take most of it off the ship at the end of the cruise for the following week of independent travel. pileon

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#12 Post by andy velebil » January 12th, 2017, 10:35 pm

Here's the best part of getting a Haven room on NCL...
When booking a Haven or Suite category, gratuities related to beverage and soda packages are included.
No extra charge with the included booze package :)
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#13 Post by Rich Brown » January 12th, 2017, 10:37 pm

Did a Celebrity cruise last year, partly because we had been told they have one of the best wine programs available (among food and other things) and we were really happy with it. They have a 'Cellar Masters' wine bar that had a solid list of wines by the glass with enough diversity and interesting stuff to keep us happy for 7 nights. Our premium beverage package included all drinks up to $15 (or maybe $13) and then you just pay the difference for anything above that (we were given a $300 credit with our room so it easily covered the wine.....and a massage for my wife)

Couple that with the extended bottle list they had in the nicer restaurants that were only mildly overpriced and we were happy campers!

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#14 Post by andy velebil » January 12th, 2017, 10:43 pm

I should add on Disney the upgraded dinner restaurant, Palo, had a really good list. With Dom Perignon, some grand cru Bordeaux's, etc. The Dom was priced the best at about $200 per bottle. The others were usual high mark ups.
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#15 Post by Howard Cooper » January 13th, 2017, 8:15 am

Royal Caribbean used to not allow any wines on board, but now they allow two bottles per cabin with no corkage. The wine list in the main dining room is pretty awful, but there are some better wines in some specialty restaurants and at the Vintages wine bar (on the bigger ships that have this). You can buy wine at the Vintages wine bar and have it delivered to you in the main dining room or one of the specialty restaurants.
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#16 Post by Michael O'Brien » January 13th, 2017, 2:45 pm

Our last two and next two cruises are/will be on Oceania. We usually carry on from 6 to 12 bottles. They do have a stated policy of 3 bottles per cabin but that has not presented a problem in the past. Many of the wines on their regular and reserve lists are marked up 3x to 4x U.S. prices but there are some relative bargains.

I make it a point to meet the Executive Cellar Master either the day we board or the next day. We discuss what my wife and I like and they have always been extremely helpful. On our previous two cruises, the Executive Cellar Master gave me a list of wines that might be of interest to us along with the prices. These wines are not on any of the wine lists. They are wines that are in limited supply so they don't put them on a list. But for people like me that ask, they make them available.

The best values I have had on our last two cruises were wines from Italy and Spain with a few years on them and from excellent producers like Antinori and Conterno. A few were at U.S. retail prices and others were at very low multiples. There objective is to make wine loving passengers like me happy while reducing the inventory of bin ends.

Never hurts to ask to speak to the Executive Cellar Master or the head Sommelier or whatever they are called on your cruise line. They have the power to offer wines not on the list and they have a lot of power over the price of limited quantity wines.
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#17 Post by ykwon » January 13th, 2017, 3:06 pm

Really good info Michael. Thanks for sharing.
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#18 Post by Andy Steinman » January 13th, 2017, 4:22 pm

I've only been on two of the middle market lines and both were better wine wise than described in the article:

Princess -

They had a stated policy of allowing you to bring on 1 bottle per person and subject to $15 corkage. In reality we brought on a 6 pack in our checked luggage and had no issue.

The ship's wine selections were ok in a mass market context; not very interesting but pricing seemed to be 1.5 - 2X retail. The best options tended to be Italian (they seem to have some sort of program with Antinori) in all price ranges.

Also was successful in bringing on wine from ports we stopped in; there is a particularly good wine shop in St. Martin with a decent aged Bordeaux selection at fair prices.

Celebrity -

Again, had a stated policy of allowing you to bring on 1 bottle per person and subject to $15 corkage. In reality we brought on a 6 pack in our checked luggage and had no issue.

The selection was more interesting than Princess and slightly higher priced.

Wine Bar Service was poor - the wine bar featured an automated dispensing system and 60 wines available as tastes, half glasses and glasses and paid for with a cash card. Some decent selections but the "system" left me cold.
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#19 Post by Rich Brown » January 13th, 2017, 4:58 pm

Andy Steinman wrote:I've only been on two of the middle market lines and both were better wine wise than described in the article:

Princess -

They had a stated policy of allowing you to bring on 1 bottle per person and subject to $15 corkage. In reality we brought on a 6 pack in our checked luggage and had no issue.

The ship's wine selections were ok in a mass market context; not very interesting but pricing seemed to be 1.5 - 2X retail. The best options tended to be Italian (they seem to have some sort of program with Antinori) in all price ranges.

Also was successful in bringing on wine from ports we stopped in; there is a particularly good wine shop in St. Martin with a decent aged Bordeaux selection at fair prices.

Celebrity -

Again, had a stated policy of allowing you to bring on 1 bottle per person and subject to $15 corkage. In reality we brought on a 6 pack in our checked luggage and had no issue.

The selection was more interesting than Princess and slightly higher priced.

Wine Bar Service was poor - the wine bar featured an automated dispensing system and 60 wines available as tastes, half glasses and glasses and paid for with a cash card. Some decent selections but the "system" left me cold.
For what it's worth, they've since done away with the dispenser systems in the celebrity wine bars.

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