Tuesday, June 19, 2007


So, uh, I have this *friend*. This *friend*, who is traveling … to, um …. someplace in Canada. For an, um … important business trip. So this *friend* was just wondering, since she and her husband and friends co-workers are going to have some down time, they were just wondering about alcohol. Specifically, if they wanted to get alcohol on a cruise ship into a business resort in Canada, would they need to actually purchase it in Canada, or could they purchase it in Seattle …. Er, I mean, New York. Yes, they’re definitely traveling from New York. Or maybe North Dakota.

So, could they purchase their alcohol in New York and drive it across the border into Canada, or is that something that would be confiscated by Border Patrol? Is there even such a thing as Border Patrol? Is that what they mean by Customs? Does it need to be in plastic bottles? Glass? Any particular size? Should it be packed away in the luggage, or should they declare it? And speaking of Customs, does it matter that Blaine and I …. Uh, I mean, MY FRIEND, doesn’t even have her passport yet, despite the fact she obsessive-compulsively followed the Travel Department’s instructions and took the requisitely-hideous passport photo and filled out the forms and ordered it almost FOUR MONTHS AGO because of those insane new passport restrictions and she was told she’d have it way before now but she doesn’t and if they try and stop me -- I mean, HER, from getting on that boat, heads will roll, people, heads will roll.

So, anyway, about the booze. Can we buy it in the States, or do we buy it in Canada? (Come on, you know it’s for me … who am I kidding? Although my mother did make me promise I wouldn’t get drunk and fall off the boat. Thanks, mom, for the vote of confidence.)


Anonymous said...

Hey Kristie
Can't help you with the US/Canada thing as I live in Australia ... Sorry! :o) Hope you get it figured out.
Just wanted to let you know that the new Stephanie Plum novel came out yesterday (australian time - or today, US time) and even if you're not hooked after reading One for the Money, I'd say try one of the later books in the series - Lean Mean Thirteen is the funniest one yet. Janet Evanovich just gets better and better :o)
Anyway, I hope that you have a great holiday!

Rach (Australia)

Terrie said...

I don't know about the booze, I always fly south of the border and buy duty free in the airport. Just phone a travel agent - they are up on all of those rules. I believe as long as you have proof that you have submitted your passport they will let you in to Canada. Canadian rules on passports are nearly the same as American ones, but I believe we are giving you guys a bit of a break because of the backlog you are all experiencing (and we don't want to lose tourists!). Also, make sure you bring some warm clothes. We (in British Columbia anyway) have not been experiencing a very warm summer yet at all. Do you know what ports you will be stopping in?

Marcia said...

You should be fine bringing your booze across, as long as you say it's for your own consumption, not for a gift. When we come back into Canada, we can bring a big bottle of liquor or wine each, but not a jug! But, we're Canadian, so we have to claim that at customs. When I travel into the States, they don't ask me if I'm bringing booze. They care more about citrus fruit, meat, etc.
We don't have to have passports for driving yet, but do for flying. That's to get into the US. We had to get ours, even though we drove in March, because the cruise out of Miami required it. Because your ports will just be in Canada and the US, you might be ok. We applied for ours just a couple of weeks before traveling, and got them a couple of days before leaving. We were just a bit worried!!!
Good luck!!

Anonymous said...


I have a "friend" who grew up 10 miles from the Canadian Border, in MN... and now travels from Grand Forks, ND to that little part of MN that sticks up like a chimney, to get to my parent's (ahhh I mean her parent's) cabin. Although the cabin is in MN, I have (I mean "she has") to travel through Canada to get there by car... so she goes through Canadian & US customs frequently during the summer months. You can bring alcohol into Canada, but need to delare it, and can only bring a limited about without having to pay "duty" (tax). This link might help:

Otherwise, try searching the web... I also found some sites for alcohol treatment in Canada, just in case your friend needs it. = ) (I typed in "how much alcohol can I bring into canada")

When you cross the border, the Customs Agent (person who works for the Canadian or US Goverment depending on which country you are tring to enter) will also ask how long you plan on staying in their country, if you have any alcohol, tobacco or firearms... if you do, it is best to be honest with them regarding what you have because they can strip search you, go through your luggage, & even dismantle your vehicle. (THAT would be a humorous blog entry to read though....) And, yes, there is a division of the US Government that is called the Border Patrol, but I am not sure if the Customs Agents work for that division (but it would seem to make sense??)

I hope your passport arrives soon! I also have heard of breaks due to not having your passport yet as Terrie mentioned. Her suggestion of checking with a travel agent makes sense to me!

I am so excited to hear Janet Evanovich has a new book out in the Stephanie Plum series. I will have to check it out! (and my husband thinks I am wasting time on the computer, ha!)

