Sometimes you’ve just got to have a Snickers bar… or some Doritos… or some Oreos. No matter your favorite snack, sometimes (or every day) you have to have it. And if you are sailing on a cruise, you can’t go an entire week without your favorite goody.
Or maybe you have a kid that is a picky eater or a baby that only eats a certain brand of baby food.
Meanwhile, you likely know the restrictive rules that cruise lines have regarding drinks. Most cruise lines allow a bottle of champagne or wine, and that’s it. Bringing on beer or liquor will result in it being confiscated. For some cruise lines, even non-alcoholic drinks and bottles of water are prohibited as well.
Given that drink policies are so restrictive, does that mean the same for food and snacks? Are you going to have to go all week without those Oreos?
Yes, You Can Bring Food & Snacks on a Cruise (With Some Rules)
The good news is that yes, you can bring food and snacks on a cruise — including on major cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian.
But before you start bringing the entire refrigerator, there is more you need to know about what you can and can’t bring on your trip.
As you may know, there are some major issues on cruise ships that apply to food. This is not only related to international travel with food, but also passenger health.
The first to understand is customs for foreign countries and the United States. Cruising is a popular vacation because you get a sample of several different ports. A 7-day cruise might take you to three or four different ports, not even including the home port that the ship sails from.
Of course, when you visit so many ports, there is the potential to carry with you foreign pests or diseases in food that could cause havoc with a different ecosystem. This is especially the case with fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats.
Another major issue with food and cruise ships has to do with illness. Being sick on a cruise is no fun, and the only thing worse is spreading that sickness to others in the confined space of a ship. In other words, if you cooked something homemade and it made people sick, that wouldn’t be good.
Rules About What Type of Food/Snacks You Can Bring
For the reason just cited, you aren’t allowed to bring on fruits and vegetables or home cooked items on your cruise. Instead, the only food and snacks you are allowed to bring with you are pre-packaged and processed items.
In other words, a batch of homemade cookies isn’t allowed on the ship. But a pack of prepacked cookies from the store is just fine. Things like chips, beef jerky, and candy are all fine as well. One other thing to keep in mind is that these snacks should unopened.
Each cruise line makes this “prepackaged” rule clear on their websites:
Royal Caribbean Food/Snack Policy
“One of the best things about cruising is the food! And there will be many dining options available to suit most tastes and preferences. However you are free to bring non-perishable prepackaged food in limited quantities.”
Carnival Food/Snack Policy
“Food Items must be pre-packaged and unopened; homemade items or pre-cooked foods will not be permitted onboard. Limitations on permitted food items are directly related to concerns for food safety and contamination prevention. We are unable to provide food preparation, refrigeration or storage for personal food or beverage items.”
Norwegian Food/Snack Policy
“Unsealed food items will not be allowed onboard.”
You’ll find that other cruise lines have similar policies that allow you to bring on food and snacks.
Questions on Bringing Food on a Cruise
In general the rules surrounding food/snacks on a cruise are fairly general. There isn’t a lot of fine print. If you meet the requirements for non-perishable and pre-packaged, then you should be ok to bring it. Even so, you might have some common questions.
How Much Food Can I Bring on a Cruise?
Cruise lines don’t lay out strict limits on how much you can bring (e.g. five pounds of snacks or up to three bags of chips). In other words, it’s open-ended as to the amount. However, we have seen reference to “limited” quantities. In other words, if you bring a suitcase full of food you might have an issue, but packing some extra snacks is just fine.
What About Bringing Drinks?
What’s a bag of chips without something to wash it down with? Here, the rules get a little more complicated. Cruise lines vary on their policies when it comes to bringing non-alcoholic drinks. Some (like Carnival and Royal Caribbean) allow you to bring on drinks with you when boarding. Others allow no drinks at all. You can see specific cruise line policies here.
Are There Restrictions on Certain Foods?
We’ve covered that food must be pre-packaged and unopened. Apart from that, there aren’t restrictions mentioned. So while it might seem restrictive to only be allowed pre-packaged items, it actually encompasses a huge variety of items. Things like candy, chips, salty snacks, beef jerky, and more fall under the umbrella. There should be no trouble bringing your favorite snack on the ship.
Have more questions about bringing food? Let us know in the comments below.