An online news sources today published an article entitled "Drinks for Teens on Royal," which states that Royal Caribbean has lowered the drinking age for passengers onboard sailings operated outside of North America.
The article states that "while the minimum age of consumption for sailings in North America remains at 21, the limit for passengers onboard sailings originating in South America, Europe, Asia and Australia has been lowered from 21 to 18."
According to the article, Royal Caribbean said the move would “eliminate the competitive disadvantage” when young adults compare the line’s alcohol policy to other cruise lines and other international vacation venues. This new policy eliminates the waiver policy, currently in place for passengers aged 18, 19 or 20 traveling with a parent or guardian.
Based on my experiences with this cruise line over the last decade, there is a direct correlation between alcohol consumption and physical altercations and sexual assault, as well as accidental passenger overboards due to intoxication. Selling booze to 18 and 19 year olds on a cruise ship increases the chances that the booze will lead to a fight, or teenagers sharing alcohol with even younger teenagers including 14 - 15 year old girls, or predictably foolish behavior that may lead to a young man going over the rails.
You can read about a young man leaning over the rail to vomit and fall overboard here.
You can read about the connection between alcohol and rape in an article I wrote earlier this year: Latest Royal Caribbean Rape Allegation Reveals Problem of Underage Drinking on Cruises
This dangerous new policy is profit driven. Last week, Business Week reported on this cruise line's third quarter results and alcohol was a major money-maker. Royal Caribbean announced that "that in North America, it saw increased spending by passengers in its 'onboard and other' category, which includes alcohol purchased on the ship . . . "
Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain touted the unlimited booze package as "hugely successful," stating "it's very dramatic how much people like buying the drinks package."
The cruise CEO is right. The amount of beer an 18 year old will try and drink is very dramatic. Unfortunately, I don't hear this cruise line stating that it will pour its alcohol profits into greater security for its passengers.
In August, a non-profit cruise safety organization, the International Cruise Victims, issued a press statement criticizing this cruise line's new "unlimited drink package for one price" program. The ICV press release states:
"ICV strongly condemns Royal Caribbean for promoting the consumption of alcohol on their ships by offering unlimited drinks for one price. Compounding this issue and making the situation even more dangerous is the fact that there are no independent police on any of these ships."
I wonder if teenagers can also buy unlimited booze packages on Royal Caribbean?
What do you think travel agents and cruise fans? Do you want your 18 year old sons and daughters sailing with one of the few cruise lines where teenagers can drink, in an environment where other passengers have purchased unlimited drink packages?
November 11, 2011 Update:
USA Today's CruiseLog has a poll whether the drinking age on cruises should be reduced to 18. You can read about the poll here.
Photo credit: cruisecritic.com