Forget TSA, maybe we should put Carnival Cruise Lines in charge of security


Carnival Cruise Lines, one of the leading cruise lines both in terms of selling drinks on board and in trying to keep passengers from bringing their own on board, is at it again.

Yes, this is a bit tongue-in-cheek. But maybe not so much.

The cruise line has long been vigilant in this area. In fact, in Puerto Vallarta they even set up a checkpoint outside the ship where security guards will open all unsealed bottles and throw out any they deem potentially suspicious, i.e. if they smell of alcohol. And security on board the ship will confiscate any sealed liquor, wine or beer bottles upon reboarding.

Many passengers try to get around the rule by packing beverages in their luggage when they embark. Which has prompted the latest Carnival directive — that bags should be left unlocked “in order to avoid any inconvenience or delay in the delivery of luggage to the cabin.”

If passengers disregard the directive, including by using TSA locks and security believes they see something prohibited, the cruise line will simply hold onto the luggage.

Then those affected passengers can only get their bags back by opening them with security personnel present, which may well be at the end of the luggage delivery process and after the ship has actually sailed. (Sorry if you need a chance of clothes for dinner.)

Carnival’s specific wording states: “All luggage must be unlocked before turning over to the porters in order to avoid any inconvenience to you or delay in delivering the luggage to your stateroom.” And, if a prohibited item is found, it will be confiscated.

The cruise line also states this is not a policy change, but simply stricter enforcement “in the interest of guest and crew safety.” Yes, and in the interest of Carnival’s bottom line.

No doubt cruise line security has found other prohibited items besides alcohol. Drugs come to mind, but they are difficult to catch with an X-ray. And presumably at least a few passengers have tried to bring weapons aboard. But booze is the biggie. There’s a lot of profit in those Bahama Mamas.

Since it’s really about money, this does get back to my original tongue-in-cheek suggestion, maybe we should hire Carnival security at the airport and pay them for any prohibited items they find. Potential terrorists may not know what hit them.

  • Frank

    But booze is the biggie. There’s a lot of profit in those Bahama Mamas. Since it’s really about money, this does get back to my original tongue-in-cheek suggestion, maybe we should hire Carnival security at the airport and pay them for any prohibited items they find.

    Is it really about money or is it about liability? The Cruise ship reserves the right to CONTROL the amount of liquor a traveler consumes onboard.
    Prior to the liquid Rule, it was the same on flights. You could not drink from your own bottle inflight. To us, it was a safety issue.

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  • Janice Hough

    Frank, on a plane which is at most 10-12 hours and usually much less, I can see that it is a safety issue. A passenger drinking from his or her own bottle could get drunk very quickly. And in theory, a drunk passenger on a ship could be dangerous too. But I have been on many cruises and never seen bartenders cut a drunk off, even when they can barely get up from their deck chair to sign the receipt.

  • Dave

    Yet another reason why I will never go on a cruise.

  • Jen

    Geez…after this one and the story about the family with a special needs child had their vacation ruined on a Carnival Cruise, it’s a wonder why any agent would suggest them to a client. I know I won’t be doing so.

    People wouldn’t be trying to smuggle alcohol on the ships if they didn’t charge such exhorbitant fees for their drinks. I’d rather go to an All Inclusive any day!

  • David B

    I am going on my fifth (and last) Carnival cruise in April. It’s too late to back out for me. My bags will be locked when I checked them.
    On my last Carnival cruise my bags were pretty much destroyed and were never delivered to our cabin. We had booked a to be assigned c abin. When I complained at the service desk they could care less.
    I e mailed Carnival when I found out about the no lock policy. They replied with the crap that it’s about security. They insult my intelligence.
    We need to have this information spread around and have Carnival show a large drop in bookings. They forget passengers make the company.
    Thank God there are many other choices. I’ll pay more to be treated right.

  • vicki

    And with all the theft of our luggage we should leave it unlocked to make it easier for the luggage guys to rip us off? Is Carnival the only cruise line doing this? If so, I will never cruise with them again.

  • Paulette Baker

    A friend’s daughter, who didn’t know any better, put several pieces of silver jewelry in one of her bags the night before disembarking. Of course the jewelry was missing when she got home (no flights were involved). Items get stolen from locked luggage all the time, never mind from unlocked luggage. Carnival might as well put up a sign: “Abandon all hope, ye who bring their bags aboard.”

  • Alan

    First of all, you CAN bring liquor on board Carnival ships!! BUT, you have to follow the rules (of course)…
    1) It must be Wine or Champagne – no others are allowed
    2) You can only bring 1 bottle (1 litre size)
    3) You have to have it in your CARRY ON luggage
    4) It must be SEALED still
    5) You have to pay a corkage fee of $10 if you want to drink it in the dining room or $14 if in the ‘specialty’ steakhouses

    As to buying booze at one of the stops, well, it’s usually not as cheap as on board ship (weird, but true in most cases) and even then, as long as it’s SEALED still, you can bring it on board – HOWEVER, they will ‘hold’ it for you until the night before disembarkation AND you must adhere to the CUSTOMS rules as well (different depending on which ship/itenerary you are on).

    Oh, and you should TELL THEM about it when coming on board – NOT try to hide it… Hiding it means breaking the rules and they have every right to take it away from you!

    To Paulette: Your friends daughter should have LOCKED her bags before she put them out for disembarkation! They don’t require you to have them UNLOCKED when you get OFF the ship! It’s up to US Customs (ICE) to check your bags coming off the ship and they do so with X-rays as well as dogs and other types of things that can sniff out bombs and such – but mostly they are looking for drugs and contraband…

    So get some TSA locks (customs can open them if needed) but even if you don’t, LOCK YOUR BAGS if you want to prevent theft (or at least reduce it).

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  • Carlo

    Good reason not to take a cruise. By all means, please stay home. Maybe the people who are actually willing to pay for their alcohol will keep their consumption down to a reasonable level and will stop causing problems and jumping overboard!

  • BlahHahhaha

    Well, we all know Allan works for Carnival… :-) Money grubbers should never try to mask what the real issue is. Carnival wants to make money..end of subject. Comment board closed and thanks for all of your intelligent posts, except for Allan’s.

  • Goingonacarnivalcruise

    We’re going on a carnival cruise in a few months and I can’t wait. We’re occasional drinkers so we don’t have that urge to “hide” alcohol. Also, our suitcases are small enough to where we don’t have to check our baggage when we get on the ship, we can keep them with us. I’m not worried a bit, and I’m not going to stay home just to avoid following rules. I plan to have a great time and please, by all means stay home, that will mean less crowds for me :) And P.S. No I don’t work for Carnival or any affiliations.

  • David

    Locks on bags ??? Speaking for the rest of us cruisers, stay the heck home !!! We have people blowing folks up all over the world. I want boarding and re-boarding security to be as tough as it can be to assure the passengers will be safe. Lock your bags and get them tore up. If you have something to hide just stay on dry land !!! The rest of us are going crrrruiuiuiuiuuising !!!