It has been a tumultuous year for Carnival.  After being forced into a mandatory hibernation during Covid, cruise starved passengers finally were permitted to sail again. 

Shortly after cruises restarted, a number of reported brawls erupted on Carnival cruise ships, including an incident aboard the Carnival Magic sailing from New York in late June, as well as a second altercation aboard the Carnival Elation sailing from Jacksonville in early July.  Videos and photographs of both events surfaced on social media spawning a number of negative comments about both the participants and Carnival.  

As a lawyer who regularly represents people who have been injured on cruise ships, I have investigated dozens of cruise ship fights over the last 31 years. In my experience, most cruise ship fights are the result of a combination of the over consumption and service of alcoholic beverages, coupled with an inadequately trained and understaffed security team. 

Cruise ship security guards are not the police, yet they are responsible for maintaining law and order on a cruise ship.  Today’s modern mega cruise ships are essentially floating metropolitan cities, with up to 10,000 people enjoying restaurants, bars, casinos, hotels, pools and stores.   Many of whom have purchased unlimited or prepaid alcohol packages that the cruise lines sell- encouraging people to consume more and more booze. 

Since many of these brawls occur in international waters there is no clear law enforcement jurisdiction- and often the events go unprosecuted, with little to no criminal consequences for the parties involved.

Carnival in response to the outrage over the continued negative publicity and perhaps its dwindling stock prices, just announced a change to their passenger ticket contract which governs the legal rights of both the cruise line and passengers- specifically with an aim to deter future brawls. 

The initial changes and clarification to the terms and conditions of Carnival’s Passenger Ticket will now give the cruise line the right to assess a penalty of up to $500.00 to passengers who violate Carnival’s Code of Conduct.   

But is this enough to deter this outrageous behavior? Time will tell.  But this is a good start.  

However, my guess is that intoxicated individuals who fight and create chaos on cruise ships will not magically transform into model passengers simply because they may face an additional $500 tacked on to their “Sail and Sign”, the invoicing system Carnival uses to track passenger purchases during a cruise. 

Rather, what really needs to happen is a mandatory minimum ratio of security personnel to passengers who are specifically trained to prevent disruptive behavior like fights and detain those disruptive passengers who are simply out of control.  And most importantly the criminal prosecution of those who commit assault and battery on other passengers and crew. 

Miami-based Aronfeld Trial Lawyers was established by Board Certified Trial Lawyer, Spencer Aronfeld in 1991. The firm represents cases resulting in serious injuries in the areas of Defective Product Liability, Maritime Law, Automobile Accidents, Premises Liability, Cycling Accidents, Slip and Fall Incidents, Wrongful Death, Medical and Dental Malpractice, Civil Rights Claims, Workplace Injuries, Maritime Law, Sexual Assault, and others. Every client receives the full benefit of our experience, our resources, and our commitment. The practice of personal injury law is our calling. We are a firm of high-profile, nationally recognized legal advocates who work for you, our client, never big business. All attorneys and staff members at the firm are bilingual speaking Spanish. To learn more, visit or contact Aronfeld Trial Lawyers directly at (305) 441-0440.

Published in Orlando Sentinel

Published in Daily Business Review