Mom Says Vodka Drink Turned 3-Year-Old’s Boat Ride Into A Booze Cruise

Apparently 2012 is the year for accidentally giving very underage children alcohol: In the third incident we’ve seen in the news in the past few months, a mom is claiming a Memorial Day dinner boat ride turned into a booze cruise for her 3-year-old son, when he was given an orange juice with vodka in it by the catamaran’s staff.

The mom, who is on active military duty and stationed in Hawaii, says the family was all aboard the Ali’i Kai Catamaran on Saturday, May 26, and had ordered two pineapple juices and an orange juice, which she gave to her toddler. She got suspicious when he started acting up and getting flushed halfway through his drink.


“His whole ears, his neck… I don’t know if he’s allergic to alcohol. He just got really red and he just kept mumbling, ‘Momma it’s hot, it’s hot’, said [the mother]. “He was just so wild, so full of energy and tried to run here and there but couldn’t even stand straight.”

She says she then tried the drink, as well as other family members and nearby tourists, and determined it had vodka in it. She alerted their server who in turn told a manager, but the mom claims the response — employees giving the boy a bottle of water without offering medical attention or a formal apology — was severely lacking. The mom also claims no one followed up at the end of the cruise as to how her son was doing.

In addition to that lackluster response, she says she was told by one of the servers to keep the incident quiet so as not to ruin the whole night for other tourists.

She says she has notified the Honolulu Liquor Commission in the hopes that the company will make changes to its operations that won’t allow for something like that to happen again.

Roberts Hawaii, which manages the dinner cruise line, responded to the news story thusly:

“We sincerely regret, and are mortified at the error. We have had an alcohol safety procedure in place for 20 years and this is the first time we have had an incident like this. Once our crew realized what had happened, their immediate focus was on the well-being of our guest; we are pleased and relieved that he is okay. Roberts Hawaii’s highest priority is the safety of our guests. We have taken a number of immediate actions to ensure such an incident does not ever happen again, including changing our beverage containers so it will be much easier to differentiate the alcoholic beverages from the non-alcoholic ones, and holding additional staff training and meetings. We are also reviewing all other aspects of our food & beverage operations to identify what else can be done and we are committed to making additional changes as needed to improve.”

The mom says she was given a refund for about $280 for the family’s dinner, and offered a future trip, but that she probably won’t be going on another cruise anytime soon.

“Right now, if I take my son to any restaurant I will always test taste before I let him drink it,” she said.

Mom says 3-year-old served alcohol on cruise [Hawaii News Now]


Edit Your Comment

  1. RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

    He drinks the vodka drink…

  2. Clyde Barrow says:

    “Right now, if I take my son to any restaurant I will always test taste before I let him drink it,” she said.

    She must be one of them “15 and pregnant” reality t.v. stars.

    • Jawaka says:

      If she knew enough to contact Consumerist right after this happened then she should have already knew to check her kids drinks. In fact, if she was a responsible parent she would have been doing this anyways even before Consumerist started posting these stories weekly.

  3. Cat says:

    “Vodka Drink Turned 3-Year-Old’s Boat Ride Into A Booze Cruise”

    Or, just 2012 version of “Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup!”

  4. Stickdude says:

    Was the server male? If so, she’s lucky the kid didn’t get molested on the spot.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      This wasn’t the Barnes and Noble childrens book section.

    • El_Fez says:

      That’s unfair and unkind. I feel that you are misrepresenting male bartenders! He was probably far too busy that night to molest children and rape a woman.

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      Jenn, is that you in disguise?

  5. Blueskylaw says:

    “In the third incident we’ve seen in the news in the past few months. . .”

    Perhaps Consumerist should also report on lightning strikes which injure over 1000 people every year in the U.S. and kills around 100.

    • Nidoking says:

      I don’t think anyone is purchasing lightning. If they are, I’m sure I’d have heard about it on Consumerist.

      • finbar says:

        I have. Thor totally scrwed me on the price and the refund policy sucks.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        We also don’t buy speed trap cameras but Consumerist reports on them.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          We don’t? That’s odd, I seem to recall City Bond funds being used to purchase them.

          • Blueskylaw says:

            This is not The average consumer is not in the
            market for speed trap cameras even though their tax dollars are used to buy them.

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      No kidding. It’s alcohol! It’s not like kids are getting crack in their soda. It’s not like a human child can’t handle a little alcohol. You’d think their kid had been poisoned. And seriously, if a person calls 911 because their child was given an alcoholic drink at a restaurant, all emergency responders are rolling their eyes when they get the news.

  6. MickeyMoo says:

    Did she notice how busy the bar staff on a booze cruise are? Taste testing is probably a good idea under the circumstances.

    • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

      IMO, I don’t blame the mom that she has overlooked this. Unless I’m wrong, she ordered “pineapple and orange juice”, and it’s quite different from those moms that order “virgin strawberry daiquiris” for their kids, which can easily be confused by the people mixing these drinks and drop alcohol in it.

      Due to the growing trend of cases like this, though, I agree that parents should start tasting the drinks served to kids in a busy bar/resto.

  7. dulcinea47 says:

    I wonder if this really happens and has been happening all the time, but for some reason this year people have decided to make it a news story and get their 15 seconds of fame off it.

    • CubeRat says:

      I’ve thought the same thing.

    • smo0 says:

      There was an article on cracked about the whole “zombie” scare – when one incident happens, all of the sudden, all of these other articles with “similar” themes come popping up.
      The same thing happened when birds started dying and falling out of the sky and people claimed it was an apocalypse.
      Things like this happen all of the time, sometimes they are reported, sometimes people don’t care.

      But it’s true – all news is cyclical – there are running “themes.”
      The booze in the juice will probably keep going on, until it reaches all news outlets and restaurants are sufficiently scared enough to put a policy or repercussion for any server who lets one slip?

  8. Jawaka says:

    So parents know enough to contact each and every time that these things happen but not enough to check their kids drinks?

    • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

      Notice how there’s absolutely no indication that this was reported directly to Consumerist.

  9. T-Bone says:

    What did she expect them to do? Once you drink alcohol all you can do is wait for your liver to process it. Perhaps one can start feeding their child before allowing them to drink so some alcohol never makes it into the bloodstream but even that is being really paranoid.

    • kryptonianjorel says:

      Thats not how booze works. Food doesn’t “absorb” alcohol, instead, it allows a more regular opening of the stomach, so that if there is alcohol in your stomach, it is processed regularly. Drinking on an empty stomach allows an accumulation of alcohol in your stomach, so when it opens, much more goes into your intestines and is absorbed faster

      • T-Bone says:

        When you eat your stomach closes off so unprocessed/underprocessed food does not enter your intestines. Your stomach releases enzymes that break down some alcohol along with various other enzymes. That’s why bars serve food. You will get very drunk very quickly on an empty stomach but take longer and be able to drink larger quantities when you are eating.

  10. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    What’s with all the hostile comments. If the vodka was strong enough, it could have hurt the 3 year old.

    • who? says:

      The kid was running around. Drunk, but upright and running around. While it’s not good that he was drunk, he wasn’t passed out and drooling, puking his lungs up, or anything that would indicate that he needed medical attention. Mistakes happen. The family got a full refund, a free future trip, and the company is going to make some changes. What were they supposed to do besides what they did?

      • chefboyardee says:

        “but the mom claims the response — employees giving the boy a bottle of water without offering medical attention or a formal apology — was severely lacking”

        More than that.

        A child’s brain is still seriously developing at that age. Any amount of alcohol could seriously affect development in ways that aren’t immediately visible. This is a huge deal, not some little “oh, Johnny’s drunk, it’s funny” kind of thing.

        • d0x360 says:

          That just isn’t true. There is no way it will have any permanent effects. That only happens on a fetus

          • redwall_hp says:

            And alcohol is in pretty much everything, to some degree. “Any amount of alcohol…?” There’s alcohol in plain old orange juice. A miniscule amount, but it’s there. Any soda has a bit, too.

        • rmorin says:

          This just is not true.

          This one incident would not cause any developmental impairment.

    • rmorin says:

      No, it is very unlikely to have hurt the child. What exactly are you concerned about health wise? One drink is certainly not enough to get a child that size to any BAC that is dangerous. In terms of liver concerns, one drink is probably equally taxing on the liver as giving him tylenol a few times a day when he is sick. Dehydration only occurs if you operate on a fluid deficit for a period of time, not likely to occur after one drink.

      People have a lot of misinformation about alcohol. Not calling you out specifically, but it amazes me how little adults know about something they consumer so frequently.

      • Coffee says:

        Pretty much…and before you decide to argue with rmorin, he works in a medical field. Unless the kid was somehow chugging alcohol straight and completely ignored by his parents, there’s no real danger here, apart from him running off the boat and drowning, which I guess is something.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      Not only was he not hurt, he got up the courage to ask the waitress out.

  11. adlauren says:

    The most surprising part of this to me is that their dinner was almost $300 holy crap

    • AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

      It was dinner and a boat trip on a holiday weekend in Hawaii. $300 for the whole family isn’t off base.

      • T-Bone says:

        Actually, she was off base. I’m pretty sure the base she is stationed at wasn’t the one hosting the cruise!

      • Lady Anaesthesia says:

        And given she’s military if she booked it through USO or possibly even through the company itself there’s a good chance that she was paying less than the actual rate for it.

