There’s nothing quite like a poolside drink on a cruise - you're on vacation after all! For many people, cruising and boozing are nearly synonymous. However, purchasing alcohol onboard a cruise ship can add up quickly.
Whether you choose to buy drinks individually or splurge on a drink package, alcohol onboard a cruise can bust your budget. Drink packages can cost as much as $1,000 for two people on a 4-night sailing. Sometimes, the drink package can cost even more than the cruise itself if you snag a cheap cruise fare.
On the other hand, onboard alcohol purchases are highly profitable for cruise lines. As a result, you’ll spend a pretty penny for each drink you purchase on a cruise ship. This can be a surprise to many first-time cruisers, as most vacations allow you to purchase whatever kind of alcohol you want at your leisure.
Because of this, you might feel like getting creative about how you can bring your own alcohol onboard. In fact, TikTok is full of cruise hacks to help people go to great lengths to sneak alcohol onboard a cruise.
Sneaking alcohol onto a cruise ship might seem like a worthwhile idea, especially considering the cost of drinks onboard. You might figure that your alcohol will be confiscated in a worst case scenario. No harm, no foul, right? Actually, the worst case scenario is much worse than simply losing your alcohol.
While it might seem like a harmless idea to sneak alcohol onto your cruise ship, we highly recommend you reconsider your plans. You can actually get into serious trouble if your plan backfires, as you could be fined or even denied boarding for your cruise.
Here are some of the crazy ideas that TikTokers are sharing for sneaking alcohol on a cruise ship, along with the consequences you can expect if you get caught red-handed.
TikTok is full of influencers sharing their clever, yet tedious, cruise hacks for sneaking alcohol on a cruise.
A quick search on TikTok will result in hundreds of creative ways to sneak alcohol on a cruise ship. Many of these videos show people going to crazy lengths to secretly bring their own liquor onboard cruise ships.
The craziest idea that we came across involved a box of tampons. One TikToker recommended getting small flasks for liquor, placing them inside tampon wrappers, and using a glue gun and hair straightener to make the box look unopened.
Another TikToker shows how she snuck alcohol onto her cruise using a pack of water bottles - and even filmed herself successfully bringing the prohibited liquor through security and onto the cruise ship.
A more common hack, one that’s been around for decades, is using mouthwash bottles and disguising the liquor to look like mouthwash. Other crazy ideas include liquid-holding bras, fake beer bellies, fake shampoo bottles, umbrella or binocular flasks. There seems to be a black market of sorts where people can purchase contraptions for sneaking alcohol into places where it’s not allowed.
I’ll give credit where credit is due. Some of these ideas are very ingenious - I certainly could not have thought of these ideas on my own. But, most of these ideas are quite tedious as well. If you are thinking of sneaking alcohol onto a cruise ship, not only could you get in serious trouble, but you could be wasting a lot of time and money if your plan goes amiss.
All cruise lines have alcohol policies that must be adhered to with strict rules for guest conduct rules.
If you are caught sneaking alcohol onboard, you can be absolutely certain that the alcohol will be confiscated and not returned. Security and port authorities have the right to remove any alcohol from your possession if you are not adhering to a cruise line’s alcohol policy.
When reserving your cruise, you are accepting the terms and conditions of the cruise line’s policies, which includes following alcohol policies.
For example, Carnival Cruise Line states in its guest policy, “All liquor, beer, other forms of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited in both carry-on and checked luggage and such items will be confiscated and discarded and no compensation will be provided.”
Royal Caribbean has a similar alcohol policy and notes that security may inspect containers, including water bottles, soda bottles and mouthwash. If security finds prohibited alcohol in your carry-on or checked luggage, Royal Caribbean states, “Alcoholic beverages (beer, seltzer or hard liquor) seized on embarkation day will not be returned”
Don't forget - you aren't the first person to try and sneak alcohol on a cruise ship. The security members know all the tricks in the book of where to hide booze. While you might think your idea is original, but it's likely been seen before.
While cruise terminals might not have the sophisticated technology that you find at airports for security, the X-Ray machines can still detect liquid. If your checked baggage or carry-on has a questionable amount of liquid, you can bet that your luggage will be flagged. The scanners at the cruise terminal will also be able to detect any liquid that you try to carry on your person.
Even if your alcohol successfully gets through security, you can still get caught onboard too. The crew members are required to report suspicious behavior that violates their alcohol policies. If you keep the prohibited alcohol in your cabin, for example, your cabin steward could report you.
In addition to your alcohol getting confiscated, you could face even more serious consequences.
