Bringing or Buying Cigarettes on a Cruise Ship? Here’s What You Must Know

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Whether you’re a smoker or you’re looking to hopefully pick up some cigarettes for a friend or family member, it’s important to know what the rules are about bringing cigarettes onto a cruise ship and whether you can buy them on board.

How many cigarettes are you allowed to bring onto a cruise ship? And how many can you buy to take home? Let’s take a look…


You can bring as many cigs as you want on your cruise

Unlike alcohol, there are no limits on the number of cigarettes you pack into your luggage. The only rules are related to the type of lighters you can bring onto a cruise ship, and where you smoke.

So feel free to bring your own cigarettes on a cruise ship if you have a particular brand that you prefer, or if you just don’t want to be buying when you’re on the cruise ship.

As long as they are regular cigarettes, there won’t be an issue. Any kind of cannabis cigarette would be banned though, so don’t try sneaking any of those on – you’ll likely be told you can’t cruise.

In terms of the lighters, a regular lighter is also fine. Novelty lighters, especially those that look like guns, are typically prohibited, while torch lights that have a powerful flame are also banned. 

Most cruise ships sell cigarettes on board

Cruise ships will have a store that sells cigarettes and other goods, including alcoholic drinks. Some cruise lines will only sell cartons but others may sell individual packets that you can buy.

Hand holding a small pack of cigarettes in front of an open cash register with various denominations of banknotes secured under metal bill clips, suggesting a transaction or sale of cigarettes possibly on a cruise ship.

If you’re on a cruise ship that only sells cartons, but you prefer to buy single packets, you might have better luck trying when you’re in port, depending on where you’re cruising to. Sometimes you’ll get better prices even than the duty-free costs you would pay on the ship.

You can also sometimes buy individual packets of cigarettes at some of the bars on the ship – typically, the casino bar will be stocked with them and some other bars may be too. You may not see them displayed, but just ask your server and they’ll let you know.

Cruise ship cigarettes are duty-free

Cruise ships usually sell duty-free cigarettes, meaning you can get cartons cheaper than you would on land because you don’t have to pay the duty tax on top of the regular price. 

However, on some cruises in Europe, duty-free shops are not permitted to open, because of EU regulations. Cruises from the UK are fine, but if your cruise embarks from an EU port and only sails to other EU ports, you might not be able to buy cigarettes free of tax.

As to whether you can smoke them on the cruise, or if you need to wait until the last day and collect them to take off the ship, it varies. If you’re buying individual packets from the bars, these are taxed and so you can smoke them whenever you want.

Most cruise lines don’t publish this information, unfortunately, but here’s what I’ve found from a mix of cruise line policies and cruise forum posts:

Cruise LinePolicy
Ambassador Cruise LineHeld until the end of the cruise
CarnivalCan be taken back to your cabin
Celebrity CruisesNo information available, but likely the same policy as Royal Caribbean below
Cunard LineCan be taken back to your cabin
Disney Cruise LineHeld until the end of the cruise
Holland America LineCan be taken back to your cabin
Marella CruisesHeld until the end of the cruise
MSC CruisesHeld until the end of the cruise
Norwegian Cruise LineHeld until the end of the cruise
P&O CruisesHeld until the end of the cruise
Princess CruisesCan be taken back to your cabin
Royal CaribbeanVaries – “in some areas” cigarettes are held

However, if you’re buying cartons, it’ll depend on the cruise line and sometimes on where you’re sailing.

You may be able to take them back to your room, or you may need to collect them on the final day of your cruise before you disembark.

Screenshot of a forum post by user Salacia responding to a question about purchasing cigarettes on a cruise. Salacia explains that passengers can buy a pack of cigarettes in various bar areas on board and take them immediately, but cartons purchased in the Duty-Free shop are held until the last day of the voyage. The post is dated September 13, 2012. “...if the carton/s are purchased in the Duty-Free shop, the cigs are held until the last day of your voyage.”

There are limits to how many cigarettes you can bring home

While some cruise passengers have reported being limited to two cartons of cigarettes on their cruise, you can usually buy as many as you want.

However, there will be limits on how many you can bring back into your home country duty-free, and you should declare any extras when you disembark the ship.

It’s important you’re aware of the customs rules for your country. For both the UK and the US, the rules are the same – you can bring back a maximum of 200 cigarettes (so one carton, typically) from duty-free, but anything over that you will need to declare at customs and pay tax on.

Make sure you check the size of cartons you’re buying. While typically a carton refers to a full 200 cigarettes, some of those sold on cruise ships are smaller and hold 100.

A lot of cruise passengers have said that they’ve bought lots of cartons and just been waved through at customs, without being checked, or they’ve just lied and said they have nothing to declare and they haven’t been searched.

In my experience, if your cruise arrives home at the weekend you’re much less likely to find customs staff present in the port, but don’t bank on that.

If you want to take this risk, then it’s on you, but be aware that technically, it’s smuggling and you could land a hefty fine. If you’re bringing back enough cartons that it looks like you’re planning on selling them on for profit, then you could even risk a prison sentence – it’s that serious.

security person on a cruise ship

The Cost of Cigarettes on a Cruise vs. On Land?

Cigarettes on a cruise ship are usually cheaper than they are on land – sometimes a third of the price you would pay ashore, depending on your chosen brand and if the cruise line has any special offers available. But it also depends on where you would buy them on land.

Cruise lines don’t publish the prices of cigarettes on their websites so it’s hard to get an accurate price at any one time – they may fluctuate. However, I’ve found some example prices from some of the biggest cruise lines that will serve as an example.

On most cruise ships, you can expect to pay between $55 and $75 for a carton of 200 cigarettes. A packet of 20 cigarettes will cost you between $6.50 and $9.

“Individual packs of Marlboro at the casino bar were $6.95 on Mariner in September.”

But the really big savings come when you get multi-buy offers – a common one is to buy three cartons and get a fourth free. So you can bring down the average cost of a carton of cigarettes to under $40.

A photograph of a Royal Caribbean International receipt for the purchase of Marlboro Silver cigarettes, totaling $165.00 on the Adventure of the Seas cruise. The receipt shows multiple purchases of the same item, with the server named Andres and the date as November 23, 2023.

In the US, a packet of cigarettes costs an average of $8, but it varies by state. The cheapest cigarettes are in Missouri, where they cost $6.11 per pack. The most expensive are in New York, with an average price of $11.96.

Cartons cost anything from $70 to $120 or even more – a lot of people have reported paying much higher prices!

Screenshot of a forum conversation where user sgttami responds to BasicSailor's comment about the price of cigarettes. Sgttami mentions that $52.50 per carton is a smoker's delight price and compares it to higher prices in New York and New Jersey as told by their sister. The post is dated February 12, 2023, and has received emoji reactions for 'love' and 'laugh'. “My sister pays $157.00 a carton in New York and New Jersey is $120.00.”

In the UK, cigarette packets are a lot more expensive – after checking all the big supermarkets in the UK, the cheapest packet of 20 cigarettes is £11.20 while the average is around £13.50. That works out at around $17 per packet.

UK cartons of cigarettes cost around £120 to £150 to buy.

AveragesOn a cruise shipOn land (USA)On land (UK)
Cost of a Packet$7$8£13.50 / $17
Cost of a Carton (200)$60$90£120 / $150
Close-up of a lit cigarette held between fingers, with smoke curling upwards, on the blurred background of a cruise ship deck.

Should you bring your own or buy them on board?

Typically, it’s better to buy your cigarettes onboard your cruise, but it depends.

The pros of buying the cigarettes on the cruise ship:

  • You’ll save money since they’re usually significantly cheaper
  • If you’re planning on smoking them on the ship, you’ll save packing space
  • You can get a great deal if there’s a multibuy offer running

But the downsides are:

  • They might not stock your preferred brands
  • Some cruise lines hold duty-free cigarettes until the end of your cruise, so you can’t enjoy them onboard


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Final Word

If you’re planning on buying cigarettes to take home with you, then buying onboard does make sense since you can often get a great deal.

Check the prices in port, too though, since you are allowed to buy cigarettes on land and bring them back onto the ship – they may just be taken from you until the last day of your cruise, just as alcohol would be.

For smoking on the ship though, it may be better to buy before you travel, rather than relying on picking up the occasional packet from the bars onboard since not all will sell them, and you’re guaranteed to get your preferred brand.

Check your cruise line, too, since duty-free cigarettes may be held for you, so you might not be able to enjoy them until you’re off the ship.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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1 thought on “Bringing or Buying Cigarettes on a Cruise Ship? Here’s What You Must Know”

  1. More great reviews Jenni.
    Love reading them 🌹

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