The thing about ship parties made me think about a more common event at Microsoft; Morale events. What I've seen is that depending on who's the hosting manager (i.e. the manager that is everybody else's boss directly or indirectly) your morale event will be different. On one end of the spectrum we have the manager who organizes booze cruises. In the middle you find managers who like fine dining and tasty beverages. And the other end of the spectrum we have managers who know they need (or think they need) to provide alcohol but they don't drink themselves. The first two types of morale events are typically appreciated by a lot of people. It's easy to like anything that involves tasty beverages and good food. The last type however tends to annoy a lot of people since supply of alcoholic beverages is often terribly underestimated. Because in my opinion, there is nothing worse than running out of food and drinks at a party.
Premtive comment: No, I don't think it's a must to provide unlimited amount of food and drinks. I would gladly pay for a few beers but the fact that you run out of drinks is pretty bad I think. It's OK to run out of drinks and food, but not when the party is starting. It's OK towards the end of a party!