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Old July 28th, 2013, 03:51 AM
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Default Disappointing New Wine Policy

I booked an Alaskan cruise with Holland America and now I am extremely unhappy with them. At the time I booked, I understood that the wine policy was fairly liberal and I intended to take two bottles of wine with me on the trip. I also ordered vodka and my roommate ordered champagne for our first night out.

Now I understand that the new policy limits us to ONE (1) bottle of wine and I find this out less than two months to the cruise and long after I have already booked. Needless to say, I will rethink my cruise lines in the future. We are bringing wine, not because we don't want to buy on board, but because we wanted these specific wines to share at dinner.

http://www.hollandamerica.com/assets...board/KBYG.pdf
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Old July 28th, 2013, 07:27 AM
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Okay, so what have I missed here? according to the link you added .....
Each guest 21 years and older may bring one bottle of wine or champagne (no larger than 750ml) onboard in their carry-on luggage at the beginning of the voyage
So as there are 2 of you = the 2 bottles you wanted to take, or are you under 21?

The pre-ordered vodka & champagne wouldn't be included as they will already be on board.

The other interesting note is that HAL "reserves the right to remove all alcoholic beverages from guest luggage that violates this policy. Any alcoholic beverage found will be removed and returned on the last evening of the voyage."
So it doesn't say that they WILL, just that they can, and if they do, they will return it on the last night, so you won't lose the wine.

Sounds to me like it's worth the risk over taking more on board that their policy allows, & hoping.
It would be interesting to know what happens in realisty, most of the UK departures have similar rules, but only ever enforce them if there is a group carrying on excessive alcohol with the plans of getting wrecked & unsociable to the other pax.

Alan.
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Old July 28th, 2013, 08:48 AM
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I have always taken more than one bottle of wine and it has never been taken period.
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Old July 28th, 2013, 11:42 AM
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It is always a shame to see these new rules implemented.
And there is never a really good way to do it.

But there is always a Good Reason do it.
HAL was the only mass market line left that had a liberal policy with passengers bringing wine aboard.
And many passengers took full advantage of it.

When I worked over there, it was not uncommon to see an elderly man or woman, barely able to walk, trying to drag a handtruck with 4 or 5 cases of wine up the gangway on embark day. It was so sad, it was funny.

Or even worse, they handed over a few cases of wine to the union stevedores for delivery to their cabins. The stevedores promptly stole some or all of the wine, and the cruise line then had to replace it.

Then on the first night of the cruise, all the bars on the ship would be empty of wine glasses (and people) by 7pm.
One by one, passengers would visit the bars and ask for a few wine glasses to take back to their cabins.

Then, 2 hours later, those same people went to the dining rooms with wine glasses filled to the brims (sometimes one glass in each hand), claiming that they had just come from cocktail hour in the bars. We always had a great laugh at this, as we never sold a 10 ounce pour glass of wine in the bars.

By the middle of the meal, those same people stood up, took the empty wine glasses back to their cabins, re-filled them to the brims, and returned to the dining rooms, once again claiming that they had just visited the bar for another 10 ounce glass of wine.

Playing games like this just dares the cruise line company to change the rules to protect itself.
All the other lines felt forced to change the rules already.
HAL, in typical fashion, was a bit behind the curve.

Going to another mass market cruise line?
They all have just about the same rules - for the same reasons.

Do the cruise lines realize that making rules like this will discourage a certain demographic from cruising with them?
Absolutely, they do. That's the entire point.

With today's marketing and profit models, we simply cannot afford to have those people sailing with us.
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Old July 28th, 2013, 03:23 PM
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As with others, I don't see the problem. You said you wanted to bring two bottles of wine onboard and you still can - one for each person over 21 is allowed.

Yes, in the past, HAL allowed people to carry on as much wine as they wanted - they did not want you to check them because of breakage and possible pilferage. So it's definitely a change from their past policies for those who enjoy drinking alot of wine. But their new policies are directly in line with most of the other mass-market cruise lines.

Some have a stricter policy. For example, NCL charges a corkage fee for every bottle of wine you bring on board no matter where you plan to drink the wine.

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Old July 29th, 2013, 12:20 AM
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To be clear *I* was bringing two bottles of wine, my cruise partner was going to bring two bottles of wine as well. We were going to share the wine at dinner, paying the (what was until Monday) the $18 corkage fee for at least two of the bottles and probably all of them.

