To many people a cruise vacation includes alcohol. It may be a special bottle of wine while celebrating an anniversary, a rum punch while sitting at the pool, or cocktails as you drink the night away in the disco. While moderate use of alcohol may have no effect, the truth of the matter is that heavy drinking can be a bad idea especially on a cruise.
Alcohol and On-Board Crime
As you may have heard, sexual assault is the most frequent crime aboard cruise ships, representing up to 30% of the cases. Assault and battery is often considered the second most frequent if you include domestic violence as a part of the group. In both of these categories’ alcohol plays a role, often where the victim has consumed a large quantity of alcohol.
This does not mean that being on a cruise increases your risk of a sexual assault, But when you are on a cruise you are not doing your normal routine and may be introducing a higher risk. I’s safe to say that on a cruise ship most people increase their risk exposure. You may be increasing your alcohol consumption relying on the “safe” environment where you do not have to drive home. The majority of sexual assaults are passenger on passenger. After a drink or two you might let your guard down while meeting new people.
The TV series the “Love Boat” always had people meeting and falling in love onboard. The 2002 murder of Dianne Elizabeth Brimble is a horrific example. Her family described her as a highly moral person and an infrequent drinker.
On the first night of her cruise, Dianne visited a disco and became heavily intoxicated drinking with a number of men. She then left the disco with at least four of the men and was recorded having sex seemly a volunteer. Sometime during the early morning hours, she ingested the drug “fantasy” and was dead by morning. A number of witnesses stated that the men had seemed to be prowling and had made a number of sexual advances to different women before selecting Dianne.
A hard studying college student might go out twice a month drinking with a few friends. On a cruise it may be a daily occurrence. Maybe a glass of wine at dinner, a drink while watching the show, followed be a few “it’s too early to think about sleep” drinks in the disco later on. Regardless of the degree of risk, you have just increased your exposure to risk.
All You Can Drink Packages or “Death by Alcohol”
In accidental deaths onboard, alcohol plays a major role. Many cruise lines offer “All You Can Drink” packages. Royal Caribbean Cruise line offers a comparison to show customers when a package will save money. They offer several different packages where you can purchase the number of drinks you want, however, on average it is seven drinks.
Carnival has recently put a limit on the number of drinks a guest can purchase to 15. Let’s take a look at what that means for a 110 pound female. Having 10 rum punches in 6 hours with 1.5 ounces of 80 proof rum each will give her a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .42. The DUI limit is .08. Unless she drank some of those drinks very close together, it is very unlikely that she would reach .42. Serious health issues start at around .25 with the high likelihood of coma around .30.
Blood Alcohol poisoning is not the only problem. As an example Angel Holcomb, 39, died after falling while intoxicated aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Conquest early on the morning of May 3, 2011. She became intoxicated and her friends took her to the cabin to sleep it off. Sometimes after she awoke and got a glass of water, still holding the glass she passed out and the glass broke and cut her wrist. She bled to death before medical staff could stabilize her. There are a number of cases similar, as well as cases of falling and suffering a fatal head wound. The majority of man over board are alcohol related.
The key is drink in moderation and at least close to your normal patterns. Have someone you trust nearby.