People Boarding A Cruise Ship - Things You Can't Take On A Cruise

Things You Can’t Take On A Cruise, And 11 Surprising Things You Can!

When determining what things you can’t take on a cruise ship, the cruise lines always look to safety first. Illegal drugs, weapons, and other items that may interfere with the safe operation of the ship or the safe and secure environment for the guests or crew are prohibited.

The resulting list of prohibited items can end up being quite long. In some cases, items may vary from one cruise line to another. You should always check with your cruise ship before packing for your next cruise. However, the things we list here are generally not allowed on most ships. So, what are the things you can’t take on a cruise? Buckle up cause here we go!

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You Can’t Take Things That Get Hot On A Cruise

The #1 concern on any ocean-going vessel is fire. For this reason, alone things you may generally assume to be commonplace, like candles, incense, or a surge protected power strip, are not allowed. All have been known to cause fires. You can add all of the following to the list of potential fire makers as well:

Travel kettles, Hot plates, and Clothing Irons / Steamers are pretty high on the list. Don’t worry; you can get hot tea and almost any hot food you could want from room service.

Also, flammable liquids (lighter fluid) and hazardous liquids like bleach, ammonia, and paint are on the don’t bring list.

There is a laundry facility for passengers on some ships that will have an iron for pressing your slacks or blouse. If not, there are always the ship’s laundry facilities, although this can be pricey.

I try to bring clothes that don’t need pressing. For those few items that do wrinkle, I use Downy Wrinkle Releaser; it works wonders.

Downy Wrinkle Releaser

However, not all things that get hot are forbidden; you can bring your own hairdryer or curling iron. Also, if you are still among those who enjoy smoking tobacco, lighters and matches are considered acceptable to bring on board.

Believe It Or Not, Weapons Are Some Of The Things You Can’t Take On Cruise

In my previous life as a property manager, people always asked me why our list of house rules was so long. My usual response was every time someone does something dumb; we have to add a new rule.

Cruise lines must work under the same set of logic. I can’t imagine why you would need or want to bring power tools or a nightstick on a cruise, but since they have a rule against them, someone must have done this at some point in the past. With that in mind, most ships don’t allow the following:

A Photo of Guns, Ammunition, and other Weapons - Things You Can't Take On A Cruise
  • Guns of any sort, even toy guns and water pistols, as these are often mistaken for real guns.
  • Explosives like fireworks or ammunition for the guns mentioned above.
  • Power tools… I’m not sure why you would need power tools. I think the ship is well equipped to do even major repairs if something in your cabin breaks.
  • Martial Arts / Self Defense Gear. Some items used in martial arts are considered weapons; don’t bring them. Also, your pepper spray may be confiscated.
  • Any sort of restraints (i.e., handcuffs) and nightsticks.
  • Sharp Objects (knives, etc.) items with blade lengths less than 4 inches are allowed.
Swiss Army Knife

The most common question about knives is: “Can I bring my Swiss Army Knife.” The answer is often yes, as most Swiss Army knives have less than 4 inches blades. If you don’t have a Swiss Army Knife, you may want to consider getting one. We use ours all the time with all of the tools they store in their compact case.

If you are a knitter, you may wonder if you can bring your knitting needles along for the cruise. Again generally, these are allowed. But it is recommended that you bring wooden or plastic needles; these won’t set off the metal detector during screening. If possible and pack them in your carry-on bag.

Knitting Needles


Electronics, it seems like we all travel with a large assortment of devices these days. You’ve got your mobile phone, tablet, laptop, and e-reader just for a start. But are there some devices you can’t bring or just don’t really work on a cruise? Yes, here they are.

Ham Radios:  On most cruise lines, amateur radios are a no-no. Ships sail in many different territories. In some, it may be illegal to operate an amateur (ham) radio, or a license may be required. Also, the signal being used by the amateur operator may interfere with the ship’s systems.

You may be on one of the cruise lines that allows you to bring your system along. However, remember you still need to get permission from the Master of the Ship before using your radio.

Baby Monitors: When you travel with a baby, you may think a monitor will come in handy. But that’s probably not the case. Ship walls are all metal, and your monitor won’t be able to transmit any signal that far. Also, have I mentioned how small the staterooms are? You will be very close to your baby at night. On the off chance you booked two cabins with an adjoining door, just leave the door open.

Leave Your Wheeled Items At Home

Because ships pitch and roll unexpectedly, you are generally asked to leave your wheeled devices at home. You may think about bringing a bicycle to ride in ports. Some ships may allow this. The caveat is you will have to store the bike in your cabin, and most ship cabins are pretty small. If you like to bike around port cities, you can always arrange rentals when you arrive.

Again, safety is the most significant concern on a ship. A person on roller skates is a safety hazard for themselves and others. But it’s not just bikes and skates; here are some more wheeled things you can’t take on a cruise.

