Packing for any vacation can be stressful as you try to choose the right clothes and accessories, not to mention organizing all your travel documents, toiletries, medication, power cords, and even entertainment such as books, travel games or toys for the kids. While many travelers are afraid of forgetting some crucial item, there are certain items that should never be part of your cruise luggage and you can’t take on a cruise.

What NOT to Take on a Cruise

It is no surprise that illegal substances, such as drugs or other illegal narcotics, are not permitted on a cruise. If you have been prescribed certain drugs that could be considered illegal in different areas, be sure to have your prescription information as part of your travel documents, and speak with your doctor before traveling to consider alternative medications that will not be prohibited. Bringing along a signed, dated letter from your doctor describing your medical needs may also be helpful, but be aware that cruise lines may still not permit certain drugs on board a ship.

It is also obvious that weaponry is not allowed on a cruise, but it can be surprising what may be considered a weapon. Familiar items such as guns, daggers, bows, brass knuckles, throwing stars and similar weapons are always prohibited, but so are self-defense items such as mace and pepper spray. Any items that could be used as dangerous weapons, such as baseball or cricket bats, open razors or similar items, are also generally prohibited. Even smaller items, such as pocket knives, may be forbidden. Zero-tolerance weapon policies on cruise ships also include toy or replica weaponry and any such items should always be left at home.

Fire is a grave risk on any cruise ship, and any item that may pose a risk of fire is not permitted on board. This includes all types of items with open flames or heating elements, such as candles, incense, hot plates, coffee makers, clothing irons, heating pads, electric blankets and mug warmers. Basic matches and simple lighters are generally no problem and similar exceptions are granted for hair driers and other beauty items, but novelty lighters or personal torches can be dangerous and may be prohibited.

Cruise Ship Gangway
Photo By: SWIMPHOTO (Creative Commons)

Along the same lines, any items with explosive capability are also forbidden on cruises. This includes emergency flares, fireworks and firecrackers.

Safety is always the first concern on a cruise ship, and because decks may pitch and roll unexpectedly, any personal wheeled items – wheeled shoes, hover boards, Segways, skateboards, roller skates, rollerblades, scooters, bicycles, etc. – are also prohibited because of the risk of accidents. Items needed for personal mobility, such as wheelchairs or motorized scooters, as well as strollers, are exempted from this exclusion but must be used responsibly.

Because safety is such a strong concern on cruises, any gear that could be confused for official safety or security equipment or that might interfere with safety operations is not permitted on board. This includes HAM radios, handcuffs, laser pointers or any other type of lasers.

Relaxing in the pool is a great way to enjoy time on board a cruise ship, but passengers will have to do it without any floats, inner tubes, pool noodles, beach balls or other inflatable gear, as these items are also prohibited. Surfboards, canoes and kayaks are also unable to be accommodated on board, though they are often available for rent at ports of call with suitable beaches.

In addition to pool toys, a range of other fun gear is also prohibited on cruise ships because of safety risks as well as the potential for overboard loss that violates maritime disposal ordinances. Because of these reasons, drones or other remote flying vehicles as well as balloons, kites and similar items are not allowed on cruise ships.

Packing Tips
Photo By: Yasmina Haryono (Creative Commons)

There is a lot to do on cruises and you need to keep up your energy to enjoy everything your cruise vacation has to offer, but you won’t be able to do it with homemade treats. No homemade foods are allowed on cruise ships, and the only food that can be brought on board must be sealed and prepackaged. Passengers are also not permitted to bring hard liquor or beer on board, though there allowances to bring wine, champagne or soft drinks on board in certain quantities and if packaged appropriately. Passengers who purchase alcohol in ports of call and wish to take it home will need to turn their packages over to security when boarding the ship, and the alcohol will be returned at debarkation.

Finally, there are some family members that need to be left at home if you’re heading for a cruise. Cruise ships are not equipped to accommodate pets, and while the cruise line will do everything reasonable to permit service animals on board, certain types of service animals may not be able to be accommodated. Before booking a cruise with a service animal, contact the cruise line about restrictions and accommodations to be sure there won’t be any problems, and be prepared to provide all necessary documentation for the animal’s health and training.

Note: Different cruise lines have different policies for prohibited items and allowed exceptions, and policies may change based on itinerary. Check with your cruise line for updated guidelines before you set sail!

What If You Pack These Items Anyway?

If you pack these or other prohibited items anyway, you may find them confiscated while your embarkation is delayed, or you may even be denied boarding altogether. Sneaking prohibited items along in your luggage is never a good plan, either – your luggage will be screened before you are permitted to board the cruise ship, and contraband items will be discovered, causing significant problems for you, possibly including fines or criminal charges depending on the severity of the situation.

Also Read: 8 Essential Items for Your Cruise Packing List

With so many things you should be packing for your cruise – casual and formal wear, swimwear, accessories, toiletries, sunscreen, etc. – make sure none of these forbidden items are part of your luggage and you’ll have more room to bring all your great cruise souvenirs home!

Things You Can't Take On a Cruise
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