Sober at Sea: Our Cruise Ship Lawyers Offer Insight on the Importance of Drinking Responsibly While on a Cruise Vacation

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Alcohol on cruise shipsFor many, one of the best perks of going on a cruise vacation is the fact that you do not have to worry about finding a designated driver if you want to enjoy an alcohol beverage or two. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to kick back and have a cocktail while on your cruise. However, while the danger of drinking and driving may not apply on the high seas, alcohol consumption has played a significant role in many accidents – and even deaths – on the high seas.

One thing to keep in mind is that cruise ships make an enormous percentage of their revenue from alcohol sales. Naturally, cruise operators may glamorize alcoholic beverages, offering a “special drink of the day” or alcohol packages that allow guests the option of enjoying more alcohol for a lower price. But no matter where you are, be it the comfort of your own home, your neighborhood bar or a cruise ship, alcohol will always have the same effect if overly consumed – intoxication.

The dangers of becoming drunk while on land are vast. Intoxicated persons may become overly aggressive and be much more likely to get into an altercation – something that would otherwise not happen while sober. At the very least, an intoxicated person will lose inhibitions and may find themselves unable to keep their balance or a sharp focus on their surroundings. Bottom line, being intoxicated can lead to a plethora of unfortunate decisions, and unfortunate accidents.

However, at least while on land, there is always the option of calling a loved one for help, calling a cab, or calling a police officer for assistance. There are many more options available on land for seeking help. The same cannot be said while on a cruise ship. Imagine for one moment you are intoxicated on a cruise ship. Who can you call for help when a) cell phones do not have reception in the middle of the ocean, b) there are no police officers to turn to, c) Home is VERY far away, and d) if you misstep, you may find yourself injured or overboard?

Yes, you don’t have to worry about drinking and driving, but you have to worry about a whole slew of other – and often more serious – scenarios. If you drink too much on a cruise ship, falling overboard is a very real possibility.

Our cruise ship injury lawyers represented a young woman who became intoxicated on her cruise vacation – in large part due to the fact that the bartender on her ship kept encouraging her to keep drinking – and fell overboard from her cabin balcony. Miraculously, she survived, but that is a one in a million case. Most overboard accident victims do not survive. Even if the fall is survived, victims may become hypothermic, may become unconscious due to injuries and unable to stay afloat and may even get attacked by sharks or other dangerous sea creatures. It can be hours before a ship’s crew realizes an overboard victim is missing, and by the time the ship is turned around, it may be too late.

Aside from falling overboard or getting injured on the ship, intoxication can also result in the inability to defend yourself from an attacker. It’s much easier for a sexual predator to attack an intoxicated person than a sober one, and it’s especially easier for them to slip something in an unsuspecting person’s beverage. Being intoxicated can also lead someone to place more trust in a stranger that may not have the best of intentions. Or, overservice of alcohol may lead some intoxicated passengers to lose restraint and commit crimes and assaults. And aside from the crime aspect, if someone becomes so intoxicated they suffer from alcohol poisoning, a ship’s medical staff may not have the full spectrum of resources needed to provide extensive emergency treatment.

We’re not saying cruise passengers need to refrain from consuming alcohol entirely, but we strongly advise passengers to drink responsibly in order to avoid one of the aforementioned scenarios or any other dangerous situation that might arise from becoming intoxicated while at sea or in a foreign port. We also advise passengers to never accept drinks from strangers and even when a bar tender is pouring a beverage, always watch them being poured. Additionally, never ever leave drinks unattended or entrust them to others, and if you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime or other incident, you have the right to contact an attorney for legal assistance.