Cruise TipsPacking18 Worst Things to Pack on a Cruise (Banned Items to Leave...

18 Worst Things to Pack on a Cruise (Banned Items to Leave at Home)

If you’re not careful about packing for your cruise, you could end up with a lot of extra “baggage”, the kind no one wants.

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In this article, we’ll discuss what NOT to bring on your next cruise so that you can avoid making the same mistakes as many other travelers.

Mariner of the Seas Royal Caribbean ship departing from Port Miami

We’ve all seen those “Ultimate Packing List” articles, telling you exactly what you should bring on your cruise. These checklists allow you to make sure you don’t miss out on bringing the essentials.

But this article will be the exact opposite. We are going to compile the very worst cruise packing list of all time. In fact, bringing some of these items will put you in some hot water.

There are some things you cannot bring on a cruise ship and others that you just shouldn’t bring. This post will focus on things you are not allowed to bring on the ship, but you can also read our article on things you CAN bring but should leave at home anyway.


Weapons of any kind

Guns, ammunition, martial arts weapons, stun guns, knives, and switchblades are all prohibited from being brought on board the ship. Yes, you can be charged with a felony for bringing a stun gun onboard. No matter how innocent you might think it is, the cruise lines are not going to take any chances. These items will be confiscated at the security check point before you even get on board the ship.

Firearms are not permitted onboard cruise ships, even if they are in checked luggage or registered to you at home.

Some cruise lines also will not allow you to bring scissors on board if the blades are longer than four inches.

Some other items you are not allowed to bring include pepper spray, brass knuckles, night sticks, and even toy guns. A good rule of thumb is that if it looks like a weapon or could be construed as one, leave it at home.

Also, most ships will not let you bring handcuffs or any kind of restraints on board.


Illegal drugs and substances

Bringing recreational drugs onto a cruise ship is not a wise decision. It is strictly prohibited and can lead to serious consequences such as being kicked off the ship and facing legal charges.

Cruise lines have implemented various methods to prevent illegal drugs from being brought onboard. These include using x-rays, metal detectors, scanners, and drug-sniffing dogs to detect any illicit substances.

It is important to note that even if you have a valid prescription for medication, certain drugs may not be allowed on the ship. For instance, marijuana is not allowed on board. It is best to check with the cruise line beforehand and make sure you have all necessary documentation.

Both Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line will not allow CBD oil and CBD products on their ships. They state this is because they are not typically legal in many of the ports they visit.


Candles or incense

don't bring candles on a cruise ship

There are certain cabin rules that you will need to follow on a cruise ship. Although candles can be romantic and fragrant in your stateroom they are not allowed on board.

A fire is one of the biggest threats these ships face. Any lighting of incense is also not permitted so don’t even try to stuff these items in your suit case.


Irons and steamers

Nobody wants wrinkly clothes on a cruise, and it’s hard enough that most cruise lines don’t have self-service laundry with irons and ironing boards to use. But don’t pack your travel iron. Irons and steamers are not allowed on cruise ships and they will be confiscated.

Some cruise lines like Carnival have launderettes which have irons you can use. But for most other lines you will have to pay to have your clothes pressed.

What about curling irons? Most cruise lines will allow curling irons except for MSC Cruises and a few others.

I recommend packing some Downy Wrinkle Releaser or other type of spray to help combat those pesky wrinkles.

Related:  15 things people always forget to pack for their cruise


Camo clothing

People wearing camo clothing

Although cruise lines do not have an outright ban on camouflage clothing, it is not allowed in Caribbean countries where many cruise ships travel. And if you wear camo in one of these countries you can get arrested for impersonating an official.

This includes wearing camo pants, shirts, hats, and even camouflage accessories like purses and backpacks. So if you have a cruise itinerary to the Caribbean, leave the camo shorts in the closet at home.


Coffee maker and hot plates

There are plenty of places to get coffee on the cruise ship, so besides being unnecessary coffee makers are not allowed. The same goes for hot plates and hot pots as well. These are considered fire hazards and you won’t be allowed to even get them on the ship.

Crock pots also aren’t allowed. Yes, I have seen people try to bring them onboard and have also seen them many times on the confiscated items table on disembarkation day.



Zooming around a cruise ship on a hoverboard does seem like fun, but it’s not going to happen. Hoverboards and any kid of self-balancing wheels will not be allowed on the ship. Also, skateboards and shoes with wheels built in will not be allowed.



Some cruise lines allow drones while others don't.

Some cruise lines will let you bring drones and others won’t, so this one could go either way. But even if a cruise line lets you bring a drone on the ship you will not be able to fly it while on the ship, and you must adhere to all local ordinances when in port.

Carnival and Royal Caribbean will still let you bring them for use on land only and outside of the port areas. Drones must also be kept with the chief security officer and can be checked out when you arrive in port. They also don’t want you using drones on any of their private destinations like Perfect Day at CocoCay and Labadee, Haiti.

Other cruise lines will allow you to keep drones in your cabin, but you can only use them when on shore and away from the port area. Drone policies are always in flux with cruise lines, so be sure to check with your cruise line ahead of your trip.

By the way, kites are not allowed either, so forget those fantasies about flying a kite off the back of the ship. Some cruise lines will let you use kites when in port.


HAM radios

Most cruise lines have a ban on HAM radios. Cruise ships have their own radio systems for communication and using a HAM radio could cause interruptions. Although, on Carnival’s website HAM radios are listed under “Exemptions and other considerations”, leaving the door open in certain circumstances.

Usually, it is up to the captain of the ship if you’re allowed to use it or not, but consult with your travel agent or cruise line rep before you decide to bring it.

