17 Things You Should Never Bring On A Cruise (and What to Bring Instead!)

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Packing for a cruise can be tricky – probably why I always leave it to the very last minute.

But you can save time and effort by ruling out some things that you might’ve otherwise been trying to cram into your suitcase. 

An open suitcase packed for a cruise trip shows neatly organized clothing, a passport, a water bottle, a watch, and a laptop. Surrounding the suitcase are various shoes, a sun hat, and other travel essentials, all laid out on the floor in preparation for the journey.

Some of these items are banned outright, so would just mean you’d have to deal with the security team at your port, and others just aren’t worth bringing anyway.

So, here’s the list of things you shouldn’t bring on your cruise – hopefully making it that bit easier to close your suitcase without needing to sit on it.

1. Beach towels

cruise towels

There’s no need to pack beach towels for your cruise. The cruise line will provide them for you. Even if you’re heading ashore, you can borrow a towel to take with you if you’re heading to the beach, as long as you bring it back. But on the pool deck of the ship, there’ll be towels available for you.

With beach towels being so bulky, not having to pack these can be a great space-saver, and then you don’t need to worry about beating the sand out of them or washing them when you get home. Win-win.

Read more: What You Need To Know About Cruise Ship Towels

2. Irons or clothes steamers

An ironing room on the Carnival Celebration cruise ship, featuring a stainless steel sink and counter, two wall-mounted ironing boards with irons, and wooden paneled walls. The room is clean and functional, providing passengers with a space to iron their clothes.

Irons and clothes steamers are usually banned by cruise lines, but even when they’re permitted, it’s not worth bringing them.

Cruise ships have laundry services, and lots of them have self-service laundry rooms you can use with irons and ironing boards so you don’t have to pay for the cruise line to do it for you.

You could also just pack garment bags, which can help to keep your nicer outfits like your formalwear wrinkle-free for boarding.

Read more: How to Iron Clothes on a Cruise

3. Kettles

A neatly arranged tea and coffee station in a cabin on an MSC cruise ship includes a stainless steel electric kettle, two branded mugs with covers, a spoon, and a variety of tea and coffee sachets. The station is set on a wooden countertop with power outlets and cruise information paperwork nearby.

It doesn’t matter how much of a tea or coffee addict you might be, you don’t need to bring your own kettle on a cruise ship. 

British cruise lines will provide them in your cabin, but even on American cruise lines you can just go to the buffet or cafe to get fresh hot drinks, and bring them back to your cabin.

Not in the mood to move? Just order room service.

4. Clothes hangers

A spacious closet on the Star Legend cruise ship features wooden shelves, hangers with a robe, life jackets, a small chest of drawers, and luggage storage. The closet also has a backpack and neatly organized travel essentials, providing ample storage for passengers.

Some people worry about the wardrobe on your cruise ship not having enough hangers, especially when you’re trying to keep your clothes wrinkle-free. Yet there’s no need to pack some in your suitcase.

Honestly, most of the time there are plenty in a cabin, especially when you consider that you can hang two or three items from each hanger.

If there aren’t enough, just as your cabin steward and they will happily bring you more.

5. All the toiletries

Spacious cruise ship bathroom featuring a clean white sink with miniature toiletry bottles lined up on the counter, a glass shower stall in the background, and neatly folded white towels stacked on the shelves.

This one maybe doesn’t fall under the ‘never’ bring category, because you might have particular brands or products that you like. If that’s the case, then bring your own toiletries, sure.

But if you aren’t that worried about brand, then you’ll get shampoo, soap and shower gel in your cabin already, and if you run out then it’ll just get topped up for you.

The only toiletries you’ll need to bring are your deodorants, toothpaste, that sort of thing. I always bring conditioner too, as ships usually have 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner and that doesn’t do the trick for longer or drier hair.

6. Alcohol

A person's hand displaying a bottle of Grand Michell Brut sparkling wine in a cabin room aboard a cruise ship, with a teal armchair in the background. The label indicates it's a 'Quality Sparkling Wine, Metodo Charmat'.

Let me clarify – you should never bring more alcohol onto a cruise ship than you’re allowed to – but you should absolutely bring whatever falls within the cruise line’s limits, if you want to.

That varies by cruise line but usually a bottle of wine is OK. And it will be much cheaper than buying onboard.

But bringing more booze will just see it get confiscated when you board, and some cruise lines won’t give it back, they’ll just bin it. So, stick to the rules on this one.

Read more: These Are The Drinks You Can Take On Your Cruise Ship

7. Candles

A relaxing scene with a bathtub filled with bubbles, adorned with lit green candles and scattered red rose petals around the edge. A person's legs are partially visible, enjoying a soothing bath in a serene and romantic atmosphere.

Real candles are banned on cruise ships, and it’s understandable – the last thing you want to do is cause a fire. I know it might seem a nice idea to set a romantic or relaxing mood, especially if you’re lucky enough to have a suite with a bathtub, but don’t pack the candles.

What you can bring are battery-powered candles. These are much safer, and they don’t cost a lot to buy in bulk:

8. Expensive jewellery

A collection of gold jewelry, including two rings, a bracelet, and a pair of hoop earrings, is elegantly displayed on a smooth, cream-colored fabric. The jewelry pieces shine under soft lighting, emphasizing their luxurious and expensive appearance.

This one is optional, but I’d highly recommend you don’t bring your best jewellery on a cruise, even if you want to look your best for formal night. It could get lost, or even stolen, and your cruise travel insurance might have a limit on the value of individual items for any claims.

It’s best to bring less valuable pieces when you’re away at sea, and save the really nice stuff for events closer to home.

9. Hairdryers

A hand holds a BaByliss Paris hair dryer labeled "expert 12000" inside a cabin on the Disney Magic cruise ship. The background shows a wall-mounted hair dryer unit and a partially open closet with clothing.

Every cruise cabin will come with a hairdryer already, so you don’t need to bring your own.

I’ll admit though, they aren’t exactly powerful, and they will take a lot longer to dry your hair if it’s heavy or dense. 

If you do struggle to get your hair dry and you want to make sure you’re not spending too long in your cabin, a more powerful hairdryer might be worth bringing after all.

10. Excessive clothes or shoes

A rack of elegant evening dresses in various colors and styles, including red, green, pink, and blue, hanging on wooden hangers. The dresses are suitable for formal occasions on a cruise, showcasing a range of luxurious fabrics and designs.

I know it can be tempting to overpack for your cruise, to make sure you have an outfit for every occasion, but I would suggest you try to make packing easier by cutting down on the clothes and shoes.

Instead, focus on the essentials and pack some items that are more versatile – things you can wear out on port days but that also work well for dinner. If you’re worried about suitcase space, remember there’s always a laundry option on the ship too.

Suggested read: The Best Shoes For Cruise Holidays

11. CBD

A bottle of CBD oil with a dropper cap is placed on a wooden surface surrounded by dried cannabis buds, leaves, and empty capsules. An open glass jar lies in the background, emphasizing the natural and holistic presentation of CBD products.

All forms of cannabis products, even when prescribed for medicinal use, are prohibited on all cruise lines.

It sucks if you need it to manage pain or another medical condition, but the cruise lines draw a really hard line on it, and ask you to make arrangements for an alternative medication to use during your sailing.

Passengers have been known to get life bans from cruise lines for trying to bring CBD products onto a cruise ship, so it’s not a risk you should be taking.

Read more: Banned For LIFE! Real Stories Of Cruise Guests Who Are No Longer Welcome

12. Walkie-talkies (on some cruises)

Two black and blue walkie-talkies with antennas, featuring LCD screens and control buttons, are positioned against a light blue background. The devices are labeled "lockcenter" and include buttons for power, mode, and volume control.

