Carnival Cruise BrawlCarnival Cruise Line characterized the recent brawl on the Carnival Legend as limited, isolated and unprecedented. But anyone who follows the cruise industry knows that these type of fights which occur on Carnival ships are hardly rare. 

There literally are dozens of videos on YouTube of fights which have erupted on cruise ships over the years. The vast majority of these brawls occur on Carnival ships. 

There are reasons for this problem, in my opinion:

The "wider audience:" Cruising is now more popular than ever. The cruise line’s trade organization, CLIA, says that over 27 million passengers will take a cruise this year.  Cheaper fares have attracted what Carnival Corporation chairmen Micky Arison characterizes as the "wider audience." Eight years ago in an article titled Cruise Ship Brawls – A Problem that Will Get Bigger with Bigger Ships, I wrote about CEO Arison discussing potential issues associated with cheap cruise tickets and a more diverse group of passengers.

Cruise executive Arison said: “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.” I mentioned that 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.

Too much alcohol on increasingly gigantic ships: Cruise lines aren’t profitable based solely on their cruise fares. Of all "onboard purchases," including casino sales, shore excursions, specialty restaurants and gift shops, alcohol sales are the key to keeping the tax-free foreign flagged cruise ships profitable.  Pushing alcohol sales are a key part of Carnival’s fun ships. Carnival collects literally Carnival Cruise Brawlhundreds of millions of tax-free dollars a year selling booze on the Carnival Cruise Line fleet. Bartenders, who make a earning solely on gratuties and tips, are often prone to over-serve guests. 

Ill trained and and insufficient number of security guards: A common complaint we hear from passengers is that ship security does not intervene at an early stage to stop potentially violent situations from escalting and getting out of hand. Carnival responded to the recent brawl between ship staff and cruise guests by praising its "highly trained security staff." But images of its security personnel and ship officers kicking and beating passengers last week (and trying to stop passengers from filing the out of control violence) speaks volumes about Carnival’s shipboard security and the cruise line’s so-called "zero tolerance" of such violence. In the videos below, the Carnival security personnel are often seen observing the fights or trying to stop people from taking videos of the melees.

Eight years ago, I asked how Carnival will handle the "wider audience" flocking onto its larger cruise ships. If cruise ships are like cities and "stuff happens," as Carnival’s Arison righfully suggests, what steps are cruise lines taking to protect U.S. families? I asked then and will ask now whether Carnival and other cruise lines will ever hire a full complement of well trained and experienced security guards? Or will they continue to try and save money with only a few inexperienced "guards" trying to protect their guests from the inevitable violence when thousands of people squeeze into the huge ships and far too much booze is added to the mess? 

The answer to these questions is contained in the videos below, which I have ranked in order of out-of-control violence. There are far too many videos to include them all here, including the recent brawl aboard the Carnival Legend.  

If you have a video to nominate, send me a link and we can add it to a ten ten list. 

Carnival Dream (2010):

 Carnival Splendor (2010):

 Carnival Ship (2011):

Carnival Glory (2016):

 Carnival Breeze (2015):

 Have a comment? Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

  • Tristan Luke

    The cruise ship dumps 1 BILLION The EPA estimates that single 3,000-person cruise ship pumps 150,000 gallons of sewage into our beautiful oceans a year. They are hideously arrogant and destructive to the oceans, this despite that there are wastewater treatment facilities readily available… they just cost a little money. So they dump raw sewage, and even worse, ‘grey water’ which is toxic chemicals and detergents. Cruise ships are horrible for the planet and the oceans. Boycott these creeps.

  • Keith

    “The vast majority of these brawls occur on Carnival ships.”

    Since that the article is suggesting that brawling is highly
    disproportionate on Carnival Cruise Line ships (not Carnival Corp). What is it that Carnival ships do (or don’t do) differently do to cause this anomaly? It seems that standards are similar around Carnival Corp ships, MSC, RC, etc with regard to Alcohol packages, security and training and policy.
    MSC have Megaships with unlimited alcohol packages and low fares. They recruit from all the same places as Carnival and operate in a similar way but they don’t seem to suffer the same problems as Carnival?
    So then, is it the passenger demographic that is the problem? Are Italians better behaved than Americans. That seems absurd. Are well heeled passengers better behaved than passengers on a budget. That seems equally absurd. What is it that is unique to Carnival ships?

  • Martin

    Seems it is a demographic thing to some extent. Maybe Carnival pax expect trouble on board and it self- fulfills.
    Maybe it is a ”lowbrow” American and Australian thing? Both have similar redneck and downmarket sectors of population… people you would want to stay clear of on land let alone at sea.
    Probably all countries have similar but they don’t all go on cruises.

  • Anon E Moose

    Let’s see the demographic most represented by these fights….Look and see. Wait, it’s not “pc” to notice….