Rules And Regulations To Keep In Mind For Your Next Cruise Ship Vacation

Cruise ships might be sailing across the seven seas, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t rules and regulations passengers have to adhere to; they’re not pirates! The thing is, a lot of cruise liner rules aren’t common knowledge while others are seen “more as guidelines than actual rules.”

From not being allowed to shake hands with crew members to other regulations, here are some cruise ship rules passengers might not know and others they tend to ignore.

No Outside Adult Beverages

No Outside Adult Beverages
Bernd Wüstneck/picture alliance via Getty Images
Bernd Wüstneck/picture alliance via Getty Images

It might be cheaper for passengers to bring their own beverages onboard cruise ships, but it’s actually prohibited to do so. Cruise liners make a mint on their adult beverage packages and selling drinks a la carte, so they’re not known to allow passengers to bring their own.

Of course, that doesn’t stop people from getting very creative and doing their best to sneak various adult beverages onboard in an attempt to save money.

24 Weeks Pregnant? Can’t Board

24 Weeks Pregnant? Can't Board
Vyacheslav ProkofyevTASS via Getty Images
Vyacheslav ProkofyevTASS via Getty Images

For those ladies going into their 24th week of pregnancy or later, a cruise vacation isn’t the best idea. The medical centers in the liners aren’t outfitted with the equipment needed for safe childbirth, making it not the safest place for a woman who might wind up having her child at sea.

With that in mind, it might be a better idea to book a different type of vacation, just in case the ship isn’t back to port by the third trimester.

People Tend To Skip The Muster Drill

Passengers Can Bring A Bottle Or Two Of Wine Onboard
Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Before a cruise liner sets off to sea, something called a muster drill takes place. This is a mandatory safety drill to show passengers what to do in case of an emergency, such as properly putting on a life jacket.

Even though it’s a mandatory briefing, that doesn’t stop people from trying to ditch and start vacation early. Too bad for them that if caught, they can be subject to a $100 fine and get booted from the cruise.

Hot Plate Items Are Forbidden…Well, Some Of Them Are

Hot Plate Items Are Forbidden...Well, Some Of Them Are
stevepb/pizabay
stevepb/pizabay

Cruise ships are a bit finicky when it comes to allowing passengers onboard with hot plate items. Heat-emitting items such as coffee pots, clothing irons, and even clothing steamers aren’t allowed to cross the threshold of the ship.

That being said, it might be interesting to learn that heat-styling hair apparatus such as straighteners, curling irons, and blow dryers are allowed onboard. It looks like hair beauty trumps wrinkly clothing and caffeine.

Passengers Can Bring A Bottle Or Two Of Wine Onboard

People Tend To Skip The Muster Drill
Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Passengers are prohibited from bringing outside alcohol onboard cruise ships, as the liners enjoy the money they make off their adult beverage packages and al la carte options. That being said, prior to embarking on the cruise, some liners allow passengers to bring an initial bottle or two of wine.

If passengers decided to take advantage of this happy hour loophole, there is nothing more than a tiny corking fee of $15 to $25.

Don’t Take Food Off The Ship

Don't Take Food Off The Ship
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

One rule a majority of cruise liners agree on is not taking a speck of non-pre-packaged food off the ship and into a country. This is due to agricultural regulations. While it might seem like a little issue that wouldn’t get a lot of attention, it’s not worth getting involved with local authorities over something as innocent as an apple from the buffet line.

It’s just something small to keep in mind while going on off-ship excursions.

Pool Rules Are Often Ignored

Pool Rules Are Often Ignored
Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images
Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images

Diving into shallow water, swimming diapers in the baby pool, toddlers in the hot tub. Even though there are signs, all of the lido deck, pool rules are often looked at, ignored, and, eventually, forgotten completely.

Unfortunately, people tend to forget that breaking these rules can have serious health consequences, like broken bones from running on a wet and slippery pool deck or a random illness from people swimming with open wounds.

A Health Questionaire Must Be Filled Out

A Health Questionaire Must Be Filled Out
Ore Huiying/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Ore Huiying/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Before embarking on a cruise vacation, passengers are required to fill out a health questionnaire. While the questionnaire is known to many people, one rule that might slip past the minds of vacation-goers is that crew members can deny passengers and turn them away if they’re sick on embarkation day.

In most cases, the onboard medical examiner will confine a person to their cabin for a few days. But if the illness is serious, they’ll deny entry.

Many People Disregard The Dress Code

Many People Disregard The Dress Code
Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

It might sound silly to some people that cruise lines have dress codes. After all, they’re going on vacation, so why do they have to dress in anything other than casual wear? Well, it’s because dressing in beach attire doesn’t look great in a grand dining hall and can ruin the experience for other passengers.

That doesn’t stop people from sporting crop tops and jean shorts, though. Many people might not even realize liners have dress codes! Pro tip: the less denim, the better.

