21 Mistakes That New Cruisers Make All The Time

If you’ve never cruised before, it’s easy to make a few mistakes. 

While most of these are hardly going to spoil your holiday, some could be critically important – and the others are nice to know so that you make the most of your holiday.

So, learn from those who’ve cruised before you! Here are the mistakes other first-time cruisers have made, and tips on how to avoid them yourself.

1. Not researching what’s included

A man in a business suit sits at a desk, looking at his laptop screen which displays an image of a cruise ship with the words 'ALL INCLUSIVE' overlaid. The office setting includes a modern desk, a black lamp, and shelving units in the background.

Most cruises aren’t all-inclusive by default, but they tend to include quite a bit. It’s not just your accommodation, but also your food in a variety of venues, some snacks, and a selection of drinks (even if that’s only at breakfast).

Some people mistakenly think that the buffet is the only free food option, or they don’t know about the inclusive snack venues around the ship. They might assume that entertainment shows have a cost too.

Always check what’s covered by your fare, and make sure you make the most of everything that’s free!

Suggested read: Is Food Always Included on Cruises?

2. Failing to buy the right cruise insurance

Close-up of a person's hands filling out an 'Insurance Claim Form' on a tablet, with fields for policy number, date of loss, cause of loss, and amount claimed visible on the screen.

Cruise insurance is super-important – if you don’t have the right cover, you could end up paying huge medical expenses when you’re abroad, potentially enough to bankrupt you – I’m not exaggerating. Or you might end up cancelling your cruise without being able to get money back.

Suggested read: 9 Horror Stories From Cruisers Who Had No Insurance

Choosing proper cruise insurance also means you can get extra cover for things like missed ports of call, or being confined to your cabin if you get sick (it can happen…).

So, while it’s important to buy your insurance policy on the same day you book, don’t just settle for any random travel cover.

Here are the things you need to know before you buy cruise insurance.

3. Travelling to the cruise ship on the day it departs

Two large cruise ships docked side by side at a port, with people walking along the pier under a bright, sunny sky.

Cruise ships have a strict schedule that they need to stick to. This means that they have to leave port at a certain time on embarkation day. And if you haven’t yet made it to the ship, you’re going to miss the cruise – and because it’ll be considered your fault, you won’t get a refund.

Don’t rely on flights being on time on the day of your cruise. If you have far to travel, make sure you go the day before, and book a hotel near the port. The extra expense is worth it to guarantee your place on the ship.

4. Not taking advantage of food and drink luggage allowances

You might assume that cruise lines ban you from bringing any food or drink onboard, since they have it on the ship. That’s not true though. They’re quite happy for you to bring food onto the ship, as long as it’s pre-packaged and hasn’t been opened.

And you can usually bring at least one bottle of wine with you – each cruise line has different policies.

The snacks and drinks on the ship can be a lot more expensive on land, and you’ll really regret not bringing that tube of Pringles if you then see how much one costs in the shop onboard. So get to know your allowances, and take advantage of them.

5. Booking flights home too early

A white shuttle bus is parked at an airport terminal with a plane taking off in the background. The scene is set on a cloudy day, emphasizing the busy travel environment.

On the last day of your cruise, you’ll disembark the ship and then either drive home or head to the airport to hop on a flight. And if there’s a good flight deal in the late morning or early afternoon, it can be tempting to book that.

But that could be a huge mistake, as disembarkation can take time – you aren’t guaranteed to be off the ship in the early morning, and certain guests who’ve stayed in suites or have a lot of loyalty points will be offered priority.

If you miss your flight because you then couldn’t get a cab amongst the throng of debarking passengers, that’s on you. Leave plenty of time to get to the airport.

6. Assuming only the cruise line offers excursions

A cruise line representative is discussing shore excursions with a couple at a travel desk, with brochures and promotional materials displayed. The setting appears to be an upscale, elegant lobby, emphasizing personalized service and luxury travel planning.

Cruise excursions are a great way to spend your time in port, but booking them through the cruise line can be expensive – they do like to charge a premium. 

You can often get the same excursions for much less if you book through a third party, though just be aware that the cruise line will then wipe its hands of responsibility for you being back on the ship on time. If something happens on the excursion and you miss the sailing time, you’ll be left behind.

Suggested read: How I Find Affordable Shore Excursions

7. Stressing about the dress code

A rack of elegant evening dresses in various colors and styles, including red, green, pink, and blue, hanging on wooden hangers. The dresses are suitable for formal occasions on a cruise, showcasing a range of luxurious fabrics and designs.

Yes, many cruise lines still have a dress code, and a lot of people won’t check it, which can lead to disappointment when they want to head to dinner that night and they realise their options are limited because they’re underdressed.

But the bigger mistake is turning formal night into a big drama, and worrying about whether your outfit is suitable. If you want to take part, just make an effort – it’s OK if you’re not quite following it to the letter of the law. 

And if you don’t want to take part, there are plenty of places on the ship where you can still eat in your regular comfy clothes. Formal night should be fun – don’t worry yourself over it.

Suggested read: The Best Cruise Dresses for Formal Night

8. Forgetting about mobile data charges

A woman wearing sunglasses and a yellow cardigan relaxes on a cruise ship deck, using her phone. She is seated in a lounge chair with a cup of coffee on a table beside her, enjoying a sunny day at sea.

The last thing you want to do is finish your cruise and then receive a phone bill for hundreds of £s or $s, all because you forgot to turn off your mobile data.

You might have a roaming deal in your contract, but that only covers you when you’re in certain countries. It doesn’t count at sea – but your phone will connect, and you will get some astronomical charges. The networks you connect to at sea really aren’t cheap.

As soon as you board your cruise, turn data off. You can pay for WiFi if you want to get online, or use free WiFi in ports, but never let yourself get trapped with a huge data bill.

9. Failing to understand tips/gratuities

A hand holds a tip envelope from a cruise ship with the text "Tip tip hooray! Additional gratuity in recognition of exceptional service." The envelope includes fields for the crew member's name or position and the stateroom number.

Different cruise lines have different policies when it comes to tips and gratuities. Some charge a daily rate that is added to your account automatically, whereas others will include it in the fare.

Some even charge a daily gratuity rate but then leave tipping envelopes in your cabin, encouraging you to tip more (looking at you, Disney Cruise Line…).

Familiarise yourself with the tips you’re supposed to pay for your cruise line, so it doesn’t come as a shock when you get onboard.

Read more: Can You Refuse To Pay Gratuities On A Cruise?

10. Buying a drinks package without researching it

Close-up of a person's hand holding a smartphone displaying a cruise ship's Deluxe Beverage Package offer, with a variety of alcoholic drinks in the background on the screen, suggesting the convenience of mobile booking.

When you book your cruise, you may be offered an all-inclusive drinks package, and it might seem like a good idea – pay for the package upfront and you never have to worry about paying for drinks individually.

The mistake is that a drinks package isn’t right for everyone. If you don’t drink much, you could be massively overpaying.

My drinks package calculator will help you understand that, for some people, you could save a lot just by paying for drinks as you go.

11. Overpacking

An open suitcase packed for a cruise trip shows neatly organized clothing, a passport, a water bottle, a watch, and a laptop. Surrounding the suitcase are various shoes, a sun hat, and other travel essentials, all laid out on the floor in preparation for the journey.

One of the most common tips I see for new cruisers is to pack for your cruise, and then remove half, and then potentially even remove half again!

