17 Things Not to Pack for a Cruise (Pack This, Not That!)

Things Not to Pack for a Cruise & What to Pack for a Cruise

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Wondering what not to pack and not pack for a cruise? Whether you’re going on your first cruise or haven’t cruised in a while, knowing what to pack and what to leave behind can make all the difference.

Cruise vacations are different than typical beach vacations or resorts. In fact, some common items you might pack for a tropical holiday may not even be allowed to be brought onboard the ship!

In this post, I share some items that you should skip packing for your cruise, as well as essential items that you shouldn’t leave home without.

By being well prepared, you’ll ensure that your cruise vacation is smooth sailing ahead!

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What Not to Pack for a Cruise (and what to pack instead)

Things not to pack for a cruise

1. Travel Iron & Steamer

Leave behind a travel iron or small clothes steamer. Cruise lines prohibit these due to safety concerns as they can be a fire hazard. If you pack these, they’ll likely get confiscated and returned at the end of the cruise.

Instead, a travel sized wrinkle-release spray or the onboard laundry and pressing services to keep your clothes looking their best.

2. Coffee Makers & Kettles

Cruise ships don’t allow many electric appliances. In particular those with a heating element. Therefore, don’t bother bringing a kettle or coffee machine as it will be confiscated.

While most cruise ships won’t have an in room coffee maker or kettle, coffee and tea can be ordered through room service. Avoid the mistake of packing your own and enjoy the convenience of the different onboard options.

3. Beach Towels

While some cruise passengers like to bring their own beach towels for days in port, there’s no need.

Save space in your luggage by skipping beach towels. Cruise lines offer towels to use onboard by the pool as well as during shore excursions. Just remember to return them to avoid any additional charges.

If you decide to bring your own, these quick dry sand-free towels are a popular option.

Microfiber Beach Towel – Quick Dry Lightweight Sand Free Oversized Large Towel Accessories Travel Must Have Swim Pool Yoga Camping Gear Summer Cruise Ship Essentials Cloud Compact Sandproof Item Gift

Recommended: Large Quick dry sand-free beach towel (check price on Amazon here)

4. Hangers

If you’re not a light packer, you might be thinking about bringing extra hangers. Cruise cabins usually have 10-15 hangers in the closet. However, if you need more, you can request extra hangers from your cabin attendant.

Admittedly, it can take some time to receive them. Although not necessary, some cruise travelers like to bring foldable travel hangers, which can be used in hotels as well.

24 Pcs Travel Hangers - Cruise Ship Essentials Portable Folding Clothes Hangers Travel Accessories Foldable Clothes Drying Rack for Travel (Black)

Recommended: Foldable travel hangers

5. Toiletries

Basic toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, and soap are usually provided in cruise ship cabins. However, if you prefer your own products, feel free to bring them along.

Just be mindful of the TSA’s liquid restrictions if flying to your departure port.

Related: 37 Flight Essentials to Pack in Your Carry-on

6. Hard Alcohol

Most popular cruise lines prohibit bringing hard alcohol or liquor onboard. Although, something that might surprise you is that a limited quantity or wine is allowed.

Typically, cruise passengers can bring one bottle of wine (or champagne) per adult. Make sure to pack this in your carry-on bag on embarkation day, and not in your checked luggage.

Tip: Be sure to check your own cruise line’s website for information specific to your cruise.

7. A Case of Water Bottles

While a few years ago, many cruise lines allowed guests to bring a case of water bottles on boarding day, times have changed. These days, most cruise lines prohibit bringing disposable water bottles onboard.

Instead, bring a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout your cruise and in ports.

8. Hair Dryer

Cruise ship cabins typically come equipped with hair dryers, albeit of varying quality. If you bring your own blow dryer and hair tools for hotel stays, you’ll want to do the same on a cruise.

Hair tools like curling irons and straighteners are allowed on most cruise lines.

9. Power Strips

This might come as a surprise to many first time cruisers, but cruise ship rooms don’t have many electric outlets. In fact, older cruise ships may have only 1 or 2 outlets per cabin, and no USB outlets!

