What Not to Pack for a Cruise? 20 Items to Leave at Home

Pinterest Hidden ImagePinterest Hidden ImagePinterest Hidden Image

What not to pack for a cruise? Certain items from home won’t make it past the cruise ship’s guidelines, leading your luggage straight to the naughty room. Some items are downright illegal and prohibited. Other items you should leave at home. Check out these 20 items you should not bring on a cruise.

We tend to bring our daily go-tos from home, thinking we’ll need them on vacation. Many items, like irons and surge protectors, are prohibited. Drugs and weapons are illegal. Hangers and beach towels may just be redundant. Time to pack smart and save that luggage space for those cruise essentials.

featured blog image with text | what not to pack for a cruisePin

What not to pack on a cruise? Skip packing these 20 items for your cruise—some stuff from home is prohibited on the ship, while others are unnecessary. Save yourself the trouble and leave them behind.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we earn a commission at no extra cost. Please refer to our full disclosure for details.

What Not to Pack for a Cruise?

What not to take on a cruise? Avoid packing the following items on a cruise—they’re unnecessary, prohibited, illegal, unsafe, or dangerous. Keep your luggage clear of these.

Redundant or Unnecessary Items You Can Leave at Home

1. Beach Towels

Do you have to bring beach towels on a cruise?

No need to bring your beach towels on a cruise. Cruise lines offer towels you can take ashore and exchange for fresh ones when you return to the ship. Leave your towels at home and enjoy the convenience.

Many cruise ships also have towels available by the pool. Depending on the ship, you might be allowed to take and return as many as you need, with some even placing them on empty pool chairs for you. However, on certain cruise ships, there may be a policy of allowing only one towel per person at the pool, which is closely monitored.

Remember, if you lose your beach towel, you could be charged for it.

Cruise Tip: We only recommend bringing beach towels if they save space and make your days at port more efficient. Beach towels from the cruise ship can be bulky to pack in your day bag for the port. You can invest in these thin, packable microfiber beach towels that easily fit into a backpack without the bulkiness.

2. Hangers

Can you take clothes hangers on a cruise ship?

Yes, you can bring clothes hangers on a cruise ship, but it’s advisable to save luggage space. Cruise cabins typically come equipped with several hangers in the closet. If you need more, your room steward can always provide additional hangers upon request. No need to pack them yourself.

3. Shampoo, Conditioner and Body Soap

shampoo and body soap dispenser in the shower of ncl cabinPin

Packing shampoo, conditioner, and soap are optional since cruise lines supply these basics in every cabin. While the quality may not be top-notch (hello, shampoo/conditioner combo pictured above), feel free to bring your own if you have specific preferences.

We usually pack our own, catering to my curly hair and sensitive skin, but many cruisers are okay with what the ship offers. Hubby is usually okay with using what’s in the cabin.

4. Hairdryer

Do you have to pack a hairdryer on a cruise?

No need to pack a hairdryer for your cruise—they have one in every cabin. Remember that the quality of blow dryers can vary.

If you do decide to bring your own, consider that it might not work with the voltage set up in the cabin. We’ve heard of Dyson hair dryers and wraps that have stopped working or wouldn’t work.

5. Books

cruise ship library sitting area with booksPin
Library on the Celebrity Solstice.

The book debate can be controversial, as some prefer the tangible feel of a book. However, it’s one item you can skip packing for a cruise to travel lighter.

Cruise ships often have libraries varying in size and selection. Borrowing a book from the onboard library is a viable option. Alternatively, consider investing in a Kindle e-reader or downloading the Kindle app to your device for vacation ease.

Prohibited Items on a Cruise

6. Power Strip with a Surge Protector

side by side photos, one of finger pressing the red button on a surge protector with a red circle on that side, and the other of a hand holding a outlet extender without a surger protect with a green checkmarkPin

Bring a power strip—highly recommended! Just make sure it lacks a surge protector. If your home strip has an auto-off button for surges, leave it behind. Grab one without a surge protector for your cruise.

7. Iron

red x over an iron sitting on a table with folded clothes next to itPin

Nix the iron from your cruise packing list—you’re not allowed to bring iron’s on a cruise ship. Don’t count on finding irons in your cabin, either.