New cruisers love to overpack, stuffing their suitcase with every possible outfit they might need. But instead, you’ll find it much easier to just pack the essentials along with a few versatile outfits.

Remember that cruise ships have laundry facilities in case you need them.

Suggested read: 16 Things Pro Cruisers Pack That You Won’t Have Thought Of

12. Overpacking carry-on bags

A female traveler wearing a hat and backpack sits on a stone ledge with her arms outstretched, facing a serene lake surrounded by mountains. The bright, clear day highlights the natural beauty and sense of adventure.

Another mistake is overpacking your carry-on bag, loading it up with all kinds of electronics and other heavy items that you ‘might’ need for the flight and the first couple of hours of your cruise.

The thing is, you might end up having to carry that bag around for a long time, especially if there are long lines for boarding the ship and then a few hours to kill until your cabin is ready. Try to only pack the essentials in your carry-on so you don’t have a huge weight on your shoulders, literally.


13. Packing swimwear in suitcases

A person in a pink sweatshirt packs a suitcase with summer essentials, including a straw bag, sunscreen, sunglasses, a bikini, headphones, sandals, and travel documents. The suitcase is laid open on a wooden floor with a pink fuzzy rug nearby, suggesting preparation for a sunny vacation.

It’s a great idea to pack your bathing costumes in your carry-on, instead of making the mistake of putting them in your suitcases.

Again, you might have a few hours to wait once you’re on the ship until your cabin’s ready and your suitcases are delivered. If you pack your swimming gear, you can get changed and start enjoying the pool as soon as you’re onboard.

14. Packing towels

A row of blue lounge chairs on a cruise ship deck, each with a neatly folded blue towel. The wooden deck adds to the clean and organized appearance, ready for guests to relax and enjoy the sun.

One last point on packing – you don’t need to pack towels. That’s a lot of bulk and weight that’s completely unnecessary. The cruise ship will have plenty of towels for you, including beach towels.

15. Not checking cabin location

The image shows a young woman in a green sweater, posing thoughtfully in a cruise ship cabin. The cabin features a large double bed and additional bunk beds, designed to accommodate multiple passengers. The setting includes modern decor with a patterned carpet and tasteful furnishings.

On every cruise ship, there are good cabin locations and bad cabin locations. They aren’t all the same, because it’ll depend on what kind of cruise passenger you are. For example, cabins adjacent to the kids’ clubs are great for families, and terrible for solo travellers!

Many first-time cruisers assume all cabins are equal, but with a little bit of research when choosing your cabin, you can find the best ones for you.

Suggested read: How To Upgrade Your Cruise Cabin After Purchase

16. Making assumptions about cabin types

The Cloud 9 Cove Balcony stateroom on Carnival Mardi Gras is a haven of modern comfort and style, featuring twin beds, a cozy sitting area with a sofa and colorful pillows, and a private balcony offering expansive ocean views. The room's design is complemented by soft lighting and a tranquil color scheme that echoes the serene maritime surroundings.

Balcony cabins cost more than inside cabins, and so they’re always better – right?

That’s the kind of assumption that first-time cruisers often make in error. In reality, the different cabin types fit different needs too. Yes, inside cabins are best if you’re on a budget, but that doesn’t make them the worst – some people love them because of how well you’ll sleep in the dark.

Some people think balconies are overpriced and unnecessary, others will refuse to do anything else after trying one.

The tip here is to actually read reviews of the different cabin types before making any snap judgements when you book.

Suggested read: Why I (Almost) Always Choose an Inside Cabin for a Family Cruise

17. Not researching the cruise line

Several large cruise ships docked at a port under a bright, partly cloudy sky. The clear blue water and the bustling harbor highlight the busy and vibrant cruise industry.

I’ve had some really funny conversations with people before when they’ve told me they’re going on their first-ever cruise, I’ve asked them which cruise line, and they reply “Oh, I can’t remember”.

Some first-time cruisers pay no attention to the cruise line even though they all offer very different experiences. Imagine not remembering if you’ve booked on a Carnival or a Celebrity ship!

Take your time to understand the vibe on each cruise line, and even each individual ship, before booking.

Suggested read: The 14 Worst Cruise Lines (According to Reviews)

18. Not washing their hands

An automated hand washing station on a Costa cruise ship, featuring motion-activated soap dispensers and sinks, encourages hygiene with a convenient and contactless method, set against a backdrop of warm wood paneling.

Hygiene is really important on a cruise ship, because sickness bugs can get passed around very easily. And yet, first-time cruisers often don’t realise how important it is to wash your hands regularly.

To be fair, a lot of experienced cruisers still don’t seem to have got the message…

The fact that cruise lines now have to employ crew members to stand outside the buffet restaurants and sing catchy songs about washing your hands to convince you is a damning indictment of what some cruise guests are like.

Here’s my tip – wash your hands.

19. Not hydrating properly

A hand holding a bottle of Frasassi mineral water with a pink cap, set against a backdrop of a checkered pajama and a modern, stylish interior of a cabin on a cruise ship.

Cruises are extremely relaxing, especially when you’re lounging on the pool deck under the beating sun. However, don’t get so comfortable that you forget to properly hydrate. You can easily make yourself ill by not drinking enough water on a ship.

The same could also be said of sunscreen – you’re very exposed on a pool deck so you need to be properly protected.

20. Avoiding the main dining room for breakfast and lunch

The main dining room on the Seabourn Venture exudes elegance and sophistication with its spacious layout. The room is arranged with neatly set round and rectangular tables, adorned with white tablecloths, fine china, and yellow floral centerpieces. The stylish decor includes plush blue and cream chairs, patterned carpet flooring, and modern geometric lighting, creating an inviting atmosphere for dining with views of the ocean through large windows.

Many cruise passengers assume that the buffet is the main place to go for breakfast and lunch, and that the main dining room is really for dinner only.

But that’s a mistake, as it’s absolutely worth trying the dining room for a nice sit-down breakfast or some different lunch options.

You might try it once and decide you prefer the ease of the buffet or the other casual venues, and that’s fine. But don’t dismiss the dining room without giving it a go.

21. Booking based on price without checking the weather

A cruise ship braves tumultuous seas under stormy skies, illustrating the dramatic conditions during Storm Katie. Towering waves and fierce winds encapsulate the vessel's challenging journey.

It’s understandable that you’d want to save money when booking your first cruise, but if you find an amazing deal, ask why the price might be so low.

It’s often because it’s out of season, and the weather could have a serious impact on your itinerary. Some cruises lose multiple ports when storms are bad, because the ship is just unable to dock.

Do your research on different times of year for the region you want to cruise to, and make sure you aren’t taken in by a deal without digging a little deeper.

Suggested read: The 11 Worst Ports of Call For Cruise Ship Tourists


Don’t miss these hot cruise offers…

Final Word

How many of these mistakes did you make on your first cruise?

How many do you still see people making, even if they seem to have cruised many times before?

Share any tips or mistakes of your own in the comments too, if you think I’ve missed any!

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If you found this interesting, please share!

Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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43 Cruise Packing Tips & Hacks From Pro Cruisers

Whether you’re a cruise first-timer or have cruised many times already, packing for a cruise can be stressful. Get it wrong, and you could find yourself packing way too much, or leaving important items behind.

It can be hard to find the right balance between making sure that you don’t forget any of the essentials and bringing so much stuff that you can’t move inside your cabin.

I’ve collated all of the best cruise packing tips and tricks, including some from professional organisers and pro cruisers into this article. Now, packing for your next cruise will be so much easier!

packing for a cruise

1. Check your luggage allowance

Most cruise ships allow guests to bring an unlimited amount of luggage on board. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that there are no packing limits for your cruise. For example, the Carnival luggage restrictions specify that suitcases must be below a certain size.

If you’re taking a flight, your airline will have super-strict luggage allowances, so make sure that you know what they are and adhere to them.

2. Invest in packing cubes

Many cruisers swear by packing cubes to allow them to squeeze more in, stay organised and keep their clothes wrinkle-free. When planning how to pack for a cruise, they can be great space-savers. But beware, not all packing cubes are equal.

Cruise YouTuber Emma Cruises tested out the top brands of packing cubes for durability, strength, price and overall quality. She recommends PRO packing cubes as the best brand to buy on Amazon.

3. Pack magnetic hooks

Magnetic hooks are probably only ever useful on a cruise ship, but they are so handy! You see, all of the walls on cruise ships are made of metal, and these strong magnets allow you to hang up your coats, handbags and wet swimwear – giving you loads more storage space in your cabin. They’re some of the best cruise packing hacks.

I have these ones and they’re great for hanging lots of smaller items…

But, if you want to hang your whole backpack or a heavy winter coat, make sure you get the ones listed as strong. The hooks below hold up to 100 lbs so you’ll have no problem with them falling off under the weight of your stuff…

4. Check the laundry facilities on your ship

If you’re cruising for more than a week, you may want to wash some clothes during your holiday. While most cruise ships offer a laundry service, this can be very expensive. However, many ships also have self-service washing machines and tumble dryers, which are free to use.

I have a full list of the laundry facilities on every cruise ship for you, so you can find out if there are washing machines and whether you need cash for them.

If your ship has self-service washing machines, be sure to pack some 2-in-1 laundry tablets.

On cruise ships that don’t have laundry facilities, I like to use my Scrubba wash bag. It’s the easiest way to wash your clothes in under five minutes.

5. Download the cruise line’s app to your phone

Cruise line apps are getting better and better. You can now use them to do all sorts of things such as finding your way around the ship, making reservations for dining and shows, reading menus and ordering food.

You’ll want to download the app for your cruise line before you set off. Once you step onboard, be sure to turn your phone onto ‘airplane mode’ so that you don’t rack up any data charges while at sea.

Suggested read: How to Avoid Roaming Charges on a Cruise

6. Pack more than one pair of flip-flops!

You might think that one pair of flip-flops is enough. I’d say otherwise!

The problem with flip flops is that they can break easily and if that happens on your ship, you’ll probably pay much more than you’d like for a new pair from the onboard shop. Flip flops are so small and light, that you can easily fit two or three pairs in your suitcase.

7. Pack closed-toe shoes, socks and long pants

Many of the activities that you can do on cruise ships require you to have your legs and feet covered. So, if you plan on trying rock climbing, ice skating, laser tag, zip-lining, a high ropes course, trampolining or anything like that, you’ll need the correct shoes, socks and trousers to take part.

Suggested read: What Shoes To Pack For A Cruise

8. Check what you’re not allowed to bring

From water to extension cables, there are a lot of things that you might not be able to bring on your cruise. If you bring any prohibited items, they’ll be confiscated and you may not get them back. Sneaking alcohol or marijuana could even lead to you being thrown off the ship, so it’s not worth the risk.

Suggested read: What can you NOT bring on a cruise?

9. Pack everything you need for the first day in a carry-on bag

When you board the ship, your luggage will be delivered to your stateroom, but that can take some time. With literally thousands of bags to deliver, your suitcases may not arrive until around 6 pm.

In your carry-on bag, be sure to pack everything you might need, especially things like sunscreen and sunglasses and all of your valuables. You may even wish to pack a swimsuit so that you can get straight in the pool.

I like to use this SailPack tote bag as it’s the perfect size, it has a zip and internal compartments and it also doubles as a beach bag.

10. Make your luggage stand out

When you disembark at the end of your cruise, you’ll collect your luggage from a huge hall with thousands of other bags. Plain black suitcases can be hard to find, so invest in some brightly coloured ones or some eye-catching luggage covers.

11. Bring cash for tips

You won’t need any cash onboard your ship, but it can come in very handy at other times, particularly when cruising from the United States. Tipping porters and taxi drivers is expected, so be sure to bring some small bills to avoid embarrassment.

Suggested read: How Much Cash To Bring On A Carnival Cruise

12. If you don’t have the same surname as your kids, bring their birth certificates

When boarding a cruise ship, kids’ names will be checked against the parents on their passports. If your children have different surnames to all of the adults that they’re travelling with, you could be denied boarding.

The best way to get around this issue is to bring a copy of their birth certificates and/or a letter from a parent. Be sure to check that the parent’s name on the birth certificate matches your passport, otherwise you may need to bring some extra documentation such as a marriage certificate to prove that they’re your kids.

13. Bring a battery-powered tealight for the bathroom

It’s virtually impossible to go to the toilet in the night without flooding the bedroom with light and waking everybody up. Some cruisers like to place a small battery-powered light in the bathroom so that they don’t need to turn the light on.

An alternative would be to use a plug-in nightlight just outside the bathroom. I like this one because it’s compact and just the right amount of bright for an inside cabin.

13. Leave the beach towels at home

Your cruise ship will provide you with white towels to use in the bathroom and coloured towels to use by the pool. You can also take these ashore with you and you’ll spot lots of cruisers with their ship towels on nearby beaches.

If you’d rather not carry towels on day trips, a beach sheet is a nice lightweight alternative that’s large enough for the whole family to sit on.

14. Pack towel clips

One thing you need to know about cruising is, it can be very windy! The wind can easily sweep your towels off your sunloungers and into the sea. To avoid this, I recommend using towel clips to keep everything in place.

When everyone has the same towel that’s provided by the cruise line, it can be hard to find your sunlounger. Choose bright or novelty towel clips to make this easier.

Towel clips are also handy to attach your towels and swimsuits to the chairs on your balcony while they dry.

If you prefer to pack super light, then these towel bands do the job perfectly and don’t take up any room in your bag.

15. Consider vacuumed seal bags

Vacuum-sealed bags are a great way to pack much more into each suitcase. But what do you do when you need to pack on the last day of your cruise? Well, you need to get the ones that have a small hand pump to vacuum seal the bags.

If you don’t have a pump, you can always call your cabin steward and they will vacuum it closed for you. Some cruisers like to bring an extra vacuum bag to offer to their cabin steward as a thank you.

16. Check if you can bring your own booze

Bringing your own alcohol on a cruise can be a great way to save money, but not every cruise line allows it.

Disney Cruise Line has one of the most generous alcohol policies, as each passenger is allowed to bring on two bottles of wine on embarkation day and more in each port. Some cruise lines, however, prohibit guests from bringing any drinks at all, even water.

You can check the policy of each cruise line here: Can you take drinks on a cruise ship?

17. Join in the fun with door decorations

If you’re cruising with Disney Cruise Line or Carnival, you’ll see that many cruisers like to decorate their stateroom doors. This can be a great way to celebrate your cruise and make finding your room easier.

