The Things You Can & Can’t Take On A Cruise Ship



This post may contain affiliate links. If you click one, I may earn a commission at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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.

packing for a cruise

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, what can’t you take on a cruise? Read on to find out!

Spoiler: You can’t take any of this stuff!

things you can't take on a cruise
Photo: Janice Leeson

FOOD AND DRINK

Can You Take Alcohol on a Cruise?

Some cruise ships allow you to bring your own alcohol on board, although this is usually limited to one bottle of wine per person. It’s usually free to drink in your room, but if you want to take your own alcohol into public areas on the ship, they charge a corkage fee of around $15 per bottle.

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 $15 for a glass of wine, 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. This saved us over £400 compared to what we would have spent on buying these drinks at the bar!

bottle of gin

Can You Take Your Own Wine on a Cruise Ship?

Some 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. If you want to drink your own wine in a bar or restaurant, you’ll be charged around $15.

The following table shows how much wine you can bring with you on your cruise…

Cruise LineHow much wine can you bring?
CarnivalOne bottle per person
CelebrityOne bottle per person
CostaNone
CunardOne bottle per person
DisneyTwo bottles per person
MSC CruisesNone
NCLUnlimited but $15 fee per bottle
P&O CruisesOne litre per person
Princess CruisesOne bottle per person for free then $15 per additional bottle
Royal CaribbeanOne bottle per person

NEW DEALS JUST RELEASED!

Don’t miss these hot cruise offers…

Can You Take Bottled Water on a Cruise?

Most cruise lines allow guests to bring bottled water with them, but some do not. If you’re cruising with Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises or NCL, you won’t be allowed to bring water unless it’s needed for medical purposes.

The reason behind this is that, in the past, people 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.

Read more: Can You Bring Bottled Water On A Cruise?

The following table shows how much water or other non-alcoholic drinks you can bring on your cruise…

Cruise LineNon-alcoholic drinks allowance per passenger
Carnival12 x 330ml cans or cartons
CelebrityNo limit
CostaWater only permitted for medical needs
CunardNo limit
DisneyNo limit
MSC CruisesWater only permitted for medical needs
NCLWater only permitted for medical needs
P&O CruisesNo limit
Princess CruisesNo limit
Royal Caribbean12 x 500ml bottles, cans or cartons (per stateroom)

Can You Bring Snacks on a Cruise Ship?

You can take most types of snacks with you on board a cruise ship, including crisps, sweets, and biscuits. (That’s chips, candy, and cookies if you’re from the US).

We usually take a few cereal bars, a tube of Pringles 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 snacks 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.

Suggested read: Bringing THIS Food Item on Board a Cruise Ship Could Ruin Your Holiday!

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?

You are allowed to take protein powder on a cruise ship. It’s best to bring it in a sealed new container and to pack it in your carry-on bag to avoid arousing suspicion.

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.

ELECTRICAL ITEMS

Can You Take Hair Straighteners on a Cruise?

Hair straighteners and curling irons are allowed on cruise ships. While most appliances that produce heat are forbidden, cruise lines make an exception for hair styling devices.

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.

My old GHD hair straighteners didn’t get hot in the USA or on cruise ships. But my newer ones work just fine. If you’re not sure, it’s worth Googling the model of hair straightener that you have to check.

hair straighteners on a cruise ship

Can You Take a Power Strip or Extension Cable on a Cruise?

You may be able to take a power strip or extension cable on a cruise, so long as it meets the cruise line’s requirements. Cruise ships require that power strips do not have a surge protector, as this could overload the circuit and cause a fire. Extension cords should be less than one metre long.

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. The type of power outlets also varies, with some ships having a mix of UK, USA and European sockets.

If you’re wondering how many plug sockets will be on your cruise ship, you can find that information here.

The best solution to the issue of not having enough plug sockets or them being the wrong type is to get a 4-port USB universal charger plug.

This universal charger will fit into any plug socket (UK/USA/EU/AUS) and enable you to charge four devices at the same time.

<

Can You Bring a Hair Dryer on a Cruise?

All cruise ship cabins are equipped with hairdryers that guests may use free of charge. The hairdryers vary in quality, and some have low wattage, so they are not very powerful. If you have long, thick hair, you may prefer to bring your own hairdryer from home.

When I cruised on the Disney Magic, the hairdryer that was attached to the wall in the bathroom was over twenty years old and pretty useless. However, there was another hairdryer in a drawer in the living area.

Hairdryers on Disney Cruise ship

Can You Take an Iron on a Cruise?

