Carnival Bans Bringing Aboard Nonalcoholic Drinks

March 28, 2007

If Cruise Critic was initially skeptical about the motives behind rules banning passengers from bringing their own alcoholic beverages onboard, Carnival's move this week to ban passengers from bringing nonalcoholic drinks onboard has us absolutely confounded.

"What we've been told by our embarkation vice president is that there was abuse of the previous policy," says Carnival's Vance Gulliksen. "That's why the new policy is more restrictive." No additional details were available about the nature of the abuse.

This means that water, juice and soda are as off-limits as vodka, gin and beer.

Folks who require special beverages for medical reasons must bring a note from the doctor in order to bring their drinks onboard.

Carnival's not even the first line to implement such a restriction. In a little noticed policy shift, Royal Caribbean already prohibits bringing nonalcoholic beverages onboard.

If Cruise Critic's boards are any indication -- a thread on the new policy went to nine pages in seemingly an instant -- Carnival's move reignites the old beverage prohibition debate. This began in the early 2000's when cruise lines, following Royal Caribbean's move to prohibit folks from bringing liquor onboard, began tightening their rules. While the change at that time was clearly made with an eye toward forcing folks to buy their liquor onboard, a positive trend emerged: It also cut down on ridiculous and dangerous consumption -- at least to some degree.

But Carnival can't claim that noble rationale with this one.

And, indeed, Cruise Critic members had something to say. "It looks to me like another way to 'nickel and dime' us to death on the ship," writes Howard6933. And, notes Firefly333, “If they go to needing a permission slip from your doctor, I'm going to find another cruise line, its too ridiculous.”

And Rowan555 is putting his money where his, er, mouth is. "I have decided to cancel our upcoming Fantasy cruise and instead give the NCL Spirit a try."

On the other hand, some folks think that this tempest-in-a-water-bottle is silly.
"Nickel and dime?" writes Bbiles, "Are you kidding? You aren't obligated in any way, shape or form to purchase anything else on the ship once you are on the ship. Prices are lower now and have been lower than they were 20 years ago."

What do you think? Vote in our homepage poll.

--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor