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How to sneak alcohol on a cruise and why you should not do it

How to Sneak Alcohol on a Cruise

Many first time cruisers wonder how to sneak alcohol onto their cruise ship.  Most major cruise lines prohibit guests from bringing alcohol onboard their ships because they want their passengers to spend money on alcoholic beverages. These passengers, on the other hand, wish to save money on their cruise vacation or allocate the funds towards other experiences.

Over the years, passengers have gotten crafty in their techniques, and sneaking alcohol onboard is a controversial topic. It is flagrantly breaking the cruise line rules, and it can lead to some serious consequences if caught.

A 2016 study by Cruzely showed that around 19% of cruise passengers out of a population of 287 participants had attempted to sneak alcohol onboard. Over six years later, we can only assume that this number has increased, as the cruising industry has seen record-breaking bookings since the post-pandemic return. 

Celebrity Cruises beers

On every cruise line's website, you can find more information about their specific policies. Carnival, for instance, says, "Carnival conducts security scanning of all luggage and reserves the right to confiscate any item, which in Carnival’s sole discretion, is deemed dangerous or can pose a risk to the vessel or its guests. Items will be removed and disposed of and no compensation will be provided."

Royal Caribbean, on the other hand, is a little bit stricter: "Guests who violate any alcohol policies (...attempt to conceal alcoholic items at security and or luggage check points...), may be disembarked or not allowed to board, at their own expense, in accordance with out Guest Conduct Policy." 

That is a lousy way to start your not being able to go at all!

We have a few ways others have shared on sneaking in booze and some reasons why you definitely do not want to do it. Here's how to sneak alcohol on a cruise and why you should not do it.

Seven ways to sneak alcohol onto a cruise


While we do not promote sneaking alcohol onboard a cruise, there are a few strategies that have been observed that seem to work for guests:

  • Buying 3-ounce plastic bottles and keeping it in your carry-on luggage.
  • Buying alcohol onboard the ship on one sailing and keeping it for a back-to-back sailing.
  • Pouring out mouthwash and replacing it with alcohol. Dark rums in white containers seem to work best; although, some people will even use colored food dye and reseal the bottle.
  • Buy a fake flask. These are alcohol flasks meant to look like something else, such as sunscreen bottles, bracelets, and even hair brushes. 
  • Replacing soda with beer.  If the cruise line allows non-alcoholic drinks, replacing soda with cans of beer in a cardboard case.
  • Emptying the contents of a wine bottle and replacing it with the liquor of your choice. Those who have been successful using this method have placed a heat activated shrink wrap cap over the cork and often use food dye to mimic red wine.
  • Purchasing rum runners. They are transparent, sealable plastic bags that are supposed to not look like hidden bottles.

Why not to try and sneak alcohol onboard your cruise

Carnival cruise beer

While there is little risk in sneaking in alcohol, the bottom line is it is against the cruise line's rules, and there are some good reasons not to do so.

First and foremost, even if you do sneak in alcohol, you will be pretty limited in how to consume it. You will have to constantly go back to your cabin to get refills. Plus, you may be forced to pay for mixers, such as soda or a non-alcoholic cocktail, which negates the savings of sneaking the alcohol onboard. 

Imagine having to go out to a bar for a soda or mocktail, just to run it back to your stateroom to add alcohol. That would not work if you were attending a show or some other activity, or you would have to budget time to return into your evening plans, leaving with you less time to fully enjoy the ship's onboard experience.  


You also have to think about how much you will be spending to prep. Do you have hidden flasks already, or will you have to purchase them? Are you planning on paying to check a bag just to bring the smuggled alcohol? If so, you could put those funds towards buying drinks onboard. 

Plus, using the pre-cruise planning time in other ways is more advantageous. Do you know what you are going to pack? What about any shore excursions? These experiences enhance your cruise vacation more than alcohol. 

