Most Useful Things I Brought On My Cruise: No. 5

The case becomes the lever.

The case becomes the lever.

I made a list of the five most useful things I packed for a recent 16-day cruise, a personal list to be sure. This is number 5, not because it was least useful to me but because I have to acknowledge that it’s of use only to wine drinkers. On the other hand, it’s very useful to wine drinkers.

If you’re a beer drinker, substitute a bottle opener. I brought one of those, too.

Anyway, back to wine. Most mass market cruise lines allow you to bring a bottle or two of your own wine on board at embarkation (although not at ports of call, usually.) This is a course of action I highly recommend. You’ll get to choose from a wider variety of wine at a far lower price than you will ever get on board the ship.

Now, if you bring your bottle to the dining room or a bar, you’ll have to pay a corkage fee. (Last I knew: $10 on Carnival, $15 on Norwegian and a ridiculous $25 on Royal Caribbean). But if you drink it in your cabin at no extra charge, well then you need a corkscrew.

A twin to the little plastic screwpull corkscrew pictured above can be had at Wine Enthusiast for $1.50 (plus shipping and handling, of course.) There are several on Amazon, as well. I’ve also seen them at big warehouse liquor stores in the cheap crap display near the checkout. (If you want to get all fancy about it, you can get this so-called pocket wine opener from Le Creuset for $25. But you have to ask yourself, why? Also, how the hell does that thing work?)

Here’s a tip: Don’t pack the corkscrew in your carry-on, at least not just yet. The TSA was planning to allow small corkscrews and knives onto commercial aircraft but it turns out people found the knife thing offensively stupid so the whole plan is on hold.

And here’s a trick: Pour a glass of wine in your cabin and carry it to dinner in the dining room. I haven’t heard of a rule against it, and if there were, who’s to say you didn’t buy the wine in a bar?

Here’s a story: Many years ago, on a wonderful road trip through New Mexico my mother and I ¬†bought a bottle of wine and found that the corkscrew in our rented cottage just did not work. It was one of those two-pronged corkscrews that I have never understood. We struggled for half an hour with that thing before we finally wrenched the cork out of the bottle. We had even hatched a desperate plan to crack the neck of the bottle off with a rock and strain the glass out of the wine with a dish towel. Which is why I no longer leave home without my travel corkscrew.

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