Part of the reason I like HAL is because I can choose the wine I want to bring and I spent a lot of time choosing which wines I was bringing along. Also, I booked when the policy was more liberal and had already made my plans for the trip, so I am more than a bit miffed about the change between booking and my cruise.
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Old July 29th, 2013, 12:49 PM
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Thank you for the clarification.

Alan.
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Old July 29th, 2013, 01:11 PM
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I'm with you! One of the (many) things I like about HAL is/was the liquor policy (I wasn't aware it had changed).

But I totally see Bruce's point. While we would bring on 3 to 4 bottles for a 7 night cruise ~ we'd see others lugging on full cases of wine - wondering where and when they would/could drink so much wine.

Disappointing yes - but it won't stop me from cruising HAL.
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Old July 29th, 2013, 02:03 PM
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I just checked with my old colleagues at HAL.
The new company wine policy will be introduced in a few months, sometime before the end of the year.
The HAL website was updated over the past weekend to give the public a chance to read it before their final payment is due.
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Old July 29th, 2013, 08:54 PM
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Well, that would be a welcome relief, but I think they should put an effective date on the policy, since the only date seems to say 2013 and we are well into that calendar year
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Old August 2nd, 2013, 12:44 PM
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Relax........ for now.

HAL has back-pedaled a bit and the new Wine Policy will not take go into place until January, 2014.

For cruises until then, bring the wine you normally would have brought and plan to purchase wine in ports along the way if you wish.

There was an awful uproar on Facebook and another cruise forum such as this one and apparently HAL chose to give notice of the upcoming change rather than have it effective immediately.
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Old August 2nd, 2013, 12:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonlight Reader View Post
Well, that would be a welcome relief, but I think they should put an effective date on the policy, since the only date seems to say 2013 and we are well into that calendar year

HAL did put an effective date on their most recent announcement made on Facebook and in e-mails some guests who wrote received as responses.

I am not interested in it enough to go check the date but I am sure it is after the first of the year and my vague memory is January 31, 2014 but you can check either by e-mailing HAL via the 'contact us' link on their site or by checking their Facebook page. Be sure you have 'liked' them or you may not see the posts.

Don't bother calling as many of the telephone reps have not been informed of the accurate information. They have been telling incorrect answers and confusing many people. Telephone reps on all cruise lines are not always as well trained or experienced as we would like and some give downright wrong information. Get from more than one source if you plan to rely on those reps IMO
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Old August 2nd, 2013, 01:17 PM
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Bruce, what line are you with now?
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Old August 2nd, 2013, 07:25 PM
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I work for...

Wait a minute.
You almost caught me up.
I am not allowed to publicly announce my employer without suffering serious "feedback" from him.

Suffice it to say I work for a major cruise line that does not allow "frugal" passengers to bring bottles / boxes / cases of questionable wine onboard under the lame pretext that they are enlightened wine mavens.

Most of the passengers who try to smuggle wine and spirits onboard my ship are honest enough to admit that they are just cheap and trying to save a buck.
I admire that honesty.
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Old September 16th, 2013, 03:53 PM
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I don't think frugal has anything to do with it, its about enjoying wine without getting ripped off...wine on most cruise ships is way over priced...A $5-6 bottle of wine goes for $28 on the ship....there is no value there...while my cruises are limited to date, I have never seen anyone bring cases of wine on board.
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Old September 25th, 2013, 06:17 PM
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Well - just like any restaurant, the price of the liquor also pays for the room, the waiters, the experience, etc. You don;t expect cruise lines to offer cruises for you at their cost, do you? Every business makes a profit.

With the low prices of cruises these days I really do not understand anyone complaining about the cost of liquor or anything else. You can cruise for next to nothing these days.

Plus, in my experience HAL and other cruise lines have always been pretty liberal about letting people bring liquor onboard in port. This is not a rule, I am just saying it is my experience. Just keep it in the paper bag it came in and let them xray it. The guy running security usually won't say anything because it isn't a bomb. If they do take it, well then you get it back at the end of the cruise. Pack it in your luggage and take it home.

And don't worry about the customs costs - it will be very small - after the first two bottles which are duty-free.
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Old September 26th, 2013, 10:16 AM
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True Paul, but a problem for anyone who needs to take a plane. Can't bring liquids on board.

I see people buying up 2-for and 3-for specials from the ships duty-free; but sadly I have to get my duty-free the can-us border ... not quite the same deals



lol at Trip and Bruce. I've often wondered where Bruce worked.


I'm a fan of the HAL facebook page, but I didn't see any announcements about the liquor policy in my newsfeed.


