When taking a cruise through international waters, one may expect the legal drinking age to be lowered to 18 years old. However, passengers will not find this to be the case.
The minimum drinking age is typically the age of the country of departure. Carnival Cruise Lines, a British-U.S.-owned cruise carrier, has a strict policy stating that people under the age of 21 may not drink aboard a Carnival Cruise ship. Even when parked at the ports of call, the age requirement is firm.
All passengers are bound to the terms of Carnival's ticket contract, which state that Carnival has the right to disembark any passengers found to be in violation of its policies.
This isn’t unique to just Carnival Cruise Line either; other cruise lines like Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Celebrity Cruises have the same or similar rules regarding drinking limits.
Guests who are under 21 years of age may not consume an alcoholic beverage aboard a Carnival cruise ship departing from U.S. waters and U.S. ports.
Carnival requires a valid, unexpired ID from all guests attempting to purchase alcohol aboard the ship.
Guests over 21 years old may pack one bottle of wine or champagne in their carry-on luggage, but no outside beer or hard liquor is permitted aboard any Carnival ship, regardless of your age.
Alcohol bottles purchased on land during a stop or on the ship in shipboard shops will be held by Carnival personnel until the ship reaches its final destination.
Cruise ships leaving from certain locations, like Australia, South America, New Zealand, Asia, and Europe do allow guests meeting the age requirement of 18 years of age to consume alcohol onboard.
However, cruises must depart from these locations, not just port there. This excludes North America, including Hawaii.
Underage guests who are found to be drinking or in possession of alcohol aboard a Carnival cruise ship are in violation of the company's ticket contract and could be subject to disembarking, in a worst-case scenario.
People whom Carnival finds in violation of its contract terms will not be refunded the price of their ticket.
In the best-case scenario, Carnival would confiscate any alcohol. The cruise ship contract also states that ship personnel have the right to search your items at any time; therefore, hiding alcohol can be risky.
Fake ID Policies
Ship workers are required to check for a valid ID when selling alcohol on board, and when a passenger is found to be using a fake ID or an ID that does not belong to him to purchase alcohol, he is in automatic violation of the ticket contract. The same goes for a passenger who allows a minor to use his ID to purchase alcohol. Furthermore, Carnival reserves the right to refuse to sell alcohol to anyone at anytime.
Additional Rules for Adults Over 21
Adults found to be aiding a minor in acquiring alcohol are also in violation of the terms of the Carnival ticket contract. This includes serving or providing alcohol to minors anywhere aboard the cruise ship, including your stateroom and dining rooms, in addition to furnishing a minor with an ID to buy alcohol.
Especially when guests have purchased a drink package, they may be tempted to buy underage family members or friends alcohol, but the age restrictions and alcohol policy is firm. Again, getting caught aiding a minor to get alcohol -- even just by allowing a minor to use your ID -- can cause you to get kicked off the cruise without a refund.
Other cruise lines, like Holland America, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean have similar rules. Any guests having questions about the alcohol policy onboard a Carnival cruise ship should ask guest services.