Would you pay $42.95 a day (plus 15 percent gratuity) for virtually unlimited bar drinks on your next Carnival cruise? What about paying the same amount for, say, 15 drinks? That's the big change now being tested on 13 Carnival ships.
The statement from Carnival:
We are still in a trial period with the CHEERS! beverage program which is currently being piloted on 13 ships. We recently made a change to the program, formalizing the limit on how many alcoholic drinks guests will be served within a 24-hour period (15 drinks total within the 24-hour period which runs from 6am to 6am the following day). Sodas and other applicable non-alcoholic beverages remain unlimited and will not be counted toward the 15 alcoholic beverages limit, and all other policies and procedures remain the same.
Although Carnival isn't stating the rationale behind the curtailment of all the booze you can use, one might conjecture that it was to cut down on the amount of Chardonnay-sharing (not allowed, even between spouses) or too many ambitious imbibers who, in the maritime spirit of a cruise, end up three three sheets to the wind.
No doubt some cruise passengers will object to the revised rules, but if, like the new policy, you measure your drinking day beginning at 6 in the morning, you probably ought to slow it down a tad anyway, buddy. Besides, a 15-libation limit seems on the generous side—and cheap, too. With that many drinks, each serving of beer, wine, or spirits in the CHEERS! package averages $3.29, including tip. Try getting your drink on anywhere else for that price.
But let's see what it would take to actually get through a Carnival day of drinking under the new plan.
Breakfast: One Bloody Mary to bring the menu into focus, then a glass of Champagne to add glamour to your Western omelet.
Elevenses: How about an Irish coffee to ward off the mid-morning chill. What's that? It's already 80 degrees on the Lido Deck? Spoilsport.
Lunch: Burgers and beer. To be specific, two 20-ounce goblets of icy Thirsty Frog amber ale on draught, available only on Carnival cruise ships.
Poolside: Something with an umbrella in it, preferably in the rum family. Let's make it a mojito.
Pre-dinner cocktails: The sun is over the yardarm, and you know what that means. Shall it be a mai tai or a Long Island iced tea? Brilliant solution: one of each.
Din-din: Maybe a little red tonight. A glass of Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir with the Caesar salad and a Hess Select Cab with the broiled Australian lamb chops. Top it off with a dram of Rémy Martin V.S.O.P with dessert and coffee.
On the dance floor: A couple of margaritas should help you recall how to do the Hustle on '80s Nostalgia Night.
Beddy-bye time: Stop by the bar for a quick nightcap--to wit, a Grand Marnier under the stars, with just the moon, the ocean, and you—and an incipient headache as violent as any Tarantino film.
At this point, you're probably too pickled to do the math, but in fact you have not yet imbibed your 15-drink limit. Don't worry. There's always tomorrow.
Mark Orwoll is the International Editor of Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter at @orwoll.