I had a look at the Royal wine list and was presently surprised. we'll pick up two bottles before our Oasis cruise (cause yes Bruce- we're frugal). Some of the bottles they are selling in the 30 range are probably 5 to 6 dollar bottles in the US but are 20dollar-ish bottles in Canada. Yes, I'm still being ripped of but not as much as my own Ontario liquor stores are ripping me off.
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Old October 2nd, 2013, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
Well - just like any restaurant, the price of the liquor also pays for the room, the waiters, the experience, etc. You don;t expect cruise lines to offer cruises for you at their cost, do you? Every business makes a profit.

With the low prices of cruises these days I really do not understand anyone complaining about the cost of liquor or anything else. You can cruise for next to nothing these days.

Plus, in my experience HAL and other cruise lines have always been pretty liberal about letting people bring liquor onboard in port. This is not a rule, I am just saying it is my experience. Just keep it in the paper bag it came in and let them xray it. The guy running security usually won't say anything because it isn't a bomb. If they do take it, well then you get it back at the end of the cruise. Pack it in your luggage and take it home.

And don't worry about the customs costs - it will be very small - after the first two bottles which are duty-free.
I agree every business is in it to make a profit...that is a given....but the
400-500% markups are extreme.

HAL had a very friendly wine policy compared to others and they are giving up a competitive advantage that clearly separated them from their competition. We used this advantage to select HAL over other cruise lines with similar itineraries.
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Old October 5th, 2013, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Chafkin1 View Post
It is always a shame to see these new rules implemented.
And there is never a really good way to do it.

But there is always a Good Reason do it.
HAL was the only mass market line left that had a liberal policy with passengers bringing wine aboard.
And many passengers took full advantage of it.

When I worked over there, it was not uncommon to see an elderly man or woman, barely able to walk, trying to drag a handtruck with 4 or 5 cases of wine up the gangway on embark day. It was so sad, it was funny.

Or even worse, they handed over a few cases of wine to the union stevedores for delivery to their cabins. The stevedores promptly stole some or all of the wine, and the cruise line then had to replace it.

Then on the first night of the cruise, all the bars on the ship would be empty of wine glasses (and people) by 7pm.
One by one, passengers would visit the bars and ask for a few wine glasses to take back to their cabins.

Then, 2 hours later, those same people went to the dining rooms with wine glasses filled to the brims (sometimes one glass in each hand), claiming that they had just come from cocktail hour in the bars. We always had a great laugh at this, as we never sold a 10 ounce pour glass of wine in the bars.

By the middle of the meal, those same people stood up, took the empty wine glasses back to their cabins, re-filled them to the brims, and returned to the dining rooms, once again claiming that they had just visited the bar for another 10 ounce glass of wine.

Playing games like this just dares the cruise line company to change the rules to protect itself.
All the other lines felt forced to change the rules already.
HAL, in typical fashion, was a bit behind the curve.

Going to another mass market cruise line?
They all have just about the same rules - for the same reasons.

Do the cruise lines realize that making rules like this will discourage a certain demographic from cruising with them?
Absolutely, they do. That's the entire point.

With today's marketing and profit models, we simply cannot afford to have those people sailing with us.


I've seen this again and again and you describe it exactly as I have witnessed.

For those who brought two or three bottles for a 14 days cruise and, indeed, drank it on your verandah, I'm sorry for the change in policy.

For those who so blatantly flaunted and abused the leniency of HAL's policy, no one should be surprised HAL finally was forced to change the policy.

We never bothered to lug wine. We found more than enough adequate and far more than adequate wines to order from HAL's wine lists and enjoy being served properly in the MDR by a lovely wine steward(ess) and nothing will change for us.

For those who now must buy HAL on board or do without, you have decisions to make.

Thank you, BruceChafkin, for writing what needed to be said.
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Old October 5th, 2013, 04:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike L View Post
I agree every business is in it to make a profit...that is a given....but the
400-500% markups are extreme.

HAL had a very friendly wine policy compared to others and they are giving up a competitive advantage that clearly separated them from their competition. We used this advantage to select HAL over other cruise lines with similar itineraries.

HAL accountants have crunched those numbers until they screamed.
HAL knows far better than us what they will gain and what they will lose in terms of $$ by changing the policy.

Maybe they are happy for some of those guests who abused the policy so blatantly and have them go elsewhere. All those cocktail parties they ran with their own wine likely involved free hors d'ouerves provided by HAL and sets ups and extra cleaning and broken glasses........ there was no profit to HAL by wine parties run by guests pouring from their own bottles. Why would HAL miss that?

