Carnival Cruise Lines has announced it will no longer allow passengers to bring non-alcoholic drinks, like water, onto its ships in America, claiming it will prevent alcohol from being smuggled into cabins.

In a move that could spread to Australia – at publication time, Carnival Australia could not say if the policy would be implemented on the Spirit or the Legend – the water ban comes into effect from July 9.

So why would a cruise line stop you from bringing a bottle of water onto its ships?

According to Carnival, it’s all about safety.

Passengers have been smuggling spirits onto ships in water bottles. That innocent-looking bottle of mineral water could just contain a stiff shot of vodka!

Carnival insists it’s not just about making sure that if you go on a bender it’s at their bar prices. It actually stems from the fact that troubles aboard their ships have often been traced back to smuggled alcohol.

There have been several tragic incidents involving liquor smuggled into cabins, according to their spokeswoman, and Carnival in America say they are actually making a concession: Passengers will be able to bring limited amounts of soda or juice onboard, as long as the drinks are packaged in cans or cartons. And passengers can pre-purchase bottled water at reduced prices and have it delivered to their cabins before the ship leaves port.

The discounted bottled water is US$2.99 each, plus tax. Usually, a bottle of water onboard a US ship will set you back US$4.99, plus gratuity.

A line spokesman told Cruise Critic: “We do not anticipate any increase in revenue as a result of this policy change, particularly given the significant reduction in price we have instituted.”

She added that searching passengers for water often led to embarkation delays and occasional rows. Staff members who man security points in ports will be trained to confiscate bottled water and soda.

“This is something that we’ve been grappling with for quite some time,” Jennifer de la Cruz is quoted as saying. “The main goal is to try to ensure safety for our guests and to decrease the likelihood of a security incident that’s tied to smuggled alcohol.”

Carnival did ban non-alcoholic drinks eight years ago, but passenger backlash forced a revision.

Cruise Passenger‘s readers were divided on the issue.

Judy Fyfe “I think the ban is good. If you can’t afford to buy drinks, don’t go. Can’t take your own grog to the footy or any other event!”

Christine Isabelle Payne “Listerine bottles will be next. Drop the duty-free drink prices – they are not duty free, just ripping us off. I do not drink until I have arrived at my destination. Ships get no alcohol money from me at the outrageous prices. I have sailed since 1972 – I spent on the ships them because it was realistic.”

Gareth Jennings “Shame on Carnival. Some people seem to think they are taking drinks into the public areas, but no – we like to take something on board to enjoy in our cabin before we spend ridiculous amounts of money on drinking in the bars anyway. Sometimes people need to carry water with them, and if they have just come from port and haven’t finished their drink, why shouldn’t they carry it on? Eventually Carnival will lose customers to other growing cruise lines. Carnival, listen to your customers and stop thinking you are too big to worry.”

Don Reid “Suppose you can thank those who smuggle booze in water bottles.”

Jeremy Ludlow “I think bottled water is a ridiculous extravagance except in countries where tap water is not safe to drink. I have no issue with the ban.”

James Raw “Easy solution for cruise lines: Stop ripping people off with expensive drink prices!”

Carole Dupree Bensley “The water on ships is better than any bottled water I have ever bought. I bring an empty water bottle and fill from the fountains. Tastes perfectly fine. Of course, if cruise lines had sodas and water included when you cruise, they would solve this issue.”

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