10 Things You Should Not Pack for a Cruise

Maybe you’ve asked friends or researched and you already know what you plan to pack for a cruise. But do you also know what things not to pack for a cruise?

Here are my suggestions for what you should definitely not pack for a cruise. In other words, leave these things at home so they’re not confiscated, lost or stolen. Or simply not needed.

This is what not to pack for a cruise. Do not bring your cat on a cruise! Just kidding.
Even though Ted wanted to cruise, he couldn’t come along with me.

What You Should Not to Pack for a Cruise

With safety at sea the number one priority, maritime rules and regulations are constantly updated. It’s not easy to know what you can and cannot bring onboard. Plus, aside from a safety standpoint, some items are best left at home.

1. Leave the Spirits at Home

Unless you want your booze confiscated at embarkation and held hostage or worse, discarded, do not bring the hard stuff on a cruise. Most mass-market and premium cruise lines rely on alcohol revenue for a large chunk of income.

It makes sense that BYOB isn’t widely accepted. Among the cruise lines that don’t allow you to bring spirits onboard at embarkation are Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean.

One or two bottles of wine are permitted at embarkation on most ships but check the details with your cruise line.

READ MORE:  How to Bring Your Own Wine on a Cruise

2. Power Strips with Surge Protection

There was a time not too long ago that many of us advocated to pack a power strip that always had a built-in surge protector. With so many devices to charge, especially with two or more people in a stateroom, that was the only solution.

Since those days, power strips with surge protection are forbidden. Most cruise lines clearly state that if your stateroom attendant sees one of those in use in your room while you are away, the item could be confiscated til the end of the cruise. 

Again, this goes back to safety at sea. Fire is the number one disaster. New ships now have multiple electric sockets and USB ports. This eliminates your need to pack a multiple outlet power strip that has surge protection. 

But, rather than hope that your older ship’s stateroom has plenty of USB outlets and enough regular outlets, you may want to purchase something like one of these power strips. They have no surge protection and are allowed by the cruise lines. This is the one that I use onboard.

Power Strip without Surge Protection Approved by Cruise Lines

3. Decide on a Hair-Dryer. Or Not.

If you sport a wash-and-wear haircut, you’re in luck. All ships furnish some sort of electric hair-dryer in the stateroom. In addition, your stateroom’s hair dryer could an out-dated, wall-mounted or worse, a drawer-mounted dryer with a very short connecting cord.

Worse, the odd-shaped nozzle usually blows either burning hot or lukewarm air. Other ships’ hair-dryers may look like the one you have at home but the on/off button does not lock into place. You have to continually press one finger on the switch which makes styling and drying somewhat of a challenge.

If none of this matters to you, great! One less item to pack. But if you are concerned with styling your hair, bring your blow-dryer from home.

Travel-size blow-dryer recommended. This is the one I pack for cruises on older ships. Because it folds up, it doesn’t take up much space in my suitcase. Being really light-weight, helps to make self-assisted early walk-off easier, too.

4. Don’t Pack a Flat Iron or Curling Iron

Keep in mind that this is a decision that can vary from cruise line to cruise line and ship to ship. Sure, you can bring your heated hair appliance if you want or need it. Just keep in mind that some cruise lines or specific ships have recently added these to the list of forbidden items that could be confiscated if found.

5. No Coffee Maker Machines

Even though several cruise lines like Cunard and Norwegian have coffee makers in the staterooms, that doesn’t mean it’s ok to bring your own. I don’t understand the logic, but rules are rules. If your stateroom attendant spots even something like a water boiler in your room, it’ll be taken away until you leave the ship.

6. Irons and Clothes Steamers 

Back in the “old” days of cruising, it was perfectly acceptable to bring a clothes iron or a steamer into your suitcase. Luckily, safety standards have improved and it’s now forbidden to use an iron in your stateroom. It’s easy to forget to unplug or leave a hot iron on a flammable surface.

Fire is something that you do not want to happen at sea. If your clothes are wrinkled from packing, it’s only a few dollars to have the ship’s laundry press your clothes.

Some cruise lines (Cunard, Holland America and Carnival, for example) have self-service laundry facilities complete with washer, dryer, iron and ironing board.

Queen Mary 2 Laundry Room
Laundry room aboard Queen Mary 2. (Photo by: Sherry Laskin / Cruise Maven)

7. Leave Your Good Jewelry at Home

Whether cruising the Caribbean, Mediterranean or anywhere in the world, there’s no reason to risk losing treasured jewelry to a grab and run street crime or simple carelessness on your part.

While every major cruise line provides a safe in each stateroom, it’s best to leave the “good stuff” at home. If you absolutely must bling at the Captain’s Dinner, shop for a few shiny pieces of the faux stuff before you leave home.