A lot of people like to bring walkie-talkies onto a cruise ship to stay connected with each other. While some cruise lines have free messaging apps you can use to communicate while onboard, others will make you rely on paying for WiFi if your family wants to enjoy different activities around the ship but stay in touch – unless you bring walkie-talkies.

However, they aren’t always effective, so you need the expensive ones, and some cruise lines are banning them anyway. It’s easier to avoid bringing them but if you want to, check the policy for your cruise line first.

13. Fresh fruit

A metal bowl filled with a variety of fresh fruits, including apples, pears, strawberries, and kiwis, is placed on a wooden table on a cruise ship. The background shows a blurred view of the ocean, suggesting a relaxing outdoor dining area.

It’s a bad idea to bring fresh fruit onto a cruise. Even on cruise lines where it isn’t banned (and it usually is banned), you risk it going overripe, attractive fruit flies and basically making your room a mess.

If you want fruit, the buffet restaurant will always have fresh options for you. And if you want to take snacks onboard, definitely take pre-packaged ones, since those are allowed and they’re great when you’re just a little hungry and don’t want to leave your cabin.

And trust me, the price of Pringles or Haribo on a cruise ship is crazy – you’ll regret it if you don’t buy before you sail.

14. Lilos and pool inflatables

Colorful pool inflatables float on the water, including a pink flamingo, a green ring, and two long mats in pink and blue. The bright and playful items are set against the blue-tiled pool, suggesting a fun and relaxing time in the sun.

Cruise ship swimming pools are not the biggest, and they’re always popular, especially on nice days. That means that space in the pool can be at a premium, and so all cruise lines ban you from bringing lilos and any inflatables onboard. It just wouldn’t be fair on other guests.

If you want to make the pool more fun for the kids, bring some sinkers – toys they can dive down to retrieve. These are allowed because they’re small, but try to take inflatables and you’ll be asked to remove them from the pool and take them back to your cabin.

15. Drones

A person controls a drone with a remote, flying it over the beach at sunset. The drone captures the scenic view of the ocean waves and the colorful sky, creating a perfect moment for aerial photography.

Drones are the new fad for professional and amateur photographers and those who want to capture their holiday memories from exciting new angles. But you aren’t allowed to bring them on board.

Cruise ships have cameras all around them, and if you’re caught flying a drone, it’ll be tracked back to you and you’ll have it removed. You typically aren’t even allowed to bring one even if you only intend to use it in port, because the crew doesn’t want to risk you using it on the ship.

16. Flowers or plants

a bunch of flowers on board CelebritY Apex

It might seem like a nice idea to bring some plants or a bunch of flowers onboard to spruce up your cabin, but this is another banned item that would get you in trouble.

But don’t worry – many cruise lines will let you buy a flower bouquet from their online shop before you sail, and they’ll be waiting as a gift for you in your cabin.

17. Anything that could be a weapon

A black handgun is displayed on a dark, textured surface, surrounded by scattered bullet casings and a holster. The image emphasizes the sleek design of the firearm, with the lighting casting subtle reflections on its surface.

Ending on a pretty obvious note, but obviously, weapons are banned on cruise ships, even if you’re a licensed gun owner at home. Anything resembling a weapon will also be banned from the ship, even if it’s a toy.

This applies to lighters too. A regular lighter is fine if you’re a smoker, but don’t bring a gun lighter. Or any of those super-powered lighters that create a huge flame. You’re just asking for trouble.

Suggested read: Guns on Cruise Ships (Guest, Crew, & Security Rules)

Final word

A lot of the items on this list are things that the cruise ship will provide for you, so there’s no need to waste precious suitcase space. 

The others are things that may get you questioned by security at the embarkation port – so for the sake of enjoying a smooth and easy cruise, it’s best to leave those banned items behind.

And remember not to overpack – you don’t need three outfits per day, or a different pair of shoes for every scenario. You need to leave room to bring back souvenirs too, remember!


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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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