Tell your friend to have a great trip! = )

A friend (I mean Rachel) in Grand Forks, ND

Kristie said...

Terrie, we're spending one day in Ketchikan (flightseeing through the Misty Fjords), one day in Juneau (whale watching with Captain Larry), one day in Skagway (taking a helicopter to the top of a glacier and then dog-sledding across -- holy crap, does it get any more exciting than that????) and then three days on our own in Seward, after the cruise, where we have a one-day excursion deep-sea fishing (please, God, let the dramamine work) and one day taking a nine-hour charter cruise through the Kenai Fjords.

I am seriously so excited for this trip that I pretty much wet my pants a little every day.

Seriously!!! :)

Anonymous said...

LOL! Ok, your alcohol worries seem to be covered by other commenters (limited amount, do declare it or you will piss them off, and lose it, if they search you and find it anyway)... I saw on the news yesterday that people are coming into Canada without passports all the time without trouble, just bring all your other ID and you should be fine. Have a fabulous trip! :)

PS they sell alchohol in Canada too, just in case you need, uh, more ;-)

Christie (http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/christie)

Pink Lady said...

I'm not sure about the alcohol (but I think another Rachel answered that for you.) I do know that they have granted an extension about needing passports due to the backlog of applicants. (I waited 4 months for mine and we're still waiting on my husband's.) You don't need a passport to drive across the border yet anyway (I think not until 2008.) I think you need your birth certificate with ID, though. Have a great time!

Rachel, Dallas TX

laughing mommy said...

We go to Canada 3 or 4 times a year because my husbands family lives there. The border patrol ALWAYS ask if we have alcohol, tobacco and firearms. They really tax alcohol and tobacco in Canada and have very strict gun control laws... maybe that is the reason they are always asking.

I'd buy in Canada just to be safe, because they can take anything away from you that they want and JUST NOT GIVE IT BACK. How do I know this for sure? Because I tried to bring fresh mangos (probably 20 or so) across the border and they TOOK THEM AND DID NOT GIVE THEM BACK.

Oh, and one time my friends went across the border and lied to the border patrol guy... they very nearly got their car confiscated. We really thought they might not get their car back.

If you are driving across the border you don't need a passport until 2008 but if you are flying into Canada I think you need it now. That is the way I understand it at least.

The moral of this story is, don't mess with the border patrol guys. They will always win.

laughing mommy said...

A couple more things...

If you don't take a passport take photo ID and your birth certificates. They ALWAYS ask for it.

Hints for successful border crossing without being pulled over for a search...

In my 17 years of crossing the border I've learned that I get the best results by taking off my sunglasses and/or any hat I might have on, have ID ready, have window rolled down, and lean towards the border person and look them in the eye. Have answers ready to these questions...

1. How long will you be in Canada?
2. Are you bringing any gifts?
3. What is the total value of the gifts?
4. What is the dollar amount of the most expensive gift (hint: anything over $100 and they will make you pay duty).
5. Do you have any alcohol, tobacco or firearms in the vehicle? (Sweet Fancy Moses, TELL THE TRUTH!)

Anonymous said...

Driving it across should be okay, but you may not be allowed to bring it onboard ship with you. I know Norwegian will let you buy alcohol ahead of time through them (about $55/ bottle) and it will be delivered to your room. Otherwise there are other ways to get it onboard that may/may not work. :)
Email me if you want suggestions.
Ali in CO (a123gator@aol.com)

cate said...

They are giving people crossing the border a break, but you need to be able to prove you have attempted to get a passport. Also, take along your birth certificate and photo ID. Don't forget a sweatshirt.

Lisa said...

I have no idea about the booze either. What I do remember (from a trip to Canada in 1993) was that petrol (gas/fuel) for the car was waaaaay cheaper than here in England, beer was expensive and the price of cheese left us Brits speechless it was so dear. Beautiful country, lovely people. Clean, tidy country. Really, really tidy!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure about the border thing but I know that the best way to smuggle it on the boat is in the little plastic "airplane" bottles hidden in your luggage. The cruise ships REALLY want your booze money and may still confiscate it. As for the passport, call them now. My friend was going to Mexico and she ended up having to go to some central office in another state to get it. Her brother from Atlanta had to make a trip to Miami. Sorry, I know that's not what you want to hear!

Anonymous said...