Hoverboards, Segways, Skateboards, Rollerskates, Rollerblades, Scooters the kind the kids ride on, Bicycles, Tricycles, and Unicycles. Even your kid’s “heelys” (sneakers with wheels) may be confiscated.

Scooters used for mobility purposes, such as an electric ride-on scooter used by someone with difficulty walking or a knee scooter for someone with a broken foot or ankle, and baby strollers are exceptions to this rule.

Toys For The Pool And Other Places

We all like our toys, and it’s hard to make do without your favorite plaything for some. But usually, for a good reason, many of these items are best not brought along on your cruise vacation.

You might want to bring along your Inflatable mattress, pool noodle, or floaties. But you won’t be allowed to use these items in the ship’s pools. These pools are neither large nor deep, and if everyone had their inflatables with them, there would be no room in the pool to move!

Flying toys like kites, drones, and even simple balloons are often prohibited. This is due to the potential for overboard loss, which could be a violation of the. Some cruise lines allow certain drones, but they can usually only be used in port.

Are you planning to participate in water activities at ports along your cruise? You will need to rent the appropriate equipment when you get there. Diving tanks, kayaks, surfboards, and canoes usually cannot be accommodated on a cruise ship. However, feel free to bring your own snorkel and mask!

Snorkel And Mask

Food And Alcohol

You can bring packaged snacks onboard a cruise, such as chips, candy, or protein bars. But homemade food is not permitted.

No fruits or vegetables. Fruit and veg are a no-no in many areas as there is a high chance these items carry pests. Also, don’t try to take an apple or a banana off the ship. They will be confiscated before you debark.

Perishable food can’t be taken onboard a cruise ship, including fish or meat. This might seem strange as many excursions in Alaska and Mexico are fishing expeditions. But have no fear; the companies leading these tours will process your catch and ship it home for you.

Illegal substances, including marijuana, are not allowed on cruise ships. CBD products are also not allowed, even if it’s medicinal or legal in certain states.

Lastly, most cruise lines don’t permit passengers to bring hard alcohol or beer on board the ship. However, if you enjoy wine, most cruise lines allow you to carry on one bottle of wine per adult.

Pets – Can I Take My Fur Baby On A Cruise?

All cruise ships accept service animals trained in specific tasks with rules varying by cruise line. However,  “emotional support” pets are generally banned from the high seas.

If you can’t imagine a vacation without your fur baby, there is some good news about cruising. One specific ship allows dogs and cats: The posh, 2,691-passenger Queen Mary 2 ocean liner, part of the venerable Cunard Line. Cunard’s pet-friendly policy has been in operation since 1840!

A photo of dogs dressed for vacation with a red suitcase

Each year, Cunard chooses certain Transatlantic sailings between New York and Southampton, UK, and makes two dozen kennels available to pet owners. 

As with all services on Cunard, your fur baby will be treated to the ultimate boarding facility. A Kennel Master and several assistants are on board to care for the furry passengers. Dogs have access to a large, gated outdoor exercise area. And Cunard has equipped the yard with an antique lamppost from Liverpool and a fire hydrant from New York City.

There are some limitations to this pet-friendly service. The only pets allowed are dogs and cats, and they must stay on the pet deck. Owners are not allowed to take their fur babies around the ship, nor can they remain with you in your cabin. But there is an Owner’s Lounge where guests may spend quality time with their pets.

What Happens When The Cruise Line Finds Your Disallowed Items

Ok, you may think they can’t check every bag and find all the prohibited items, can they? But remember, on embarkation day, your bags will be screened (i.e., x-ray’d) before they are loaded onto the ship. Don’t try to sneak things on board the vessel.

A photo of a woman placing her luggage on the conveyer belt for x-ray screening

When contraband items are found in your luggage, and they will be found, there are many things the cruise line has the right to do.

  1. They can confiscate your belongings. This may be temporary (for example, security will hold your item until the end of the cruise), or it may be permanent.
  2. You may be denied boarding.
  3. You may face hefty fines or even criminal charges depending on the severity of the issue.

Now You Know Most Of The Many Things You Can’t Take On A Cruise

So there you have it, everything you need to know about what not to bring on your cruise. Now that you have this knowledge, you can pack your bags for a fantastic vacation on the high seas! Just leave these items behind and enjoy your time cruising in style.

Bon voyage!

Want specific information for the cruise line you may be traveling with? Follow the links below for some of the more common cruise lines.

A woman relaxing on a deck chair over looking the ocean from a cruise ship.  Things You Can't Take On A Cruise

Celebrity Cruises FAQ’s

Princess Cruise Lines FAQ’s

Carnival Cruise Lines FAQ’s

Norwegian Cruise Line FAQ’s

Royal Caribbean FAQ’s

Disney Cruise Line FAQ’s

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