ServSafe on the Seas: Sail Safely, Drink Responsibly

Image Source: Royal Caribbean International

Responsible service of alcohol is tricky enough on land. Extending the awareness of the impact of alcohol to the sea requires an entirely different level of commitment. Royal Caribbean’s efforts to make sure standards remained high while moving through the world’s waters earned the cruise line the VIBE Vista Award for Best Responsible Alcohol Service Program at this year’s VIBE Conference.

By implementing the respected ServSafe program onboard, RCCL has provided crew members with clear guidance and expectations on what it means to serve alcohol safely. They have also provided guests with the assurance that they can expect a safe and enjoyable vacation experience.

The major issue: crew members consist of 60 different nationalities worldwide, making it challenging to ensure all are trained to the same standards. Through the ServSafe responsible alcohol program, RCCL was able to provide consistent training for each contracted employee, providing clear communication to crew members to make the right decisions as it relates to responsible alcohol service/consumption. All training is delivered through a computer-based program that gives each crew member the opportunity to learn at their own pace before they complete the certification process.

"Sail safely, please drink responsibly," is the message RCCL communicates to guests on board. A play on the idea of driving safely, most guests understand this concept. This disclaimer is used throughout all menu programs and cruise policies, and is supported by crew members by making responsible decisions where needed.

Other training materials emphasize current alcohol laws and insist on clear responsibility and accountability. Crew members are educated about such laws, as the majority of staff are not from the United States and need to be brought up to speed to understand responsible service practices. Some of the requirements include recognizing and preventing intoxication, checking identification (international and U.S. based), and how to handle delicate or difficult situations.

RCCL, through their POS system, is able to track individual guest consumption, as well as provide supportive crew reminders to monitor consumption frequency during weekly team meetings. These meetings also include a review of recipes, which are graded on a point system to identify the approximate drink count per beverage for each guest. This makes it easier for team members to keep track by individual drink count and accumulated points per drink, per guest.

In addition to helping create a safer and more enjoyable bar and restaurant atmosphere, the training has resulted in a reduction in alcohol related incidents. The program has provided crew members with additional confidence in understanding how to handle responsible alcohol service and ensure that all their guests “sail safely.”

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