Feel free to pack it and if they asked why you didn't claim it be like its alcohol why would I claim it, should I claim my underware too? Your not planning on selling it, alcohol is not illegal in Canada so your all good. As for the passport you are off the hook till 2009 according to the new law they just passed turns out that the passport office was so jammed they screwed a lot of people up so they are delaying it, pretty sure canada is just a walk through state like mexico but you can actually check the us government site and since blain i mean your "friends" husband is in the military i doubt they will hassel you and if worse comes to worse do what my mom did.. hey he has cancer are you really going to bother him

Anonymous said...

better have your passport before you cross the border, or, they won't let you in. You can buy your booze at the border before you cross over, it's called duty free. And yes, if customs officer searches your car/luggage, they will confiscate your booze.

good luck. (where in canada are you going)?

nancy irving (toronto, canada)

Patjohnwi said...

My sisters and I just came back from Canada. You will need a certified copy of your birth certificate (which you probably sent in with your passport application) and your marriage license.

Amy and Jason said...

Kristie -

Don't know about the border thing, but you may have difficulty getting on board. Most cruise ships WON'T allow you to bring your own liquor on board with you. Now, you may be able to bring a small amount on board with you without being noticed, but trying to bring bottles of booze on board probably won't fly. You should check with your cruise line before you "load-up"!

I do hope you have a great time!!!


Deb said...

You shouldn't need a passport unless you are flying. (I would be less worried about getting into Canada then I would be about getting back into the US at the end of the trip.) You can go online and check the status of your passport. If you call during the day, a recording will tell you that agents won't speak to you unless you are travelling within the next 7-14 days. Then you will be put on hold for 13 minutes (I timed it), then the line will disconnect. The best bet is to check the status online or call 1st thing in the morning, like at 6 or 7 am.

As far as alcohol goes, it's best to make sure the seal on the bottle is unbroken. It seems to me that there can be an issue if the bottle was already opened.

My husband was on a business trip to Australia and when he went through customs, the agent asked if they were packing any animals, produce or BEEF JERKEY. The agent asked several times about the jerkey, but we never figured out why. I guess there is a serious jerkey smuggling ring down under or something.

Wilson said...

We practically live at the border. My kids grew up thinking Canada was the 51st state until they got to 5th grade social studies.

My question is why bring it across when you can purchase it there so easily? And they have such cool beer in Canada - like Bradors. My husband always sent me across to bring back a case or two of beer, as no one thinks twice about a mom with three little kids in the back seat. I always declared it and said it was for personal consumption - and then was let through. Now that the kids are older, old enough to drink in Canada but not NY, I don't think I could pass through so easily.

I would not bother with the hassle of declaring at the border and just make the purchases on the other side.

And on the way back, you can buy your medicines. They do not require a prescription for codeine based cough medicine or Tylenol 3.

The Running Girl said...

Hope you get your passport soon. but I did hear they are going to backtrack and loosen up the restrictions since it has been taking so long. I think you'll be fine with a birth certificate if it doesn't come.

Don't know about the booze part, but you may want to go to cruisecritic.com and check out the forums. Before we went on our cruise last year I was on there daily and learned lots of valuable tips. And there are always questions on there regarding alcohol.


Marcia said...

We just cruised on Carnival, and we were allowed to bring a small amount of alcohol onboard. We brought wine and had no problem. The large family who sat near us in the diningroom brought glasses of wine to the table with them each night. I don't think you could take a case or anything. :o)

britt said...

i did the same cruise a couple of years ago. It really is an awesome trip. Here are a few little tidbits of advice i can give. When you go on the glacier make sure you dress appropriately-it is a lot colder up there than it looks. We also took train ride in Skagway or Ketchikan (can't remember which one) and it was the best scenery we saw on the trip. My mom enjoyed the shopping in Ketchikan as well. Oh, and look for the Northern Lights-we saw them really late one night.
As far as alcohol goes-don't sweat it too much. My father put half the hometown liquer store wrapped in parkas in his suitcase-no one ever even questioned him. I would just bring with you what you want and the worst thing that can happened is it gets taken away.
Give me a shout if you have any questions and have a great trip!

Anonymous said...

OK Kristie, it looks like the pass port thing may be covered. I sent in my passport information on the same day as a friend and he got his weeks before I got mine. I think there is a website or phone number to call and check the status. I'm sorry that's not much help.
The liquor for your friend, well I believe cruise critics website and some others give you suggestions on how to "smuggle" it on board. Not that I would recommend this to your friend. They also tell you the rules for most ships. (taking DDP in the suitcase works to, but I woundn't know) Hope that helps and have a GREAT time.

jessie said...

Land and sea travelers are encouraged to have a valid U.S. passport. If they do not have a passport, they should be prepared to provide a government-issued photo ID (e.g. Driver's License) and proof of U.S. citizenship such as a U.S. birth or naturalization certificate.


Anonymous said...

You should try to get your passport if possible. You don't need it if you are traveling by sea, road or rail, but it's a good idea in the event that "your friend" gets ill or injured and needs to be flown back to the US.

Denise Tidwell said...

