We’re avid cruisers (though we don’t usually pack any box wines), and one thing that has always bugged us are corkage fees on cruise ships. We’re not the only ones, it seems – Cruise Ship News just ran an article on the same topic. What’s more irritating than getting a complimentary bottle of wine from your travel agent and then having to pay ten bucks for the privilege of drinking it with dinner?
I can understand land-based restaurant corkage fees, although I applaud BYOB restaurants like those in Philadelphia… but I don’t much care for the cruise lines holding their passengers hostage when they want to enjoy a gift from their travel agent. Of course, the cruise lines COULD just add the corkage fee to what they charge the travel agents, and make it a strings-free gift to the passengers.
Overall, we’d like to see a slightly cheaper corkage fee on ships. Their monopoly position discourages passengers from picking up novel but inexpensive wines in ports, or bringing their favorite wine on board. The passengers who want to bring a superb, multi-hundred dollar vintage on board won’t care one way or the other, but those who are both price-sensitive and lovers of more affordable wines will. It’s hard to believe that the lines would make or lose that much money compared to having passengers more satisfied and happy.
We’d vote for a $5 corkage fee, if one is really necessary. If someone wants to bring a $10 bottle on board, they won’t feel like they are being ripped off. It’s quite possible, we think, that a lower corkage fee might actually result in more wine consumption, more fees, and ultimately more revenue for the cruise lines.