While some cruise ships have laundry rooms with ironing boards and tables, don’t always expect they exist. Carnival, Princess, and Disney cruises are known to have self-service laundry rooms. You can always research ahead of time and ask to see if the cruise ship you’re sailing on has self-service laundry rooms.

What should you do if you need to iron something while on your cruise?

  • Always bring travel-sized wrinkle-release spray for a quick fix. Spray and let the steam do the work while you shower. This is what we normally do.
  • Ask your cabin steward to borrow an iron if needed. This request doesn’t always work. It depends on the cruise line, steward, and the guidelines on board.
  • Send out your clothes for pressing through your steward, usually available for a fee on most cruise ships.
  • Look for embarkation day promotions. Sometimes, they have ironing specials and deals on the first day. Deals may pop up on day one.

8. Steamer

Can you bring a steamer on a cruise?

Unfortunately, steamers are not allowed on cruise ships, although they’re a favorite travel item. Stick to the methods and options mentioned earlier in item 8 for tackling wrinkles without a steamer.

We’ve read about cruisers sneaking them on and getting past the naughty room somehow, but we wouldn’t risk it.

9. Coffee Makers

haven cabin with lavazza coffee makerPin

Haven cabin “penthouse suite” on the Norwegian Getaway had a Lavazza machine coffee maker. We’ve heard they most recently have been replaced with Nespresso.

For coffee lovers, skip packing your coffee maker—it’s best left at home. Some cruise lines and cabins may provide coffee makers upon request. Research in advance, as amenities can change.

Staying in a suite, like the Haven on Norwegian, might score you a Lavazza coffee maker—a fantastic cabin perk. We enjoyed daily cappuccinos on our balcony.

How can you get a morning coffee fix during a cruise?

  • Pack instant coffee packets for convenience.
  • Schedule room service the night before for a hassle-free delivery. Wake up to a fresh thermos of coffee and any other menu items you ordered.
  • Check if your cruise ship cabin features Keurigs or Nespresso machines; bring your favorite single-serve coffee pods if allowed.
  • Inquire with your cabin attendant about possibly facilitating a coffee maker for your cabin. While not widely known, some cruise ships offer this service upon request.
  • You can also ask for a kettle for hot water. You can then use the hot water to make a cup of coffee with a pour-over cone, filter, and coffee grounds you bring from home.

Read more: Useful Stateroom Cabin Tips and Hacks

10. Hot Plate and Other Cooking Appliances

Skip the hot plate and cooking gadgets at home—cruise ships have you covered with all the food that is included with your cruise fare.

  • Hot plates
  • Toaster ovens
  • Electric kettles
  • Rice cookers
  • Instant Pots

11. Candles and Incense

tea light offering small illumination to a cruise cabinPin

Using tea lights in our cabin as a night light.

For safety reasons, cruise ships don’t allow candles or incense. Yet, you can create a similar ambiance with safe alternatives. Consider packing flameless candles, like the dollar store’s tea candles—they double as a delightful nightlight.

12. Heating Pads and Heaters

Steer clear of anything that generates heat when plugged in, such as heating pads and heaters. Instead, consider the safer option of air-activated heating pads for relieving aches and pains—they’ve proven to be lifesavers in the past.

13. Perishable Food

Leave perishable items like meats and vegetables at home. Instead, opt for pre-packaged snacks and non-perishable food, such as protein bars, which are useful when needed. You can’t take any food off the ship for most cruise ports, especially abroad.

14. Alcohol

Thinking of bringing your own alcohol to cut costs? Reconsider. Most cruise ships restrict outside alcohol to boost onboard sales. While few sneak alcohol onboard, getting caught will result in the alcohol being thrown out.

There are exceptions, though. Certain cruise lines may allow limited alcohol, like a bottle of wine per person per cabin, for an additional corkage fee—check your cruise line’s rules. Every cruise line has specific guidelines.

What happens when you buy liquor at cruise ports?

Security holds the bottles until the end of the cruise. Similarly, onboard purchases are held until the day before disembarkation.

