Tag-Archive for » Drinking on ships «

Drinking Age at Sea 'Land-driven'

Quite a few years ago, our daughter was 19 and legally allowed to drink in Canada, which is her home. Her brother, four years older, was working in Florida and she was going for a party…er, a visit.

In Florida, the partying (drinking) age is 21. She creatively "became" 21 in the eyes of the servers and…party on.

For cruise lines, the discrepancy in drinking age in different countries has been a thorny issue. Europeans are legal in many countries at 18. On cruise ships, the policy is almost always 21. Until recently, two of them — Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises — allowed anybody under 21 to drink on ships only with written consent from parents, who also had to be on board.

That has changed.

Today on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity ships, young adults can drink legally if they are 18 and on ships that sail from South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. If the ship sails from North America, they have to be 21. In other words, the law of the land applies at sea…depending on which land it is you left. And what happens if you board a ship in Barcelona and disembark in Fort Lauderdale? At what point in the journey do you become three years older?

Advocating a lower drinking age in the U.S. is a contentious issue, at best. Yet allowing young adults to fight for their country (and presumably consume a little alcohol in the process) is quite okay.

Time for a little worldwide uniformity, perhaps?

Carnival Fascination
5 nights
March 10, 2013
San Juan (return): St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Maarten
Inside: $489
Cost per day: $73

Drinking Legally on Cruise Ships

On the surface, any time a drinking age is lowered, it’s considered to be a bad thing, and no doubt Royal Caribbean is going to feel the heat now that it’s announced the drinking age on its ships is dropping from 21 to 18.

There is, however, another side to the story.

Several years ago, our then-20-year-old daughter was legal to drink where she lived. She was traveling with us to Florida, where drinking age is 21 and where her brother was attending the “school of Disney.” It seemed bizarre or at the very least unfortunate.

With cruise lines, the dilemma is many customers whose home is outside the U.S., specifically Europe. A quick check shows that in at least 95% of European countries, the drinking age limit is 18. In most of the rest of the world, it is 18. The U.S. is one of the few places where it’s as high as 21.

Now you can debate the pros and cons of what’s too young and what isn’t forever, but when you have a business that serves alcohol — like Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines — and you want to abide by the law, you have every right to adjust the drinking age in international waters.

By making it 18, Royal Caribbean is being responsible by adopting what most of the world believes should be legal. Presumably when ships are sailing in international waters, it could be even younger.

Celebrity Century
7 nights
May 13, 2012
Vancouver return to Alaska: Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Ketchikan, Inside Passage
Inside: $719

Having Fun…'Friends of Bill W'

One of our dearest friends, Jean-Guy Pelletier, passed away suddenly a few weeks ago, but he will live in us forever, for too many reasons to explain here. One reason, however, will be with us every time we set foot on a cruise ship.

Our friend was proof that you can have fun without drinking. He belonged to AA. The last time he’d had a drink was 22 years ago. The last time he made somebody laugh was two days before he died. He laughed a lot, and he had fun. Always.

He’d been on a cruise ship and easily managed to avoid the constant flow of alcohol. He may have even gone to a “Friends of Bill W” meeting, because they’re on all cruise ships all the time, and he had been to hundreds of such meetings over the last two decades.

It’s likely that not all AA members were so fortunate. On cruise ships, alcohol is more than just prevalent. Walking the deck during drinking (waking) hours means being asked to buy a drink, because booze is a big profit center for cruise lines. The unspoken inference is that you can’t have fun without it, and perhaps cruise lines should educate waiters who could be encouraging those who are vulnerable.

Yesterday we read about a woman who went on Cunard’s Queen Victoria a couple of months after she quit drinking. She was astounded at how often she had to make that decision. She went to a Friends of Bill W meeting and was there by herself, she never gave in to her demons…and she had fun.

Our friend Jean-Guy would have liked that.

All-You-Can-Drink Alcohol Policy

One of the appealing things about cruising, it seems to us, is that there are really no surprises. You sail somewhere for seven days. You spend seven nights in the same bed. You eat 21 or so meals, and you pretty well know what the quality will be, give or take a pork chop. Drinks are extra.

You don’t expect surprises. On our first cruise, paying for soft drinks was a surprise. It just never occurred to us that they wouldn’t be included on such an all-inclusive vacation. That has never changed, almost without exception.

Eventually, you could buy one-day all-you-can-drink soda passes.

Now, using an idea first floated on Celebrity ships, Royal Caribbean is introducing the same policy for alcohol drinks on three of its ships.

Here are the options:
• For $29 a day, unlimited beer and house wine, and 25% discount on other drinks
• For $39 a day, add “all liquor” and cocktails to the package, except premium and specialty brands
• For $49 a day, add all wine that sells for up to $10 a glass and premium liquor

Celebrity, which is owned by Royal Caribbean, received a positive response to the package. If Royal Caribbean customers feel the same way, it’s only a matter of time until every ship in the fleet follows suit. If that happens, it could become an industry trend.

It would seem customers will like the opportunity to be able to budget for booze, rather than find at the end of a cruise that you bill is bigger than you expected. Will it encourage passengers to drink more on a ship? Probably not. When people are on a vacation with no need for a designated driver, their consumption is not normally dictated by the dollar.

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