Carnival Cruise Line recently announced that it won’t be allowing passengers to bring bottled water on its ships anymore. According to a CNN article, the cruise lie explained the move was an attempt to limit passengers from filling bottles with alcohol, which they say is the most “common means by which guests attempt to smuggle alcohol on board.”
As our cruise lawyers have often discussed, cruise lines make quite a profit from the overpriced alcoholic beverages and beverage packages they sell on board, so it makes sense that the cruise line would want to eliminate any chance of losing revenue. But could the new policy have unintended consequences?
In the hot summer months, in particular, passengers who are out sunbathing or swimming on the pool decks or enjoying outdoor activities ashore can quickly get dehydrated. Dehydration, if left untreated, can escalate into heat exhaustion and prove fatal.
While Carnival (and other cruise lines) serves free water on board, this doesn’t help passengers who are disembarking the vessel to explore ashore. Though cruise lines, like Carnival, sell bottled water, the cost is pretty expensive and can quickly add up. If passengers aren’t mindful of their cruise tabs, they may end up spending quite a pretty penny on bottled water.
Though there are some people who do fill water bottles with alcohol, many others are honestly just trying to save money by bringing their own bottled water on board. It could be argued that by prohibiting passengers from bringing bottled water on board, Carnival may be unintentionally creating a situation where value-conscious travelers may find themselves dehydrated, overheated, and in potentially life-threatening situations while enjoying outdoor activities.
Additionally, CNN reports that Carnival’s ban may also affect passengers who plan to disembark at ports where drinking water may be contaminated, like Mexico. In these instances, bringing along a bottle of water can prevent serious illness.
If passengers opt out of purchasing bottled water on board, there may actually be a greater risk of Norovirus outbreaks, as some of the ways this stomach bug spreads is through the consumption of infected liquids and also by coming in contact with infected cups and glasses that aren’t properly sanitized.
The good news is that Carnival is lowering the price of bulk bottled water purchases. The bad news is that these prices may still not be as competitive as the prices passengers can get ashore or back home at convenience stores, so guests may still pass on purchasing water bottles on board.
Given the new policy, the best thing passengers can do, for themselves and for the environment, is to pack a re-usable bottle and fill it with the complimentary water offered on board. These bottles come in all sizes, and best of all, they can still be used long after the cruise vacation.
The new policy goes into effect July 9, and extends to all non-alcoholic bottled beverages. Passengers will still be allowed to bring a maximum of 12 sealed cans or cartons of non-alcoholic beverages, like soda or juice. Only time will tell whether it will have a detrimental effect on passenger health, however, it’s probably safe to say that there will be quite a number of unhappy travelers.