  12. MrEvil says:

    I can understand how these incidents are a complete FAIL on part of the restaurant. Seems like more and more eateries are shuffling off the duty of preparing all beverages to the bar. Which is how these mix-ups happen. The bartender might get distracted by an unruly or insistent patron at the bar and forget which is the plain OJ and which is the favorite of Russian oil rig workers. You’re not going to be able to tell by just looking at it, and with all the spillage and drunk patrons you’re probably not going to smell the alcoholic drink vs the non alcoholic one.

    Thankfully, these incidents seem pretty well isolated, otherwise I’d say any establishment that serves alcohol and allows the admittance of minors prepare all non-alcoholic beverages in a separate location.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      Vodka is more expensive than orange juice so it’s a smart business decision to put as little of it in a kid’s oj.

      It seems odd to me that a family guzzling down booze worries what booze will do to their little red-faced snowflake. Once he’s of age he can become another pickle but until then… not a drop.

  13. ronbo97 says:

    >She says she then tried the drink, as well as other family members and nearby tourists, and determined it had vodka in it.

    Not to question the OP, but isn’t Vodka flavorless in mixed drinks ? Full disclosure: I don’t drink, so this is what I’ve been told.

    Could something else in the OJ have caused this reaction ?

    • rmorin says:

      The short answer is “it depends”.

      It depends on the quality of the vodka, the mixers, and how drunk the person drinking already is.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      No, it’s not really flavorless. Screwdrivers (vodka and OJ) are my mixed drink of choice, and yes, you can taste it. Although I’m curious as to why the kid drank it, unless it was really weak. I would have thought he would have been grossed out by it.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      The OJ most likely caused the supposed allergy. Citrus is way more of an allergen than vodka. Plus, it’s rare to have a reaction to something upon the initial exposure. The body generally need to have been exposed to the allergen previously to recognize it as an invader.

  14. d0x360 says:

    Aside from water and a sorry what can they do? She expected medical care? There is nothing they can do either. No kids shouldn’t drink but let’s not overreact here. Accidents happen and they have always happened. The internet just let’s everyone tell the world about their silly problems.

  15. pythonspam says:

    Procedural question:
    So if the cruise ship is in international waters, what is the legal drinking age? (Not that I am condoning consumption of alcohol by a 3-year-old.)

    If a ship is flagged out of the Bahamas and sailing from New York to Venice, are there guidelines? Does each cruise company set their own policies?

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      I think the destination’s laws are in force. So if the cruise is heading to Dubai maybe they have to stone him or something. ;^)

      • RvLeshrac says:

        When in any international travel situation, your country of citizenship’s laws apply unless your destination’s laws are more strict (barring some strange sort of treaty). That’s why you’re not allowed to go to small Asian countries and pick up under-age prostitutes, no matter how not-explicitly-illegal they make it.

        • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

          Citation please. I really find it very unlikely.

          I understand that the UK passed such laws over their citizens, but I don’t think any laws like that apply to Americans. The USA does have laws against booking sex-cruises but I’m pretty sure that once you are out of US jurisdiction the local laws are all you have to worry about, unless you are plotting the overthrow of the government.

          Why would someone have to go to a small Asian country to get an underage prostitute? Isn’t the average starting age of a local prostitute like… 14?

    • iesika says:

      Most cruises that start in US waters will only serve alcohol to you if you are over 21. It is my understanding that this is policy based, not law based, and that there is no law preventing you giving your teenagers as much duty-free rum as you like, but I could be wrong. I’m remembering something fuzzily from the last cruise I was on, more than ten years ago.

  16. iesika says:

    I thought faux-blaming the OP for ordering orange juice for her child would be funny, and then I read the rest of the comments. Sheesh. You people…

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      It just isn’t a big deal. This woman is blowing the situation way out of proportion. She needs to act like a decent human being and realize that accidents happen and that the kid is fine. He was in no danger from having such a small amount of alcohol. She’s just being a drama queen. Everyone has to make such a big stinkin’ deal about every little thing these days.

      • Moniker Preferred says:


      • shufflemoomin says:

        I don’t think it’s fair to label her as a drama queen. If she went to the media about it, I’ll bet there’s thought of “pay day” floating around in her head.

  17. Cicadymn says:

    Kids have always been accidentally given alcohol.

    It’s just now you have more irresponsible kneejerk parents who are either looking to get paid over a minor (hehe) mistake, or are just so far gone that they think a few sips of alcohol warrants a full stomach pump and colonoscopy.

    • webweazel says:

      Yes, evidently alcohol is a deadly poison to those who are under the age of 21. Anyone under the age of 21 who consumes alcohol of even the tiniest amount must be immediately rushed to the emergency room or else face dying a horrible writhing death spewing alcohol-tainted blood out of every orifice of their body. Somehow a person’s entire metabolism changes on the exact day of their 21st birthday at the precise stroke of midnight, and then all of a sudden their body is actually able to process alcohol without dying in a viscous pool of blood. It’s fascinating how nature works!