Visas Are Required For Some Countries

Visas Are Required For Some Country
LOUAI BESHARA/AFP via Getty Images
LOUAI BESHARA/AFP via Getty Images

Before even thinking about embarkation day, review where the cruise liner is heading. Many overseas and foreign destinations require not only a valid passport but a visa to enter the country.

While some places issue visa stamps upon arrival, there are others that require visas prior to entrance. It’s definitely something people want to research before booking a cruise to places such as Brazil, Russia, Vietnam, Australia, India, or even China.

Smoking On Balconies Is A No No

Smoking On Balconies Is A No No
Robert Alexander/Getty Images
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

A rule people tend to see as more of a guideline is smoking. There are designated outdoor areas on many cruise ships for people to go and smoke a cigarette, cigar, and even e-cigarettes.

But one place that is a big no-no in terms of smoking location is the balconies connected to the cabins. The area is private, concealed, and outside. Many people ignore the rule, even though it’s a fire hazard and crew members attempt to enforce it.

Consent Must Be Shown For Non-Parents Traveling With Kids

Consent Must Be Shown For Non-Parents Traveling With Kids
Chris Ison/PA Images via Getty Images
Chris Ison/PA Images via Getty Images

For grandparents, guardians, or other people traveling with children who aren’t their own, there is own big cruise ship rule that has to be followed. If an underage child does not share a last name with their parents, the adults need to show the child’s birth certificate and passport.

If a child is traveling with other people, then a written, notarized, and signed letter of consent must be shown to crew members, authorizing the child’s presence on board that certain ship with those specific people.

Passengers Are Allowed To Scatter Ashes At Sea

Passengers Are Allowed To Scatter Ashes At Sea
MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images
MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images

Instead of being buried, some people ask to be cremated and have their ashes scattered at sea. What better and easier way to do so than on a cruise in the middle of the ocean? While a ceremony might seem a bit strange for a vacation cruise liner, scattering a loved one’s ashes isn’t prohibited, as long as the passengers follow certain guidelines.

One such rule is that the “staff will coordinate the burial at sea, which must take place 12 nautical miles from land.”

Showing Up On Time Isn’t A Suggestion

Showing Up On Time Isn't A Suggestion
Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images
Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

When the liner docks for off-ship excursions, there is a set time for passengers to get back to the liner so the captain can stay on schedule. Well, many people don’t take that time seriously, getting caught up in the local markets, a long hike, or beverages at a tiki bar.

Too bad for them that the crew isn’t going to wait around and stall other passengers’ vacation because they lost track of time!

Lifeboats Must Accommodate 125% Of The Total Passengers

Lifeboats Must Accommodate 125% Of The Total Passengers
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

After one too many at-sea catastrophes, maritime law finally stepped up its game. Now, each cruise liner must be equipped with enough lifeboats to safely evacuate 125% of the total passengers onboard the ship.

The amount of life rafts is just in case some happen to be faulty or not launch properly. This is one rule passengers, and perspective cruise vacationers can most likely get behind since it deals with their safety.

Never Sit Or Lean Over The Railing

Never Sit Or Lean Over The Railing
Peter Bischoff/Getty Images
Peter Bischoff/Getty Images

Not sitting or leaning over a cruise ship’s railing might seem like common knowledge to some passengers, but each year, a few people wind up going overboard. So, it’s best to follow the rules and not lean over a railing very high above the middle of the ocean.

The selfie passengers want to take a picture of their “extreme” trip on a cruise that isn’t worth plummeting into cold water and having to be rescued.

Don’t Allow Diapered Children In The Pool

Don't Allow Diapered Children In The Pool
LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images
LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images

Not allowing a diapered child in a public pool should go without saying, yet people always break the rule. While swim diapers are a thing, they aren’t 100% effective, and one leaking diaper is enough for the crew to shut down the entire pool, ruining the experience for the rest of the passengers.

If cooling a little one down is a priority, consider bringing a kiddie pool onboard instead of going straight to rule-breaking.

No Shaking Hands With The Crew Or Captain

No Shaking Hands With The Crew Or Captain
Peter Bischoff/Getty Images
Peter Bischoff/Getty Images

While young kids and even some adults would love to meet and greet the captain, they’re going to have to keep dreaming. Back in 2015, a few liners made a rule stating that no one is allowed to shake hands with the crew or the captain.

The rule was to help decrease the spreading of unwanted germs. And while not every liner has this specific rule, it’s a good one to keep in mind.

Age Policies Are Non-Negotiable

Age Policies Are Non-Negotiable
Spencer Grant/Getty Images
Spencer Grant/Getty Images

One rule a lot of passengers try to break is the age policies. Too bad for them that the crew members are pretty good at spotting someone not over the age of 18 at the adult comedy club or someone under the age of 21 at the casino.

Even so, it doesn’t stop people from arguing about “how mature their son and daughter are and how they should be allowed into the adult-only show.”

There Is A Code Of Conduct

There Is A Code Of Conduct
4711018/pixabay
4711018/pixabay

On each cruise liner, there is a code of conduct passengers are required to adhere to. If any of the codes are broken, the person can be asked to leave the ship. Some violations include abusive behavior, disorderly conduct, illegal substance use, and making threats to fellow passengers or crew members.

