Drinking Age on a Cruise Ship: Can You Drink Under 21?

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A orange cocktail ordered at a bar on the cruise ship Celebrity Eclipse

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If you’re planning a cruise vacation, you’re probably wondering about the drinking age on cruise ships. As a seasoned cruiser, I know that navigating the rules and regulations surrounding alcohol consumption can be a bit tricky.

Although cruise ships sail in international waters, the minimum drinking age depends on your ship, itinerary, and the laws governing your departure and return port.

We’ll help you understand the minimum drinking age on a cruise ship to help you prepare for your next vacation.

What is The Drinking Age on a Cruise Ship?

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The legal drinking age on cruise ships depends on the cruise line and the itinerary.

Most cruise lines sailing in North America have a minimum drinking age of 21. Cruises departing or returning to the U.S. follow the U.S. U.S.deral, which sets the national minimum drinking age at 21. 

Although Mexico and Canada have minimum drinking ages of 18 and 19, all U.S.-based cruise lines set the minimum drinking age at 21, even when sailing in international waters.

The cruise line staff strictly enforces the minimum drinking age. Passengers caught drinking alcohol under the age limit or giving alcohol to guests under the minimum drinking age may face consequences, including disembarkation.

Many countries have drinking ages lower than the U.S. Cruises saU.S.g to Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America often have a lower legal drinking age of 18.

Minimum Drinking Age on Major Cruise Lines

An espresso martini cocktail served on a bar counter with bartender in the background to a passenger who is the minimum drinking age on a cruise shipPin

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line has a clear and strict policy that guests must be 21 years of age or older to be served alcohol on board. Carnival enforces the policy across all areas of the ship where alcohol is sold or served, including bars, lounges, and gift shops.

It’s important to note that Carnival Cruise Line reserves the right to request identification from any passenger before purchasing alcohol. The cruise line staff refuse to sell alcohol to anyone who cannot provide proper identification or appears to be under the influence.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruise’s minimum drinking age of 21 applies to all Celebrity cruise ships and itineraries.

However, on sailings departing from Europe, South America, and Australia a parent who is sailing with their child can sign a waiver alowing 18-20 year olds to consume alcoholic beverages.

If a guest celebrates their 21st birthday on the cruise ship, they may ask the Front Desk Manager to adjust the ship’s records to permit them to consume alcohol for the remainder of the cruise.

Costa Cruises

Costa Cruises has a simple policy: the minimum onboard drinking age is 21 for sailings with U.S. departures and 18 for sailings from non-US ports.

Cunard Line

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Cunard Line’s minimum drinking age is 18, except in U.S. waters, where the minimum drinking age is 21.

This means that when a Cunard ship is sailing in international waters or visiting ports outside the United States, passengers 18 years of age or older are allowed to purchase and consume alcohol on board.

However, when the ship enters U.S. territories or ports, the minimum drinking age is raised to 21 to comply with U.S. federal law.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line has a minimum drinking age of 21 and requires a valid photo I.D. to purchase and consume alcohol on Disney Cruise Ships.

However, parents and guardians can sign a Beverage Consent Form allowing their 18- to 20-year-old children to purchase and consume alcohol on round-trip cruises departing from any European country with a lower drinking age. The same policy applies to repositioning cruises between Hawaii and Australia.

Additionally, the drinking age is lowered to 18 on round-trip cruises departing Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, and Brisbane.

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises’ minimum drinking age for cruises departing from the United States is 21. For cruises departing from countries other than the United States, the minimum drinking age is 18.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) guest policy has minimum drinking age of 21. However, passengers 18-20 years old may purchase and consume beer and wine if traveling with a parent or legal guardian and in international waters, except for sailings in Alaska and Hawaii. The parent or legal guardian must be onboard the sailing and sign a Parent Consent Form for their child at the Front Desk.

If a guest celebrates their 21st birthday during the cruise, they may ask the Guest Services Manager to modify the ship’s records to permit their consumption of alcohol during the remainder of the cruise. When changing the ship’s records, you will be asked to present a valid government-issued I.D. to show your proof of age.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises sailings from North America have a minimum age of 21 for consuming alcohol on their ships.

However, sailings from Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, and New Zealand have a legal drinking age of 18 on Princess cruise ships, and cruises between Japanese ports have a minimum age of 20.

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean International’s minimum drinking age is 21 for North Americans and itineraries visiting Dubai. The legal drinking age is 18 for sailings in South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

The minimum drinking age is 21 at Royal Caribbean’s private destinations, such as Perfect Day at CocoCay and Labadee.

Virgin Voyages

The drinking age on Virgin Voyages ships varies depending on the location:

  • In international waters, the minimum drinking age is 18 years old.
  • When the ship is in United States waters, the minimum drinking age is 21.
  • In other ports of call, Virgin Voyages adheres to the laws and regulations of the specific country.

Drinking Age on Private Islands

A person holding a refreshing drink against a sunset over a cruise ship railing with the ocean in the backgroundPin

Many cruise lines operate private islands and resorts. Some cruise line private islands have different drinking ages than the cruise line ships.

Here is a list of the drinking ages at many of the cruise lines private destinations:

  1. Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at CocoCay Drinking Age: 21 Years Old
  2. Royal Caribbean Labadee Drinking Age: 21 Years Old
  3. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Great Stirrup Cay Drinking Age: 21 Years Old
  4. Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay Drinking Age: 21 Years Old
  5. Carnival Cruise Line’s Half Moon Cay Drinking Age: 21 Years Old
  6. Princess Cruises Princess Cays Drinking Age: 21 Years Old
  7. MSC Cruises’ Ocean Cay Marine Reserve Drinking Age: 21 Years Old
  8. Celebrity Cruises’ Little Stirrup Cay Drinking Age: 21 Years Old

Consuming Alcohol in Ports of Call

Once you leave the ship, you are governed by the laws and regulations of the port city. You are not bound by the cruise ship’s rules when you’re on land. In other words, if the country’s legal drinking age is 18, you can consume alcohol in ports of call, even if the ship’s drinking age is 21.

You’ll be happy to know that the drinking age in most Caribbean countries is 18. If you’re unsure, you can ask your cruise line staff or the port attendants.

Article by

Marcello De Lio

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