  18. frankrizzo:You're locked up in here with me. says:

    Unbelievable. Say you’re sorry. Show that you give a fuck. Wait on these people hand and foot. Make sure you do everything possible for them. Then pray they don’t sue you.

    Compassion and empathy can go a long way.

    Then fire the server or the bartender or both.

  19. Gladeye says:

    3 times in the past few months doesn’t sound like a big deal. Mistakes happen and this kind isn’t going to cause any permanent damage. When my son was 4, we were at a party and he took the tequila shot next to plate for water. He only managed a small sip before spitting it out in disgust. A minute later, he was drinking real water and was fine.

  20. RayanneGraff says:

    employees giving the boy a bottle of water without offering medical attention or a formal apology — was severely lacking. The mom also claims no one followed up at the end of the cruise as to how her son was doing.

    What the hell does this stupid woman want the doctors to do for the kid? Pump his stomach? Pour activated charcoal down his throat? When I was a kid, moms used to regularly put brandy in the bottles to get teething babies to shutup, but now all of a sudden a toddler taking a few sips of diluted vodka warrants an ER visit? I fear for the future of the human race if people have really gotten that goddamn delicate. And why does she want them to follow up with how her son was doing? Good lord, what an attention whore. They apologized, gave her a refund, offered her a free cruise, what the hell else does she want? I hate how people nowadays throw these HUGE fits over innocent mistakes.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      Life-Flight for the kid and his helicopter mom. Where’s Dad? All those drunk men around and a partially inebriated 3yo child… she’s lucky something worse didn’t happen to her or the child. ;^)

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Apparently people are so bored with their lives that they feel the need to feign outrage at every little mistake anyone makes, even when it is harmless. This woman is a complete and utter drama queen.

      • 2 Replies says:

        Oh noes!
        Someone is USING the comment functionality to voice their opinion!
        Call the white knights!

  21. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    It was an accident. People make mistakes. Why would they give medical attention? He drank 1/2 of an alcoholic drink. It isn’t a medical emergency. It’s a little booze. There is nothing they can do about it once it happens. I can assure you that kids his age have had more alcohol than he had. People used to give hot toddies to small children to stop severe coughs back before people got hysterical about everything. Plus, they gave a refund. They didn’t ask about the kid b/c perhaps they noticed that he was perfectly fine and did not feel the need to ask. And on a booze cruise, I would definitely check any drink I gave my kid.

  22. SubDude says:

    Dang, why do I never get free alcohol? Maybe I should start ordering juice in restaurants and on boats. Me likey getting my drink on for free. Woohoo!

    • missminimonster says:

      When I was in high school this actually happened to a friend’s mom. She ordered pineapple juice and immediately discovered it had vodka in it.

  23. ILoveBacon says:

    Three incidents reported over the span of months? Dear, god, rescue us from this nightmarish pandemic!

  24. shufflemoomin says:

    This seems the easiest thing to fake ever. It’s an easy way to make a buck out of companies. I don’t think it’s co-incidence that we’re seeing more and more reports of this happening lately. I think some people hear or read about it happening and decide to pretend it’s happened to them.

  25. seth1066 says:

    Whenever I order a Screwdriver there’s never enough booze in it. I’m correcting that by ordering plain OJ on the rocks from now on.

    • 2 Replies says:

      The mother was just ordering drinks for her son while his body mas ratio was still low enough for him to drink on the cheap! :-D

  26. scoosdad says:

    “Once our crew realized what had happened, their immediate focus was on the well-being of our guest

    No, more like:

    “Once our management got wind of what happened and that our company was negatively portrayed in the media, our immediate focus was on damage control for our future business.”

  27. Jules Noctambule says:

    Around a hundred years ago, people still gave children laudanum for everything from coughs to diarrhea. Surprisingly, most of the children survived regular doses of opium-alcohol mix (if illness didn’t kill them, either).

  28. Jules Noctambule says:

    Around a hundred years ago, people still gave children laudanum for everything from coughs to diarrhea. Most of the children survived regular doses of opium-alcohol mix (if illness didn’t kill them, either) and went on to become adults.

  29. make7acs says:

    Sounds like a unreasonable mother. Formal apology given + a significant refund. Cruise staff are super busy 99% of the time and mistakes like this happen more often than you would think, only recently have people been going to the news about it.

    Lil bit of liquor isn’t going to kill junior. Hell, I remember my mom letting me sip her pina coladas.

  30. 2 Replies says:

    Maybe I’m just overly cautionary… but shy didn’t she TRY the drink herself before giving something that someone else prepared to her child?

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