These may seem like pretty obvious things to avoid, but it doesn’t hurt to look over a complete list of codes before embarking on a cruise.

Keep The Pool Floats At Home

Before packing that giant pool float for your upcoming cruise, think again. Little kids are allowed to wear floaties, but rafts and other large adult-sized floats aren’t allowed in the pool.

They’re big, take up too much space, and no one really wants to see your giant flamingo float (no offense). So, at the end of the day, it’s best to leave the large pool floats at home for summer fun that has nothing to do with a cruise ship.

Socializing With The Crew Isn’t Permitted

Socializing With The Crew Isn't Permitted
Yuri SmityukTASS via Getty Images
Yuri SmityukTASS via Getty Images

Cruise ship crew members are there to make the vacation experience easy, relaxing, and fun for passengers. But there is a rule strictly prohibiting anything beyond a professional relationship between parties.

The crew is told to be polite and friendly, but passengers shouldn’t take their eagerness to help and outgoing nature as a sign of friendship. Royal Caribbean, for example, has a policy that says crew members are “not permitted to socialize with guests beyond their professional duties.”

Depending On Your Age, The Pool Might Be Off Limits

Depending On Your Age, The Pool Might Be Off Limits
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Depending on the cruise line, there could be some pool restrictions. One such restriction being people under the age of 16 aren’t allowed in the pool or hot tub. The rule is in place so the pool isn’t overly crowded at all times, since kids tend to keep swimming no matter what hour!

It might seem like a silly rule, but the rule is in compliance with the US Public Health Service and is in place to ensure passenger safety.

Never Buy A Minor An Adult Beverage

Never Buy A Minor An Adult Beverage
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Like on land, buying a minor an adult beverage can have dire consequences onboard a cruise ship. Liners have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to underage drinking. Even if a relative is turning 21 in a month or so, they still aren’t allowed to partake in happy hour.

If they’re caught drinking, the crew has the authority to kick the person off the ship, them, and anyone else who aided in their consumption.

Keep Your Drone At Home

Keep Your Drone At Home
Visionhaus/Getty Images)
Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Flying a drone over the open ocean while on a cruise ship might seem like a great idea that will result in stellar pictures. It’s just too bad that a vast majority of ships don’t allow their passengers to fly drones while the ship is at sea.

Although people are prohibited from flying drones while still on board the ship, there are no rules regarding using the technology while doing off-ship excursions.

No Flying Kites On The Deck

No Flying Kites On The Deck
Mamunur Rashid/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Mamunur Rashid/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The winds of the open sea might seem like the perfect place to fly a kite, so go ahead and bring one on your next cruise! Just remember that many liners don’t allow passengers to enjoy a nice kite flying-day on the deck.

The barely-there strings are a hazard, and kite’s dive-bombing into pool loungers isn’t ideal for a relaxing vacation. So, for those who feel it’s absolutely necessary to fly a kite on vacation, wait until the ship docks.

Never Break Quarantine

Never Break Quarantine
Lam Yik Fei/ Bloomberg
Lam Yik Fei/ Bloomberg

Passengers who show signs of an illness known to cause outbreaks, they and their traveling companions may be confined to their cabin for 48 hours or more by the onboard doctor. It’s also best to listen to all of the doctor’s rules and not break quarantine.

If a passenger is seen roaming the ship with their germs, the captain has the power to boot that passenger from the ship since they’re potentially endangering other people.

Homemade Goodies Aren’t Allowed

Homemade Goodies Aren't Allowed
Liz Hafalia/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
Liz Hafalia/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Having snacks in a cabin isn’t unheard of. But those snacks have to have come from somewhere in the liner. In fact, upon boarding a cruise ship, crew members will throw away any food items, especially if that food is homemade (no need for a weird outbreak because someone brought cookies onboard!).

If a group is having a special get-together and wants to bring treats onboard, it’s best to get in touch with the cruise prior to embarkation.

Stealing Things…Don’t Do It

Stealing Things...Don't Do It
Ganossi/pizabay
Ganossi/pizabay

Cruise liners tend to have a jail or brig for passengers who break the law. That includes people with sticky fingers who enjoy slipping items into their bags and walking away without paying.

Like it is on land, stealing on a cruise ship isn’t legal, and passengers who are caught will be “thrown” into the brig, booted from the cruise, and will be handed over to authorities. It’s not worth it, so don’t do it.

Abusing The Crew Is A Good Way To Get Booted From The Ship

Abusing The Crew Is A Good Way To Get Booted From The Ship
Peter Bischoff/Getty Images
Peter Bischoff/Getty Images

When passengers are on a cruise, they’re in the captain’s world. That means that if a passenger goes and bugs, aggravates or pretty much starts abusing members of their crew, the captain has the authority to kick them off the ship.

Long story short, be polite to the crew. They are there to ensure passengers have the most relaxing and enjoyable experience possible, so there is no reason to be rude and bothersome.