Some cruise lines will specify that communication scanners and wideband receivers are not allowed on board.

Related:  10 things you should never do in your cruise cabin


Large speakers

Most cruise lines will not allow the large Bluetooth speakers that are becoming very popular these days. Public announcements need to be heard and could cause a safety risk if music from a portable speaker drowns out the announcements. On top of this, it’s just not polite to blast music in a public area.

Small Bluetooth speakers are typically allowed for private use in cabins, so feel free to bring one of those if you have to have your music.


Extension cords and surge protectors

surge protector power strips

Any kind of power strip with a surge protector is strictly prohibited. These can be fire hazards and mess with the ship’s own electrical system which is different from what you have at home.

Also, don’t pack any extension cords as these are usually not allowed on the ship as well. We all have a lot of devices to charge these days, but modern cruise ships tend to have more power outlets to keep your phone, tablet, computer, and camera charged up and ready to go.


Inflatable kiddie pools

Carnival’s website clearly states that inflatable kiddie pools are not permitted. I’ve seen the pictures of 8-foot kiddie pools on balconies and just wonder, “why?”. Cruise ships have plenty of space in the kid’s pool area.

If you’re wanting to bring a very small inflatable pool for a young child so they can have a bath in the shower area make sure you check with the cruise line first.


Perishable foods and meats

You might want to pack some goodies in your suitcase before your cruise, but Royal Caribbean put perishable foods on their list of prohibited items for a reason. There’s so much food on a cruise ship you can’t even fathom it.

Leave those homemade cookies and treats at home or with a neighbor. You will eat like royalty all week long on that cruise ship, so you definitely don’t need to pack any extra foods.


Some sports equipment

There are certain kinds of sports equipment that are either not allowed or must be kept in your stateroom. Most cruise lines will mention this equipment in general that cannot be brought on board, but there are exceptions.

Things like baseball bats, hockey sticks, golf clubs, skateboards, bicycles, and even surfboards can sometimes be brought onto the ship but must not be used on the ship.

Many avid golfers will bring their clubs with them to certain destinations. As long as the golf bag and equipment can fit through the security scanners this is usually not a problem, but once again, the clubs must be kept in your stateroom.


Fireworks or any flammable liquids

Anything that can present a fire hazard will not be allowed on a cruise ship. You might be going on a cruise on New Year’s Eve or the 4th of July but don’t expect to bring any kind of fireworks or pyrotechnics with you. These items are strictly prohibited and you won’t even make it through the cruise terminal with them.


Hookah pipes

While some cruise lines and ships have designated smoking areas, Hookah pipes are typically not allowed. Remember, just because it may be legal in the United States or the state in which you live, cruise lines often have to adopt the rules and regulations of the countries of the ports of call.


Some sunscreens

Not all sunscreens are the same, and some cruise lines are putting a greater emphasis on disallowing sunscreens that are harmful to coral and fragile reef environments.

Sunscreens with oxybenzone, octocrylene and octinoxate are banned from US Virgin Islands. Some other places that have banned these sunscreens include Key West, Hawaii, Cozumel, and Bonaire just to name a few.

While these sunscreens are not explicitly banned by every cruise line, it’s the ports of call and regions that have placed regulations on them.

Here is a list of sunscreens that are considered “reef-safe”:

  • Manda Organic SPF 50 Sun Paste
  • Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
  • Pipette Mineral Sunscreen
  • Thinksport SPF 50 Sunscreen
  • All Good SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen Lotion
  • Babo Botanicals SPF 30 Clear Zinc Lotion
  • Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen
  • Badger SPF 30 Unscented Sunscreen Cream
  • Raw Elements SPF 30 Certified Natural Sunscreen
  • Stream2Sea SPF 30 Mineral Sunblock
  • Banana Boat Simply Protect SPF 50+ Sunscreen spray


Baby monitors

Baby monitors used to be on the ban list for several cruise lines, but the reasons have been highly-disputed. Now it seems that cruise lines have removed these monitors from the ban list, so they can be packed. But there are two things to point out.

First of all, many of these baby monitors will not operate very well with the metal walls of the ship. But the main issue here is that cruise lines don’t want you leaving your child in the cabin unattended and using the monitor as an excuse.

If you use the baby monitor because your children are staying in an adjoining cabin that’s one thing. But going out to eat at a specialty restaurant while you try to “monitor” your child remotely is a practice that is not permitted.


Final thoughts

The rules and regulations for what can be brought onto a cruise ship are always changing, so always check with your cruise line if you have specific questions about an item.

We hope this helps keep you out of trouble when going through security on embarkation day for your cruise.

What happens if you bring a banned item?

What happens if you bring a banned item on a cruise? If it if something that the cruise line bans but is 100% legal, then it will get confiscated and you will pick it up at a table when you get off the ship on disembarkation day.

If you are trying to bring something illegal on board, then it’s up to the local authorities. In other words, don’t even bother trying.

Here are some other helpful articles on packing for your cruise that you might find helpful:

15 things people always forget to pack for a cruise
Things you CAN bring on a cruise but should leave at home
10 things you’re NOT supposed to wear on a cruise
Cabin Rules:  10 things you should never do in your cabin

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J. Souza
J. Souza
Jon is the co-founder of Cruise Fever and has been on 50+ cruises since his first in 2009. As an editor, 15-year writer on the cruise industry, and avid cruise enthusiast he has sailed with at least 10 cruise lines and is always looking for a great cruise deal. Jon lives in North Carolina and can be reached at [email protected].
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