Home >> Cruise Fiascos >> Can Princess Cruises really limit me to 15 booze drinks per day? Help!

Can Princess Cruises really limit me to 15 booze drinks per day? Help!

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Michelle Couch-Friedman

Consumer reporter and ombudsman

If you buy an unlimited alcoholic beverage package from your cruise line, can it change the terms later? That’s what Joan Barret wants to know.

Joan says Princess Cruises lured her onto this cruise with the promise of an unlimited alcoholic beverage package. But later, the cruise line changed the terms to “just” 15 cocktails per day. And those changes are unacceptable to Joan.

This tale begs the question: Should anyone on a cruise ship be under the influence of 15 or more alcoholic drinks per day? Probably not (JMO).

But Joan says that Princess Cruises should give her what it offered. She was promised unlimited alcoholic beverages on her cruise, and that’s what she and her traveling companions are demanding.

*Editor’s note: This article comes from our advocacy archives and was originally published in 2017.

The Princess Cruises unlimited alcoholic beverages package

Here’s the complaint that landed in my email box:

“One year after paying for an unlimited alcoholic beverages package, we found out that Princess has changed its policy and has limited alcoholic beverages to 15 per day!” Joan lamented. “I have always thought Princess Cruise Line to be a reputable company and didn’t think we’d have to worry that they would alter the promotion one year later.”

After Joan discovered this change in the promotion, she began a robust crusade to force Princess to uphold its promise of unlimited alcoholic beverages.

Myself and four friends decided to book this cruise based on the Sip ‘n Sail Promotion. Upon receiving our booking confirmation, I noticed it says all-inclusive beverage package but it doesn’t state unlimited. I called my travel agent to clarify. She told me that Princess Cruises changed their policy and now there is a daily alcohol limit.

As this issue has been very upsetting to me and my friends I am reaching out to you to get a positive resolution to our problem. I am anxious to have this resolved as soon as possible so I may then concentrate on booking excursions and be able to look forward to an exciting trip of a lifetime. I would like Princess Cruise Line to do the right thing and honor the unlimited terms as advertised


Princess Responds: No unlimited alcoholic beverages package on this cruise

The answer from Princess Cruises about the unlimited booze? No.

The daily 15-alcoholic beverages limit is firm — there is no unlimited alcoholic beverages package.

Joan then threatened to never use Princess Cruises again. (You can probably guess how that turned out.)

“I told [the executive] that I would never take another Princess cruise and would advise all of my friends and family not to do so either,” Joan recalled. “That executive just said that was my choice. But Princess would not be honoring the unlimited alcoholic beverages portion of this promotion for our cruise.”

Reaching the top Princess executives, Joan says she found nobody sympathetic to her plight. And that is when she turned to our advocacy team and hoped that we could reach out to Princess on her behalf.

“It is that unlimited alcoholic beverages promotion that made our decision to go on a Princess Cruise rather than another cruise line,” she complained. “I am requesting your help in getting this promotion for us.”

Although we love to reach successful resolutions for the consumers who contact us, this case had our advocacy team a bit astonished.

Does anyone really need more than fifteen adult beverages per day?

Fifteen adult beverages per day is a tremendous amount of alcohol for one person. And depending on the rate at which those drinks are ingested, a person could easily end up in a state of alcohol poisoning.

I found it hard to imagine how anyone would object to such a copious daily limit.

And with the frequency of news reports of drunken passengers behaving badly on cruise ships, injuring themselves and others and even falling (or jumping) off the ship altogether, it’s easy to see why Princess would put a cap on the cocktails in this package.

But putting all that aside, Dwayne and I did take a look at the Sip ‘n Sail package as listed on the Princess website.

While it does indicate that the package is “all-inclusive,” it doesn’t say “unlimited.”

Our advocacy team can’t advocate for your unlimited alcoholic beverages package

Unfortunately,  in the fine print of this promotion, it says “A daily alcoholic drink limit will apply.”

Princess Cruise does not specifically define the term “unlimited.” But when Joan asked, she found that on her cruise it would be 15 drinks per day.

Joan believes that Princess Cruises changed the terms of the unlimited alcoholic beverages package after she and her friends signed up for the promotion.

But for this passenger, it doesn’t matter. The terms and conditions of the beverage packages highlight that: “Princess Cruises may modify, amend or update the terms and conditions at any time with or without notice to guests.”

In the end, our consumer advocacy couldn’t get on board with this plea for help. But we hope that this group can still enjoy their “trip of a lifetime” even within these confines. (Michelle Couch-Friedman, Consumer Rescue)

*Before you go: What if a cruise operator owes you a big refund but won’t give it to you?

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Michelle Couch-Friedman

Michelle Couch-Friedman is the founder and CEO of Consumer Rescue. She is a consumer advocate, ombudsman columnist, mediator, writer, and licensed psychotherapist. Michelle is a public speaker, and her expert guidance has been cited in MarketWatch, Consumer Reports, Travel & Leisure, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Popular Science, CNN, CNBC, Boston Globe, CBS News, National Geographic, Travel Weekly, Reader's Digest and more. You might even catch Michelle on TV reporting on a situation. :) Michelle is also the travel ombudsman columnist for The Points Guy and is the former executive director of the nonprofit Elliott Advocacy. During her six years in that position, she resolved thousands of cases for troubled travelers and other consumers. You can read hundreds of 5-star reviews Michelle earned during her service to the nonprofit since 2016 here on Great Nonprofits. She is also a member of the Society of American Travel Writers. Today, she continues to spend as much time as possible fiercely defending consumers and traveling the world with her family. Contact her at Michelle Couch-Friedman or on Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook.