Can You Drink The Tap Water On A Cruise Ship?

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There are a lot of people I know that don’t feel comfortable drinking water that comes from a tap, especially somewhere like a hotel or a cruise ship.

They have this nagging feeling like maybe the water isn’t properly clean – it’s OK for brushing your teeth but you wouldn’t want to drink it.

cruise ship water

Are they right? Is cruise ship water safe to drink? And how about the other water sources around the ship?

I’ve got some good news.

Can You Drink the Water on a Cruise Ship?

You can safely drink the water on a cruise ship, including the water from your bathroom tap. The only water you would probably want to avoid is the water from hand washing stations or public bathrooms, and only then because it may be warm and other people may have left bacteria behind.

The actual drinking water on cruise ships though? Clean as you’d like. And so you shouldn’t worry about drinking it.

Adam drinking water
As well as the world’s unhealthiest breakfasts, Adam loves drinking water

Here’s a look at where you can find water on a cruise ship, and whether or not it’s suitable for drinking:

Bars & Restaurants

The water you’re served in the bars and restaurants on your cruise ship is absolutely fine for drinking. Only filtered water is served as tap water in a restaurant, and this water has added ice so it’s extra refreshing.

In poolside bars, the water may have lemon slices too. Just what you need to cool down om a hot day!

ice water dispenser

If you’re eating in the Main Dining Room, this water is likely to be your only free option if you don’t have a drinks package, or at least one of just a few free options. It’s a good choice for keeping costs down!

You can ask for a glass of water with or without ice for free in any bar and you can also help yourself to water from the buffet. 

The only exception is if you’re cruising with Costa Cruises – this is the only cruise line that doesn’t provide free drinking water in bars and restaurants. You can get it in the buffet, though.

Cruise ships generally filter their own water for guests to drink, so there’s always plenty available even on longer itineraries, and it is properly treated to make sure it is safe.

Water Dispensers

Your ship will have water dispensers in the buffet restaurant, and potentially other locations around the ship too. Again, this is another excellent place to drink water from, as it is clean and cool.

water and ice dispenser in the buffet on a cruise ship

Some dispensers are designed to let you refill water bottles, while others aren’t, so just be aware you might not be able to carry a bottle around with you – you might be limited to grabbing a cup of water when you need one instead.

water bottle refill dispenser

Also, some dispensers may seem like they fit a water bottle, but you’re not allowed to. It’s for hygiene reasons. What you can do instead is fill a cup and then pour that into your bottle – that’s fine.

As long as you aren’t putting the part of the bottle where you’ve been drinking next to the water dispenser, you should be OK.

A refillable water bottle is definitely a must-pack item for any cruise though. You can fill it up before you go to bed to drink in the night, take it to the gym or running track and also take it with you on excursions.

I love this Iron Flask water bottle because it’s made of double-walled stainless steel to keep your water cold (or coffee hot) and comes with three different lids – a straw lid, flip lid and metal lid.

The Bathroom Tap In Your Cabin

Cruise ship tap water in your stateroom is perfectly safe to drink. It likely won’t be as cold as the water you’d get in the restaurants or from the dispensers around the ship, and since it isn’t filtered as heavily it may not taste the same, but there’s nothing wrong with it.

cruise ship bathroom

I find that the taste of the bathroom water really varies on cruise ships. On some it’s lovely. But on others, it’s warm and tastes funny.

Don’t worry if you wake up in the middle of the night and you feel thirsty – you don’t need to get dressed and trek to the nearest dispenser just to grab a drink. It might not be the best water, but it’ll do when you’re desperate.

Handwashing Stations and Public Bathrooms

The one place on a ship where I wouldn’t recommend drinking the water is the taps in the handwashing stations and public bathrooms.

Cruise Ship Hand Washing Sinks

The actual water is clean enough to drink, but the taps themselves may not be – this is where everyone is washing their hands after all, so there may be bacteria around the taps.

Not only that, the water will be warm too – and nobody likes to drink warm water, do they?

The Spa

The best water on cruise ships can be found in the spa. Here, you’ll usually find a selection of water dispensers, each ice cold and flavoured with tropical fruits or cucumbers.

iced water dispensers

The same can also be found in any private retreat areas that you have to pay extra for. These don’t have so many guests so you get extra special treatment and the most refreshing water.

Should You Buy Bottled Water on a Cruise Ship?

You don’t need to buy bottled water on your cruise ship, but it’s always an option if you prefer it. You may have a particular brand that you like, or you might just prefer to have a bottle of water with you in your cabin at night.

cans of water

And if you like sparkling water, then the only way you’re going to get it is by buying a bottle, or possibly in the restaurants at dinner time. They don’t dispense that at the buffet, unfortunately!

Some cruise lines like Azamara and Virgin Voyages will include bottled water in your stateroom for you already, while there are some cruise lines which are all-inclusive – Silversea and Regent Seven Seas are two of the most well-known. These will also have bottled water available in your cabin at no charge.

With other cruise lines, you may get bottled water included when you buy a drinks package.

Cruise LineIs bottled water included in the drinks package?
CarnivalYes with the Cheers! Package (500ml bottles only)
CelebrityYes with the Zero Proof package
CostaYes – 1 per day on My Drinks package, or unlimited with My Drinks Plus
CunardYes with the Premium Soft Drinks package
Fred. OlsenNo, but you do get 50% off
Holland America LineYes with the Quench, Signature and Elite packages
MSCYes with the Alcohol-Free package
NCLYes with the Premium Plus package, or the Hawaii package on Pride of America sailings
P&OYes with the Ultimate Drinks Package (500ml only – 20% discount on large bottles)
PrincessYes with either the alcoholic package or the Zero-Alcohol package. Not with the Classic Soda package.
Royal CaribbeanYes with the Refreshment or Deluxe packages

It’s worth pointing out that some cruise lines, like Carnival and Disney, will also let you bulk-buy bottles of water for your cabin. They tend to be pretty good value too – Disney’s is $60 for a 24-pack of water, which is $2.50 a bottle. You can get 6-packs and 12-packs too.

Carnival’s is even cheaper though – 12 bottles for $11.95. That’s (just) less than $1 a bottle, and probably less than you’d pay ashore in some places! So if you’re determined to drink bottled water, rather than drinking from the tap, it’s worth checking this out.

Of course, the cheapest way would be to bring your own. But are you allowed? The answer varies by cruise line.

Some cruise lines will let you bring as many soft drinks and bottles of water onboard with you as you want, while others have limitations in place.

Cruise LineHow much bottled water you can bring onboard
Carnival12 x 330ml cans or cartons (no bottles) per passenger
CostaNone – unless it is for medical purposes (distilled)
Fred. OlsenUnlimited
Holland America Line12 x 500ml or 6 x 1-litre cans or cartons (no bottles) per stateroom
MSC CruisesNone – unless it is for medical purposes (distilled)
NCLNone – unless it is for medical purposes (distilled)
P&O CruisesUnlimited
Princess CruisesUnlimited
Royal Caribbean12 x 500ml bottles, cans or cartons per stateroom
Virgin Voyages12 x 12oz (350)ml cans or cartons (no bottles) per passenger

Read more: Can You Bring Your Own Drinks on a Cruise?

Some cruise lines will have cheaper drinks packages focusing on fountain sodas. These won’t include bottled water, but might be worth considering if you’re just looking to avoid tap water and want something with flavour.

One other thing to consider – if you don’t like the flavour of tap water in general, and you’re cruising with a line that lets you bring soft drinks onboard, why not bring some cordial?

You don’t have to lug a heavy bottle around in your carry-on luggage – buy one of the small concentrated squeezy containers that fits in the palm of your hand and makes 20+ drinks. It’s small, so will barely take up any packing space, but will improve the flavour of the tap water with every drink.

Final Word

Cruise ship water is fine to drink. They’re hardly pumping the sea water around the ship! Just be aware of the rules around refilling bottles at public water stations, and consider buying bottled water or squash if you don’t like the idea of drinking plain, unfiltered tap water.

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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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2 thoughts on “Can You Drink The Tap Water On A Cruise Ship?”

  1. Information for water allowed to bring on board is incorrect for P&O

    • Hi Clyde. Thanks for your comment. I have double-checked and I can confirm that P&O Cruises does allow you to bring unlimited water and soft drinks on board. Jenni

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