Insider Secrets: How Some Passengers Sneak Alcohol onto Cruise Ships

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On some cruise ships, the cost of drinks might be the same as what you’d pay at your local pub. But on other cruises, drinks can be really expensive, with a glass of wine often costing about £8 ($10).

If you’re trying to save money, you might think about sneaking your drinks onto the cruise ship. But you’re not allowed to sneak your booze onto a cruise ship. 

Close-up of a clear glass flask with a black cap tucked into the pocket of blue denim jeans, conceptually highlighting discreet transportation of alcohol.

Even though it’s against the rules, I have spoken to several people who have tried it once. There’s no surefire way to get alcohol onto a cruise without getting caught, but there are lots of different tricks people have tried.

I even know someone who snuck alcohol on board in an old aftershave bottle. They instantly regretted it, as it tasted of aftershave when they poured their drink and had a sip!

Just so you know, I’ve never tried to sneak drinks onto a cruise myself, and I’m not saying you should do it. I’m just telling you about what some people have done so you can decide what you think.

Keep reading to find out more.

Sometimes You Can Bring Alcohol on a Cruise

Many cruise lines allow passengers to bring a limited amount of alcohol on board. Below is a table showing the different cruise lines and their alcohol allowance rules:

Cruise LineAmount of Alcohol Allowed per Passenger
CarnivalOne bottle of wine
CelebrityOne bottle of wine
CostaNot allowed
CunardOne bottle of wine
DisneyTwo bottles of wine or six beers
MSC CruisesNot allowed
NCLUnlimited wine – $15 fee per bottle
P&O CruisesOne litre of wine, Champagne, beer or spirit
Princess CruisesOne bottle of wine. ($15 per additional bottle)
Royal CaribbeanOne bottle of wine (or two bottles per stateroom)

P&O Cruises has the most generous alcohol policy, allowing up to one litre of spirits per passenger and unlimited mixers. They also have the best bar prices at sea, so there’s no need to sneak extra alcohol on board.

Instead of trying to sneak alcohol on board, consider purchasing a drinks package most cruise lines offer. These packages are often great value for money and provide a variety of freshly made cocktails and other beverages.

Cruise ship scanners can detect alcohol concealed in luggage…

Liquids appear dark on an X-ray, and the shapes of bottles are quite noticeable. If bottles, cans or other containers are spotted on the X-ray scanner, staff members will inspect the bag more closely.

Some cruise lines, including Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line, prohibit passengers from bringing any drinks on board, including water, unless needed for medical reasons. This policy speeds up the embarkation process and ensures prohibited items are not brought on board.

Many people have tried different tricks to bring their drinks onto cruise ships. The easiest way to sneak drinks depends on what kind of drink you want to hide (like vodka, which is simpler to hide than beer) and how much you want to take with you.

I’ve compiled a list of ways people have managed to hide their drinks on cruises. This list has DIY ideas for hiding drinks and special bags made just for sneaking alcohol onto cruise ships.

1. Shampoo Bottle Tricks

Purchasing specially designed shampoo bottle flasks can be an effective method to carry alcohol. These leak-proof bottles can hold 8 ounces of liquor while looking like normal toiletries.

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05/07/2024 06:59 am GMT

2. Clever Umbrella Flask

Imagine placing your drink in an umbrella flask without anyone suspecting it! This brilliant flask can hold your favourite drink 9 oz (255 ml). It’s easy to pour, and since it looks and feels like an actual umbrella, no one will suspect a thing.

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05/07/2024 06:44 am GMT

3. Ingenious Binocular Flask

This hidden flask disguised as binoculars can hold 8 oz (230ml) of liquor on either side, making it perfect for mixing drinks without anyone knowing.

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05/07/2024 07:03 am GMT

4. Secret Tampon Flasks

Tampon flasks are another excellent way to smuggle drinks on a cruise. These fake re-sealable tampon wrappers contain refillable mini flasks, and each one can hold one shot of alcohol. Nobody is likely to look inside a tampon when checking your luggage!

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05/07/2024 06:49 am GMT

5. Mouthwash Bottle Technique

Using mouthwash bottles is a well-known tactic for hiding alcohol. You can mix clear spirits with food colouring to resemble mouthwash. Still, cruise staff might be more suspicious of large mouthwash bottles, so be careful with this method.

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05/06/2024 07:14 am GMT

6. Concealed Wine Bottles

Many cruise lines allow passengers to bring one wine bottle per person. A common trick is to pack a bottle in your checked luggage and another in your carry-on bag, making it difficult for staff to see that you’ve brought more than the allowance.

