Luggage and Baggage Rules for Taking a Cruise

If you’re taking a cruise, chances are you’re going to pack a little more than a toothbrush. So you no doubt have a few questions about what you can bring, how much you can pack, and much more.

We’ve rounded up answers to some of the most common questions…

How much luggage can I bring?

Unlike airlines, cruises don’t charge for the amount of luggage you bring. There are also no (reasonable) limit on how much you can bring. Most cruise lines “encourage” each passenger to limit luggage to two suitcases, each one less than 50 pounds. In addition, you can also bring carry-on luggage (more on that in a moment).

While there are no strict restrictions on your checked baggage, you should keep a few common sense items in mind. First, keep in mind that you have to get all your luggage to and from the cruise ship. If you are flying, that may mean extra fees for extra bags. And even if you are driving to the cruise terminal, you still have to carry (or arrange for someone else to carry) all that luggage.

We encourage people to pack reasonably. There is no harm in wearing the same thing twice during a cruise — many others will be doing just that. As well, every ship has laundry service if you need it.

If you are taking more than one piece of luggage and one carry-on, then you are likely overpacking.

Are there restrictions on what I can bring?

Of course. You can’t bring weapons such as guns or long knives on board. If it’s even questionable (such as pepper spray), it’s best to just leave it at home. Scissors are also restricted.

More importantly, except for lighters, you can’t bring anything dealing with fire. Fire is the biggest risk on board a ship. For that reason, irons are restricted, as are candles and incense. Flammable liquids are also prohibited. If you think it could start a fire, it’s best to leave it at home.

Cruise lines also have restrictions on alcohol that you can bring on board. Most will let you bring some sort of wine or champagne, but only in small quantities. Beer or hard liquor are almost never allowed. Click here to read more about bringing alcohol on a cruise.

Does the “3-1-1” liquids rule apply to cruises?

The “3-1-1” rule is ubiquitous in airports. It’s the rule that you can only bring liquids three ounces or less in a one quart plastic bag, with one bag per passenger.

For everyone’s sanity, this rule does not apply to cruise ships.

What about rules for carry-on luggage?

When you arrive at the port, you will check your large luggage. This luggage will be carted off, X-rayed, put aboard the ship, and then delivered to your room. But that entire process will take several hours.

For that reason, passengers are encouraged to bring some sort of carry-on that has anything you might need for the first few hours on the cruise ship — travel documents, passports, medications, allowed alcohol, toothbrush, your swimsuit, and maybe even a change of clothes for dinner.

Can you pack all your luggage for the cruise in your carry-on? Absolutely. There is no rule that you have to check luggage. However, keep in mind that you will have to lug your carry-on items around the ship until your room is ready. If you check in early, that could be a couple of hours. Even a small bag can be a nuisance after that long.

There are some restrictions on carry-on sizes, but we’ve found them to be less strict than with an airline. As long as you can safely and easily move your bag, it should be ok to board with.

Will my bags be searched on a cruise ship?

All baggage brought on board the ship will be X-rayed. Usually further inspection isn’t required unless the security staff finds something dangerous or prohibited.

Have a question about packing or luggage for a cruise that we didn’t answer here? Let us know in the comments below…

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