In a surprising move, Carnival Cruise Line has reversed a recent policy change that had proven immediately unpopular with guests. Just one month ago, Carnival discontinued pre-cruise sales of bottles of alcohol to be delivered to guests’ staterooms, but now, those sales are being reinstated.
From December 1, 2022, guests will be able to pre-purchase 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.
Pre-Cruise Alcohol Sales to Resume
For all 7-night or longer sailings departing on December 1, 2022 or later, Carnival guests will once again be able to pre-purchase a bottle of alcohol to be delivered to their stateroom for their enjoyment during the cruise.
Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald confirmed the update in response to multiple questions regarding the policy on social media. “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.
Only one bottle will be permitted per stateroom, regardless of the number of guests in that stateroom. No pre-cruise bottle purchases are available for cruises shorter than seven nights.
Why the Change – Both Times?
The pre-cruise liquor orders were initially discontinued in late October. While speculation was that this change represented yet another cutback in services and amenities, Heald explained that the decision was related to curbing poor onboard behavior, not profits.
“This is not a cutback. Not when it affects our revenue can this be called cut back,” Heald said at the time. “The decision has been made so that we can more safely monitor alcohol consumption.”
Reversing the policy is likely related to poor guest feedback, as well as evaluation of onboard drink purchases and alcoholic purchase patterns, including the popularity of the Cheers! drink package.
While the policy change is not directly related to revenue, if there has been no corresponding increase in onboard purchases or drink package sales, or likewise no change to onboard behavior, that may be one factor in reversing the policy.
Not Available on Short Cruises
Regardless of the reason for reinstating the pre-cruise liquor orders, no pre-cruise purchases will be available for any Carnival cruise under 7 nights long.
Experienced cruisers have long noted that shorter sailings, particularly “long weekend” 3-4 night cruises, tend to attract a younger, more party-intensive crowd with heavier drinking patterns.
Carnival Cruise Line does have a limit of 15 drinks per guest per day, both with the Cheers! drink package as well as individual sales, but there are certainly ways guests can get circumvent such limits. Bartenders are also able to discontinue service to any guest as needed. When inebriation becomes a factor, poor behavior and unpleasant incidents are more likely.
Other Policies for Guest Behavior
Carnival Cruise Line has received significant poor press in recent months due to onboard incidents with unruly guests, including one on Carnival Magic in June and another on Carnival Elation in July.
Since these incidents have potentially harmed Carnival’s reputation, particularly with non-cruisers or first-time cruisers who might then look at other cruise lines for their first oceangoing vacation, the cruise line has taken various steps to curb poor behavior.
A $500 fine has been implemented for any guest disregarding the cruise line’s guest code of conduct, with the possibility that guests could be disembarked for such violations and billed for further costs related to detainment and debarkation.
Another policy change has been the implementation of a curfew for younger cruisers after 1 a.m. unless accompanied by an adult in their traveling party or involved in youth activities.
These heightened policies demonstrate the cruise line’s commitment to providing a safe, enjoyable, and respectable environment for all guests.
It is not uncommon for cruise lines to tweak new policies to better suit their guests’ preferences, so long as safety is not compromised, and it is likely that Carnival will continue to adjust policies as needed to provide the best experience for everyone aboard.