There are some important do’s and don’ts though, so be sure to read about those here: Everything you need to know about cruise door decorations.

18. Pack highlighter pens

Each evening you’ll receive a programme with all the information about what’s happening the following day on your ship. Highlighters can come in really handy here.

I like to highlight the times and venues of each of the activities we might be interested in doing, then I can just pop the sheet in my bag and easily see at a glance where we need to be and when.

Another great thing about highlighter pens is that they’re a bit more exciting than normal colouring pens for children who aren’t used to them.

19. Don’t rely on the provided toiletries

Even if your cruise ship provides you with shampoo and body wash, it’s worth bringing your own. The free stuff usually isn’t great, especially if you’ve got longer hair.

Bring your own toiletries, just make sure that they’re packed in a waterproof bag in case anything leaks.

20. Bring an over-the-door organiser

Often used to hold shoes, an over-door organiser is really handy for keeping all your little bits together, especially when cruising with kids.

If you know exactly where to find your sunglasses, jewellery, playing cards, sun cream, books, chargers and everything else, then getting ready to leave your room will be so much quicker and easier.

21. Check which plug sockets are on your ship

Your cruise cabin may have a mixture of US, UK and European sockets, but not necessarily all three. If you struggle to find out which type of power outlets will be on your ship, then it makes sense to invest in a universal adaptor.

This will not only ensure that you can plug your devices into whatever socket is available, but it will also mean that you can plug more than one appliance into each outlet. Just make sure that anything you use does not have a surge protection feature, as these are not allowed on cruise ships.

22. Pack wrinkle-release spray

Irons are not permitted on cruise ships. While there are some alternatives such as paying for your clothes to be ironed, using your hair straighteners or hanging your clothes in a steamy bathroom, the simplest method to remove creases from clothes is wrinkle-release spray.

23. Pack reusable straws

Many cruise ships have now banned single-use plastic items such as drinking straws. Where paper straws are provided, they just don’t work for frozen cocktails!

Instead, you should pack your own reusable straws that you can use throughout your cruise.

24. Size up your clothes

The average person gains five to six pounds in weight during a seven-night cruise. So, if you’re cruising for a week or more, you may find that your clothes are a little snug by the end!

Elasticated waistbands and floaty dresses are easy solutions for women. For men, you might just need to bring a pair of trousers in a larger size for the end of your cruise!

25. Consider a lanyard

Your cruise card is the key to everything. You’ll use it to open your room, pay for drinks and check into venues. If you don’t have pockets in every outfit, you may find yourself constantly misplacing it.

A lanyard is the easiest way to keep your cruise card or Medallion handy. Plus, there are some really cool ones.

26. Split your clothes between your cases

Airlines lose almost 25 million bags per year. If you’re flying to take a cruise and your bag goes missing, there’s a slim chance that you’ll get it back before your cruise.

To avoid being left out in the cold with no clothes, you may wish to split each person’s clothing between several suitcases. That way, if one goes missing, each person will still have something to wear.

27. Research any themed nights for your cruise

White night, tropical night, 80s night, formal night – There may be several different themed nights on your cruise. While you don’t have to take part, they can be a lot of fun, so find out what the dress codes are beforehand.

28. Pack double the underwear you’d normally wear

After a full day of sightseeing, when you return to the ship and take a shower, you’re not going to be putting that same underwear back on. I always pack at least two pairs per day to be sure I have enough!

29. Leave space in your suitcases

You’ll see so many tempting trinkets and souvenirs in the port cities that you visit during any cruise. Be sure that your suitcase has some extra space in it so that you’ve got room for anything that you buy during your trip.

30. Pack sticky notes

Sticky notes or ‘Post-Its’ can also come in very handy. When the ship is at sea, you won’t be able to use your phone without it costing an absolute fortune, so there may be times when you need to leave a note in the cabin to let the other members of your family know where you are or what time you’ll be back.

You can also use them to make notes of important information, such as where to go when you arrive in each port. Or even for silly games, like the one where someone sticks the name of a celebrity to your forehead and you have to guess who it is!

31. Pack some warmer clothes

Even on the warmest cruises, you should bring a cardigan or jumper. Your ship’s air-conditioning can mean that it’s sometimes a little cool indoors. Even on the hottest days, it can be chilly on the top deck or on your balcony in the evening due to the wind.

32. Check the dress code

The dress code can vary quite a lot for different cruise lines, so you’ll want to research this if you want to fit in.

The most formal cruise line is Cunard, where there are two dress codes – smart and Gala (very smart!) You can wear jeans, but only if paired with a nice shirt or top and smart shoes.

people on a Cunard cruise

By contrast, on more relaxed cruises such as with Royal Caribbean, you may find yourself wondering ‘is it actually formal night tonight’, as many cruisers opt for jeans and t-shirts even on the nights when there’s an opportunity to dress up.

33. Pack mix-and-match outfits

Each day you’ll wear at least two outfits – one for the daytime and one for the evening. So you don’t need fresh clothes every single day. Instead, pack some plain and some patterned clothes that you can mix and match to create a different look each day.

34. Be aware of pineapples

On a cruise ship, the pineapple has a secret meaning. If you have any clothing with pineapples on, this is something to be aware of.

I must admit, I completely forgot about this when I wore these pineapple shorts on a cruise. Once I remembered, I was very paranoid that people were looking at me! (I’m not into the pineapple lifestyle, before you ask.)

Suggested read: What do pineapples mean on a cruise?

35. Don’t overpack

Probably the most important cruise packing tip of all is to not overpack! Your luggage allowance may be unlimited, but cruise cabins are generally smaller than hotel rooms and there’s not a lot of storage space.

Lay out what you think you need for your cruise, then aim to put half of it back in the wardrobe!

36. Use a collapsible clothes rail

As part of her role as a professional super packer for MSC Cruises, Nicola Lewis suggests starting off your packing by using a collapsible clothes rail. She says: “This will allow you to plan your holiday wardrobe and coordinate what shoes and accessories to pack with your clothes.”

37. Don’t pack books and magazines

Cruise travel writer Jeannine Williamson suggests that you download your reading material to a device. She says: “The busy daily programme of activities, shore excursions, entertainment and never-ending food and drink means there is hardly time to read a newspaper, let alone War and Peace!”

When I go on a cruise I rarely ever take books. Instead, I head to the ship’s library and choose one from there for free.

Iona library
Relaxing in the library on Iona (it also has a bar!)

38. Use a pill organiser for jewellery

Family packer Emily Norris suggests using a pill organiser box to separate small items of jewellery and prevent them from getting lost or tangled together.

39. Stuff your sunhat with clothes

Another valuable cruise packing tip from Emily is to pack your sunhat tightly with clothes before placing it into your suitcase so that it keeps its shape. Genius!

40. Pack for hotel stays separately

If you have a hotel stay for the night before your cruise (smart move), then make sure you pack a separate bag for it.

You don’t want it to get muddled up with your carry-on for the ship, so use a small bag that you can easily then put inside your suitcases, after you’ve taken out anything essential for embarkation day anyway.

41. Put your contact info inside the suitcases

While your suitcases will have luggage tags, there’s a slim chance something could happen to them. Adding your details to the inside of your cases will make sure they’re reunited with you if something does go wrong.

One person even had their case lost in the sea and managed to (eventually) get it back after they were called by someone in Amsterdam, with their case being carried along the canals until it was fished out!

