Drinking Ages on Cruise Ships: The Rules

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Do you have a cruise coming up, but want to know if you’re at the minimum drinking age? Maybe you have a cruise planned and want to know whether your older kids will be able to join you for a cocktail. No matter the situation, knowing the drinking age on cruise ships is important.

In this article, you’ll learn the minimum age for drinking on cruise ships so you can properly plan your next vacation.

The legal drinking age on cruise ships varies. Factors influencing the set minimum ages include the specific ship you’re on and your departure and final destination.

In most areas of the world, the minimum drinking age is anywhere from 16 to 18, so it is possible to find a cruise that adheres to this minimum.

Bar on Cruise Ship
Bar on Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: petereleven / Shutterstock)

That said, you’ll notice that most cruise ships sailing from North America have a minimum drinking age of 21 years to abide by United States law. This is despite Mexico and some places in Canada having minimum drinking ages of 18 or 19.

Since the U.S. is in between these two countries, cruise lines choose to abide by the United States minimum. Let’s look at some of the minimum drinking ages for major cruise lines.

Age Requirements for Major Cruise Lines

Carnival Cruise Line

On all Carnival Cruise Line ships, passengers must be 21 years of age or older to be served alcohol on board, even in international waters. Carnival Cruise Line is one of the only cruise lines that does not allow drinking under the age of 21 under any circumstance.

Norwegian Cruise Line

On Norwegian Cruise Line, the drinking age requirement is 18 in international waters. No guest under 18 may possess or consume alcohol at any time. This means that on board their ships, you must be at least 18 years old to drink alcohol. If you break this rule – including parents who give alcohol to their children – you’ll face disciplinary action.

Norwegian Cruise Line Drinks
Norwegian Cruise Line Drinks (Photo Credit: Barbara Kalbfleisch / Shutterstock)

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean cruise ship drinking ages depend on where the ship departs from. The drinking ages are the following:

  • From North America or the Caribbean: 21
  • From Dubai, United Arab Emirates: 21
  • From South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand: 18

However, these minimum ages are not set in stone. Royal Caribbean reserves the right to raise the minimum drinking age on sailings based on local laws.

Princess Cruises

When sailing from North America, the minimum drinking age on Princess Cruises ships is 21 years. But, if you’re sailing from Europe, South America, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand on a Princess Cruise, the legal drinking age is 18.

Princess Cruises
Photo Credit: EWY Media / Shutterstock

Disney Cruise Line

The minimum drinking age on all Disney Cruise Line ships is 21. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For destinations departing from Europe, anyone 18 to 20 may have their parents sign an alcoholic beverage consent form, allowing them to consume alcohol while in an adult’s presence.

What’s more, on round trips from Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, and Brisbane, passengers 18 years old and older can consume alcohol without the presence or permission of an adult. 

Cunard

On most Cunard ships, the minimum drinking age is 18. The exception is when the ship is in U.S. waters and the minimum drinking age is 21.

Celebrity Cruises

The minimum drinking age on ships sailing from North America is 21. The minimum drinking age for remaining destinations is 18.

Drinking Age Exceptions on Private Islands

Some cruise lines have private islands as possible destinations and have different drinking age rules for private islands than they do for their ships. Here are some examples:

Cruise Private Island Drink
Cruise Private Island Drink (Photo Credit: mariakray / Shutterstock)
  • Norwegian Cruise Line: Guests must be 21 to possess or consume alcohol at the cruise line’s private destinations. 
  • Royal Caribbean International: No matter where the departure point is, on Royal Caribbean International ships, the minimum drinking age for private islands is 21. 
  • Celebrity Cruises: You must be 21 to consume alcohol at any of Celebrity Cruises’ private destinations.  
  • Holland America: The minimum drinking age for Holland America ships is 21.

Checking IDs on Cruise Ships

Don’t think all rules are thrown out the window on your cruise! If you look underage, cruise ships will check your ID when you ask for a drink. The same goes for when you’re entering spaces restricted to those of a certain minimum age. If you’re a minor, you may get a wristband indicating so.

Cruise Ship Bar
Cruise Ship Bar

For example, some cruise ships allow passengers as young as 18 into the casino, but you must be 21 to drink on the ship. Therefore, you may be given a wristband to indicate to the staff that you are underage. 

Drink Packages and Minors

Many cruise lines offer drink packages specifically for minors – meaning their packages account for no alcoholic beverages. For example, MSC Cruises has a drink package for minors that includes soft, energy, and coffee drinks. Celebrity Cruises also offers a Zero Proof package at $30 per person per day, which includes some delicious zero-proof cocktails for minors to enjoy alongside their parents.

FAQs

How much alcohol can you drink on cruise ships?

In theory, whether you get a drink package or purchase your drinks on the ship, you can drink as much alcohol on your cruise as you want. However, staff regularly monitor guests to ensure they are not consuming copious amounts of alcohol to the point where they become a danger to themselves and other passengers on the ship. Drinking responsibly is important to avoid ruining your vacation and that of others.

Can you bring your own alcohol on cruise ships?

Most major cruise lines allow you to bring a minimal amount of alcohol on the cruise ship during embarkment day. This is usually restricted to a bottle or two of wine and only wine. Anything more will be confiscated, and alcohol you purchase at different ports will be kept for you until the end of your cruise. Even if you bring alcohol on the ship, minors are still prohibited from drinking. You must abide by the cruise ship’s legal drinking age rules.

The Takeaway: Know Drinking Rules On Your Cruise

Drinking is one of the most fun parts of any cruise, but sticking to the rules is essential to maximize the experience. Knowing the drinking ages on cruise ships during your planning will ensure that everything goes as expected. 

If you’re under the drinking age of a particular cruise, you can still enjoy yourself and try out any specialty mocktails your ship might offer.

Emrys Thakkar
Emrys Thakkar
The founder of Cruise Hive which was established in 2008 as one of the earliest cruise blogs in the industry. Emrys has been reporting on the latest cruise industry news since the site first launched. Expert insights and tips featured on a number of publications including The Express, Business Insider, and more. Worked for Carnival Cruise Line for 8 years and is well and truly dedicated to cruising! Has also been on a number of cruises so can offer an insight into the industry that many will not be able to do. What's even more impressive is that Emrys has traveled the world by visiting more than 34 countries, lived in China for 8 years, and cruised the Caribbean, Baltic, Mediterranean, Asia, and Europe. Find out more about us here.

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