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What can I bring onboard a cruise ship?

if you are new to cruising you may wonder what you can and can’t bring onboard – in fact even those that have taken many cruises can sometimes be caught out.

Rules vary by cruise line but in general many lines share similar rules. To avoid getting your travel iron confiscated (this actually happened to me) have a quick read below…

The Obvious Ones

It goes without saying weapons, illegal drugs, and other items that are not legal on land can’t be taken onboard…even if you are in international waters.

Prohibited items:

  • Firearms & Ammunition, including realistic replicas.
  • Sharp Objects, including all knives and scissors. (Note: Personal grooming items such as safety razors are allowed. Scissors with blade length less than 4 inches are allowed.)
  • Illegal Drugs & Substances
  • Candles, Incense, Coffee Makers, Clothes Irons, Travel Steamers & Hot Plates. (Items that generate heat or produce an open flame. This includes heating pads, clothing irons, hotplates, candles, incense and any other item that may create a fire hazard. NOTE: The only exception to this policy are curling irons and hair straighteners. Matches and normal lighteners are allowed onboard. However “torch lighters” and novelty lighters that look like guns are not allowed onboard. Torch lighters emit a powerful concentrated flame, and therefore are prohibited.
  • Illegal Drugs
  • Flammable Liquids and Explosives, including lighter fluid and fireworks.
  • Electrical Extension Cords
  • Dangerous Chemicals, including bleach and paint.
The most common question: can i bring alcohol?

In general guests are allowed to bring 1 or 2 bottles of wine. Some cruise lines are more generic with “one bottle of alcohol of 1 litre or less” but this is one where you really need to read the T’s & C’s. Alcoholic beverages that are purchased in ports-of-call or from shops onboard will be stored by the ship and delivered to you on the last day of the sailing. It is interesting to note that Royal Caribbean now declare that alcoholic beverages seized on embarkation day will not be returned.

some of the more obscure ones…
  • Skateboards & Surfboards (sorry no showing-off your own surf board on the Flowrider!)
  • Aerial Drones (No aerial selfies I’m afraid)
  • Martial Arts Gear
  • Self-Defense Gear, including handcuffs (sorry newly weds), pepper spray, night sticks.
  • Baseball Bats, Hockey Sticks, Cricket Bats, Bows & Arrows (that last one is probably a good idea)
  • Hookahs (Shisha) & Water Hookah Pipes
  • HAM Radios
What if I just sneak items onboard?

Probably not the best idea… On embarkation day your suitcases will be X-rayed before delivery to your cabin. If they don’t turn up outside your cabin up by 9PM it probably means they found something. You will have to join the other naughty passengers and locate your cases and open them to be searched. Hand luggage will also be x-rayed in the terminal building or as you get back on the ship in every port.

In general these minor restrictions should not stop you enjoying your cruise vacation and remember, when in port, you can choose to do what you like – just don’t bring it back onboard.


Royal Caribbean Guidelines: Here

Norwegian Cruise Line Guidelines: Here

P&O Cruise Guidelines: Here

Hey! I'm Matt, owner and curator of CruiseOholics, a blog dedicated to Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines across the industry.