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The Ultimate Guide to Packing for a Cruise (Photo: REDPIXEL.PL/Shutterstock.com)

What Can You Not Bring on a Cruise? Here Are 8 Things You Shouldn't Pack

The Ultimate Guide to Packing for a Cruise (Photo: REDPIXEL.PL/Shutterstock.com)
Ming Tappin

Last updated
May 3, 2024

Read time
5 min read

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1. You Can’t Bring Firearms and Explosives on Your Cruise Ship

Fireworks at Sea on Disney Cruise Line (Photo/Gregg Norman at Disney Cruise Line)

This is a no-brainer: you can’t bring anything that can harm yourself or others onboard a ship. But it’s also important to mention that even if the right to carry firearms is legal in the state where you are boarding the ship (and even if you have the required permits), you still cannot bring them onboard.

Firecrackers and fireworks are also not allowed to be brought onboard at any time, even though some ships include fireworks as part of their entertainment or if you are traveling on a cruise that goes over a holiday where fireworks are traditionally used for celebrations.

2. You Can’t Have Weapons and Objects that Could Be Potential Weapons

Just like at airports, sharp objects, knives, guns, ammunition, and weapons of any kind -- including replicas like toy guns -- are not allowed to be brought onboard the ship (but nail clippers and small scissors are fine). Sports equipment such as scooters, skateboards, baseball bats and hockey sticks that could potentially be used as a weapon or otherwise cause damage, injuries and liability are also banned.

3. Drugs and Any Other Banned Substances Are Prohibited on Your Cruise Ship

Drug dogs in Long Beach cruise terminal (Photo: Chris Gray Faust)

Similar to firearms, even if a narcotic or substance (marijuana or cannabis products, for example) is declared legal in the embarkation state, it is still prohibited to bring it on the cruise. This includes products containing CBD oil, candies and edibles, even if prescribed by a physician as medication.

To detect illicit material, many port authorities employ K9 dog units that will sniff every piece of checked and carry-on luggage (and even every passenger) prior to embarkation. Carnival Cruise Line has even started using drug-sniffing dogs at ports of embarkation to combat cannabis and other illicit substances from being brought onboard.

Drugs are a serious security matter onboard ship, and you definitely don’t want to get on the wrong side of the law. Many countries, too, have strict laws that can land passengers in jail for attempting to bring drugs off the ship that can result in jail time or, in some places, even the death penalty.

4. Alcoholic Beverages Are (Mostly) Not Allowed on a Cruise Ship

The Ultimate Guide to Drinking Alcohol on Cruise Ships (Photo: Princess Cruises)

Except on embarkation day where you are allowed to bring onboard a bottle of wine or champagne on most lines, all other alcoholic beverages are not allowed. And don’t try to sneak them inside your checked bags or other containers such as water or mouthwash bottles.

All luggage going onboard the ship is screened, and any suspicious containers will be opened and removed if the rules are violated. Once the cruise is underway, any alcohol purchased at a port of call or onboard the ship’s shop will be stored by security, and guests can retrieve them on the last evening of the cruise.

5. Items that Are Fire Hazards Aren’t Allowed on Your Cruise

Grandeur of the Seas in St. Maarten (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Fire is the most dangerous hazard onboard a cruise ship, so it makes complete sense that you aren’t allowed to bring anything flammable, that makes an open flame, or has a heating element.

The list includes -- although certainly not limited to -- any flammable liquid or fuel (although disposable cigarette lighters are fine), candles, incense, coffee makers, kettles, hot plates, heating pads, electric blankets and clothes irons.

Not every cruise line has the same rules about curling irons and heat-generating hairstyling tools: some allow them if used with proper care and are unplugged when unattended, while others outright say no.

Hand-held clothes steamers and power bars are another gray area, as they can potentially overheat if left plugged in. If you want to bring these items onboard, it’s best to check with the cruise line you are sailing with for their rules.

6. Pets (Except Service Animals) Can’t Board with You on a Cruise

Except for service animals, you aren’t allowed to bring pets onboard the ship. Cruise lines have specific definitions as to what qualifies as a service animal. The animal must perform tasks to aid the human -- for example, a seeing-eye dog -- who otherwise would not be able to function on their own. Although you can double-check with the cruise line you plan to sail with, emotional support animals of any kind typically do not qualify as a service animal.

One exception to the no-pets rule is Cunard Line, where guests can transport their cats and small dogs on any of the Queen Mary 2’s transatlantic sailings that depart from Southampton, Hamburg, or New York. Pets are accommodated in one of the ship’s 24 kennels (which needs to be pre-booked and paid for) and are looked after by a crew member. Pets must remain in the kennel area at all times and are not allowed to be in the guest’s cabin or any public areas, although guests can visit their pets during scheduled hours.

7. Don’t Bring Fresh Flowers or Plants on Your Ship

Arctic flowers in Greenland on a Scenic Eclipse II shore excursion (Photo/Chris Gray Faust)

Thinking of brightening up your cabin by bringing a bouquet of flowers or a potted plant onboard? Think again because you won’t be allowed to do so, as these items may carry pollen/seeds or agricultural diseases that might inadvertently impact the ecosystems on the ship or in ports of call that you visit.

If you want flowers for yourself or give them as a gift to those cruising with you, order them from the cruise line’s Bon Voyage Gifts department, and they will be waiting in the cabin on embarkation day.

8. Drones: Flying or Remote-Controlled Devices Are Not Allowed on Cruises

Drone shot of Icon of the Seas coming into Miami (Photo: Nathan Ashinhurst)

With drones increasingly gaining in popularity, you may consider taking one onboard to record aerial footage of your cruise. Or you or your child might want to bring a remote-controlled vehicle or flying device to play with onboard. Neither is allowed, as drones interfere with the ship’s operations, not to mention they can intrude on people’s privacy, and any remote-controlled toys can be a safety hazard for other guests or have a chance of going overboard.

In addition, many places and ports around the world have outright banned the use of drones or have placed restrictions on their use to those who have approved permits or licenses. Unless you’re one of those folks, leave the drones grounded.

Publish date January 08, 2020
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