11 (Surprising) Things Not Allowed on a Cruise Ship

Swimsuit? Check.

Sunscreen? Check.

Sunglasses? Check.

Hoverboard? Wait, what? You can’t pack that!

When you’re packing for your cruise, most things you need to bring are obvious. There are those few items, however, that some people want to pack that aren’t allowed on the ship. If found, they will be confiscated and either tossed… or held for safekeeping until the end of the cruise.

The thing is, that while most people never run into a question of whether or not something is ok to pack, there are always special cases. We’ve rounded up some of the most unusual things that surprisingly or not aren’t allowed on a cruise ship.

These are all items that you might think are ok (or never considered), but they are prohibited or restricted. It’s best just not to pack them.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Cruzely earns a commission for purchases made through these links, at no extra cost to you.

Hoverboards

Know those two-wheeled balancing boards that were all the rage a few years ago? A few people still have them, but the trend has definitely died down. Even so, if your kids want to bring one on their cruise with them, it’s against the rules.

First, fire is a huge worry for the ships and there was a time that the hoverboards had issues with catching fire. Even so, perhaps an even bigger issue is having a hard-to-control balance board on a moving ship with thousands of other passengers.

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see someone accidentally bumping into others or taking a spill and hurting themselves or passengers.

Surge Protectors

Add surge protectors to the list of banned items for cruising. If you are packing an outlet adapter to increase the number of outlets in your cabin, make sure that it doesn’t have a surge protector on it.

It might seem weird that they aren’t allowed. However, recent studies by the Coast Guard show that they can mess with the ship’s electrical system, increasing the potential for a fire. Instead, just bring an outlet tap with multiple plugs and no surge protector. You can pick one up for $5 on Amazon.

Pool Floats

It seems silly, but you can’t bring pool floats with you to a place that would seem ideal to use them. Don’t worry, if you have a kid they are allowed to bring floaties that slip over their arms. Life jackets for swimming are also available for free in the pool area.

You just can’t bring inflatable tubes, floating mats, or pool noodles. If you consider what the pool would look like if everybody brought their favorite float, you start to get an idea of cruise lines don’t allow them. Not only would they take up a lot of space in the relatively small pools found on a cruise ship, but things like noodles could easily end up hitting other passengers.

The good news? While they aren’t allowed on the ship, cruise lines may let you bring them onboard to use when in port. 

Homemade Cookies

Did Grandma bake you a batch of cookies as a treat to take with you on the cruise? Sorry, you have to leave them at home.

We couldn’t believe it either, but cruise lines don’t allow you to bring homemade food with you on the cruise. As Carnival’s website says under its restricted items list:

“homemade items or pre-cooked foods will not be permitted onboard”

So what’s the reasoning behind it? According to Carnival, it’s “due to concerns for food safety and contamination prevention.” 

Worried about getting hungry for your favorite snack on a cruise? You can bring on unopened pre-packaged foods.

Fish

We thought this was surprising just because we didn’t know that people would try to pack fish. Evidently some passengers will sometimes take fishing charters while they are in a cruise port and want to bring some of their catch back home with them. That’s not allowed. 

Instead, if you catch something while onshore and want to bring it home, you’ll have to figure out how to ship it home. As well, we don’t think U.S. Customs would like someone bringing wild-caught fish home in their luggage.

Sporting Goods (Fishing Rods, Golf Clubs, Snorkel Gear, Umbrellas)

Yes, you can pack sporting goods, but they can only be used in port — off the ship. This includes things like snorkeling equipment, umbrellas, kites, skateboards and more. 

Cruise lines often allow you to usually bring these things as long as they are kept in your room until you head ashore (check with your specific line before sailing, however). Consider the thought of every passenger bringing along their own items like umbrellas to use while on the ship and the headaches it would cause. Then you can understand why they aren’t allowed.

Pepper Spray

If you are a female traveling solo on a cruise or in a port of call, you might feel a little vulnerable. After all, incidents do happen, even if on a cruise. If you are the sort of person that normally carries around a small vial of pepper spray for protection, you have to leave it at home. Despite pepper spray being non-lethal, it is not allowed on board the cruise ship. 

Surfboards

Excited about the idea of hitting the beach when you’re in port and catching a few waves? Well, you may not be able to do it on your own board if you’re taking a cruise.

For example, Carnival simply doesn’t allow passengers to bring surfboards — even if kept in their room until the ship is in port. Royal Caribbean does allow them, but they must be kept in your stateroom.

We’re not entirely sure why some lines wouldn’t let you at least bring a board and store it in your room, but the last thing we want to do is bring an expensive surfboard and not be allowed to bring it on.

Marijuana & CBD

Of course you can’t bring marijuana on a ship. So why do we have this on the list of surprising things you can’t pack?

If you are headed on an Alaskan cruise from Seattle, then you are traveling from one state (Washington) to another (Alaska) where marijuana is legal in both. Even though both states allow recreational pot, it’s still illegal on the federal level. As a result, the cruise lines don’t allow it on any cruises — even those headed to Alaska from Washington. 

And no, medical marijuana — even with a prescription — isn’t allowed either. 

What’s a little more surprising is that CBD products aren’t allowed on ships either. While these items have soared in popularity, they still aren’t allowed. Remember that cruise ships go from port to port where things like CBD may not be legal. It’s much simpler for them to simply prohibit them on the ships altogether.

Knives

Most people wouldn’t think that you can pack a knife on a cruise. What’s surprising is that you actually can on some lines. For example, Carnival prohibits knives only over 4 inches long (about the width of an adult hand). Norwegian Cruise Lines also follows the “4 inch” rule. So if you have a pocket knife that you carry everywhere, you can actually bring it with you on the cruise. Just be sure that you aren’t flying to the port as they aren’t allowed on planes.

Royal Caribbean, on the other hand, doesn’t not allow any sharp objects, including knives or any length. 

Drones

Drones are soaring in popularity and getting video of your vacation using one can lead to some spectacular shots. But drones would be a major nuisance on a cruise ship and the danger of it falling into a crowd of people is real. As well, many people don’t want a drone flying around when they are trying to relax. 

Norwegian Cruise Lines don’t allow drones to be brought aboard the ship. Carnival and Royal Caribbean let you bring them on with you as long as they are kept in your room and used off the ship only. As well, Royal Caribbean will not let you use the drone on its private island CocoCay.

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