8. Don’t Bring Brand New Shoes!

There’s almost nothing worse than sore, blistered feet when you have a lot of walking to do. And in some ports, especially Alaska and in Europe, walking tours or hiking is expected.

Even brand new sneakers need a breaking-in period. Sandals, too. If you absolutely must bring a shiny pair of new shoes on your cruise, be sure to pack an assortment of band-aids. 

Or wear them around your home before the cruise. If you get any scrapes or blisters, you’ll be happy to have band-aids with you.

9. Ditch the Skin-Tight Jeans

Have you heard about the legendary five-pound weight gain? It doesn’t matter if this is your first or fiftieth cruise, chances are you will gain a few shipboard pounds. Luckily most of it will be water weight gain because of the over-use of salt in the ship’s foods.

There’s nothing more disheartening than looking at the clothes you’ve packed, which fit perfectly a week before the cruise, suddenly leave you gasping for air. Allow for a little “wiggle” room and leave your tightest jeans at home.

They may look great for a night on the town back home, but by day four or five of your cruise, you may wish that you had brought the ones with a scoosh more room. 

10. Leave the Excess at Home If Choosing Early Walk-Off

All cruise lines offer “early walk-off.” This is perfect for guests who live near the port, have to be at work that day or want an early start for a long-distance drive home.

If you choose the 7AM early walk-off, there will be no one to help you with your luggage. It’s easy to forget how heavy your luggage is if it was checked at the pier for boarding and delivered to your stateroom.

If you plan to participate in the early walk-off option, be sure to pack lighter than if you were going to set your luggage in the corridor by midnight to be off-loaded by the crew.

Final Thoughts

If you need confirmation of what and what not to pack that is not allowed by the cruise line, check the fine print on their website.

Leave the excess at home. Here’s what I suggest. Go ahead and pack what you think you’ll need. 

Survey the situation (try to lift your suitcase and/or weigh it). Then, unpack and eliminate at least 1/3 of what you’ve got. Finally, repack. Do this one or two days before your cruise. You’ll thank me later.

Remember, don’t get bogged down with luggage that’s way too heavy. Keep the 35 year-old single malt Scotch at home rather than lose it to the security guard. No one should have to worry about lost heirloom jewelry or wish that they brought clothes that were more for comfort than the catwalk.

Remember to start organizing early. You might want to check out what I always pack for a cruise. Happy travels!

Disclosure:This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission. Read full Disclosure.

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8 Comments

  1. Hi Dolores,
    Thank you for your question. I’m not able to give out legal advice. I would suggest contacting the cruise line, the U.S. Embassy or Passport service.

    When I worked at immigration/check-in at Royal Caribbean years ago (I wanted to learn the process) a child that fits your description (parents have different last names and the child has that dad’s surname), in order to board, the traveling parent needed a notarized letter from the other parent that the traveling parent had the right to take the child on the cruise. This of course was to avoid what would amount to kidnapping.

    That’s what needed to be done 15 years ago. From my experience, it’s leaving the country (USA) not the entering of the other country that required the notarized letter.

    Also, did you go onto the U.S. Passport site? I’m pretty sure it explains how to do what you need to do. Again, I am not able to give out legal advice on any matter. I’m only retelling what I experienced years ago.

    Good luck, it’s definitely do-able and I think you’ll still need a notarized letter from your ex to allow you to travel with your child.

    I hope everything works out fine and you two can enjoy your cruise.

  2. What is the rule regarding a child under 16 traveling on closed loop cruise from Miami to Nassau on a MSC line when the parents are divorced and child has surname of father and mother has her maiden name?
    I can’t find an answer on what Nassau’s rule might be but did find some ports require just a birth certificate for the child and some countries also . want a letter from the divorced parent for their permission to go on the cruise .
    Any info on this topic would be very much appreciated.
    If you can give me a contact in Nassau that can answer the question I can save you the trouble of researching it.
    Thanks again.

  3. Hi Warren,
    Thank you for reading the article and taking the time to write. In your case, there’s no other choice. The article was directed more towards a general overview of what not to bring. Hopefully newer ships will be able to accommodate your CPAP machine a little easier with more outlets next to the bed. Happy sailing!

  4. With regards to the extension cord. I sleep with a CPAP machine and the receptacle is rarely close enough to the night stand to plug the machine in. Therefore, I do need to have an extension cord with me.

  5. Hi Gloria,
    Just about every ship has singles/solo meet and greet events. Check the daily planner for time and place.
    Sherry

  6. Why dont they have a singles club where

    travelers can locate others to share a room and sabe . maybe even find new friends ?

  7. On the other hand, booking a night at a local hotel affords one a chance to eat a leisurely breakfast and latte, and enjoy one last morning aboard…perhaps take one last dip or grab that last-minute souvenir before leaving?

  8. Hi Meagan, thank you very much. Early walk-off is terrific and avoids the usual debarkation crush. Happy travels. Sherry

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