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Royal Caribbean has announced that its ships sailing from South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia and New Zealand will have a minimum drinking age of 18.

Most US-based ships don’t allow passengers under the age of 21 to buy drinks on board because of the licensing laws in America. Royal Caribbean’s current policy allows 18 to 20-year-olds to buy drinks onboard with a waiver signed by a parent, but this is set to change in the (northern) spring of 2012.

Passengers aged 18 and over on ships sailing from South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia and New Zealand will no longer need this parental waiver, although North American cruises will still have a drinking age of 21.

According to Adam Goldstein, President and CEO Royal Caribbean, the change is being made to “better accommodate the cultural norms in the regions of the world where Royal Caribbean ships sail, as roughly half of its passengers come from outside the United States”.

Royal Caribbean’s change in policy is in line with that followed by other major cruise lines that sail from non-US ports.