If you’ve never cruised before, it’s really important to know what NOT to pack to take on the ship. You’ll want to avoid any potentially embarrassing situations at check-in by making sure you don’t pack any cruise ship contraband. Cruise port staff regularly scan and search passengers’ bags, and if any of your belongings are confiscated, it’s highly likely that you won’t get them back. So, read on to find out exactly what you can and can’t take on a cruise…
FOOD AND DRINK
Can you take alcohol on a cruise?
Drinks on-board a cruise ship can be expensive. Whilst P&O Cruises charge pub prices for drinks, some other cruise lines charge much more. If you’d rather not pay £10 for a glass of wine (yes, really), then you’ll probably want to know whether you can save money by bringing your own booze on your cruise.
The great news is that most cruise lines DO allow you to bring some alcohol on-board with you. However, the limits are usually pretty small.
The most generous cruise line in terms of the BYO alcohol allowance is P&O Cruises which allows guests to bring on-board one litre of any alcohol, including spirits, per person.
Read more: Drinks allowances for each cruise line
When we cruised on Britannia, we brought a litre of gin and a litre of rum with us along with several bottles of lemonade and saved over £400 compared to what we could have spent on buying these drinks at the bar!
Can you take your own wine on a cruise ship?
Most cruise ships allow passengers to bring some wine on-board to drink in their cabin. There is usually no corkage fee, as long as you don’t drink it in any of the public areas of the ship.
The following table shows how much wine you can bring with you on your cruise…
|Cruise Line||How much wine can you bring?|
|Carnival||One bottle per person|
|Celebrity||One bottle per person|
|Cunard||One bottle per person|
|Disney||Two bottles per person|
|NCL||Unlimited but $15 fee per bottle|
|P&O Cruises||One litre per person|
|Princess Cruises||One bottle per person for free then $15 per additional bottle|
|Royal Caribbean||One bottle per person|
If you wish to drink your own wine in one of the bars, lounges or restaurants, you will usually be charged a corkage fee of around £15-£25.
Can you take bottled water on a cruise?
Whilst most cruise lines allow guests to bring wine on-board, you may be surprised to learn that water is allowed less frequently!
I suspect the reason behind this is because, in the past, people may have used water bottles to hide spirits or other drinks. Banning water and soft drinks has undoubtedly made it easier for cruise lines to spot anyone sneaking alcohol on-board.
The following table shows how much water or other non-alcoholic drinks you can bring on your cruise…
|Cruise Line||Non-alcoholic drinks allowance per passenger|
|Carnival||12 x 330ml cans or cartons|
|Costa||Water only permitted for medical needs|
|MSC Cruises||Water only permitted for medical needs|
|NCL||Water only permitted for medical needs|
|P&O Cruises||No limit|
|Princess Cruises||No limit|
|Royal Caribbean||12 x 500ml bottles, cans or cartons (per stateroom)|
Can you bring snacks on a cruise ship?
Yes, you can take most types of snacks with you on-board a cruise ship. We usually take a few cereal bars, a tube of crisps and maybe some sweets for the kids. There’s always lots of food available on-board, but sometimes it’s nice to have your favourite crisps or biscuits too.
Whilst packaged food is always fine to bring on a cruise, you may not be allowed to take perishable items such as fresh fruit or any homemade food like sandwiches. It really depends on your cruise line’s food policy and on the local laws of the ports which you’re cruising from and to.
Cruise ship food is generally some of the best in the world. Special diets are catered for really well. So, if you’re at all concerned about being able to eat the food on-board, have a chat with your cruise line representative before you cruise and they’ll make sure that you’re well catered-for on the ship.
Can you take protein powder on a cruise?
If you’re planning to carry a big bag of white powder through security, I can see why you might be a little worried about ending up in the naughty room being asked questions. However, in reality, plenty of cruisers bring protein powder on-board without an issue. You don’t need to worry about bringing protein powder on a cruise.
