Paul Ash, who writes columns for the Times Live in Johannesburg under the name "The Wanderer," addresses the issue of violence by cruise passengers in an interesting article entitled "Punch-Ups and Brawls on Cruise Ships: Whose Fault is it Anyway?"
The article mentions what is described as a "mini-rampage" on the P&O cruise ship Ventura while the ship was at sea. Also mentioned is the brawl between six Carnival passengers who punched, scratched and bit it out with police in Antigua over a dispute with a taxi driver over, depending on who you believe, either a $50 or $100 taxi fare.
Mr. Ash’s article raises a couple of interesting issues.
Are cruise lines inviting rowdier crowds on board with discount tickets? And what happens when, as Mr. Ash puts it, "the happy and careless rich collide with the hungry and resentful poor?"
One of the subscribers to this blog commented on an earlier article about the danger presented when vacationing families intersect with the hard partying younger crowd who are enticed to cruise with the lure of cheap three-day booze cruises. I compare the situation to going on a cruise with Kid Rock – I love his music but I wouldn’t want to take my family on a cruise with his posse partying next door.
As reported by Mr. Ash, a BBC2 television host Jeremy Vine recently questioned Carnival CEO Micky Arison about this problem of violence associated with cheap cruise tickets and a more diverse group of passengers.
“Cruise ships are a microcosm of any city or any location and stuff happens . . . The negatives of discounting might be less commission for agents and less revenue for us but the positive is it opens up the product to a wider audience.”
The "wider audience" will undoubtedly include a younger crowd from a different demographic, including what I call the hard partying "Bud Light – tank top" crowd.
Mr. Ash concludes his article with the following thought:
"I can’t think anything I’d rather less do than go on holiday with five thousand three hundred and ninety-nine other people. Imagine the rush for the boats – or taxis – during shore excursions. Imagine the stress of finding a space by the pool. Or queuing for dinner. One may as well go to the Med and scrap with the Russians and Germans for sun loungers. No wonder people get punchy. Who wouldn’t?"
Complicating matters is the huge amount of alcohol which the cruise lines sell to the passengers, which often leads to drunken brawls in the bar and discos and sometimes around the pools. It will be interesting to see how Carnival and the other cruise lines handle the "wider audience" flocking onto the larger cruise ships. If cruise ships are like cities and "stuff happens," what steps are they taking to protect U.S. families?
Will the cruise lines elect to hire a full complement of well trained and experienced security guards? Or will they continue to try and save money with only 2 or 3 inexperienced "guards" trying to protect 2,000 or 3,000 passengers?