Yet Another Brawl Erupts on the Carnival Paradise

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By Car Brand Experts

A footage of a scuffle on the Carnival Paradise while the cruise vessel was returning to Tampa the past month has been widely shared over the last couple of days. Newsweek reported the commotion in an article named “Chairs Thrown in Chaos: Cruise Ship Altercation Captured on Video.” The publication describes the “6-and-a-half-minute video displaying chairs being hurled across a dining area and a group of several women engaged in a physical altercation, exchanging blows, pulling hair, and dragging each other to the floor.” A security personnel arrives at the scene nearly sixty seconds into the incident. A cruise passenger recognized as @Rizzarioman123, intermittently appearing in the video with his eyes appearing bloodshot, clutching a drink in his hand while seeking late-night pizza, is heard swearing and inciting the brawlers as he narrates, step-by-step, the ruckus posted on TicTok.

Cruise Radio reported on the chaos and included a statement from Carnival referencing its grandiose yet deceptive conduct policy that highlights, in part: “Our Carnival Values emphasize that everyone should feel welcome and accepted, and that everyone aboard demonstrates care and respect towards others.” 

Carnival Cruise Line has essentially dominated the industry, so to say, in onboard altercations within its nightspots and poolside bars throughout the years. Predictably, Carnival leads in the number of physical assaults “resulting in severe bodily harm” as outlined by federal regulations, tallying at the bare minimum of fourteen (14) severe bodily harm cases reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2023 alone. (In contrast, there are only eight (8) severe harm incidents across all other cruise lines combined, making Carnival’s fleet the most violent cruise ships plying the open waters).

Historically, Carnival Cruise Line has labeled brawls like this as “limited, isolated, and unprecedented.” Any avid follower of the cruise industry understands that such conflicts, commonly occurring aboard Carnival ships, are far from uncommon. Nevertheless, in light of this latest brawl, the Carnival PR team merely announces that those implicated in the conflict will be prohibited from embarking on future Carnival cruises. With Carnival experiencing unparalleled sales and its ships running at full capacity, this action offers little deterrence against future violent incidents.

There exist numerous videos on YouTube illustrating the clashes that have erupted on cruise ships over the years. The overwhelming majority of these disturbances take place on Carnival vessels.

Several factors contribute to this predicament, in my view:

The “broader audience:” Cruising is currently more popular than ever. The industry’s trade association, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), projects that over 30 million passengers will embark on a cruise this year. Bargain prices have lured what Carnival Corporation’s past chairmen Micky Arison has described as the “wider audience.” This audience primarily comprises a younger and more exuberant crowd. Approximately fifteen years ago, in an article entitled Cruise Ship Altercations – A Growing Challenge with Expanding Vessels, I discussed former CEO Arison addressing potential issues associated with discounted cruise fares and a more varied group of passengers.

Arison remarked: “cruise ships are a microcosm of any city or any location and stuff happens . . . The downsides of discounting might translate to lower commissions for agents and reduced revenue for us but the upside is that it broadens the product’s appeal to a broader audience.” I pointed out that this “wider audience” would undoubtedly encompass a younger demographic, including what I refer to as the party-loving “Bud Light – tank top” crowd. Carnival has failed to recruit additional security staff to manage this rowdier clientele.

Excessive alcohol on increasingly massive vessels: Cruise lines do not solely rely on their ticket sales for profitability. Among all onboard expenditures, encompassing casino takings, shore excursions, specialty dining, and gift store revenues, alcohol sales play a pivotal role in ensuring the profitability of tax-exempt, foreign-flagged cruise liners. Encouraging alcohol purchases is a key component of Carnival’s acclaimed “fun ships.” Carnival rakes in hundreds of millions in tax-free revenue annually from alcohol sales across the Carnival Cruise Line fleet. Bartenders, earning solely from tips and gratuities, often tend to overindulge guests.

Inadequately trained and insufficient security personnel: A common grievance expressed by passengers is that ship security neglects to intervene at an early stage to halt potentially violent scenarios from escalating and spiraling out of control. Carnival’s typical response to brawls is to commend its purportedly “highly trained security personnel.” However, visuals of its security officers and ship officers physically restraining and striking passengers (and attempting to prevent passengers from filming the rampant violence) speaks volumes about Carnival’s onboard security and the cruise line’s supposed “zero tolerance” towards such violence. In numerous videos, Carnival security individuals are often sighted observing the altercations or preventing people from recording the mayhem.

Years ago, I questioned how Carnival would address the influx of the “broader audience” embarking on its larger cruise ships. If cruise ships can be likened to cities and “stuff happens,” as Carnival’s Arison correctly points out, what measures are cruise lines implementing to safeguard U.S. families? I posed this query back then and will reiterate it now: will Carnival and other cruise operators ever recruit a full team of well-prepared and seasoned security staff? Or will they persist in cost-cutting measures, relying on a few novice “guards” to shield their guests from the inevitable turmoil when thousands of individuals cram into these immense vessels, exacerbated by excessive alcohol consumption?

The answers to these inquiries are encapsulated in this video and the numerous additional Carnival brawl videos accessible online.

Would you like to share your thoughts or have a question? Kindly drop your comment below or engage in the dialogue on our Facebook page.

Update: July 2, 2024

The video was removed by TicTok, but @rizzarioman123 uploaded it on YouTube:

Update: July 3, 2024

Image credit: Carnival brawl – TicTok by @rizzarioman123, I Meme Therefore I Am (ImMeme0); Carnival Paradise – Crew Center CC By 4.0 commons / wikimedia.

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