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Cruises are meant to be fun. The things that attract people to take a cruise are the prospects of all the amazing food, exciting shows, exotic destinations – and alcohol.

Many people like to drink when they’re on vacation. Cruise ships are like giant floating resorts with multitudes of entertainment built around the culture and atmosphere of alcohol. Most cruise ships have multiple bars and clubs where people can go to get drinks and have a good time.

But what happens when someone imbibes too much and gets hurt on a cruise? Who is responsible, then? Maritime law is a complex topic, and the answer to this query is no less complex. That’s why you should continue reading to find out who is responsible for your injuries if you get hurt on a cruise while consuming alcohol.

Dram Shop Laws

States like Florida have what are called dram shop laws. These laws make it the duty of the establishment serving alcohol to stop serving someone who is intoxicated. In some states, these dram shop laws aren’t simply for bars and nightclubs. They even apply to places like hotels that rent rooms to minors who occupy the room to use it as a place to drink.

Under Florida law, bartenders and bar owners aren’t made responsible for injuries or death of a patron merely because they served them alcohol – even if they were intoxicated.

On land, Florida only allows people to submit claims against a bar owner or bartender if they knew the person they were serving was a minor or a habitual drinker, but they served them anyway. And there’s a high burden of proof for that.

Dram Shop Laws on Cruise Ships?

Once you step on board a cruise ship, a whole new set of laws apply to the situation when it comes to drinking and liability. Maritime law is the type of law that generally governs cruise lines out at sea. Under maritime law, companies that own cruise ships must exercise reasonable care to ensure the safety of those on board.

Previous case law has shown that the courts will side with passengers and that Florida’s dram shop laws have no place on boats that leave from Florida ports. If the crew on the ship was negligent, then it is possible for someone who is injured due to being overserved on a cruise ship to sue for damages.

How To Sue a Cruise Line

When you book a cruise, the cruise line issues you a ticket. The ticket they provide is a contract between you and the cruise line. On it, you’ll find the terms that tell you expressly how to file a claim against the cruise line and how long you have to do it.

Most cruise lines will require a lawsuit to be filed in their home jurisdiction, which differs with each cruise line. It’s not necessarily the port you departed or the destination you sailed to. If you file in the wrong place, your entire lawsuit can be thrown out, and you could be left with no legal remedy for your situation.

Find a Lawyer with Maritime Law Expertise

Just because a lawyer handles personal injury claims does not mean they’re the best to help you pursue your case. You need a lawyer with experience and expertise in maritime law since these laws are so different from other types of legal practice areas. Navigating the laws that are particular to cruise ship lines is needed to ensure your success.

How to Enjoy Alcohol on the High Seas

Just because there’s a chance that something bad may happen when you drink on a cruise doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a cocktail. The key is ensuring you’re safe and doing what you can to take care of yourself.

You can do a few simple things to enjoy yourself, have a few drinks, and do your part to keep yourself safe that can be applied to both a cruise and when you’re on land. You should:

Understand Your Limits

Most people have had too much to drink at some point, so you should know where your limit is. You’ll have a much better vacation if you think about your limits and try not to push them.

Have Water

Tropical climates on most cruises mixed with alcohol are a recipe for disaster if you don’t throw some water in the mix. Make sure to have a glass of water with each drink you have. This helps keep you hydrated and helps your body process the alcohol you are drinking.


About the Author:

Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all personal injury cases, focusing on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in representing injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, and has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2022– an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2022, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019-2022.