Universally, one of the most annoying and stressful parts of planning for a cruise is packing. Sure, we all obsess over what to toss in our suitcases, but how often do we think about things not to pack on a cruise?
Each cruise line has its own set of stuff that's banned onboard, but there are some common themes. The lists include obvious items like drugs and your own alcohol, but in combing through all the rules and regulations, we've come across a few that will make you scratch your head.
Here, for your reading pleasure, we've compiled some of the funniest and strangest things you can't bring on a cruise.
Note: Items marked with an asterisk are banned on some ships but allowed on others, with caveats. Check with your cruise line for details.
1. Throwing Stars and Nunchaku
Ammunition and weapons -- including toy guns, knives and other toys that look like weapons -- are prohibited onboard all ships. We chuckled at the specific mention of throwing stars and nunchaku (nunchucks), as well as crossbows, swords, brass knuckles and spears. There go our dreams of hunting zombies and battling ninjas at sea.
2. Toasters and Microwaves
Your cruise ship will offer more food than you can possibly eat in one vacation. There's no need for you to bring either of these items, but even if you wanted to, cruise lines don't allow them. They also ban other devices with heating elements, such as hot plates, kettles and coffeemakers, but hairstyling appliances are permitted.
3. Hoverboards and Segways*
Whether you classify these items as cutting-edge fun or technological geekery, for safety reasons they aren't allowed to be used onboard. However, some cruise lines will allow you to bring them on their ships for use in port.
When that's the case, you're almost always required to store them in your stateroom, so keep in mind that bringing them could cause your digs to feel a bit cramped.
Honeymooners beware: Nearly all cruise lines explicitly ban restraints, including handcuffs. We're sure your intentions are strictly on the up-and-up, but we advise leaving this hardware at home. However, we found no mention of other adult items on cruise lines' naughty lists.
In general, cruise lines ban explosives and flammable substances, including fireworks, pyrotechnics and torch-style lighters. Some flammable items are permitted, though -- particularly in terms of styling products like hairspray.
Trust us, this one makes us sad, too. Aerial shots of a ship at sea are enough to make any traveler or photography enthusiast swoon, but for safety reasons, many cruise lines don't allow drones onboard. Some will allow passengers to bring them for in-port use only -- with prior permission. It's worth noting that many port facilities also ban their use.
7. Candles, Incense and Hookahs
As you're likely to hear during your ship's muster drill and ad nauseum throughout your voyage, fire is the single biggest threat to any vessel. For that reason, cruise lines across the board prohibit the use of anything that involves a flame (except cigarettes and certain types of lighters in designated areas).
8. Sporting Goods*
Many ships prevent cruisers from boarding with sporting goods. The ones that do allow them usually restrict passengers from using them anywhere on the ship. Some vessels allow bicycles, hockey and lacrosse sticks, surfboards, skateboards, skiing equipment, baseball bats, boogie boards, tennis rackets and pool cues for use in port only.
Check with your line for specifics.
9. Fish and Meat Products
Our first thought when we saw this one was "Why would anyone want to bring fish on a cruise?"
Many sailings, particularly those in the Caribbean and Alaska, offer fishing excursions during which passengers might want to return home with whatever they catch. Most ship-sponsored tours of this type will offer to properly package and ship everything home for you because, as several lines have noted, you won't be allowed to bring it back onboard with you.
10. Cannabis and CBD Oil
We mentioned in the intro that drugs aren't allowed, which should come as no surprise to anyone. But, with marijuana recently having been legalized in several states in the U.S., we figured this was a good one to mention.
Cannabis and CBD oil aren't allowed on your cruise -- even if you have a prescription to use them for medicinal purposes. Other illegal drugs and narcotics are also not allowed.
11. Baby Monitors
Frankly, we're not sure why anyone would need one of these, considering young children aren't allowed to have their own cabins. Either way, they're prohibited on some ships, likely because of their electrical components and the signals they emit in order to function.
While kites aren't intended to detach from their strings, accidents happen, which can lead to ocean pollution. Plus, foreign objects flying near the ship can affect visibility for the captain and other officers on the bridge, which is one of the same reasons why drones also can't be flown from the ship.
Some cruise lines will allow you to bring kites onboard for use in port, however.
Paint is flammable, which poses a hazard under certain conditions. Plus, if it opens or falls into destructive hands, it can cause damage to the ship, creating headaches -- both figurative and literal, thanks to the fumes -- for crew and your fellow passengers.
14. Extension Cords and Surge Protectors
Plugging too many electrical items into one outlet can cause shorts and start a fire, which is why nearly all cruise lines ban extension cords. Power strips are permitted, but they cannot be equipped with surge protectors. Anyone found to be traveling with banned electrical items will likely see them confiscated upon embarkation.
15. Musical Instruments and Boomboxes
Imagine trying to relax on your hard-earned cruise while the people in the cabin next door incessantly practice the trombone or blast horrible music on the balcony right next to yours.
Without special permission, you won't be able to bring your own radio, boombox or musical instrument on your vessel. There's plenty of music to be heard throughout the ship; you don't need to bring your own.
Cruises are not pet friendly. Lines do not allow pets on any of their ships, with the exception of preapproved service animals, for which special arrangements must be made to allow for feeding and relief accommodations.
Another exception is Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2, which is equipped with an onboard kennel for passengers on transatlantic sailings who are traveling with their cats or dogs. (Kennel space must be reserved in advance.)
This one confuses us greatly. Unless you're planning some sort of medieval naval battle, we don't quite see the need to bring something like this on a cruise in the first place. Our best guess is that, perhaps, it's to squash the temptation to launch objects overboard.
18. Pool Toys
Onboard pools are usually tiny; taking up valuable watery real estate with pool noodles, rafts and floats wouldn't be fair to other passengers. With that in mind, keep your inflatables at home. (This includes inflatable pools for kids, but most ships are equipped with children's splash areas for the littlest cruisers.)
19. Helium Balloons
In addition to its flammable properties, helium can quickly take balloons up, up and away if they aren't properly secured outdoors. When they finally pop or deflate, what's left behind is a bunch of ocean trash that's harmful to wildlife.
20. Blenders, Holiday Lights and Power Tools
While we respect your morning smoothie routine, festive decorating prowess and "always be prepared" mentality, these are just some of the specific electrical items that cruise ships won't allow you to bring along. Leave the blending and repairing to the crew, and consider other ways to decorate your cabin.
21. Shoes With Wheels*
Although roller skates and inline skates are allowed for use in port on some ships, most vessels will not allow you (or your children) to board with sneakers, such as Heelys, that have retractable wheels. This style of shoe is less popular now than in previous years, but it still remains on the "do not bring" lists for several lines.
22. Streaming Devices*
We only saw this listed for one cruise line, but it caught our attention. With the prevalence of streaming services like Apple TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, travelers might be tempted to cruise with streaming devices -- such as Amazon's Fire TV Stick or Google's Chromecast -- that attach to their in-cabin TVs.
As with any of the starred items listed in this article, check with your cruise line first.
23. Metal Detectors
Ships are made of metal, so a metal detector would go nuts if used onboard. Plus, they emit electromagnetic signals that could interfere with equipment used by the captain and other officers on the bridge when trying to safely operate your vessel. Just leave them at home.