Booze Cruise Bargains?

A few years ago, returning from a trip to Scotland, we found that we paid a substantial premium on some Scotch we bought there. Instead of getting a bargain for buying it at the distillery and bringing it all the way back to the US, we paid about 40% more the experience.

So, on our recent cruise in the Caribbean, we decided we would to an analysis of how good the alcohol deals were on the ship we were sailing on. They have a big liquor store on-board with all of the most popular brands. We took pictures of a selection of booze and compared the prices to the same items at the Total Wine store near our house in Minnesota.

The results were a little surprising. The alcohol we priced included BAiley’s Irish Cream, Barcardi Rum, Captain Morgan Rum, Kahlua Coffee Liquor, and Johnny Walker Red.

On the ship, this ‘market basket’ of bottles would cost $109 US. At Total Wine back home, the same selection could be purchased for $101 (including the 9% MN sales tax). No savings at all – you pay $8 for the inconvenience of bringing 5 bottles home.

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That said, the ship (NCL Breakway) offered big discounts for buying multiple bottles, which Total Wine does not. If one bought 2 of each bottle, the ship’s price would be 23% cheaper, a savings of about $45. That’s some real savings, although ten bottles is a lot to haul home in a suitcase.

The third way to think about it would be to compare the price on two bottles of just one brand of alcohol. Two bottles of Kahlua, for instance. Just buying a few bottles of that – if it is your favorite would save you about $11, or 25% on the ship.  I guess that makes sense.

Of course, there may even be a bigger size bottle of Kahlua at Total Wine near my house that would save me a similar amount.  Or, if Kahlua isn’t your favorite, is it worth the bother to just save $5 or $6 on the Johnny Walker or Bacardi?  The savings vary a lot depending on what you are buying.

My conclusion is spending your vacation time trying to save a few bucks on a bottle of booze isn’t much of a bargain when out on a cruise ship.  Better to enjoy extra time poolside enjoying yourself!

Anyone get a huge bargain on alcohol when traveling?

4 thoughts on “Booze Cruise Bargains?

  1. We’ve got to the same point as you. I remember when I went on holiday with my parents as a kid that alcohol and cigars were high up on the list of things that they would want to stock up on. I’m with you that I would rather enjoy the holiday.

    What I am still a sucker for is getting a bottle or two of the local spirit of choice. I never learn to be honest, they never taste the same when you get home. In fact they often taste foul. They then spend years looking in an accusatory way from the back of the cupboard!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ve brought wine & Scotch from Europe and Kahlua from Mexico over the years for various reasons, but haven’t gotten a suspicious batch ever. Maybe you can ‘gift’ them to your kids when they turn 21! 😉


  2. Funny, I just posted about last minute Cruise “Deals” this week, which turned out to be a NCL booze cruise to Cuba. My bottle of rum (medium level) was only a few dollars. I should have bought a few more “souvenirs.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cuba would be fun to see! If you buy local / not well known brands in ports you can get a great deal, I’m sure. I’m not sure how it works bringing that back on the ship, though. Is that what you did?


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