An article this weekend from the popular cruise community Cruise Critic caught my attention: "Royal Caribbean Removes Passenger from Cruise Ship for Rowdy Behavior."
The article is about Royal Caribbean kicking a passenger off the Rhapsody of the Seas for what is described as "rowdy behavior" that included throwing items overboard while the ship sailed in the south Pacific. The cruise line has a "Guest Conduct" policy which requires the passengers to act responsibility and permits the cruise line to kick them off the cruise when they act badly.
I don't disagree with the notion of removing an unruly passenger from a cruise. But the first thing I thought of was that Royal Caribbean probably over-served the guest too much booze in the first place. I later read comments that the passenger in question was probably drunk when he threw a bunch of stuff overboard and then staggered back to his cabin and passed out.
Royal Caribbean has what it calls a SafeServe policy where it supposedly trains its staff not to over-serve alcohol to passengers. But from the many comments to the incident on the Cruise Critic message board, it seems that the drinking policy is not rigorously enforced. The cruise line also offers an All-You-Can-Drink package which can lead only to more and more drunken conduct.
I have written about Royal Caribbean's drinking policies in the past where the company collects hundreds of millions of dollars in profits a year based on a system where bartenders earning only $50 a day from the cruise line push booze to make tips from the passengers.
Here are some comments to the rowdy passenger article:
"Saw way too much of the drunken behaviour on our last Royal Caribbean Cruise aboard Voyager and I have to agree that alot are now making sure they get their full monies worth with the drinks package and the only way to do that is to make sure you are just about smashed everyday."
"I cannot imagine drinking for ten straight days, actually I can, it's called "leaving Las Vegas" and it starred Nicholas Cage . . ."
So what happens when a cruise line violates its drinking policy and then a passenger breaks the guest conduct policy? Yes, the guest usually gets the boot. But shouldn't the bartenders responsible for over-serving the guest also find themselves on the dock the next morning? Should cruise executives face culpability when excessive serving of alcohol leads to unruly conduct, fights, crimes and people going over-board?
Or is a passenger's drinking problem just his problem alone?
Photo Credit: Cruise Critic