42. Use tracker devices

Using devices like an Apple AirTag or a Tile tracker can help you keep an eye on your cases while you’re separated from them.

But be careful – if you’re on the ship and your suitcase hasn’t shown up, don’t use your phone data if you’ve left port as it’ll be super expensive. Use the ship’s WiFi – Guest Services might give you a free pass for a short amount of time to allow you to track the case if they’ve completely lost it.

43. Get professional help

Knowing what to pack for a cruise can be tricky, but MSC Cruises has an excellent solution. If you book a cruise on MSC Virtuosa from Southampton, you can book a 1-2-1 video consultation with an expert ‘holiday prep’ who will help you pack for the trip!

Any more tips?

If you have any more cruise packing tips and tricks that I haven’t covered here, I’d love it if you’d consider adding them in the comments below to help other cruisers in the future.

And don’t miss this list of cruise essentials from Amazon that regular cruisers always pack!

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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Cruise Guests Would Rather Give Up Alcohol Than Meat!

A lot of people have this idea of the stereotypical cruise holiday in their mind.

It usually involves some staples such as tropical destinations, lounging by the pool, amazing service etc. And for a lot of people, it’ll always include the idea of sipping cocktails and enjoying luxurious steak dinners throughout the cruise.

Meat free vs alcohol free cruise

That’s despite the way society’s moving, with more and more people cutting down on the amount of meat and alcohol they consume in their everyday lives for all kinds of reasons.

So I wanted to answer the question – what would people miss more on a cruise, alcohol or meat?

Maybe the results will surprise you!

Explaining the data

To find out whether people prioritised meat or booze on their cruises, I simply asked my Facebook audience.

"Imagine you won a free cruise but it had to be either meat-free or alcohol-free - which would you choose?"

The question was – “Imagine you won a free cruise but it had to be either meat-free or alcohol-free – which would you choose?”

The post got hundreds of responses, and from that, I’ve been able to analyse the data to see which is the most popular answer!

Meat is way more important than alcohol!

Almost 60% of people surveyed said that they would rather have an alcohol-free cruise than one without meat.

Around 29% said that they would give up meat if it meant they could still enjoy a drink on their cruise.

wine on cruise ship with a sea view

Around 8% said that they would be fine with either of both if it meant they could enjoy a free cruise!

And finally, there were just under 4% of people who said that even if they were offered a free cruise, they would turn it down if they had to give up either meat or alcohol – they couldn’t manage without both!

A lot of the people who replied said that they would rather skip out on alcohol if it meant they could still enjoy their steak and lobster, which they felt was the best part of a cruise.

A close up photo of the lobster dish on Royal Caribbean

One cruiser said: “I would miss the alcohol, but not as much as I would hate rabbit food, or even worse, fake food, for the duration.”

Another said: “Alcohol free would be fine for me, couldn’t go without a steak.”

It’s not just the love of meat that’s caused people to vote that way, though. Part of it is considering the impact of the rules on other guests onboard too.

As one cruiser put it, they would prefer alcohol-free as “people that are drunk irritate me” and another said, “It would be great, no overbearing drunk kn*bs”.

Suggested read: The 8 Most Infuriating Cruise Habits (According to Fellow Passengers)

But not everyone voted the same…

There were still plenty of cruisers who said they would rather give up meat than alcohol on their cruise.

Many of these already live a meat-free lifestyle. There were quite a few who said similar to “I am a vegetarian anyway” so there wasn’t really a choice involved for them.

vegetarian lunch starter

One cruiser explained how they just couldn’t give up their favourite drinks, saying: “I can go without meat, but I couldn’t go without my cocktails”.

Another said they “love the drink package” too much to consider giving up alcohol.

One person even said they would choose a meat-free cruise because “I need alcohol to get through it!”, which makes you wonder why they’re even cruising in the first place if they need booze to just get through the experience!

And as one cruiser put it, you don’t need meat to still enjoy the food onboard. He said “I can live on cakes and junk food all week long. Can’t live without alcohol.”

cocktails on a cruise

Cruising without alcohol

Cruises are definitely still tailored more towards a drinking crowd. Almost every cruise line offers an all-inclusive drinks package that you can pay extra for, and their menus are dominated by the wines, beers and cocktails you can buy.

But there are sober cruises, for those who just don’t like a drink, who prefer to avoid drunken crowds, or who are recovering from more serious alcohol-related conditions including addiction.

Sober cruises are rarely completely free of alcohol – they tend to be group bookings as part of a larger cruise – but they’re still a great way of surrounding yourself with others who aren’t drinking.

Read more: How To Cruise Alcohol-Free

A close-up of a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice with a vibrant, refreshing appearance, garnished with a mint leaf and a slice of orange on the rim, accompanied by a straw. The background features whole oranges and a natural, soft textile, suggesting a healthy, homemade beverage.

Meat-free cruising

Many cruise lines have been embracing meat-free menu options for some time now.

Don’t get me wrong – steak and lobster and all the other usual favourites are still around, and likely always will be.

But most cruise lines now have at least a decent range of vegetarian and vegan options so you can avoid meat if you want to – or even just mix up what you’re eating during the week if you want to try some non-meat dishes during your cruise.

Even Carnival unveiled a new vegan menu towards the end of 2023, and Carnival’s long been one of the worst cruise lines for vegetarian and vegan food options. Up until then, I said I wouldn’t be able to cruise with them, but now it’s something I’d definitely consider.

Read more about cruise lines’ vegan menus here.

 MSC Cruises vegan menu

Final word

It’s interesting to see how many people would rather give up alcohol than meat on their cruise, considering just how much people seem to put value into their cocktails and drinks packages when they sail.

There are definitely advantages to cruising sober – not least just feeling refreshed and ready to go each morning before you tackle that full-day excursion.

But the important thing is that cruises really are for everyone, so whether you’re tee-total or you enjoy a drink; whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or an omnivore (or essentially a carnivore), you’ll find that you’re well catered for on a cruise ship.

And for now, you aren’t forced to give anything up when you want to sail 🙂


Don’t miss these hot cruise offers…

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Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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Utopia of the Seas Vs Titanic

Royal Caribbean’s newest ship is the incredible Utopia of the Seas – but how does she compare to one of the most famous ships of all time, the Titanic?

One ship was designed for elegant crossings of the Atlantic Ocean, while the other aims to provide the ultimate weekends – they really couldn’t be much different in their aims!

Let’s take a look at just how different these ships really are!

Size Comparison

Utopia of the Seas is around five times the size of the Titanic when you’re looking at Gross Tonnage – a measurement of the internal volume.

That’s the typical measurement used for comparing ship sizes, because it takes into account length, width, height and more.

Utopia of the Seas Vs Titanic

Indeed, Utopia’s only around 33% longer than Titanic, but she’s more than twice as wide, and she has nearly double the number of decks. That’s a serious upgrade in terms of the space available for everyone onboard!

Of course, there are a lot more people onboard Utopia – over twice as many passengers and over twice as many crew too.

Utopia of the Seas is not the biggest ship in the world – that’d be Icon of the Seas, part of Royal Caribbean’s Icon Class. But she’s not far off, so it’s no surprise that she’s so much bigger than Titanic.

Titanic Utopia of the Seas
Gross Tonnage 46,328 GT 236,860 GT
Length 882 feet 1,188 feet
Width 92.5 feet 211 feet
Guest Decks 9 16
Guests 2,435 5,668
Crew 892 2,290

Which is faster?