15. Drones

drone flying over a beach shorePin

Drones are banned from being flown on cruise ships. Certain cruise lines might permit you to bring a drone for on-land use only, but security will hold it until you disembark at the port. Policies regarding drones vary between cruise lines, so do your research ahead of time.

16. Bicycles, Scooters, Rollerskates…

Rolling items like bicycles, scooters, rollerblades, and skateboards are a no-go on cruise ships. It’s a safety measure with thousands of passengers. Considering the array of activities on a cruise, it’s best to leave these items at home. Still, the thought of roller-skating around an empty ship does sound pretty fun!

17. Inflatables

Inflatables like rafts, kiddie pools, and blow-up balls are off-limits on cruise ships. Pool space is reserved for swimmers, so leaving the inflatables at home is best.

18. Weapons of Any Kind

no weapons allowed sign with a list of all the weapons not allowedPin

Leave weapons off your cruise packing list—they’re strictly prohibited. Anything considered a weapon, including pepper spray, mace, tasers, and knives is not allowed on cruise ships. The rule aligns with airplane restrictions, so if you can’t bring it on a plane, it won’t make it onto a cruise ship either.

19. Explosives or fireworks

Certainly, avoid bringing explosives or fireworks on a cruise ship—it’s dangerous and irresponsible. Save fireworks for the professionals.

20. Illegal Substances

Illegal drugs are strictly prohibited on cruise ships. Getting caught with them can result in immediate disembarkation at the next port, with offenders turned over to local authorities or even banned for life from the cruise line.

The prohibition extends to marijuana and CBD products as well, even if it’s legal in the state where you’re embarking or if it’s medically prescribed. So leave the gummies at home.

Cruise ships maintain a strict policy against any form of illegal drugs, regardless of regional legality.

See what not to bring on a cruise by cruise line:

What Not to Bring on a Cruise: FAQs

What items are NOT allowed on cruise ships?

Items that are not allowed on cruise ships include weapons, illegal drugs, flammable liquids, and items that may pose a security or safety risk. It’s important to check the guidelines of the cruise line you are traveling with, as restrictions may vary.

What happens when you bring banned items on a cruise ship?

Any less severe but still prohibited items will land you in the “naughty room” at security. You might be required to surrender or discard the item. Checking with your cruise line beforehand is important to ensure your luggage makes it to your cabin.

Can you bring weed on a cruise ship?

Correct, bringing marijuana on a cruise ship is not allowed. Even if it’s legal in the state where you embark, or it is medically prescribed, it remains classified as an illegal drug under U.S. federal laws.

Can you bring an empty water bottle on a cruise?

Absolutely! Bringing a reusable water bottle is a smart move. Many cruise ships charge for bottled water and sodas, so having an empty bottle to fill up with free filtered water at the buffet can be quite handy.

Can you bring a pocket knife on a cruise ship?

Pocket knives are not allowed on cruise ships. They are considered weapons and fall under the prohibited items category.

This list aims to help steer you clear of packing mishaps and guide you on what not to bring on a cruise. If it’s deemed dangerous or unsafe, skip it. Let’s keep packing simple and worry-free.



Kathy Ava

Meet Kathy Ava, a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena, and the owner and main writer of Tasty Itinerary. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she's become a pro at crafting unforgettable tasty itineraries. She's always on the hunt for delicious, fun travel destinations and cruise itineraries. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it, so always say yes to dessert.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Are you allowed to bring your personal mobility scooter on Norwegian? I can’t walk more than a few steps.
    Would I need a note from my doctor?

    1. Hi Harriet – Depending on the cruise line, you can bring a mobility scooter on Norwegian, but you have to book an accessible stateroom that will make things easier to store the scooter and charge it. You need to give the cruise line advanced notice and there is a Special Needs Guest form to be filled out at least 90 days before your cruise to inform them about your scooter. You can read NCL’s Mobility and Scotter guidelines here: https://www.ncl.com/about/accessible-cruising. Hope this helps.

    2. @Kathy, thank you. We contacted Norwegian and told them we are bringing my mobility scooter. I gave them the measurements and it fits through the door. It also comes apart.