Can you take straighteners on a cruise?
Yes. Hair straighteners are allowed on cruise ships.
You may need to consider the voltage of your appliances as some UK hair straighteners may not work on-board American ships without a voltage converter.
Can you take a power strip or extension cable on a cruise?
With many of us taking a multitude of electronic devices such as cameras, phones and tablet computers which all need to be charged, people often worry whether there will be enough plug sockets in their cruise cabin to plug everything in. The number of electrical sockets varies from ship to ship, with some cruise ships only having two power outlets per cabin.
Before you pack your usual power strip from home, you’ll need to make sure that it meets cruise line requirements. Cruise lines require that power strips DO NOT have a surge protector. In addition, many cruise lines prohibit extension cords that are over one metre in length.
What’s more, the type of power outlets varies from ship to ship. If you don’t know whether your cruise ship has UK, USA or European plug sockets, this can make it tricky to know which travel adaptors to bring.
A great solution is to get a 4-port USB universal charger plug. This universal charger from Amazon will fit into any plug socket (UK/USA/EU/AUS) and enable you to charge four USB devices at the same time.
Do cruise ships have hairdryers?
Yes. All cruise ship cabins are equipped with hair dryers. I’ve always found these to be sufficient. However, if you have particularly long and thick hair, you may prefer to bring your own hairdryer from home. You’re allowed to bring a hairdryer on a cruise ship.
Can you take an iron on a cruise?
Cruise lines generally do not allow you to take an iron or travel iron on-board the ship. One exception to this rule is Marella cruises which does permit travel irons on-board its ships.
Alternatives to bringing an iron on your cruise include:
- Crease remover spray – lots of cruisers swear by this
- Using an iron in the ship’s laundry room (available on most ships)
- Sending your clothes to the ship’s laundry to be pressed (can be expensive)
- Using hair straighteners to iron clothes
- Hanging your clothes in a steamy bathroom
- Only packing clothes that don’t crease
- Just wear creased clothes – everyone’s in the same boat!
Are garment steamers allowed on cruise ships?
No. Similar to irons, clothes steamers are not allowed on cruise ships as they are considered a safety hazard.
Can you take a drone on a cruise?
Flying drones for fun is becoming increasingly popular and more and more people are buying small folding drones to take on holiday to make aerial videos of the scenery.
Cruise line policies on whether you can take a drone on a cruise vary somewhat, and these policies are regularly updated.
Currently, no cruise lines allow passengers to fly a drone on-board a cruise ship. However, certain cruise lines do allow you to bring a drone on-board, as long as you keep it on your cabin, and only use it on land, away from the port area. You’ll want to check with your cruise line to see if you’re allowed to bring a drone on-board.
Can you take walkie talkies on a cruise?
Communicating with your family when you’re all on a cruise ship at sea can be tricky. Your options are:
- Each buy a WiFi package and use it to message each other with your mobile phones (expensive)
- Some ships have a messaging app (for a fee)
- Arrange to meet at certain times
- Leave notes for each other in your stateroom
- Walkie talkies
Walkie talkies are allowed on cruise ships and you might think that this is a handy and cheap way to get in touch with the rest of your group on-board.
However, sadly, walkie talkies often don’t work too well on ships. A pair of walkie talkies which might work over several miles on land, probably won’t work across the length of a cruise ship.
Why? Well, most walls on cruise ships are made of metal, which kills the signal. Add in other obstacles such as swimming pools and elevators and you can understand why walkie talkies struggle to work at sea.
Can you take liquids on a cruise?
Yes. Whilst airlines limit the amounts of liquids you can take in your hand luggage, there are no such rules on cruise ships for liquid toiletry items.
However, cruise lines do restrict the amount of alcohol you can take on-board with you and some even prohibit you from bringing soft drinks and bottles water onboard.
Read more: Can you take drinks on a cruise ship?
