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Carnival Cruise Line Changes an Unpopular Beverage Policy

The cruise line has to balance passenger safety and what customers want. The two aren't always in line.

Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) - Get Free Report has billed its ships the "Fun Ships," and that's accurate: Some of that fun involves families taking advantage of the water slides, pools, shows, and other family-friendly activities onboard.

In some cases, that "fun" is of the adult variety. Carnival has a reputation, especially on shorter cruises, as being a "party" cruise line. Alcoholic beverages, of course, are prominent on not just Carnival cruise ships but also on those of rivals, including its closest competitors Royal Caribbean (RCL) - Get Free Report, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) - Get Free Report, Virgin Voyages, and MSC.

Cruising and drinking often go hand in hand as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian all sell unlimited beverage packages (Virgin sells drinks only a la carte.) In the case of Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and MSC, unlimited truly means unlimited, The cruise lines will shut you off if you appear overly intoxicated, but there's no maximum amount of adult beverages you can consume each day.

Carnival takes a different approach. Its "Cheers!" all-you-can-drink beverage package has a hard cap of 15 alcoholic drinks per day. That's a move made in the interest of passenger safety. 

Recently, the cruise line made another alcohol-related move that passengers were not happy about, and now it's rolling back that change -- at least partly.

Carnival Drink Lead JS 090222

Carnival Made an Unpopular Liquor Change  

In late October Carnival's loyalty ambassador, John Heald, said that the cruise line had decided to no longer allow passengers to order liquor bottles in their cabins.

"My apologies. You will have seen that we no longer have full-bottle liquor sales available on preorder. Hard liquor is no longer available for preorder on our Fun Shops. All existing sales will be honored and guests can still preorder up to two bottles of wine for onboard delivery and consumption," he wrote on his Facebook page.

Heald made clear that the change was being made to ensure passenger safety and not for staffing issues or any revenue-related reason.

The change "will help us monitor drink consumption on board, and I do apologize for any frustration," he added. “This is not a cutback. Not when it affects our revenue can this be called a cutback."

This, as you might imagine, was not a popular change, and the cruise line has decided to revisit its decision.

Carnival Reconsiders Unpopular Alcohol Change

Surprisingly, Carnival has decided to roll back this policy change and allow full-bottle liquor sales on some sailings, Cruisehive reported.

"From Dec. 1, 2022, guests will be able to prepurchase bottles for their staterooms, with a limit of one bottle per stateroom (no matter how many guests are in the stateroom). The policy will not be available on all cruises, however, but only on itineraries of 7 nights or longer," the website reported.

That mild change to the previous policy mitigates the cruise line's risk by not allowing full-bottle liquor sales on shorter sailings. 

On a three- or four-night cruise already drunk passengers may feel pressure to drink a bottle they have paid for. A longer cruise gives them more time to safely take advantage of their purchase.

“As we continue to evaluate the different guest preferences, we are allowing the purchase of one and one only full bottle of liquor prior to embarkation for stateroom delivery when you arrive,” Heald said.

Cruise passengers who buy liquor bottles in port or on the ship have them stored by the ship and delivered to their cabins late on the last night of the cruise.

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