Surprising Things You Should Never Pack for a Cruise

Trying to figure out what to pack for a cruise? Deciding what to take along can get trickier than you’d expect. Even seasoned travelers often forget the essentials, and first-time passengers usually don’t know about the small items that can make a big difference. Another thing you might not know? Cruise lines have lots of rules about what you can and can’t carry onboard — which means there are plenty of things that you should never pack for a cruise.

Read on to check out the items that should never go in the luggage that you pack for a cruise.

1. Beer or liquor

Cruise passengers drink beer

Passengers on a cruise drink beer. | DisobeyArt/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Cruise lines famously charge exorbitant prices at the bar. Even so, you shouldn’t try to sneak beer or liquor onboard the ship. Cruise Critic reports that “most big-ship, mainstream lines will confiscate liquor and beer brought onboard during embarkation. ” Most will also throw away confiscated alcohol, which means that you won’t get it back at the end of the cruise. The one exception? Wine, which is subject to restrictions but it usually allowed.

  • Pack instead: Wine, within the cruise line’s limits

Next: Swap these heavy items for a lighter alternative. 

2. Books and magazines

Couple on deck chairs on a cruise

A couple relaxes on the deck of a cruise ship. | Steve Mason/ Photodisc/ Getty Images

This one is controversial, but hear us out. Smarter Travel puts paper books and magazines on the list of items you should never pack for vacation — on a cruise or otherwise — because of the amount of space they take up. If you have an e-reader or a tablet, you can free up space in your bag by leaving the hard copies of books and magazines at home. Just load up on e-books, and you’ll be able to take a lot more reading material with you, all without weighing down your bag.

  • Pack instead: A tablet or e-reader with electronic copies

Next: You won’t get away with having one of these in your room. 

3. Coffeemaker

Young woman with a cup of coffee on a cruise ship or ferry

Young woman with a coffee cup on a cruise ship. | Poike/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

If you don’t want to pay extra for your morning caffeine fix at the cruise ship’s cafe, it can sound tempting to stow your coffeemaker of choice in your luggage. But Cruise Critic advises against it because “bringing your own plug-and-play version of a coffee shop onboard is almost always against the rules.” Other electric items, such as hot plates and electric kettles, can also get you in trouble.

  • Pack instead: A French press

Next: Try a more minimalist approach. 

4. Different outfits for each day

Young cruise passengers enjoy a sunny day

Young cruise passengers take a photo. | DisobeyArt/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Smarter Travel also recommends against packing a different outfit for each day of your cruise. Everybody likes having options. But you don’t need a new head-to-toe look for every single day. Laying out tons of outfits will quickly fill up your luggage. And you’ll likely end up returning home with most of your clothing unworn.

  • Pack instead: Clothes that you can mix and match

Next: The cruise line wants you to leave this item at home.

5. Electric blanket

Woman looks out the window in a hotel room

A woman looks out the window from a hotel room or cruise ship stateroom. | MIND_AND_I/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

An electric blanket probably doesn’t sound like a necessity if you plan to take a cruise during the summer. But book a cruise to Alaska or the Arctic during the cold season, and it probably sounds tempting. But Cruise Hive reports that you shouldn’t try to sneak one in with your luggage. Cruise lines prohibit electric blankets because of the fire hazard posed by the heating element. Heating pads are usually off-limits, too.

  • Pack instead: Warm pajamas or a cozy sweater if you’re worried about being cold

Next: You probably don’t need to pack one of these. 

6. Hairdryer

Woman blow dries her hair with a hairdryer

Woman blow dries her hair. | Youngoldman/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

It can be tempting to pack your own hair dryer for your cruise. But Dunhill Travel Deals reports that you don’t need to weigh down your luggage with this tool. “On most ships, the cabin will be equipped with a hairdryer,” the publication notes. On the ships that don’t have in-room hair dryers, the cabin steward will have access to a few on each deck. (Just ask!) If you do have to take one, ensure that it’s less than 700 watts.

  • Do this instead: Find out whether or not you need to pack a hairdryer before your cruise

Next: Don’t risk losing these expensive items. 

7. Heirloom jewelry

Couple dressed up for a formal night on a cruise

Couple with champagne on cruise ship deck | Steve Mason/ Photodisc/ Getty Images

Want to look your best on your cruise’s formal night? No problem, simply refrain from packing irreplaceable jewelry to accessorize your look. Dunhill Travel Deals reports that crime rates onboard cruises have declined, and most staterooms now have safes. But it’s still “not wise to bring your best, most valuable jewelry on your cruise. It’s just not worth the risks of loss or theft.”

  • Pack instead: Jewelry you wouldn’t find impossible or too expensive to replace

Next: You can’t take this with you. 