HAL did not do this without a lot debate and study. They have run a cruise line for something like 150 years. I think they probably know what they are doing and if not, we all will learn that in time.
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Old October 5th, 2013, 04:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Queen of Oakville View Post



<snip>


I had a look at the Royal wine list and was presently surprised. we'll pick up two bottles before our Oasis cruise (cause yes Bruce- we're frugal). Some of the bottles they are selling in the 30 range are probably 5 to 6 dollar bottles in the US but are 20dollar-ish bottles in Canada. Yes, I'm still being ripped of but not as much as my own Ontario liquor stores are ripping me off.

I don't know of any restaurant that sells wine to diners at the price we can pay in a liquor store. Of course, there is mark up. Why shouldn't the cruise line mark up the prices? They are a for profit business. It isn't a hobby.

I buy certain wines for home consumption for $25 but see them on local restaurant menus for $49 or more...... why not? They are in business to make money. No one makes us order it.
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Old October 5th, 2013, 04:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike L View Post
I don't think frugal has anything to do with it, its about enjoying wine without getting ripped off...wine on most cruise ships is way over priced...A $5-6 bottle of wine goes for $28 on the ship....there is no value there...while my cruises are limited to date, I have never seen anyone bring cases of wine on board.
IMO, I grant not everyone who lugs many bottles of wine aboard is doing so to save money. But many are doing it for just that reason.
Yes, there are some who really want their 'wine of choice' for their oh so special event but the overwhelming majority want the savings. It is what it is and as long as HAL permitted it, no problem. HAL will cease to permit. The party is over.
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Old October 6th, 2013, 12:36 PM
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Have no problem with Holland marking wine with a reasonable profit margin however they could very well have some inexpensive wine to choose from with the same mark up instead of starting well above $20 range. Even when they offer their repeat passengers a discount on the wine pkg. they only allow on the more pricy wines.
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Old October 6th, 2013, 02:32 PM
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I think HAL should have followed Princess's policy which is bring on as much as you want, but you're paying $15 corkage after the first free bottle. I have no issue with that.
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Old October 6th, 2013, 02:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Chafkin1 View Post
Suffice it to say I work for a major cruise line that does not allow "frugal" passengers to bring bottles / boxes / cases of questionable wine onboard under the lame pretext that they are enlightened wine mavens.
Is there a cruise line out there that doesn't allow ONE bottle per person to be brought on at embarkation?
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Old October 6th, 2013, 03:52 PM
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We seem to notice HAL's percentage of mark up is highest on the low priced wines. The more costly ones we sometimes treat ourselves to have a lower percent mark up.
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Old October 6th, 2013, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BernieG View Post
I think HAL should have followed Princess's policy which is bring on as much as you want, but you're paying $15 corkage after the first free bottle. I have no issue with that.

Who knows but they might yet do that at least on some cruises such as itineraries in Europe in wine country. It's hard to sell excursions to wineries and then tell people they can't buy any of the wine. Those tour providers may have something to say about that. It's okay for Europeans that may be driving home and can carry their wine but not for North Americans that are flying home.

If they can't bring it to their cabiin or dining room, they are not going to buy it on the tour.
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Old October 7th, 2013, 05:30 PM
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I would at least try to get the wine in, if the specific mark is so important to you. Who knows maybe luck will be on your side and even if not, don't let this small thing ruin your vacation.
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Old October 8th, 2013, 10:03 AM
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You missed my point - or perhaps I didn't clearly explain.

Everyone marks up - I get that - I have no problem with that. My point was that the $30 bottle that royal sells is probably a $5 bottle in a US liquor store. But that $5 US liquor store bottle of wine is a $20 Canadian (Ontario) Liquor Store bottle of wine. So while the US passenger may be 'getting ripped off" $25; I (a Canadian) am only getting ripped of $10 bucks - so it is not quite as bad for me. I can swallow a $10 price markup for a bottle of wine on a cruiseship. While you some may thumb their nose at that $5 bottle wine; because we're used to paying $25 for the same bottle here. It's not quite a "premium" wine .... but its not a cheap bottle here.




Quote:
Originally Posted by sail7seas View Post
I don't know of any restaurant that sells wine to diners at the price we can pay in a liquor store. Of course, there is mark up. Why shouldn't the cruise line mark up the prices? They are a for profit business. It isn't a hobby.

I buy certain wines for home consumption for $25 but see them on local restaurant menus for $49 or more...... why not? They are in business to make money. No one makes us order it.
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