Skip to main content

Is the tap water safe to drink on a cruise ship?

Cruise Tap Water

Drinking water and staying hydrated on a cruise is very important. Most cruisers are spending their day out in the sun with a cocktail in hand. This is especially true if you spend most of your days at the beach or exploring ports of call throughout the warm, sunny Caribbean or Mediterranean.

While this is a quintessential cruising experience, it’s very easy to get dehydrated while cruising. Between the heat and alcohol, dehydration happens faster than you might think.


Even worse, bottled water tends to be expensive if you want to purchase it onboard. Unless you have a drink package that includes bottled water, you might find yourself spending quite a bit of money on water from the bar.

Other than bottled water, you have a few more options for staying hydrated onboard. Tap water is available from your cabin sink, along with water fountains and canisters throughout the ship.

Although the water in your cruise ship cabin is the most convenient, you might be wondering whether you can - or should - drink the tap water in your cruise cabin. This is especially true for new cruisers.


Let’s explore the safety of cruise ship water, including whether you should be hydrating with tap water during your voyage.

The short answer? Yes, you can safely drink the water in your cruise ship cabin.

NCL Sun Cabin

Essentially, cruise ships are floating cities that are entirely operable on their own. Cruise ships are extremely self-sufficient thanks to onboard processes that happen behind the scenes.

The water has been processed through an onboard filtration system, making it safe for all guests onboard to consume. Unless it has been clearly communicated that guests should not drink the water, which is very rare, you can rest assured that the water on a cruise ship is safe to drink.

In fact, the water from your cruise ship cabin bathroom is the same water that is provided in other areas on the ship, such as the dining room and buffet. All of the tap water onboard a cruise ship is treated the same, in most cases. 

Bottled water

For example, Royal Caribbean provides the following answer on its FAQ page regarding whether the water is safe to drink onboard.

The cruise line shares, “All drinking water is either distilled from seawater or loaded onboard while the ship is in port. Royal Caribbean adheres to Vessel Sanitation Program standards published by the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS). The USPHS conducts inspections of the ship, both during its construction and throughout the year, to ensure compliance.”

Cruise ships have their own filtration system to purify seawater, which is frequently tested to ensure safety standards.

NCL viva

The majority of water onboard a cruise ship is seawater that has undergone a desalination process. Cruise ships treat and filter the water onboard to meet the safety standards of both the U.S. Public Health Service and the World Health Organization.

There are two mechanisms for desalinating water on a cruise ship: steam evaporation or reverse osmosis.

Steam evaporation, which is also known as flash evaporation, involves using the steam and heat from the ship’s engines to boil the ocean water. Once the water evaporates, the salt is separated as a byproduct. Following this process, the freshwater is condensed back into distilled, purified water. 


Cruise ships can also use reverse osmosis, which relies on pushing salt water through small membranes. Instead of heat, reverse osmosis passes water through membranes so tiny that only clean water can pass through. 

This leaves behind the salt and other contaminants. The clean water is then mineralized for flavor. This process is similar to water filtration used in homes for drinking water.

Does cruise ship water have a bad taste?


While it might be safe to drink the cruise ship's tap water, you may scoff at the taste. The taste of cruise ship water is likely different than the local water you’re used to at home. This comes down to personal preference more so than safety concerns.

While I don’t personally mind the taste of the water on a cruise ship, I’ve sailed with people who do not like the taste of the tap water on a cruise. If you are sensitive when it comes to taste and smell, you might find the cruise ship water doesn’t taste as you’d expect.

Read more: The one thing we all hate about cruises that no one talks about

NCL viva

However, as mentioned above, the water in your cruise ship cabin is the same drinking water used throughout the ship. You might find the temperature of the tap water in your cruise cabin contributes to the drinking experience as well.

Rest assured, the tap water is not recycled toilet water. If you find the taste is not your preference, it’s not because the water is from the ship toilets.

A cruise ship’s wastewater is treated onboard, but it is not used for drinking water purposes. Although the toilet water is filtered onboard to make it safely consumable in many countries, cruise ships do not use recycled toilet water for tap water. Rather, the newly treated water is released back into the ocean.

Tips for staying hydrated while cruising


It’s crucial to stay hydrated on a cruise for your health and safety. While it’s easy to find yourself dehydrated during a cruise, you can take a few extra steps for hydration.

Since tap water is safe to drink on a cruise, this is the most cost-efficient and convenient way to drink water on a cruise. We recommend bringing a refillable water bottle on your cruise that you can use. This is a great way to stay hydrated both onboard the ship itself and ashore.

two reusable water bottles

Note that you won’t be able to directly refill your water bottle from the water dispensers because of public health safety standards. You’ll need to grab a clean glass to fill with water before replenishing your bottle. I try to hydrate each evening onboard when cruising, especially at dinner. For port-intensive itineraries, I really focus on hydration during sea days. 

Personally, I always cruise with hydration packets that I add to my water. These hydration packets make the tap water tasty while also providing additional electrolytes. I prefer Liquid I.V. or Propel Electrolyte packets when I cruise; I swear by these hydration packs!

Read more: 26 Cruise Cabin Essentials You Need To Pack


Additionally, you can purchase packs of bottled water that are delivered directly to your stateroom at the beginning of the cruise. This is common among cruisers that sail with Carnival Cruise Line. For example, you can purchase a 12-pack of 16.9 oz bottled water for $14.95 for an 8-pack of 50.72 oz of water bottles for $24.95. Bottles of water are usually available for purchase in your cabin as well, but be sure to check the price before you drink!

Bottled water is also included in most cruise line drink packages, such as Royal Caribbean’s Refreshment and Deluxe Beverage Packages. If you purchase a drink package and prefer bottled water, make sure you take advantage of this included item!

Loading Comments