Surprisingly, not much has changed in the 110+ years between Titanic and Utopia of the Seas when it comes to sailing speed. Titanic would’ve cruised somewhere between 21 and 22 knots on average which is the same as Utopia of the Seas. That works out at around 25 mph.

That’s because speed doesn’t really matter for modern cruise ships. As long as they can get to the next port in time for the next day, that’s enough – there’s no need to invest in turbo-charged engines which would be super expensive to run.

Even the fastest cruise ship – Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 – only has a top speed of 30 knots and it rarely pushes the limits on that.

Read more: How Fast Do Cruise Ships Go?

Utopia of the Seas

Utopia of the Seas has WAY more facilities (obviously!)

Life onboard the Titanic was not dull – the ship did have some leisure facilities that guests could use. However, compared to modern ships like Utopia of the Seas, it really was nothing – the difference in modern ships is crazy!


Utopia of the Seas has loads of exciting things for guests to enjoy including a zip-line, mini-golf, rock climbing, surfing simulators, a carousel, and an AquaTheater.

Titanic had a squash court, a gym and some deck games such as quoits and shuffleboard, but to pass the time guests would’ve spent more time playing games such as chess, dominoes or card games.

Swimming pools

You might not realise that Titanic did have a swimming pool onboard – although it was only for the use of guests in first class, and it had set times for men and women to use it. Here’s what it looked like:

Utopia of the Seas has a pool too. And another one. And another one. And… well, there are 10 in total! It also has a water park with lots of slides.

Waterparl on Utopia of the Seas

So you really shouldn’t struggle to find one to relax in, though strangely none of them are really suited to proper swimming, unlike the Titanic’s was.

Where to eat on board

Titanic had four restaurants onboard for guests to enjoy – the A la Carte restaurant, the Dining Saloon, the Verandah Cafe, and Cafe Parisien. Not a bad amount of choice for a ship back then.

Cafe Parisien on Titanic
Cafe Parisien on Titanic

Utopia of the Seas offers slightly more flexibility though with a huge 20 dining venues, including some debuting concepts such as the immersive train car dining experience and an omakase-inspired restaurant. Plus every cruise will visit Perfect Day at CocoCay with another 5 dining venues to choose from.

Izumi sushi on Utopia of the Seas
Izumi sushi on Utopia of the Seas

Considering how Utopia of the Seas is marketed as the ultimate weekend getaway, you’re going to need several weekends to try everything!


Utopia of the Seas has a huge range of accommodation options to suit all budgets, from comfy Inside cabins through to the very best suites. As an Oasis-class ship, there are some balcony staterooms which overlook the internal promenade or Central Park, instead of facing the sea.

The top suites include the Ultimate Family Suite, a vibrant two-storey room aimed squarely at kids (and big kids) with its own slide from the bedroom to the living area!

Ultimate Family Suite

Titanic had suites too, with the top suites being the two-bedroom Deluxe Parlour Suites. These had two spacious bedrooms, two walk-in wardrobes, a sitting room with a fake fireplace and a private bathroom.

First Class cabin on Titanic
First Class cabin on Titanic

Of course, a private bathroom was a luxury then, and the vast majority of passengers onboard would’ve used shared facilities.

Third-class cabins were pretty basic with many not even having a washbasin, but they were seen as being relatively more comfortable than third-class rooms on other ships at the time.

Huge advances in safety

I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone these days that the Titanic was not the safest ship in the world – the fact that it sank on its maiden voyage, despite being branded as “unsinkable”, is a testament to that.

But how do modern ships like Utopia of the Seas compare?

They are a lot safer, don’t worry. Technically Utopia of the Seas could sink in extreme conditions such as with a rogue wave, or with a hurricane or iceberg, but it’s extremely unlikely.

The biggest risk to modern ships, according to a ship pilot I spoke to, is running aground – just like what happened to Costa Concordia. And since that happened, captains are even more careful about where they sail.

Utopia of the Seas also has enough lifeboats for every passenger, unlike Titanic, so if the worst did happen, there would be enough boats to get everyone to safety. Titanic only had 20 lifeboats – a capacity for around half the people onboard.

Royal Caribbean lifeboat
Lifeboat for a Royal Caribbean Oasis-class ship

How Does The Cost To Build Compare?

Utopia of the Seas is expected to have a final build cost of around $1.35 billion, which is around the same as sister ship Wonder of the Seas. It’s a lot more than the Titanic’s cost to build, which was $7.5 million.

And inflation still doesn’t make a difference – even accounting for that, Titanic would only have cost around $200 million to build today, so less than a sixth of the cost of Utopia.

Read more: How Much Does A Cruise Ship Cost To Build & Operate?

Titanic did have higher suit costs for sailing though – the most expensive suite would’ve cost £870, which is around the same as $104,000 now. The Ultimate Family Suite will cost around $15,000 per person for a weekend, so around $60,000 for a typical family.

But Titanic was cheaper on entry-level fares. A third-class cheap ticket would be the equivalent of $900 today, and that was for a journey of around a week. Doing back-to-back cruises on Utopia of the Seas for a total of 7 nights would cost around $1,100 per person.

Read more: How Much Was A Ticket On The Titanic?


Don’t miss the latest Royal Caribbean offers…

To conclude

While there are some surprising similarities between Utopia of the Seas and the Titanic, these are few and far between. Utopia is the ultimate weekend party ship for families, whereas Titanic was more of a luxury ocean liner.

Utopia is much bigger in every way, and she’s packed with amazing things to keep you busy for every second of your voyage.

Comparing Titanic to modern cruise ships shows just how far things have advanced, and how different the cruise industry is now that it is more focussed on shorter itineraries – with Utopia of the Seas the perfect example with its 3-night and 4-night sailings.

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Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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How Much Does A Cruise Ship Cost To Build & Operate? (It’s a lot!)

Cruise ships are pretty impressive – even the smaller ones are stunning, epic works of engineering genius. And they’re hardly empty shells – they’re packed with cabins, restaurants, places to relax and things to do. None of which comes cheap.

Imagine the cost of your average hotel – now factor in making sure that the hotel can float, has powerful engines (and fuel) to move it between destinations, and the ability to power every room without being constantly plugged into the power network.

It all sounds terribly expensive – but how much does a cruise ship actually cost to build and operate?

Let’s take a look at the costs involved, as I think you’ll be impressed by the scale of it all.

The cost of building a cruise ship (they aren’t cheap!)

The cost of a cruise ship varies depending on its size and complexity, but many break the $1 billion level, especially the latest mega-ships. The average cost of an ocean cruise ship sailing today is $496 million (or £380 million).