Cruise lines generally do not allow guests to take clothing irons or travel irons on cruise ships. One exception 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
  • Sending your clothes to the ship’s laundry to be pressed
  • Using hair straighteners to iron clothes
  • Hanging your clothes in a steamy bathroom
  • Only packing clothes that don’t crease

Suggested read: How To Do Laundry on Cruise Ships

Are Garment Steamers Allowed on Cruise Ships?

Clothes steamers are not allowed on cruise ships as they are considered a safety hazard. Just like irons, there’s a chance that a garment steamer could cause a fire, so they are not allowed to be brought onto any cruise ship.

Can You Take a Drone on a Cruise?

Some cruise lines allow guests to bring drones on board cruise ships. However, you are not allowed to fly the drone while on the ship. It may only be used on land, away from port areas.

If you want to bring a drone on your cruise to use on land, you should check with the cruise line before you travel. Some cruise lines do not permit drones, even if they remain stored in your cabin, and they may confiscate them when you check in.

taking a drone on a cruise ship

Can You Take Walkie-Talkies on a Cruise?

Walkie-talkies are allowed on cruise ships, but they often don’t work too well on board. Most walls on cruise ships are made of metal, which kills the signal, so you may find that bringing a walkie-talkie on your cruise is a waste of time.

A pair of walkie-talkies that might work over several miles on land, probably won’t work across the length of a cruise ship. As well as all the metal walls, cruise ships have large obstacles like swimming pools and elevators, which can all block the signal from a walkie-talkie.

If you really want to use a walkie-talkie on a cruise ship, you can’t just buy any cheap model and hope that it will work. You’ll need a powerful two-way radio that can transmit a strong enough signal to get through all of those metal walls.

Read more: The Best Walkie-Talkies For Cruise Ships

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
  • Use the cruise line’s app to send messages
  • Arrange to meet at certain times
  • Leave notes for each other in your stateroom

Suggested read: How to Text on a Cruise Ship for Free

TOILETRIES

What Liquids Can You Bring on a Cruise?

Whilst airports limit the amounts of liquids you can take in your hand luggage, there are no such rules on cruise ships for liquid toiletry items. You can take as many liquids as you like on a cruise.

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 bottled water aboard, so be sure to check the rules on that.

Read more: Can you take drinks on a cruise ship?

If you’re flying to join your cruise, you should be aware of airport restrictions on liquids and pack them in your checked baggage rather than your carry-on luggage.

Can You Take Full Size Toiletries 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 will only be limited if you have to take a flight to join your cruise ship.

MEDICAL EQUIPMENT

Can You Take Oxygen on a Cruise?

Cruise lines are generally very accommodating for medical needs, and most cruise lines permit guests to bring oxygen with them on their cruise ships.

However, cruise lines’ policies about the use of medical oxygen 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 and how to check it in.

If you need to use oxygen therapy to help with conditions such as COPD, cystic fibrosis and heart failure, you’ll find lots of information about cruising with oxygen here: travelwithoxygen.com

Can You Take a Wheelchair on a Cruise?

You are allowed to take a wheelchair on a cruise ship, although they may not be allowed on some river cruise ships. 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 for your cruise.

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?

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 about the use of mobility scooters, so be sure to ask your cruise line or travel agent when you book.

Can You Take Medicinal CBD Products on a Cruise?

You won’t be able to take any CBD products on a cruise with you, even if you have a prescription from your doctor. If you are concerned about not being able to use CBD products during your cruise, ask your doctor for temporary alternatives.

It’s essentially a blanket ban – there are a lot of different laws about CBD use in the countries that cruise ships visit, so they keep things simple by banning it outright.

Carnival has banned guests for life for trying to bring CBD products onboard.

CHILDREN AND ANIMALS

Can You Take a Baby on a Cruise?

Babies are allowed on family-friendly cruise ships, but they made need to be at least 6 months or 12 months old, depending on the cruise line and the itinerary. Some cruise ships do not allow children at all.

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 that 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?

Baby Adam in his cot on MSC Preziosa

Can You Take a Baby Monitor on a Cruise?

You can’t take a baby monitor on a cruise with you. It wouldn’t work anyway – cruise ship staterooms have metal walls, and so the signal would be blocked. You also wouldn’t be able to connect a WiFi baby monitor to the network on a cruise ship – they won’t allow you to connect.

Instead, most cruise lines that allow babies will have some form of babysitting service, which normally comes with an additional cost. While babysitting staff on a cruise ship will be able to change nappies or feed your child, you’ll be expected to provide the supplies to do so.

