What If You Get Caught Sneaking Alcohol on a Cruise?

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Alcohol and cruises go hand in hand. However, you must consume alcohol on a cruise safely and according to your cruise line’s guidelines. This means that you shouldn’t risk sneaking alcohol onto your cruise ship.

Maybe you don’t want to pay extra for drinks. Or perhaps you have a particular drink that you want to enjoy on your vacation. Whatever your reason, the consequences aren’t worth trying to sneak alcohol onto your cruise.

In this article, you’ll learn what happens if you get caught sneaking alcohol on a cruise and the alternatives to doing so to ensure that you still enjoy your vacation as much as possible.

Consequences of Sneaking Alcohol on a Cruise

In general, nothing good happens if you’re caught smuggling alcohol on a cruise, and there are several possibilities for disciplinary action.

Best case, the crew simply confiscates the alcohol. Worse case, you may be asked to disembark. Here are the consequences you can expect if you get caught sneaking alcohol on a cruise:

Drinking on a Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Gianluca Piccin / Shutterstock
  • Fine or surcharge: On many cruise lines, you may be subject to a fine or a surcharge if they catch you sneaking alcohol onto the ship. 
  • Confiscation of alcohol: No matter what other disciplinary action the cruise line takes, you can expect them to confiscate your alcohol as soon as they find it.
  • Passport or identification retention: Besides confiscating your alcohol, you may have to show ID for the cruise line to note your actions and keep them in the system.
  • Asked to disembark from the cruise: In extreme cases, you may be asked to disembark the ship. This will typically only happen if you refuse to give up the alcohol or if the crew fears that you will be a disruption. 

How exactly can you get caught sneaking alcohol on a cruise? Let’s take a look.

Ways to Get Caught Sneaking Alcohol

It’s not very hard to get caught sneaking alcohol on a cruise because you have to go through several checks to even get on the ship, and you may be subject to additional checks while you’re on your cruise.

Beer on Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock

As you know, the cruise line checks your luggage as you come onto the ship. However, this doesn’t mean you can simply sneak alcohol on board by other means. Nonetheless, many people try to sneak alcohol onboard in the following ways:

  • Hiding it deep in their suitcase
  • Hiding it on their person
  • Filling an unsuspecting bottle with liquor, such as a shampoo bottle

None of these ways to sneak liquor onboard work. Let’s look at the possible ways to get caught sneaking alcohol on a cruise. 

Body Scanners

While cruise ships don’t typically have the scanning technology you’ll find at airports, you’ll still have your luggage scanned and need to walk through an X-ray machine.

This machine can detect any liquids you may be carrying on your person, meaning you can’t hide any small bottles of alcohol in your pockets!

Room Inspections

Even if you somehow get past the cruise ship scanner with your booze, there’s still a chance of getting caught sneaking alcohol. Any cruise line can inspect any cruise passenger’s room for any reason. You’ll find this in your cruise contract, where you can also read the alcohol policy.

Cruise Cabins
Cruise Cabins

While most cruise lines aren’t in the habit of doing random searches, there’s still a possibility that they’ll search your cabin, especially if they suspect something is wrong. 


Speaking of suspecting something, you should expect to be monitored closely by the ship’s crew, security, or other potential informants. While they don’t follow your every move, they are wary of suspicious activity, such as being drunk yet not having ordered a drink. If the crew suspects any strange behavior, you may have your person and cabin checked and potentially be found with liquor.

As you can see, it generally isn’t worth it to sneak alcohol on a cruise. However, if you still want to drink until your heart’s content, there are other options.

Alternatives to Sneaking Alcohol

To give you some ideas on how to enjoy drinking on your cruise, here are your options.

Royal Caribbean Wine
Photo Credit: Joni Hanebutt / Shutterstock

Bring One Bottle of Champagne or Wine

There’s one exception to the prohibition of alcohol on cruise ships. Some cruise lines allow you to bring a limited number of bottles of wine or champagne onboard on embarkation day.

For example, Carnival Cruise Line allows passengers to bring onboard one 750-ml bottle of sealed/unopened wine or champagne, per person, in their carry-on luggage on embarkation day only. However, that one bottle is enough to celebrate the beginning of your cruise!

Purchase Alcohol From the Ship’s Bars

Unless you are on a sober cruise, you can always purchase alcohol on board at the bar. The ship’s bars always have an assortment of drinks available, including:

  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Cocktails
  • Champagne
  • Spirits

So don’t worry; you’ll likely be able to access your favorite drink on board. The stores on the ship will also have alcohol for sale as part of their duty-free shopping. However, if you purchase alcohol from the ship’s stores, it cannot be consumed onboard. It will be delivered to your cabin at the end of the cruise.

Cruise Ship Bar
Cruise Ship Bar

Book a Cruise with Unlimited Alcohol Packages

One of the best options that cruise lines offer is to purchase an unlimited drink package. With this package, you get access to unlimited drinks throughout your cruise. 

While some cruise lines may restrict the type of drinks you order, this is an excellent option for those who want the freedom to drink their favorite alcoholic beverage and keep the party rolling throughout their vacation! Most cruise lines offer unlimited alcohol packages, here are a few:

Bonus Tip: Drinking Ashore

In general, drinking at bars ashore is much cheaper than drinking on the ship. So one great way to ensure that you get drunk on your trip, even while on a budget, is to mainly drink at bars in the ports before going back on the ship. Plus, they’ll always have new drinks for you to try!


Can I drink alcohol I bring from shore excursions?

You know cruise passengers can’t bring beer, wine, or liquor with them on embarkation day, but what about when you buy a bottle of wine or another alcoholic beverage on an excursion? Alcohol that you bring from shore excursions will be taken and stored separately once you return to the ship, and you’ll be given back your alcohol to take home with you at the end of your cruise.

Are there other items I can’t bring onto a cruise ship?

What cruise passengers can and cannot bring on board largely depends on the cruise line. However, in general, most cruise lines don’t allow irons and steamers, sharp objects such as knives or scissors, candles, and perishable food. Check your cruise line’s website for a specific list of prohibited items.

The Takeaway: Don’t Risk Being Caught

The consequences of sneaking alcohol on a cruise are not worth the risk of being caught, and being caught can potentially ruin your entire vacation.

Instead, take advantage of the options on board the ship, including an unlimited drinks package. They’re a great chance to be catered to and to try out some new drinks, as long as you’re above the legal drinking age. Remember to drink in moderation!

Haiyan Ma
Haiyan Ma
I absolutely love cruising with my favorite ports of call being in the Caribbean. As a former crew member for Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival Cruise Line I can continue my passion by sharing my experiences with readers. Find out more about us here.


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