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05/06/2024 07:19 am GMT

7. Sneaky Rum Runners

Rum runners are reusable plastic bags specifically designed for carrying alcohol on cruises. Thousands of cruisers have successfully used rum runners to sneak alcohol aboard ships. They don’t look like bottles in an X-ray scan, but the booze bags will be noticeable if your bag gets manually checked.

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05/06/2024 07:24 am GMT

8. Hidden Wine Rack Bra

For women, the ‘wine rack bra’ behaves like a wearable flask and can enhance your appearance, too. However, it could be easily detected during a pat-down security check, so proceed with caution.

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05/06/2024 07:29 am GMT

9. Mysterious Boozy Bladder

This peculiar device sits around your waist and holds a litre of alcohol. You can refill your glass discreetly with a hidden tube through your fly. This might be better suited for gents.

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05/06/2024 07:49 am GMT

10. Stylish Wine Handbag

Another option for ladies is the PortoVino wine purse, which holds two bottles of wine secretly. The insulated compartment keeps your wine cool for hours, but filling it with alcohol might make it more visible during an X-ray scan. Still, it’s a great option for enjoying wine from your room by the pool.

While some cruise ships let you bring your wine, they only allow you to drink it in your cabin. With this gadget, you can fill up a bag with cold wine from the fridge in your room and then secretly pour it into a glass by the pool using a hidden tap.

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05/06/2024 07:39 am GMT

Discreetly Storing Alcohol When Checking In

The most suitable spot to inconspicuously store alcohol for a cruise is in your checked luggage. You can immediately drop off your checked baggage when you reach the port. If your bag is scanned and something is detected, it will be dealt with privately, sparing you any public embarrassment.

However, remember that checked bags can be thrown around, so ensure that your chosen container is well-protected to avoid any breakage.

Trying to sneak alcohol onto a cruise on your body is a risky tactic. When passing through security, you must remove large items and walk through an X-ray scanner. 

If you trigger the alarm for any reason, even a random check, you will be subjected to a pat-down search. This will likely result in your hidden alcohol stash being found, regardless of how well it is concealed.

Carrying Alcohol Onboard at Foreign Cruise Ports

It’s simpler to bring alcohol onboard during your cruise than at the start. When you reenter the ship, your bags go through a scanner. If there’s a bottle that looks like water, even opened, it’s unlikely anyone will check it closely. But do remember:

  • Keep it limited to clear liquids
  • Maintain a neutral appearance and avoid suspicion
  • Don’t overdo it; stay within the rules of the cruise

What Happens If Caught Sneaking Alcohol on a Cruise?

If you are caught trying to bring alcohol on a cruise, the most severe outcome could be that you are not allowed to board the ship. For example, Royal Caribbean’s policy states that any seized alcoholic beverages will not be returned, and they may even dispose of any suspicious containers. 

Violating their alcohol policies, such as attempting to hide alcoholic items or displaying irresponsible behaviour, could result in being asked to leave the ship or being denied boarding altogether.

However, some cruise lines like Carnival have a less strict approach. They only state that if you are caught with disallowed alcohol, they will confiscate and dispose of it. They allow guests to bring one 750ml bottle of sealed or unopened wine or champagne per person on embarkation day. 

Apart from this, all other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are forbidden in carry-on and checked luggage. Confiscated items will be disposed of without any compensation.

Many stories can be found on online cruise forums about people’s experiences when caught smuggling alcohol on a ship. You might see photos of orange confiscation slips inside suitcases, replacing the missing alcohol. 

From what I can gather, no one has reported being denied boarding due to this issue. Interestingly, several people have said that they were allowed to collect their confiscated alcohol at the end of the cruise.

Wrapping It Up

I’m definitely not suggesting that anyone should try to sneak alcohol, or anything else, onto a cruise ship. Selling drinks is one of the ways cruise lines pay for their expenses. If everyone started sneaking alcohol onboard, the cruise lines would probably have to increase the price of tickets.

Also, being caught with alcohol can be really embarrassing. You might get away with it if they find a ticket in your luggage, but if your luggage is locked, you’ll be asked to come to a specific place on the ship and open it.

If you’re caught with too much alcohol in your hand luggage, you’ll have to face the embarrassment of everyone in line seeing you get caught.

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Thanks for reading!

I'm Hannah and I've been cruising for as long as I can remember.

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