Last week, ABC News aired a report on a woman who is suing Carnival Cruise Lines after falling overboard on the first night of her cruise. The woman admits that she was drunk, and has no recollection of specifically how she ended up going overboard.
The video is terrifying for sure, and it is amazing that the woman survived the fall, much less the hours in the dark ocean after suffering injury in the fall. But is Carnival (or any cruise line) responsible? Or is the woman?
In her lawsuit, the woman alleges that the bartender encouraged her to drink and ultimately over-served her, which indirectly led to her falling off the ship. On one hand, the cruise lines are very hesitant to say “no” to a paying customer. After all, this is a vacation away from the ordinary. On the other hand, we have all seen that out of control drunk passenger who should have been cut off many drinks ago.
In this instance, I think that both Carnival and the passenger need to share some of the blame. In many jurisdictions in the US, a server can be liable if they continue to serve an obviously intoxicated patron. No such law exists for the cruise lines; but perhaps some self-policing might go a long way and solve some problems for everyone.
An overly intoxicated passenger is no fun for anyone. The crew needs to deal with their antics, fellow passengers are typically irritated, and accidents happen with impaired judgment. As for the drunk…well, who wants to spend a vacation with a hangover?
Today’s technology allows all sorts of controls to be programmed into the cruise card. We have photos, cabin and payment information, dates of birth, and likely a lot more information than the cruise lines are comfortable admitting. How difficult would it be to allow a guest to have X drinks per day/hour before flagging the card? It could be a two-step process as well. Hit the limit and trained bartender makes the call to serve or not. Hit a secondary limit and they are cut off. Of course there will be belligerent folks and the cruise lines will have to deal with that—they deal with belligerent people hourly. And there will be passengers who beat the system and more power to them.
But by limiting the amount of alcohol served (and I realize this is cutting into profit for the lines), you will also eliminate a lot of the other issues that result from over-indulgence.
Do you think a statement such as this might fly?
We are committed to your enjoyment of this cruise, along with the other 3500 passengers, and encourage you to drink responsibly to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you. Our policy allows for X drinks per day after which, you may be denied service. If you feel this policy is burdensome, please bring it to the attention of the Purser.
It lays it out in advance. It gives someone an opportunity to potentially modify it. But most importantly, it gets the passenger thinking about the consequences before they are drunk.
What are your thoughts? Do you think alcohol should be restricted? What about land based vacations? It’s not an easy decision by any means, but let’s talk about it!