This led some cruisers to bring surge-protected household power strips, which are a prohibited item. However there is an alternative many cruisers pack for a cruise.

These non-surge protected power cubes have 3 electric outlets, as well as USB-C and USB-A outlets. I like these best as they are compact and don’t take much space.

Cruise Approved Power Strip Non Surge [6 Outlets] 2 USB-A, 1 USB-C, & 3 AC Outlet for Carnival, Celebrity, Princess, Norwegian, Holland America, MSC, Virgin Voyages & Major Cruise Lines in 2024 & 2025

Recommended: Non-surge protected power cube (check price & 5* amazon reviews)

Read more: Why Can’t You Bring a Power Strip on a Cruise?

10. Fresh Flowers and Plants

While having fresh flowers in your cabin can make it feel more luxurious, you won’t be able to bring plants or flowers on a cruise.

This doesn’t mean that you have to do without. Flowers are usually available by order on the cruise line website or app.

11. Candles and Incense

Due to fire safety regulations, candles and incense are not allowed onboard. Battery powered tea lights and motion sensor nightlights (get the battery powered one) are permitted.

I like this motion sensor nightlight with a magnet base, as it can stick on the stateroom ceiling or wall, since most cabin walls are metal.

Night Light Motion Sensor [Battery Powered] with Rotating Base for Indoor Use in Bathroom, Hallway, Cruise Cabin & More White

Recommended: Motion activated nightlight (see price & over 2500 amazon reviews)

12. Food and Snacks

Non-perishable or homemade food is prohibited on a cruise. However, you can bring prepackaged snacks onboard.

Food is very plentiful, so its probably not necessary. That said, snack foods like candy, chips and chocolate bars aren’t easily found onboard. Limited choices are sold in a small convenience store on most ships if you do get a craving.

However, why not save your money? If you enjoy occasional snack food treats, you may want to bring this from home.

Tip: Pack resealable baggies or containers to bring cookies or fruit back to your cabin for later.

13. Expensive Jewelry

Leave your valuable jewelry at home to avoid the risk of loss or theft. Instead opt for inexpensive and fashional travel jewelry that complement your cruise outfits without the worry.

Tip: Don’t forget to put all valuables in the cruise cabin safe.

14. Drones (sometimes)

If you’re considering bringing a drone on your cruise ship, make sure to plan ahead by checking your cruise line’s policies and rules. Many do not allow drones on the cruise ship.

However, there are some cruise lines that allow bringing on drones with certain conditions.

Since drones are not permitted to be flown from the cruise ship (at least without express permission), cruise lines have strict rules.

For example, your drone may need to be stored for you while the cruise ship is at sea. In other cases you might just need to keep your drone stored safely in your cabin until disembarking in cruise ports.

Be sure to check the laws and rules in cruise ports of call before flying a drone as their may be restrictions.

Related: 50 Unspoken Rules of Cruising All Cruisers Need to Know

15. Weapons and Toy Weapons

While it’s probably obvious that weapons like guns, knives and ammunition are prohibited on cruise ships, toy replica guns are also not permitted.

Be sure to check your backpacks and other travel bags and ensure that you have not inadvertently brought prohibited (and potentially illegal) items.

In case you were wondering, you can bring small scissors, razors and other personal grooming items.

16. Drugs and Illegal Substances: Marijuana and CBD

Drugs and illegal substances aren’t permitted on cruise ships. This includes Marijuana and CBD products, which may be legal in some states and jurisdictions, but it remains illegal under US Federal law.

Cruise ships have sniffer dogs and may check bags. Some cruise passengers have even been kicked off the cruise ship, needing to fly home from a cruise port at their own expense.

17. Too Much Luggage

While cruise lines aren’t very strict with their luggage rules, there are some guidelines as to how many pieces of luggage are recommended, as well as the size.

We’ve never seen luggage counted or weighed, but bringing too much can cause luggage delivery delays and make unpacking a bigger chore than it needs to be.

Related: How to Pack Light for a Cruise (or Carry-on Only)

Things Not to Pack for a cruise (what to pack instead)
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