What size toiletries can you bring on a cruise?
There are no limits to the size of toiletries you can take on-board a cruise ship. There’s probably no need to bring a 500ml bottle of shampoo with you, but if you really want to, there’s nothing to stop you.
In fact, cruise ships have no restrictions on luggage weight. Your luggage allowance would only be limited if you have to take a flight to join your cruise ship.
Can you take oxygen on a cruise?
Some people need to use oxygen therapy to help with conditions such as COPD, cystic fibrosis and heart failure. Cruise lines’ policies on whether oxygen can be brought on-board the ship vary, so it’s best to check with the company you plan to cruise with to find out exactly what can be brought on board.
You can find lots of information about cruising with oxygen here: travelwithoxygen.com
Can you take a wheelchair on a cruise?
Yes. You can take a wheelchair on a cruise. Collapsible wheelchairs can be used in most cabins. If your wheelchair doesn’t fold down, you’ll likely need to book an accessible cabin for your cruise.
If you don’t usually use a wheelchair but are worried about being able to walk long distances in ports, or concerned about keeping your balance with the movement of the ship, you might want to buy a lightweight travel wheelchair from Amazon. These lightweight wheelchairs can fold down into a bag so you can store it under your bed and get it out if and when you might need it.
Can you take a mobility scooter on a cruise?
Yes, mobility scooters are allowed on cruise ships. However, there may be restrictions on the types of batteries that can be used and you may be required to book an accessible cabin. Each cruise line has its own policy, so be sure to ask your cruise line or travel agent when you book.
CHILDREN AND ANIMALS
Can you take babies on a cruise?
Yes. Babies are allowed on family-friendly cruise ships. Some cruise ships which are adults-only, so you’ll want to avoid those.
Most cruise lines require that babies are at least six months old to cruise. However, MSC Cruises has no minimum age for babies, so if you want to cruise with a young baby, this is the cruise line to choose.
The age requirement for babies on cruise ships may be increased to 12 months on cruises which have a lot of consecutive days at sea (such as transatlantic cruises) or visit exotic and remote destinations.
Read more: Do you have to pay for babies on cruises?
Can you take a dog on a cruise?
Yes! It’s possible to take your dog on a cruise on transatlantic sailings on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. This is the only cruise ship in the world which allows pet dogs on board.
Queen Mary 2 has luxurious on-board kennels and indoor and outdoor exercise spaces for pets. Dogs are looked after by the ship’s Kennel Master, with owners allowed to visit at set times.
But, before you go ahead and book a cruise with your dog, there are a few things you’ll need to consider. Kennel spaces on Queen Mary 2 cost $800 for dogs under 26lbs and $1000 for dogs weighing over 26lbs!
Very large dogs such as Great Danes, Dobermans, Bull Mastiffs and Greyhounds aren’t allowed as they would be too big for the kennels.
You’ll also need to get your dog a health certificate from your vet and a rabies vaccine before cruising. If that doesn’t put you off, you should get your dogs names down for a place as soon as possible, as kennel spaces often book up far in advance.
Aside from taking pet dogs on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, service dogs such as guide dogs are welcome on most cruise ships. On my last cruise, I saw a Labrador guide dog who was helping a visually impaired guest and a German Shepherd dog. I’m not sure what his job was, but he was very well behaved.
To bring a service dog on a cruise, your dog must be officially registered, and you’ll need to get permission from the cruise line before you book. In the past, a handful of people have been known to bring pet dogs on cruises by pretending that they’re service dogs. Obviously this hasn’t been well-received when these dogs haven’t been as well-trained a professional assistance dog would be!
Cruise lines have cracked down on this and now require paperwork when booking a cruise with a service dog. Emotional support dogs which may help with certain mental health conditions are not allowed on-board most cruise ships.
Can you take a cat on a cruise?
Yes. In addition to allowing dogs on board, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 also permits cats and ferrets to travel in the kennels!