I know you are excited..I still dream about the place. Seriously, we have considered moving...Ty and I are both nurses. We researched the hospitals and everything. As you remember, we went on the 13 day land/shore excursion and had our bags changing places every 2 days until we got on our ship the last 7 days. No alcohol was lost or broken. We intended to buy on the ship, which had a great sale one day. No kidding this happened: we were at an art auction on the ship (free champagne was served and we learned alot about art all week:) Anyway, the ship began to tip...seriously, I though we were going over-but you'll be fine though really don't worry!! The entire alcohol store was closed the rest of the time because ALL the bottles slid/fell off the shelves! The whole lobby smelled like a brewery. I hung out in the lobby alot:)... But seriously, you will have a blast! Can't wait to see the pics. Send me a link to you pics online when you get them uploaded. Take care.

lizinsumner said...

Well, I live 3 hours south of BC and haven't gone up there in almost 25 years, but I have a good friend who comes down to visit here - and she says: photo ID and birth certificate required in lieu of a passport. Also, your American dollar is worth more in Canada than the US, and their beer has a higher alcohol content (cough, cough - or, at least it USED to)....as for smuggling things onto the boat, I've never cruised so you're on your own there....however, I've had good luck with putting my lattes in my oversized sweater or coat pockets at the movie theater and then moving smoothly and slowly until I can take it out again (I must warn you, however, that without some type of lid on the cup, this can be VERY risky!!). How come you're not sailing out of Puget Sound (Seattle)????!! Deep sea fishing (i.e., no land in sight)???? Lots and lots of dramamine!!!!!!!!!! Captain Larry???? Wear your life vests at all times!! (And have fun!!)!

lizinsumner said...

Oh, forgot to say....they sell chocolate, candy eggs with the cutest little toys inside them in Canada - called Kinder Eggs; they're illegal to sell in the US (but not to possess) due to choking hazards. However, your kids are old enough to not choke and I bet they'd love them. They should be all over, in lots of stores - I'd recommend bringing some back (declare at border, of course)!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kristie: About your booze. Pack it in your suitcase wrapped in your clothes to protect the bottles from breaking. You shouldn't have any trouble at all going across the border. We took a cruise to Alaska in 2001 and they got on the bus and just looked at us. We were a tour group so didn't have any problems.
As for the cruise ship. You are not allowed to have your own liquor on there so just keep it hidden in the closet or in the drawers. You don't want to have to buy it on the ship because individual drinks are so expensive. Alot of people just bring it on and don't say anything. Hope that you have a fantastic trip - Alaska is beautiful. I especially loved Skagway.

Liz from Maryland

Anonymous said...

Hey Kristie,
Along the lines of what Cate said ... I saw on the news the other night that all you have to do is show proof that you applied for a passport since they are so behind. However, going into Canada seems to be easy. Here's what I got off of a website:

Current Requirements for Entry Into Canada

Visas are not required for U.S. citizens entering Canada from the U.S. You will, however, need:
proof of your U.S. citizenship such as your U.S. passport or certified copy of your birth certificate issued by the city, county or state in the U.S. where you were born. If you are a naturalized U.S. citizen and do not have a passport, you should travel with your naturalization certificate. A driver’s license, voter’s registration card or Social Security card is NOT valid proof of citizenship.
photo identification, such as a current, valid driver’s license.

Have fun! Be safe :)
~Jen in Texas

Cari said...

I don't know anything about the Canadian boarder, but for any cruising questions I would totally recommend www.cruisecritic.com. It has the BEST information for anything cruise related. You will learn everything you need to know about cruising (like smuggling booze)!!

Daisy Duke said...

When traveling to Ireland this last March, my passport never came. And I learned, the day before I flew to Ireland, that there are people at your local friendly Congressmen's office whose entire job is to fix their constituents passport problems. They made some phone calls, I went into the office at 3pm armed with only a drivers license & some small photos and a receipt showing I had mailed all earthly possesions showing who I was to the passport agency 3 months prior, and I walked out with a passport & was allowed into Ireland. Moral of the story, if you or anyone you know is having passport issues, call your Congress person's office & whine/beg/yell/ask nicely and they should be able to help you out.

Anonymous said...

Kristie, I saw on the local Houston news tonight that if you don't get your passport (and don't get your congressman to get it for you), all you need to get back in the USA is proof that you applied for your passport and you get that on the web.

But to get INTO the other country you need a certified birth certificate, which you may have sent off w/ your passport application. So you may need to write for another certified birth certificate.

As far as the alcohol, don't let the cruise see you bringing booze on the boat. I've seen them confiscate it dockside and not give it back till the last night of the cruise. Not that I would every DREAM of buying Rum in Puerto Rico to have on the boat. No not me, ever!

Claire in TX