P&O cruise ship brawl 'was fuelled by 15 free drinks' offer for customers

Ross McGuinness
Queen Elizabeth II officially names P&O's new cruiser liner Britannia.
A mass brawl broke out on the Britannia cruise liner (Picture: PA)

A mass brawl on a cruise ship was fuelled by passengers indulging in a “15 free drinks” offer, eyewitnesses have said.

Two people were arrested after the fight broke out on P&O’s Britannia cruise ship last Friday as it was returning from a week-long trip to the Norwegian fjords.

Six people were injured in the brawl and one witness was covered in blood after plates and furniture were thrown when two groups of passengers had an argument at about 1.30am in the ship’s Horizon restaurant on the 16th floor.

The two people arrested, a 41-year-old woman and a 43-year-old man, have been released under investigation.

One person on board described the cruise as “Benidorm on Sea” and said many passengers were on an unlimited drinks package.

Since the beginning of this year, P&O passengers have been offered a £40-a-day “Ultimate” drinks package, which allows them to have 15 drinks, including wine and spirits, in a 24-hour period between 6am and 6am.

P&O's newest cruise ship Britannia arrives at Southampton, prior to her naming ceremony on Tuesday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 6, 2015. Capable of carrying more than 3,600 passengers and 1,350 crew, the 1,082-ft long vessel is the largest cruise ship designed specifically for the British holiday market. Boasting 15 passenger decks, 13 bars and 13 places to eat, the #473 million Britannia has a three-tier atrium, a 936-seater theatre, four swimming pools, and a multi-million pound art collection. See PA story SEA Britannia. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 6, 2015. See PA story SEA Britannia. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
The fight happened in a restaurant on the 16th floor of the ship (Picture: PA)

A female passenger said she and her young son were woken by the aftermath of the brawl.

The woman, who did not want to be named, told Mail Online: “From the moment we embarked on the ship we found many of the other guests to be rude, have zero manners or respect for others.

“The boat was basically Benidorm on Sea with a me, me, me attitude. We found many people were there purely to drink as much as they could with their unlimited drinks packages.”

On the afternoon before the fight, the ship hosted a “Great British Sailaway” party.

US-based maritime lawyer Jim Walker, from Florida, told The Times that his cases often involved drinks packages offered by many cruise companies.

He said: “Are we seeing a correlation between drinks packages and violence? Generally we are.

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“We’ve had cases where passengers have been involved in bar fights and the alleged assailants have had a drinks package. They’ve said that they drank all 15 drinks, that they didn’t want to leave any money on the table.”

Cruise companies that embark from the US are required by law to disclose the number of criminal incidents on board, something that isn’t enforced in the UK.

P&O’s US owner, Carnival, recorded 134 serious criminal incidents on its ships in the past three years, including 100 alleged sexual assaults, The Times reported. The figures only apply to ships that set off from the US and do not include any P&O cruise liners.

Picture taken with permission from twitter posted by @LandoNorrisClub of police outside Southampton cruise terminal. A passenger dressed as a clown sparked a mass brawl on a P&O cruise ship, according to reports.
Police arrested two people at Southampton cruise terminal (Picture: PA)

Police and P&O said a clown was not the cause of the mass brawl, refuting earlier reports.

It had initially been reported that the violence erupted after a passenger dressed as a clown interrupted a black-tie party held in one of the ship's 13 restaurants.

According to a female entertainer who works on the Britannia, the clown crashed a black-tie party held in the 16th-floor restaurant, prompting anger from the other passengers.

However, P&O said there was no clown on board and said this was supported by ship staff. This was confirmed by Hampshire Police.

The Britannia Cruise ship the UKs Biggest ship  passes the Groyne on the South Shields side of the mouth Tyne as  The mighty P&O ship will pass Souter Point, Lizard Point and the mouth of the River Tyne in the evening as part of her tour around the country.  She set sail from Southampton on Monday for the 12-night cruise around the British Isles including ports of call in Scotland, Ireland, the Channel Islands and mainland UK. .PA Photo Owen Humphreys
The Britannia was returning from a week-long trip to Norway when the fight happened (Picture: PA)

After the Britannia arrived in Southampton, a man, 43, and a 41-year-old woman, both from Chigwell, Essex, were arrested on suspicion of assault.

The pair were released from custody on Sunday but remain under investigation.

Hampshire Police said: "There was no clown on board or involved in this incident. Officers are investigating following reports of a public order incident on board P&O's Britannia.”

The Britannia was returning from Bergen, Norway, following a week-long cruise which would have cost the passengers about £1,000.

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