Being in the Family Travel business we get this question a lot!
Besides individual family cruise vacations, we help plan a lot of cruise groups. One important family "celebration vacation" are cruises in lieu of a high school graduation party. Organizing a graduation cruise instead of a party can be a really fun and affordable way to gather the entire family together for one last big "hurray" before "your baby" heads off to college. Parents and teens alike want to know cruise ship rules when it comes to drinking ages.
Of course legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21. This law extends 3 miles off our shores. Different countries around the world give younger teens drinking rights. This becomes a bit tricky for cruise lines because of course they cater to international guests and sail in international waters. Some cruise lines make exceptions for these variations and others do not.
You ask and we answer.....
Disney Cruise Line -The drinking age on board is 21, and a valid photo I.D. is required. However, during round trip cruises departing from any European country that has a lower drinking age, parents or guardians may sign a Beverage Consent Form that allows their 18- to 20-year-old children to consume alcoholic beverages while in the adult’s presence
Norwegian Cruise Line - The minimum drinking age for all alcoholic beverages on Norwegian Cruise Line ships is 21. Guests who are 18 - 20 years of age can purchase and consume beer or wine when the ship is in international waters (3 miles out of US territorial waters). The parent or legal guardian must be on board the sailing with the young adult and present themselves at the Front Desk so they can sign the form allowing the consumption of beer and wine only. A notarized Parent Consent Form or any other document allowing for temporary guardianship for the purposes of the sailing only will not be accepted. The age modification does not apply for Alaska and Hawaii sailings.
For purposes of complying with the minimum drinking age requirements, a guest’s age is established upon embarkation (beginning of the cruise). If a guest celebrates their birthday during the cruise, and thereby becomes of age to consume alcohol, the guest may thereafter ask the Guest Services Manager to modify ship’s records to permit their consumption of alcohol during the remainder of the cruise. The guest will be required to appear at Guest Services to present a government issued form of identification to permit verification of their age.
Carnival- Guests who are under age 21 may not consume any alcoholic beverage aboard a Carnival cruise ship. Carnival requires a valid, unexpired ID from all guests attempting to purchase alcohol aboard the ship.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines - The minimum age to consume alcohol on a Royal Caribbean International ships on sailing originating in North America is 21. The minimum age to consume alcohol on Royal Caribbean International ships on sailings from South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand is eighteen (18). The minimum age to consume alcohol at all private (island) destinations remains twenty-one (21) without regard to where the sailing originated. The Company retains the right, on rare occasions, to raise the minimum age of alcohol consumption on any sailing when local laws require or permit such a modification.
MSC Cruises - Passengers under age 21 may not order or consume alcoholic beverages or participate in gambling. Parents and guardians are responsible for monitoring the actions of their minor passenger at all times
Celebrity Cruise Line - The minimum drinking age for all alcoholic beverages on Celebrity Cruises ships sailing from North America is 21. The minimum drinking age for all alcoholic beverages on Celebrity Cruises ships sailing from South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand is 18.
For purposes of complying with the minimum drinking age requirements, a guest's age is established upon boarding at the beginning of the cruise vacation. If a guest celebrates their birthday during the cruise vacation, and thereby becomes of age to consume alcohol, the guest may thereafter ask the Guest Relations Manager to modify ship's records to permit their consumption of alcohol during the remainder of the vacation. The guest will be required to appear at Guest Relations to present a valid government-issued form of identification to permit verification of their age.
No guest under age 18 may possess or consume alcohol at any time while on board. No guest under age 21 may possess or consume alcohol at our private destinations. Any guest who goes ashore and consumes alcohol (whether under the supervision of a parent/guardian or not, is responsible for ensuring they consume responsibly and retain their ability to recognize and avoid potentially dangerous situations when they return to the ship. Parents/guardians are reminded they are responsible for the actions of their child/young adult at all times while on a Celebrity Cruises cruise vacation.
Princess Cruise Lines -The age for drinking on Princess ships is 21 years old from the U.S. Guests under the age of 18 will not be permitted in the Casino or Night Club after 11:00 p.m. For cruises between Australia/New Zealand, China, Europe and Singapore ports, the drinking age will be 18 years old.
Holland America Cruise Line - Alcoholic beverages will not be served to guests under age 21. However, effective on voyages commencing July 1. 2016 and thereafter, the legal drinking age on board will be 18 for voyages which depart from and return to Europe, China, Hong Kong, Singapore or Taiwan, and the legal drinking age on board will be 20 for voyages which depart from and return to Japan.
Azamara Cruise Line -The minimum drinking age for all alcoholic beverages on AzamaraClub Cruises ships sailing from North America is 21. No guest under age 18 may possess or consume alcohol at any time while on board
Cunard Line - No person younger than 18 years of age is allowed to purchase or consume alcohol on a Cunard cruise. When in U.S. territorial waters where the legal drinking age is 21
Crystal Cruises - Guests must be at least 18 years old to be served wine and beer, and at least 21 years old to be served spirits. When docked or anchored in U.S. ports, within the three-mile limit, guests must be at least 21 years old to be served any alcoholic beverage. Guest agrees not to attempt to provide or consume alcoholic beverages in violation of this policy, either for themselves or others.
Regent Cruise Lines - The minimum drinking age across Regent Seven Seas' fleet is twenty-one (21) years of age or older.
Paul Gaughin Cruises - Paul Gauguin Cruises holds a strict alcoholic beverage service policy. The minimum legal age for drinking alcoholic beverages on board is 21 years of age.
Hurtigruten Cruises - Hurtigruten requires passengers to be at least 21 to consume any type of alcohol.
Costa Cruises - no alcohol shall be purchased or consumed by any Guest under the age of 21 on cruises embarking or disembarking Guests at U.S. ports, or under the age of 18 for all other cruises
Oceana Cruises - The sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages will be limited to guests aged 21 years or older. Oceania Cruises will refuse and prohibits the sale or service of alcoholic beverages to guests under the age of 21 years.
Silversea Cruises - Guests must be 21 years of age or older to purchase or consume alcohol. Silversea reserves the right to refuse to serve anyone who in its sole judgment may be under the influence of alcohol, or for any reason necessary in its judgment to preserve the health and safety of guests and employees.
Of course, rules change again once you're cruise docks in specific ports of call. For example, say your cruise visits one of the many the popular cruise ports in Mexico or the Caribbean. Most of these countries have a legal drinking age of 18. Teens would be served alcohol and allowed to drink while in port.
Many cruise lines have their own "private islands" offering their guests a fun, tropical beach day. These islands provide plenty of fun activities for guests including alcohol. Just like the cruise lines set the rules on the ships they own, the same holds true for their private islands. If the drinking age on board is 21 then the same rule holds true on their private island.
Cruise line rules are in place to protect the health, safety and fun of all passengers. Ultimately adult parents and guardians are responsible for the actions of minors during a family cruise vacation. Parents can always take a vacation but you can never take a vacation from parenting when you're children are vacationing with you.