So, on average, how much is a cruise ship? Well, this table shows the world’s most expensive cruise ships in order:

Cruise Line Ship Cost to Build Year Built Volume (GT tons) Guest Capacity
Royal Caribbean Icon of the Seas $2 billion (rumoured) 2024 250,800 7,600
Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas $1.43 billion 2010 225,280 5,412
Royal Caribbean Wonder of the Seas $1.35 billion 2022 228,080 5,518
Royal Caribbean Harmony Of The Seas $1.35 billion 2016 227,000 6,780
Royal Caribbean Symphony Of The Seas $1.35 billion 2018 230,000 6,870
Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas $1.3 billion 2009 225,280 5,412
MSC MSC Europa $1.255 billion 2022 205,700 5,264
MSC MSC World Europa $1.255 billion 2022 205,700 5,264
NCL Norwegian Epic $1.2 billion 2010 155,900 4,228
Royal Caribbean Ovation Of The Seas $1.1 billion 2016 167,800 4,820
MSC MSC Seascape $1 billion 2022 169,500 4,540
MSC MSC Seashore $1 billion 2021 169,500 4,540
Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas $0.95 billion 2014 158,000 4,100
Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas $0.95 billion 2015 167,000 4,180
P&O Arvia $0.95 billion 2022 184,700 5,206
P&O Iona $0.95 billion 2021 184,000 5,206
Carnival Mardi Gras $0.95 billion 2020 180,800 5,282
Costa Costa Toscana $0.95 billion 2021 183,900 5,322
Carnival Carnival Celebration $0.95 billion 2022 183,900 5,374
MSC MSC Bellissima $0.95 billion 2019 171,600 5,700
MSC MSC Meraviglia $0.95 billion 2017 171,600 5,700
Costa Costa Smeralda $0.95 billion 2019 183,900 6,520
Disney Disney Fantasy $0.94 billion 2012 128,000 2,500
Royal Caribbean Spectrum of the Seas $0.94 billion 2019 168,670 4,246
NCL Norwegian Bliss $0.92 billion 2018 164,600 4,200
NCL Norwegian Encore $0.92 billion 2019 167,800 4,200
NCL Norwegian Escape $0.92 billion 2015 163,000 4,200
NCL Norwegian Joy $0.92 billion 2017 167,400 4,400
Celebrity Celebrity Apex $0.9 billion 2021 129,500 3,260
Celebrity Celebrity Beyond $0.9 billion 2022 129,500 3,276
Celebrity Celebrity Edge $0.9 billion 2018 129,500 3,370
Disney Disney Dream $0.9 billion 2011 128,000 2,500
Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady $0.85 billion 2020 110,000 2,800
NCL Norwegian Prima $0.85 billion 2022 142,500 3,215
MSC MSC Virtuosa $0.85 billion 2021 181,541 4,810
MSC MSC Euribia $0.85 billion 2023 181,541 4,828
MSC MSC Grandiosa $0.85 billion 2019 181,541 4,888
NCL Norwegian Breakaway $0.84 billion 2013 144,000 4,000
Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas $0.83 billion 2008 154,400 3,634
Cunard Queen Mary 2 $0.8 billion 2004 151,400 2,592
Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas $0.8 billion 2006 154,400 3,634
Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas $0.8 billion 2007 154,400 3,634
Carnival Carnival Horizon $0.8 billion 2018 133,500 4,700
Carnival Carnival Vista $0.8 billion 2016 133,500 4,716
NCL Norwegian Getaway $0.78 billion 2014 143,500 4,000
Costa Costa Firenze $0.78 billion 2021 135,225 4,232
Carnival Carnival Panorama $0.78 billion 2019 133,500 4,700
Costa Costa Venezia $0.78 billion 2019 135,500 5,260
P&O Britannia $0.77 billion 2015 141,000 4,370
Princess Majestic Princess $0.76 billion 2017 143,000 3,560
Princess Regal Princess $0.76 billion 2014 141,000 3,600
Princess Discovery Princess $0.76 billion 2022 143,700 3,668
Princess Enchanted Princess $0.76 billion 2021 143,700 3,668
Princess Sky Princess $0.76 billion 2019 142,700 4,272
Royal Caribbean Odyssey of the Seas $0.75 billion 2021 169,300 4,284
MSC MSC Seaside $0.745 billion 2017 153,516 4,134
MSC MSC Seaview $0.745 billion 2018 153,516 4,134
Carnival Carnival Dream $0.74 billion 2009 130,000 3,646
Carnival Carnival Breeze $0.74 billion 2012 130,000 3,690
Carnival Carnival Magic $0.74 billion 2011 130,000 3,690
Princess Royal Princess $0.735 billion 2013 139,000 3,600
Data: Cruise Mapper

Even though Icon of the Seas launched quite a while ago now, we haven’t had confirmed figures for her final build cost. But she’s likely the most expensive ship ever built even if the $2 billion estimation ends up being an exaggeration.

In comparison, the cruise ships sailing in 2024 that cost the least amount of money to build are SeaDream Yacht Club‘s SeaDream I and SeaDream II. They were built in 1984 and 1985 respectively and cost a mere $35 million each.

An alternative comparison you can make is to look at the most expensive cruise ship per berth. Most cruise ships cost in the region of $100,000 to $350,000 per passenger to build, but there are a few anomalies below and above that range.

The most expensive cruise ship ever built when you look at the cost per berth is the luxury expedition cruise ship Hanseatic Nature, which is operated by Hapag Lloyd for the German market. At $155 million, the ship wasn’t so expensive overall, but as she only has a capacity of 199 passengers that works out at a huge $779,000 per person.

That’s a lot of cruises that the ship needed to operate to make back her money!

Hanseatic Nature
Hanseatic Nature

Of the cruise ships to have a maximum capacity of at least 1,000 guests, the most expensive are the Oceania Marina and Riviera, which each has a capacity for 1,258 passengers at a cost of $380,000 per person to build.

Suggested read: New ships for 2024

Running costs of cruise ships

Of course, building a cruise ship is only the first step. Most of the cost of running a cruise line comes from operating and maintaining the ships.

The cost to operate a cruise ship varies depending on the size of the ship and where it’s sailing. As a guide, Royal Caribbean ships cost an average of $240 million per year to operate.

There are six main areas of expense for cruise ships:

1. Commission and transportation

This is a broad area that covers everything to do with getting passengers onto a ship. So that’ll be the cost of producing tickets, any commission fees paid to travel agents, and the costs involved in using a port for embarkation and disembarkation.

Port costs are normally calculated based on the capacity and tonnage of a ship – a bigger ship means more passengers will be boarding, which in turn means more space is needed, more security staff must be hired or paid for longer, and even just the cost of power for the terminal goes up too.

2. Onboard expenses

This area covers the cost of any facilities or features on the ship that cost money to run. So think entertainment, spas, shops and activities. These all need special insurance too, so that’s covered in this section of expenses. 

3. Payroll

A really simple one – the staff on the ship need to be paid. Again, depending on the size of the ship this will vary pretty dramatically. Often the larger ships will have as many crew as some smaller ships will have total passengers.

Suggested read: How Much Do Cruise Ship Workers Get Paid?

4. Food

Unsurprisingly, the cost of cruise ship food is high – cruise ships get through a lot of food, and so this expense gets its own category. There are all the upmarket meals that guests eat, including snacks and drinks, while the crew also needs to be fed while they’re on board.

Independence of the Seas restaurant
Fish & Ships on Independence of the Seas

5. Fuel

Fuel costs include the cost of buying the fuel, but also the cost of getting the fuel delivered to the ship and any costs involved with storing it. Fuel is expensive, and cruise ships spend huge amounts on it – more on that below.

6. Other expenses

The final category of expenses covers ‘everything else’, such as general repairs and maintenance, and the cost of insuring the ship as a whole.

Fuel is one of the biggest costs for ships

The amount of fuel used by a cruise ship depends on its size and cruising speed. The largest ships will use around 250 tonnes of fuel per day, which means a cost of around $187,500 per day.

