Carnival eases beverage policy at ports of call

Carnival Cruise Line has eased its restrictions on guests bringing nonalcoholic beverages aboard at ports of call.

Guests can now return to the ship with as many as a dozen 12-ounce cartons or cans of soda, water, juice or other soft beverages. Bottles continue to be banned.

Earlier this year, Carnival limited the amount of bottled water brought aboard on embarkation to reduce screening times and help stop passengers from bringing unauthorized alcohol onboard.

As before, duty-free alcohol purchased at ports will be safeguarded until the end of the cruise.

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Disney Cruise Line tightens alcohol policy

Starting in October, Disney Cruise Line guests will no longer be able to bring spirits on board with them.

The cruise line posted a change in its policy, limiting guests over 21 to two bottles of wine on embarkation or at each port of call, or one six-pack of beer.

Disney was one of the few cruise lines that allowed passengers free rein to bring alcohol on board.

As before, guests bringing alcohol aboard must bring it in carry-on luggage, not checked baggage. Carry-on alcohol cannot be consumed in public areas or lounges, Disney said.

A corkage fee of $25 will apply to carry-on wine or champagne consumed in the dining room.

Spirits or wine and beer in excess of the limits will be safeguarded until the end of the cruise, Disney said.

The policy takes effect for cruises departing on or after Sept. 30.

Themes breathe new life into river routes

By Michelle Baran
Insight It isn’t easy to reinvent the wheel, so one has to give it to the river cruise lines for getting creative with itineraries that go up and down the same rivers week in and week out by crafting unique and engaging themed departures.

River cruise companies have been toying with themed river cruises for years —holiday-themed winter cruises came onto the scene several years ago as a way to extend the river cruise season and continue to be a mainstay in all the river cruise lines’ brochures — but they’re getting more innovative with themes and definitely having more fun with it.

AmaWaterways’ wine-themed cruises have become so popular that the line now dedicates an entire brochure to its In Celebration of Wine cruises. The company also hosts Jewish heritage cruises, chocolate-themed cruises and even knitting cruises: AmaWaterways will have a “Knitting New Year’s Cruise” this year on the Danube, which will showcase the latest in luxury yarns, forums on fashion trends, and classes on new stitch patterns and techniques. The knitting cruise was suggested by one of AmaWaterways’ travel agent partners and will be hosted by Barry Klein, owner of Trendsetter Yarns in Los Angeles. MichelleBaran

For 2014, Avalon Waterways increased its special-interest cruises by 30% to meet demand, adding beer-tasting, golf, wellness and World War I history cruises to an already innovative roster of themed cruises. They also offer cruises based around the themes of art and impressionism, authors, food, wine, music, Jewish heritage and history. Tauck, too, has culinary, art and music-themed cruises.

There are also themes that are more timely, such as the 70th anniversary of D-Day, which many river cruise lines have incorporated into their France itineraries, including Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection.

And stateside, American river cruise lines have endless themes to enhance their Mississippi and Pacific Northwest river itineraries. The American Queen Steamboat Co. has cruises centered on baseball legends, Mardi Gras, music of the 1950s and 1960s, Elvis, bourbon and bluegrass, and many others.

American Cruise Lines has Mark Twain, Lewis and Clark and Civil War cruises, and for the American foodie, lobster cruises and crabfest cruises.

Not convinced by river cruising? Perhaps you’ll be lured in by your love of shellfish … or knitting … or bourbon. Pick your poison.