RCI Lowers Drinking Age

November 26, 2001
In what appears to be, on surface, a curious policy change, Royal Caribbean is revising its drinking rules to allow younger passengers to partake of beer and wine onboard -- within limits. The company has lowered the minimum drinking age fleetwide from 21 to 18. That only applies, however, when the ship is at sea or at a port of a country where the legal limit is 18. Which means bars onboard at U.S. ports will respect the 21-and-up rules. RCI says it’s making the changes fleetwide because its experience lowering the drinking age on Splendor of the Seas, which attracts a large European contingent, was a positive one. Other cruise lines, such as Carnival, are in no hurry to break rank and follow suit. A Carnival spokeswoman says the line is maintaining the age 21 minimum for all alcohol purchases – “no exception” for beer and wine. RCI is known for other unusual -- meaning not adopted by other cruise lines -- alcohol-related policies. The cruise line raised much ire last summer with the discovery that it was prohibiting passengers -- and we mean the 21-and-up variety -- from bringing any alcohol onboard for consumption in private cabins (or at dining venues) unless a corkage fee was paid. Passengers who want to drink alcoholic beverages in their cabins were welcome to, according to the policy, as long as they bought them at a ship-board bar or boutique. Despite a fairly unprecedented traveler backlash, the cruise line has so far stood firm on the policy -- yes, it’s still in effect -- and claims that part of the rationale for such a rule is that it reduces the chance of minors getting their hands on the stuff. In a letter to Cruise Critic last summer that justified rationale for the rule, Adam Goldstein, Royal Caribbean’s senior vp for guest relations wrote “we'd also likely be increasing drunken juvenile behavior, and the inherent safety risks and comfort level for the majority of our guests.”