Most people look forward to a cruise’s adult libations — an umbrella drink in one hand can mysteriously put anyone in a better mood.
But that doesn’t mean you only want to drink booze for a week. And while water, juice, and tea are usually free on a cruise, you have to go to the dining rooms or buffet to get them. Plus, you might have a favorite non-alcoholic drink that the cruise doesn’t normally serve (or perhaps you simply want a mixer for that little bit of liquor you snuck onboard).
So can you bring water, soda or other drinks on your cruise? Well, that depends on which line you sail. Below, we’ve researched the policies for each major cruise line.
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival is fairly liberal with their beverage policy. According to their website, “On embarkation day, a small quantity of non-alcoholic beverages (i.e., sparkling water, sodas, energy drinks, juice, and milk), packaged in cans or cartons, may be brought on board and must be in the guest’s carry-on luggage. A small quantity is considered a maximum of 12 sealed, unopened cans/cartons of 12 ounces each or less, per person.”
Given that most people sail with two persons to a room, that means you can bring 24 bottles of anything you want. Just be sure that it is not in a bottle.
With the prices of beverages on the cruise (around $2-4 per non-alcoholic drink), that can save you a lot of money.
Royal Caribbean used to be strict and straightforward about bringing beverages on the ship. It was never allowed. However, now Royal Caribbean has a more lenient policy.
Their site says “Guests may also bring non-alcoholic beverages as carry-on items on boarding day. Non-alcoholic beverages may not exceed 12 standard (17 oz.) cans, bottles or cartons per stateroom. Milk and distilled water brought on for infant, medical, or dietary use are permitted.”
Unlike Carnival, that means Royal Caribbean allows bottles and slightly larger containers.
Princess is liberal about bringing beverages aboard the ship. According to our research, there are no real limits about what or how much you can bring onto the ship. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should bring 55-gallon drums of soda. But if you have a case or two of your favorite drink and a 24-pack of water, then simply bring it aboard.
In fact, Princess’ website also mentioned you can bring small coolers (12″x 12″ x 12″ in size) that hold 6-12 non-alcoholic beverages.
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Norwegian used to have a similar policy to Princess in that you can pretty much bring whatever you like onto the ship with you (non-alcoholic, of course). Now that’s changed and beverages aren’t allowed on the ship.
According to the website: “Effective for sailings July 15, 2016 and beyond, guests are prohibited from bringing any beverages — including liquor, beer and non-alcoholic drinks such as water, soda and juices — on board either as carry-on or checked luggage.”
The only exception is that purified or distilled water in sealed containers for medical devices like CPAPs or baby formula are OK.
Unfortunately, that means you’ll have to leave your soda at home.
Disney doesn’t specifically point out non-alcoholic beverages as not being allowed, they strangely don’t mention them as being prohibited either.
One thing to know is that soda and water are available on the ship at no charge if you get them from the beverage stations on board (one of the few cruise lines with free soda), Still, many people want to bring their own.
In that case, you can bring your own, but soda and water should be unopened and brought in your carry-on luggage, NOT in your checked suitcases. We haven’t found any specific limits on how much you can bring aboard, but we would suggest being reasonable and only bring a case or less.
As a sister cruise line to Royal Caribbean (they are owned by the same parent company), you would think that Celebrity would have a similar beverage policy.
However, an update to their list of “What Not to Pack” includes a specific mention of both “alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages”. Therefore, we’d suggest leaving those drinks at home.
MSC is a global cruise line, and it’s ramping up quickly in the United States. According to their list of “Items Forbidden Onboard,” guests are not allowed to bring drinks on with them when boarding.
“In the interest of health and safety, beverages and food (including partially eaten or home cooked items) may not be brought on board either. Exception: dry, packaged and commercially produced foods.”
Bringing Water for Medical Use or Formula
Not everyone that wants to bring on a liquid to drink. Some need to bring on water for medical purposes, such as use with a CPAP at night or to mix with baby formula.
If you want to bring something for a medical purpose, it’s a good idea to call the cruise line before your trip and ask about their policy. Obviously if they allow you to bring on water as a general rule, then it won’t be an issue. If they don’t allow you to bring beverages, then you might find they make an exception for medical use, or can supply what you need on the ship.
What Happens If I Bring Water/Soda and It’s Not Allowed?
So what will happen if you bring on a non-alcoholic drink and it’s not allowed? For instance, some cruise lines have specific rules regarding container size or type.
Don’t worry, you won’t be arrested or denied boarding. If you bring a non-alcoholic beverage that’s not allowed, the security staff may confiscate it. There’s also a chance that they don’t even notice the drinks or care.
We’d still suggest following the guidelines set out by the cruise line, just to make things as easy as possible.
For more on what sort of alcoholic drinks you can bring on a ship, visit this link.