Smuggling Booze on a Cruise


Port of Los Angeles


Smuggling Booze on a Cruise Ship can be tricky but most necessary if you enjoy your adult beverages and value your money!  

Embarkation day was on Sunday. We awoke bright an early because our bodies are functioning on Central Time and we were two time zones away in Los Angeles. So, rather than toss and turn we got up. Like at the Belles Resort (home) we thought we would hot tub as soon as the hotel’s pool area opened so we got dressed in swimsuits and cover ups and left Grandma Barb and Julia sleeping. We grabbed our laptops and phones so that we could accomplish some last minute internet time while we had FREE wi-fi available. We inquired at the hotel desk – what time the hot tub opened and were told 8am – in just an hour or so. We checked email, Facebook and downloaded some things to work on during the first sea day. The hot tub was open – Our vacation had begun!

After a nice soak – we returned to the room where we got dressed for breakfast. Julia had selected a Hungarian Strudel restaurant just a couple of blocks away – we hiked over there at opening time. The coffee was awesome!! We had breakfast preceding the next priority – plastic bags for our wine and spirits that we would carry on the ship. Smuggling booze on a cruise ship can be tricky.

You are allowed to carry on wine – there is no limit in the fine print – but if you wish to consume it in the dining room they charge a corkage fee. Liquor on the other hand is forbidden. We had selected some bottles of Rum and Tequilla that are shaped like wine bottles with the exception of one. The plan was to scatter them throughout multiple suitcases, to increase the odds of getting something for consumption in our room and to test our theory…. The ship is turned over quickly and although they X-ray the baggage there is NOT time for them to open each bag and inspect each bottle. So our theory was that if it looked like wine they would probably let it pass and the theory proved true. We bought a box of tall kitchen trash bags at a convenience store and headed back to the hotel to wrap and pack our wine and spirits. Wouldn’t it be tragic if a bottle leaked all over the only clothes we had? We would smell like a distillery EVERY day!

Check out time was looming so we headed out with our bags to the hotel lobby where we would wait in a LONG line of cruisers for the next shuttle to the port. There were three cruise ships in port on Sunday our Norwegian Star, a Costa ship and an Arcadia ship. We talked briefly to some classical musicians that were waiting in the line – who were not overly friendly. We always talk to people we see that look like musicians and have met many that have shared interesting stories. A few whom we have kept in touch with, including American Idol’s Patrick Hall a vocal pianist from season 7 (I think) Anyway we asked these guys what ship they were getting on and they said as they looked us up and down – “I don’t think wer’re getting on your ship” (in a nice english accent) “We are getting on the Arcadia”. Not sure what this indicates about the Arcadia… maybe not the line for us. At any rate three ships in port were enough people to book the hotels solid. The line moved quickly and soon we were getting in our van and headed to the Embarkation Port.  Three bottles each of Tequila and Rum safely packed away in our bags.

Upon arrival at the port the van driver unloaded our bags and the cruise ship baggage staff scooped them up about as fast, loading them on a cart to haul in. We proceeded to the building with the maze line of passengers. Everyone has to fill out a medical statement form and admit to any illness that you may have while standing in the line. The paper states that if you are or have been sick recently the ship’s doctor will examine you for free and that you WILL be allowed to travel unless it is determined that your illness is communicable and dangerous to others. On this day LUCK was with us and so was Grandma Barb – staff noticed her limp and pulled us to the front of the check in line and we proceeded on board promptly after issuance of our key cards. Pause for a quick photo and then up the escalator to the Embarkation walkway.  Thinking thinking, thinking about the fate of our bottles.

Now – to wait for our bags…. The ships staff is responsible for sorting and delivering all of the bags to the cabin corridors. We decided to have some lunch at the buffet while we waited. After lunch a cabin check revealed a couple of our bags had been delivered. Luck was still with us because Rob had zip tied our zippers shut and we could see that they had not been disturbed – meaning that we did it!! We had at least one bottle of Rum and one of Tequila! Unpacking revealed that we actually had two bottles of Rum and one of Tequila so far….. We decided that we didn’t mind taking it home if indeed they confiscated some of it. Even if we left some of it behind for the cabin boy – it was cheaper than paying the ship prices for alcoholic beverages. Finally the remainder of our bags arrived and one of them had been opened. Inside there was a note from the ship saying that they are holding one bottle of Rum and one bottle of Tequila for us and will return it to us on the last day. What do you know – it was the one in the square bottle! In the X-ray machine they could tell that it definitely wasn’t wine – by the shape of the bottle. That’s ok because we got the other four bottles and will have PLENTY to drink. The whole purpose of buying wine size bottles and scattering them among multiple bags was to increase our odds because we know they don’t have the luxury of time!

So now we know – if you want to bring booze – it must look like wine in an X-ray! Haha – We really don’t mind telling people about this because the ship charges WAY TOO MUCH for drinks to the point of PURE GREED (in our opinion) Smuggling Booze on to a Cruise Ship can be quite satisfying!  There is another option – a true all-inclusive cruise – planning this for next time!

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