FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – For some cruisers, this could be a buzz kill.
Carnival Cruise Line will prohibit passengers from lugging bottled water, soda or other nonalcoholic drinks on board.
The carry-on ban, which takes effect July 9, is aimed at thwarting the smuggling of alcohol onto ships.
Some cruisers try to sneak alcohol in their luggage or disguise it in bottled beverages in an attempt to avoid hefty bar tabs at sea.
“Guests bringing bottled beverages on board are proving to be a source of multiple issues,” the Miami-based cruise operator said in a statement.
Passengers with bottled beverages are slowing down the boarding process because the items have to go through additional security checks to make sure they do not contain secret stashes of alcohol, Carnival said.
More important, “when behavioral issues occur on board and are ultimately investigated, smuggled alcohol often appears to be a factor,” Carnival said.
The ban also applies when cruise ships are docked in ports.
Cruise passengers will still be allowed to bring up to 12 unopened cans or cartons of nonalcoholic beverages aboard when boarding their cruise, Carnival said.
They also have the option to buy a 12-pack of bottled water for $2.99 plus tax online at Carnival.com/funshops before their cruises or for $4.99 plus gratuities once on board.
The cruise line said it does not expect any bump in revenue from this modified beverage policy, particularly given the discounted price offered on the 12-pack of bottled water.
Cruise lines typically limit the quantities of alcoholic beverages that passengers can bring aboard as beverage packages and specialty restaurants are key sources of revenue.
Carnival, for example offers a Cheers beverage program for $49.99 per person per day plus 15 percent gratuities, which includes all spirits (cocktails, frozen drinks, beer and wine by the glass priced at $10 or less) and sodas and nonalcoholic frozen cocktails, according to a recent check on Carnival.com.
The “Fun Ships” cruise operator isn’t the only major South Florida-based cruise line to limit or prohibit carry-on bottled nonalcoholic beverages.
Passengers of Royal Caribbean International may not bring quantities of bottled waters on their cruise for consumption, a spokesman said Wednesday. But each person can carry a bottle of water to drink while boarding or coming back from port. Royal Caribbean passengers also are allowed to bring aboard two bottles of wine per cabin on boarding day.
Royal Caribbean passengers also have the option of buying single bottles or multipacks of water on board or in advance of their cruise, he said.
Norwegian Cruise Line has no restrictions on guests bringing nonalcoholic beverages as long as they are factory-sealed, spokeswoman Vanessa Picariello said.