8. Homemade food

Couple has lunch on the deck of a cruise ship

A couple has lunch on the deck of a cruise ship. | Photodisc/ Getty Images

If you do a lot of cooking at home, you might start thinking about what foods you can prepare to pack for a cruise. But as Cruise Hive reports, you actually can’t take home-cooked meals or snacks with you onto the cruise ship. ” No homemade foods are allowed on cruise ships,” the publication explains. “The only food that can be brought on board must be sealed and prepackaged.”

  • Pack instead: Sealed snacks like granola bars, which can serve as a healthy source of energy on the ship and during shore excursions

Next: Cruise lines consider this item a safety hazard. 

9. Iron

Cruise passenger poses next to the ocean

Try not to pack clothes you have to iron. | Kiuikson/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Cruise Critic reports that no matter how much you want to look polished and wrinkle-free for your cruise line’s formal night, you shouldn’t pack an iron. The reason why? Most cruise lines ban these appliances. “After all, fire poses one of the greatest risks to safety at sea,” Cruise Critic explains. A few cruise lines offer self-serve launderettes, while on others, your only option is to pay to have your suit or dress professionally pressed.

  • Pack instead: A wrinkle releaser spray

Next: You can’t pack this seemingly-harmless item. 

10. Kites

Family flies a kite at the beach

A family flies a kite at the beach. | Ridofranz/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Flying a kite seems like a harmless (and low-tech) way to pass the time, whether or not you’ll have kids or grandkids to keep entertained on the ship and in port. But Cruise Critic reports that this traditional toy could get you in trouble. Cruise lines prohibit passengers from packing “items that could be launched off the ship, including kites, drones, and boats or canoes,” according to the publication.

  • Pack instead: Board games, video games, or other toys that won’t go flying off the deck

Next: These are off-limits, too. 

11. Pool inflatables

Cruise passenger poses at the pool

Cruise passenger poses at the pool | eldinhoid/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Similarly, pool inflatables can sound like a great thing to pack for a cruise. After all, they won’t take up much space in your bag, and you probably plan to spend a lot of time at the pool. But Cruise Hive reports that most cruise lines prohibit passengers from bringing these items. “Relaxing in the pool is a great way to enjoy time on board a cruise ship, but passengers will have to do it without any floats, inner tubes, pool noodles, beach balls or other inflatable gear, as these items are also prohibited,” the publication notes.

  • Pack instead: If you want to prepare for time spent poolside, make sure you have shoes that will keep you safe and comfortable on slippery surfaces.

Next: The cruise line doesn’t want you to pack one of these. 

12. Power strip

Ship passenger takes a photo with her camera

You might need a way to charge extra devices. | Rawpixel/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

When you pack for a cruise with your whole family, it’s natural to worry about how everybody will charge their devices. (Phones, tablets, cameras — the electronics seem to multiply.) But Dunhill Travel Deals recommends against packing a power strip, even though some passengers swear by them. “Cruise lines are very cautious about fires,” the publication notes. “It is probably the high-seas disaster cruise lines worry about the most, so they will not compromise on this rule. Nothing that could cause a spark in your cabin will be allowed.”

  • Pack instead: A portable battery to charge electronics on the go

Next: You won’t need these bulky items. 

13. Towels

Row of lounge chairs on the deck of a cruise ship

A row of lounge chairs on the deck of a cruise ship | chert61/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Though you might feel tempted to pack your own towels, you don’t need to weigh down your luggage with them. Dunhill Travel Deals reports, “There will be plenty of towels in your room, and probably by the pool and in the spa as well. If you run short, your room steward will bring more without question.” Whether you’re worried about bath towels or pool towels, do yourself a favor and trust the cruise line to have you covered.

  • Pack instead: If what you’re worried about is wet towels, pack some shower curtain hooks for extra places to hang towels (and swimsuits).

Next: Do yourself a favor and leave these at home. 

14. Uncomfortable shoes

Senior couple watching ocean from cruise ship's deck

Couple cruises the Caribbean sea. | CaraMaria/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

If you’ve never been on a cruise before, it’s easy to assume that you won’t have to spend much time on your feet. But cruise ships are big places that require some comfortable walking shoes. And you’ll need those good shoes if you want to explore the ports of call on your itinerary. Don’t pack shoes that you haven’t broken in, or that you know are uncomfortable.

  • Pack instead: Shoes that won’t hurt your feet

Next: These are off-limits. 

15. Weapons

Woman holds her luggage against a backdrop of the ocean

Cruise passenger holds her luggage. | stereostok/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

If the TSA’s extensive rules about weapons weren’t enough to dissuade you from packing a gun, a knife, or another kind of weapon for your vacation, the cruise line’s rules should also give you pause. “Guns, handcuffs, brass knuckles, and martial arts equipment (flails, throwing stars, belt buckle knives, etc.) aren’t allowed onboard cruise ships,” the publication reports. Only some cruise lines allow Swiss Army knives, and multi-tools can get confiscated.

  • Pack instead: Tweezers, a nail file, and small scissors in your toiletry kit

Read more: 20 Rookie Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make on Your First Cruise

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