Short cruises have become a favourite choice for boozy breaks by young people, according to one of our University of Brighton tourism experts.
Dr Clare Weeden, tourism and marketing Principal Lecturer at the university Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics, said there has been a noticeable change in passenger behaviour in the last decade, largely caused by operators trying to appeal to younger consumers.
Dr Weeden told Ship Technology magazine: “When I took students on a P&O cruise in 2009, it went from Southampton to Lisbon and back again along the coast of France. We had a fabulous time. They had the formal nights still, not every night, but formal dining. It was what you might expect from a cruise.
“Fast-forward to 2018, I took students on a P&O cruise to Bruges. Now, given that it was only a two-night cruise, it was like a booze cruise. It was such a different clientele, I was shocked.
“It was fascinating for the students, but we had hen parties, stag parties. Big groups of females, big groups of men, a much younger profile, much louder, and you could really see the interface between the traditional cruiser and the new cruiser who’s taking short cruises.
“Tourist behaviour notoriously changes when we’re away from home. It’s the same thing. We lose our inhibitions, we do things on holiday we would never dream of doing in our own hometown.
“They’re on a cruise and it’s like a bubble. It’s not real life, it’s a simulation of real-life and anything goes. It’s a bit like what goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas. It’s the same for cruising.”
Dr Jenni Holland does not believe that drinks packages make a dramatic difference in alcohol consumption on cruises.
Dr Holland, Dr Weeden’s former PhD student in the School of Sport and Service Management, worked in the cruise and tourism industry for two decades. Her thesis was on consumer decision-making on cruises and how the perception of risk influences this.
She said: “People very rarely on their cruise ships actually drink to the amount that would make the drinks package not a revenue generator.
“They’re really great for cruise lines because very few people would actually drink 15 drinks a day, for example. You have to drink about seven alcoholic drinks a day to break even on the spend.
“Generally speaking, it doesn’t really change their behaviour in that they have maybe an extra drink or two a day.”
She said drunken brawls such as happened on a cruise ship in the summer were very rare.