RCCL Enacts Age Minimum On Bookings

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By Ernest Blum

MIAMI -- Royal Caribbean International said it no longer is accepting student group bookings or bookings made by those under 21 unless accompanied by an adult 25 or older. The moves, which are effective immediately, follow actions taken by Carnival Cruise Lines last year in an effort to clamp down on youthful revelers, once identified exclusively with spring-break land destinations.

A Royal Caribbean spokeswoman said problems had arisen on the line's three- and four-night cruises as well as during spring-break periods for seven-day sailings.

The line defines a student group as one in which half or more members are under age 21. However, Royal Caribbean said it would honor student groups already booked for 1997 and 1998 sailings provided they meet new restrictions. For example, such groups will be required to increase the ratio of chaperones to group members, with one chaperone who is at least 25 years old for every seven who are not.

Additionally, Royal Caribbean is requiring a "damage deposit" of $75 per group member. The funds will go into a pool to cover damages by any group's members, a line spokesman said. Carnival has been requiring $50 "damage deposits" from youth groups.

On individual bookings, Royal Caribbean's rules mirror Carnival's by requiring guests under 21 to accompanied by an adult who is at least 25. And like Carnival, Royal Caribbean waived the requirements for married couples who are both under 21 years old. For children traveling with parents in separate cabins, Royal Caribbean said it will require adults to be in "adjacent" cabins, a stricter requirement than Carnival's.

At Princess Cruises, a spokeswoman said the line's only age limitation is that individuals under 18 must be accompanied by someone over 21. Stating that the line has not incurred spring break or other problems with youthful groups, the spokeswoman added, "We don't offer the kind of product that youth groups are seeking."

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