Those who get caught sneaking alcohol onboard a cruise can face some very serious consequences - far beyond just losing your alcohol. For many cruise lines, you could be fined or surcharged for violating the company’s alcohol policy. Should this happen, you would have been better off purchasing alcohol or a drink package on your cruise!
While getting fined for this violation might seem like a serious consequence, you can get into even more trouble. Cruise lines have the right to retain your passport or identification card. If the onboard security wants to flag your name in their system, you might need to hand over these documents.
The absolute worst case scenario is that you could be denied boarding or asked to disembark for not following the alcohol policy. Missing your cruise entirely would be the worst outcome, but it is possible.
For example, Royal Caribbean’s alcohol policy explicitly states, “Guests who violate any alcohol policies, (over consume, provide alcohol to people under the legal drinking age, demonstrate irresponsible behavior, or attempt to conceal alcoholic items at security and or luggage check points or any other time), may be disembarked or not allowed to board, at their own expense.”
Although TikTok makes it seem like sneaking alcohol on a cruise ship is no big deal, there could be some very serious consequences. Being denied boarding, surrendering identification and fines should all be considerations when deciding if you want to sneak that booze on your cruise.
Some cruise lines do allow guests to bring bottled wine or beer onboard during embarkation, but there are strict rules.
If you are looking for ways to save money on alcohol, it should be noted that many cruise ships actually allow a certain amount of alcohol onboard during embarkation. Some cruise lines, like MSC, do not allow any alcohol to be brought onboard while others, like Norwegian Cruise Line, allow unlimited wine (with a $15 cork fee per bottle - of course).
Here is a list of the alcohol policies by cruise line:
- Carnival Cruise Line: 1 bottle of wine or champagne per guest. “At the beginning of the cruise during embarkation day only, guests (21 years of age and older) may bring one 750-ml bottle of sealed/unopened wine or champagne, per person, in their carry-on luggage”
- Celebrity Cruises: 1 bottle of wine or champagne per guest. “On embarkation day, each guest of drinking age may bring one (1) sealed 750 ml bottle of wine or champagne. Boxed wine and other containers are prohibited”
- Disney Cruise Line: 2 bottles of wine or champagne or 6 beers. “Guests 21 years and older may bring a maximum of 2 bottles of unopened wine or champagne (no larger than 750 ml) or 6 beers (no larger than 12 ounces) on board at the beginning of the voyage and at each port of call. These beverages must be packed in carry-ons”
- MSC: No alcohol allowed onboard.
- NCL: Unlimited wine. Guests will be charged a corkage fee of $15 per bottle.
- Princess Cruises: 1 bottle of wine or champagne per guest. “For Guests of legal drinking age, an allowance of one (1) bottle of wine or champagne (750 mL in volume or less) per Guest per Voyage may be presented to security during embarkation.”
- Royal Caribbean: 1 bottle of wine or champagne per guest. “On embarkation day, each guest of drinking age may bring one (1) sealed 750 ml bottle of wine or champagne. Boxed wine and other containers are prohibited"
- Viking Cruise Line: Unlimited alcohol. "Guests may bring alcohol and beverages with them, purchase alcohol ashore at destinations that sell alcohol, or purchase them from the onboard shop. Alcohol can be consumed in the guest’s stateroom or in public spaces, including the restaurants. There is no corkage fee.”
- Virgin Voyages: 2 bottles of wine per cabin. “Sailors (guests) may bring two (750ml) bottles of wine onboard per cabin in your carry-on luggage. No other alcohol is permitted to be carried on.”
While you can find plenty of clever hacks for sneaking alcohol on a cruise ship, you’re better off following the rules.
If you are looking for an answer on what to do in regards to sneaking booze onto a cruise ship, we highly recommend following the rules. Of course, you have to make your own decisions. Vacations are meant to be fun and carefree - you do not want to be worrying about whether the liquor you snuck onboard will get caught.
Not only is it against a cruise line’s alcohol policy, but you could also face some serious consequences by trying to be sneaky. If you do get caught red-handed with your forbidden booze, your time and money will be a total waste when it’s confiscated.
In an absolute worst case scenario, you could be denied boarding for your cruise vacation. This would obviously be a very expensive mistake to make. You could be sent packing at your own expense while the cruise ship sails away without you (and your forbidden alcohol).
Stick to the allocated amounts of alcohol that are allowed onboard. Many cruise lines allow one bottle of wine or champagne per person on embarkation day. While it’s not much, it is better than nothing. Even better, it’s not against the rules!
Make sure to check with your specific cruise line specifically before boarding, as policies can change.