Moreover, no matter how much you manage to sneak on, you will never have the same selection or supply as any ship bar can provide. Part of the fun of cruising is trying new things or indulging in drinks you otherwise would not. If you are limiting yourself to the alcohol you snuck on, you may miss finding a new favorite drink!

Read more: 20 drinks to order if you have a cruise drink package

There is also risk involved in sneaking on alcohol because if you are caught, you will lose out on the cost of the alcohol, as well as any special containers you bought to try to get it on. 

Since you will likely end up paying for drinks if your contraband booze is gone, this will add to the overall cost of your foiled smuggling operation, especially since you would have lost out on any pre-cruise sales. 

If, for instance, you pre-purchase Carnival Cruise Line's drink package, you can save up to 10% per day! Likewise, Royal Caribbean offers sales that sometimes discount their drink packages 20% or more per day. Just make sure that you purchase them by the cut off. 

Minor drink package

It is also worth noting that many cruise lines allow guests to bring a limited amount of wine or champagne on their cruise. Not only is this allowed by the cruise lines, it can significantly assist in reducing the overall drink cost. Royal Caribbean, for instance, allows passengers to bring one 750ml bottle of wine or champagne onboard per person.

They used to allow two bottled per stateroom; however, they recenetly changed their policy. This means that if you have four adults over the age of 21 in the same cabin, four bottles of wine can be brought onboard. 

Carnival allows for guests to bring one 750ml bottle of sealed wine or Champagne per person. It's important to look into your specific cruise line's policies regarding bringing alcohol onboard, as they do vary from line to line.


Speaking of drink costs, unlimited alcohol packages are so prevalent and easy to use these days that it makes the effort required to smuggle drinks onto a cruise seem outdated.  After all, sneaking in booze was an idea that came from a time when unlimited beverage packages did not exist. Today, drink packages provide an economic way to enjoy drinks on a budget. 

If you are sailing on a tight budget, consider also drinking while in port, as the drinks tend to be much cheaper than onboard. Plus, you won't have to go through all the trouble of preparing to sneak alcohol on the cruise ship. 

Another great tip is to spend the day at an all-inclusive resort that includes all-you-can-eat-and-drink. While you will not be able to indulge while on the ship, you will have the opportunity to order whatever you would like to try without feeling limited to cheaper drinks. 

Why you should consider a drink package for your next cruise


There is no denying that drink packages can be expensive; however, if you know you want to drink a little bit more than normal on your upcoming cruise, the package could be a wise investment. With some cruise lines charging upwards of $16.00 per cocktail after the added gratuity, there is no wonder that the popularity of drink packages has increased. 

When considering purchasing one, the most important thing to think about is whether you will break even or not. If you would spend less money purchasing each drink a la carte, that is the wiser financial move. On the other hand, some people value the convenience more. With a package, you can get a drink whenever you want. Plus, you have the ability to try new beverages without feeling like you are wasting money.  

How to save money on alcohol while on a cruise


If you are trying to cruise on a budget, a drink package probably is not something that is on the table. Do not worry, though! You can still enjoy some of your favorite libations without breaking the bank.

Oftentimes, cruises will have a "drink of the day," which is a special drink that is offered at a discount. Likewise, you can opt to drink in port, so long as you stay away from the tourist traps. You could end up paying more for a drink here than on the ship! 

Moreover, think about buying a bucket of beer, rather than individual bottles or cans. This will likely help you save a few dollars. If you love a certain wine, buy the bottle instead of singular glasses. If you do not finish it, you can have it recorked to enjoy the following day! 

Sometimes, there are events onboard that will offer free alcohol. While you will not have a large selection, you might not mind attending an art auction for a free glass of champange. 

One of the most cost effective ways to save money is to plan on bringing your own wine. Of course, you will have to follow the cruise line's policy; however, if you can bring your two favorite bottles on for less than $40, that is a steal, especially if you are going on a weekend cruise. 

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