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The expression “booze cruise” doesn’t just exist because it’s a convenient rhyme. From Champagne Brunches to happy hours to all-you-can-drink packages, there’s certainly no shortage of alcohol aboard cruise ships. But all the libations can be problematic, with intoxicated passengers more likely to get into an accident due to poor judgment, lack of coordination, or even manipulative crew members.


Here’s a quick look at how the culture of cruises has led to excessive drinking and associated accidents.


Drinking is an Expectation on Many Cruises


Cruise ships are vacation vessels, and for many passengers, letting loose and drinking is what they plan to do on their vacation. Cruise lines know that people want to drink on their ships, and they often take advantage of this by significantly marking up their beverage prices or even offering an all-you-can-drink package. (Carnival defends their all-you-can-drink package by saying that they cut passengers off after 15 drinks, which would put a 200-pound male passenger at a BAC of .305, a ridiculously high level of intoxication.)


Passengers aren’t letting the price of alcohol deter them, either. Although most major cruise lines prohibit passengers from bringing their own alcohol aboard, many passengers who don’t want to pay for the cruise’s drinks simply sneak their own alcohol onto the ship. A quick Google search for “cruise ship alcohol” reveals that most first-page results are dedicated to teaching readers how to sneak alcohol onto cruises. Some companies even manufacture non-metal flasks and other products specifically aimed at cruise-goers who want to get alcohol past security.


Over-serving Leads to Overboard Accident on Carnival Cruise


Cruise ships pose certain unique risks to intoxicated passengers, and those who overindulge may have a lot more to worry about than just a hangover in the morning. Sarah Kirby learned that the hard way, after experiencing a horrifying, headline-making accident as a result of being over-served on a Carnival Cruise ship.


Ms. Kirby was celebrating her 30th birthday with a group of friends and told ABC News that “everyone was drinking to excess.” She recalls standing near the railing, looking at the water, and suddenly falling 100 feet to the water below, where she had to tread water until the crew rescued her. Ms. Kirby is now suing Carnival, claiming that one of the ship’s bartenders encouraged her to drink to excess by offering her more free $5 tokens the more she drank.


Drunk Passengers Endanger Themselves and Others


Drunk Passengers Endanger Themselves and OthersWhile Ms. Kirby’s accident may be an extreme example, injuries do occur to both drunk passengers and the people around them on cruise ships. If you check out the popular website Cruise Critic, you’ll find plenty of reviewers who have commented on drunk passengers throwing pool chairs and other objects, running up and down the halls yelling, and even getting kicked off the cruise for rowdy behavior.


While cruise lines may say they encourage passengers to drink responsibly, they also need to take more responsibility for their role in promoting excessive alcohol consumption on their ships. Selling alcohol may help the cruise business’s bottom line, but it’s unacceptable to over-serve passengers, take a lax approach to alcohol smuggling onboard, and allow drunk passengers to continue endangering themselves and others.


Remember, if you’re going on a cruise this summer, know your drinking limits, and talk to a security officer as soon as possible if you see a drunk passenger behaving recklessly. If you do suffer an injury because of an intoxicated passenger or because the cruise over-served you, contact an experienced cruise accident attorney.


About the Author:

Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of The Law Office of Andrew Winston. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”—an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state—and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”