Can You Take Bottle Warmers and Sterilisers on a Cruise?

Some cruise lines outright ban bottle warmers and sterilisers, but check with your cruise line as they may permit travel sterilisers. Costa, Cunard, Disney and P&O all have a limited number of sterilisers on the ship that you can hire.

Otherwise, you may want to take sterilising tablets with you instead, and wash the bottles in the sink of your cabin. It might not be quite as sanitary but it should be sufficient to keep your baby safe.

Can You Take a Dog on a Cruise?

Service dogs are allowed on cruise ships, but pet dogs are usually not. The only cruise ship to allow pet dogs is Cunard’s Queen Queen Mary 2, which has special kennels to accommodate dogs on transatlantic cruises.

Queen Mary 2 has luxurious onboard 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.

Suggested read: Where do dogs do their business on a cruise ship?

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.

Read more: 5 Ways To Take Your Dog On A Cruise

Dogs on a cruise ship
Photo credit: Cunard

Service Dogs

Service dogs such as guide dogs, hearing dogs and seizure-alert 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 as professional assistance dog would be!

Service dog relief area on Disney Wish

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?

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 cruise ships also permit cats, dogs and ferrets to travel in the kennels on transatlantic crossings.

Suggested read: Stowaway Cat Onboard Royal Caribbean Ship Adopted By Crew

Cat on a cruise ship
Photo credit: Cunard

OTHER ITEMS

Can You Take Matches or Lighters on a Cruise?

Most cruise ships have a smoking area, which includes traditional cigarettes, so you are allowed to take matches or a lighter on-board for these purposes. You aren’t allowed to take a torch lighter onto a ship, or a novelty lighter shaped like another banned item, like a gun.

Matches and lighters are the only source of a flame that you’ll be allowed to take on a cruise ship, but only for smoking cigarettes. And novelty lighters shouldn’t be shaped like a gun if you want to take them on board as they could frighten other passengers, so just take a normal one.

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

Lighter and matches on a white surface

Can You Take Pool Inflatables on a Cruise?

You aren’t allowed to take pool inflatables on your cruise. You might get away with a small one, but generally, they are banned – they take up too much room, and the pools on cruise ships are not enormous.

Some cruise lines may permit you to take inflatables with you if you only intend to use them when you head to the beach in a port, but this varies by cruise line, and you’ll need to check before you travel; otherwise, they could be confiscated.

father and daughter running on the beach with whale tail floatie
Photo credit: Carnival Cruise Line

Can You Take Balloons on a Cruise?

Most cruise lines ban inflatables of all kinds, including balloons, although some cruise lines only specify pool inflatables – you would need to check with your cruise line. You may instead be able to buy balloons from the cruise line, and have them delivered to your room already inflated if you’re celebrating a special occasion.

Helium balloons could cause havoc on a cruise ship if they were accidentally released as you brought them on-board, so it’s best to assume that they aren’t allowed. If you really want your stateroom to feel special, you may be able to order decorations – including pre-ordering them so they’re in your room waiting when you arrive.

Room birthday banner decoration
Photo credit: Princess Cruises

Can You Take Musical Instruments on a Cruise?

Most cruise lines won’t allow you to take a musical instrument on-board with you. Some cruise passengers have said they were allowed to take one on a Carnival cruise, but were told it could be confiscated if other passengers found it to be a nuisance. Instruments aren’t mentioned specifically in their policy.

Again, it’s best to leave the musical instruments at home unless you have a very special reason to bring them with you. Don’t assume that you can bring an acoustic guitar and set up a sing-a-long in a bar or by the poolside – most other cruisers won’t be impressed and you’ll very quickly have the crew asking you to stop, regardless of how good you are.

There are plenty of paid performers on a cruise ship, after all.

Can You Take Golf Clubs on a Cruise?

While most sporting equipment is banned from cruise ships, golf clubs are generally allowed by most cruise lines as long as they are only taken ashore for organized golf excursions. You can’t take your own putter to use on the mini golf course on your ship!

Some cruise lines will be able to arrange club rental for you instead, so if you don’t want to take your golf bag with you for golfing excursions (and remember that most staterooms aren’t that big), then you do have the option to leave them at home.

Man playing golf onboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas
Photo credit: Royal Caribbean

Can You Take a Metal Detector on a Cruise?

Most cruise lines will not allow you to bring a metal detector on-board your cruise, although some don’t mention it in their policy, and you may need to check. You certainly can’t turn one on while on-board, as the entire structure is made from metal, including stateroom walls.

If you only wanted to use a metal detector on a beach during a port day then a cruise line may allow you to bring it onto your cruise ship, but they may turn you down. Definitely check in advance, don’t leave it to chance for embarkation day.

Woman using metal detector on the beach

Can You Take Candles on a Cruise?

You aren’t allowed to take candles onto a cruise ship with you. Any kind of naked flame or fire hazard is banned from staterooms. The only exception would be matches or lighters if they are to be used for smoking.

Electric tea light candles may be permitted if they are battery-powered, but they probably don’t provide the ambience you were looking for. If you do book a cruise where you have a bathtub, you may have to rely on just music to set the mood for your relaxing soak.

Can You Take Seashells on a Cruise?

Whether you can bring seashells back onto your cruise ship after a day in port is at the discretion of the ship’s crew. Carnival is the only cruise line to mention it in their policy, saying they are allowed if they are clean, dry and free from living organisms.

Remember that seashells are often used as homes by beach creatures, and even if they are just filled with sand they may have organisms inside them. If you want to bring a seashell onto the ship, clean it out properly first, and make sure it’s dry. You should be OK, but be prepared that some cruise lines may still confiscate it.

Seashells on the shore

Can You Take Handcuffs on a Cruise?

You aren’t allowed to take any kind of restraints onto a cruise ship with you, including handcuffs and leg cuffs. They are mentioned in most cruise line’s policies as specifically banned items.

This will still include ‘fluffy’ handcuffs and those clearly designed to be used by consenting adults in the bedroom. Unfortunately, if you enjoy using handcuffs with your partner, you won’t be able to do so on a cruise ship. And you will have them confiscated by port security staff, which may or may not be embarrassing for you. Either way, leave them at home.

pink fur handcuffs and keys

Can You Take Pepper Spray on a Cruise?

Despite being designed for self-defence, you are not allowed to bring pepper spray or any similar chemical products with you on a cruise ship. Pepper spray or mace is normally one of the named items that makes it onto most prohibited items lists for cruise lines.

Unusually Specific Items Banned by Cruise Lines

Most cruise lines have very similar lists when it comes to prohibited items, but there are a couple of unusual items I’ve spotted that I thought were worth highlighting, just because of how oddly specific they are.

A number of cruise lines specify that you can’t take any form of wheeled transport on-board, including skateboards, bicycles and hoverboards. It’s understandable, since if the deck was slick you could easily charge too fast toward a railing. But Carnival is the only cruise line I’ve seen to make particular mention of heelies – children’s trainers with wheels inside the sole. They are also banned.

Girl on the hoverboard

Similarly, there is a blanket ban on electricals that generate heat – things like hot plates. But Disney Cruise Line includes rice cookers in their list. That policy will be the same across all cruise lines, but has Disney seen a number of passengers trying to bring rice cookers on-board?

Finally, Norwegian Cruise Line has a very specific entry on its list of banned items – the Samsung Note 7. This was the oversized phone/small tablet released in 2016 which had serious battery issues, often causing it to explode, before the model was withdrawn from sale. If you have one, don’t try to take it on an NCL cruise. In fact, you probably shouldn’t use it anyway.

Final Thoughts

Each cruise line will have a policy detailing the things that guests are not permitted to bring on cruise ships. As well as the items mentioned in this guide, this will include obviously dangerous things like weapons, illegal substances and chemicals.

So if you want to know what are prohibited items on P&O cruises, or what’s banned with MSC or Princess, it’s best to check their individual policies, otherwise you might end up having an awkward time at check-in.

If you found this interesting, please share!

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.

Read more about me



3 thoughts on “The Things You Can & Can’t Take On A Cruise Ship”

  1. Hi Jenni,
    Had a laugh at the rice cookers being banned! Sounds weird but a friend who works at a Ski Resort in Australia told me that a family group at the resort had unplugged ticket machines to plug in two huge rice cookers. Needless to say, it didn’t go over very well with management!
    Thanks for the interesting and entertaining information. Cheers, Jodi

  2. My husband and I are going on Jan 2022 on Anthem of the Seas. Could you send me info on alcohol/drink packages and how to determine if it’s worth purchasing for 11 day cruise with 4 port stops. Also what is involved if you need a health exemption for the second person in your room.

    • Hi Leesa. Here’s the info you need about drink packages: https://www.cruisemummy.co.uk/royal-caribbean-drink-package/. If one person cannot drink alcohol for health reasons you should contact Royal Caribbean to ask if they will let you purchase the package for one person. They will let you know what proof is required. Jenni

Leave a comment