Just like all fuel costs, the price of ship fuel has continued to climb, and ships can now expect to pay between $700 and $750 per tonne, depending on the port that they buy it from. Based on using 250 tonnes per day at $750 per tonne, that’s a mammoth sum, working out at over $68 million per year on fuel – for one ship!

Smaller ships will likely use between 100 and 150 tonnes per day. If we take an average of 125 tonnes per day, then a small cruise ship would spend just under $95,000 per day or $34 million a year on fuel. Still pretty pricey!

Maintenance matters too – ships need a lot of TLC

It’s been reported that around 7% of a cruise line’s revenue goes into ship maintenance. That averages out at around $19 million a year per cruise ship, although that figure fluctuates as cruise ships will do larger refurbishments every three to five years.

Ships go through a lot of wear and tear, but cruise lines don’t want guests to know about that. It’s important that everything is properly cleaned, repaired and maintained so that every guest gets the same high-quality experience.

Cruise ships are cleaned very thoroughly
Cruise ships are cleaned very thoroughly

This means there are ongoing costs to keep on top of smaller issues, and then larger refurbishments when features start to get tired and need an update.

These refurbishments often cost huge sums. Here are some examples:

Celebrity Revolution

Celebrity Cruises undertook a massive refurbishment programme towards the end of the 2010s, spending $500 million to modernise the entire fleet of nine ships and bring them in line with Celebrity Edge, at the time their newest ship. Suites and public areas were given an ‘epic makeover’ as part of the investment.

Celebrity Equinox
The newly revolutionised Celebrity Equinox

Norwegian Spirit

In one of the largest ever single-ship refurbishments, NCL spent $100 million to upgrade the Norwegian Spirit in 2020, carrying out a number of major enhancements.

I visited Norwegian Spirit just before the makeover, and she actually looked fine! A little dated, yes, but still in good condition as you can see from my ship tour.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Regent spent $125 million to upgrade the Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Mariner from 2016-to 2017, following the launch of the Seven Seas Explorer. Compared to the $100 million NCL spent on one ship it doesn’t seem like an incredible sum, but these ships were already exceptionally luxurious.

Ships still make money (of course)

So, given the huge costs of building and maintaining cruise ships, you may now be interested to know how much profit cruise lines are making.

Owning a cruise ship is profitable, providing the ships sail with enough passengers – likely around 70% capacity. While there are huge expenses involved, cruise fares are designed to cover these costs while still being affordable to passengers.

Even deals like drinks packages are carefully planned out based on the data that cruise ships record. They’ll look at how many drinks they’re selling on average by passenger, and then offer a package that covers that cost.

Passengers who drink a lot will probably get value for their money but there’ll be a lot of passengers who take out a drinks package but don’t consume their share – extra profit for the cruise line.

A decent chunk of profit comes from casinos, spas, speciality dining and guests booking suites. As a general rule, if you book an inside cabin and decline the drinks, speciality dining, spa services and casino, the cruise line will make a loss on your stay.

Cruise ships vs. hotels

Royal Caribbean Group made $1.8 billion in profit in 2019. Hilton Worldwide Holdings made $886 million in the same year.

So the Royal Caribbean made twice as much money, which is even more impressive when you consider that Hilton has almost a million rooms in its hotels, whereas Royal Caribbean has around 70,000 staterooms on its ships.

In years since the global shutdown of 2020, many cruise lines have lost money rather than being profitable, but year-on-year things are improving again.

Per ship, it’s a decent chunk of change

A cruise ship will usually generate around $200 million to $300 million in revenue every year. The amount of profit that a cruise ship makes every year will vary but it’s usually between $20 and $40 million annually.

As I said above, Royal Caribbean Group made around $1.8 billion in profit in 2019, the year before the global pause. When you divide that between all the ships operated by the group at that time (across Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea Cruises and other smaller lines) that averages at $40 million per ship each year.

Ships will eventually need to be sold or scrapped

On average, a cruise ship tends to last for around 30 years if properly maintained, and they will usually undergo some refurbishments or a refit during that time to keep them updated.

That can vary though – some ships have a much longer lifespan. The longest-surviving cruise ship still sailing is the Sea Cloud, owned by Sea Cloud Cruises operating as an independent cruise ship for up to 64 passengers. She was first built in 1931 as a private yacht and served during World War II as a weather ship for the US Navy.

Sea Cloud
Sea Cloud
Photo: BaS via Wikimedia Commons

Hebridean Princess is another ship that’s had a long life – she was first launched in 1964 as MV Columba, serving as a car ferry and Royal Mail ship. She now serves as a cruise ship for Hebridean Islands Cruises around the islands of Scotland.

Here are some notable ships that no longer operate, and their lifespan:

Cruise Line Ship Year Launched Year Ended Service Years Active Notes
Carnival/Century Carnival Fascination/Century Harmony 1994 2022 30 Spent most of her life as Carnival Fascination for Carnival, until 2020.
Carnival Carnival Sensation 1993 2022 31 After being retired in early 2022 by Carnival, she was scrapped immediately.
Fred.Olsen Black Watch 1972 2022 50 Never returned to service after the global shutdown of 2020.
Fred.Olsen Boudicca 1973 2021 48 Began life as Royal Viking Sky. Various operators including Princess from 1993-97.
NCL Norwegian Star 1973 2021 48 Originally built for Phoenix Reisen, bought by NCL in 1997.
Cunard Queen Elizabeth 2 1969 2008 39 Cunard’s longest-serving ship, now operating as a floating hotel in Dubai
P&O Cruises Arcadia 1988 2021 33 P&O’s second Arcadia also served for Princess, and Cruise and Maritime
Royal Caribbean Sovereign of the Seas 1988 2020 32 Served as MS Sovereign for Pullmantur Cruises from 2008 to 2020
Carnival Mardi Gras 1972 2003 31 Carnival’s first ship was sold on in 1993
MSC Cruises Melody 1982 2013 31 Sailed for MSC from 1997-2013. Started life as the Atlantic.
Carnival Carnival Fantasy 1990 2020 30 Served its whole life with Carnival.
Celebrity Cruises Horizon 1990 2020 30 Sold by Celebrity in 2005, served for Island, Pullmantur and CDF since
Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas 1991 2020 29 Served as MS Monarch for Pullmantur Cruises from 2013 to 2020
Princess Cruises Princess Patricia 1949 1978 29 Princess’ first ship when bought in 1965.
P&O Cruises Arcadia 1954 1979 25 Built as a passenger ship originally, began cruises in the 1960s.

The bottom line

Phew – quite the stat-heavy guide there, but hopefully you can see now just how big the numbers are when dealing with how much cruise ships cost, both when being built and to be maintained, and how much money they make.

Are the numbers what you expected? Or are they bigger, or smaller?

The numbers will only get bigger again, especially now that capacity is getting back to maximum levels and new, feature-packed ships are launching.

It’s an exciting time to be a cruise passenger with some of the epic ships on the horizon – that will no doubt cost a pretty penny. 


Don’t miss these hot cruise offers…

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Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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Wonder of the Seas Cabins to Avoid

Booking a cruise on a ship as impressive as the Wonder of the Seas is always going to be extremely exciting.

It can also be nerve-wracking – after all, you’re spending a lot of money on this cruise, so you want to make sure you get the right package, and that includes choosing the right accommodation for you.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Wonder-of-the-Seas-6-1024x512.jpg

But relax – nobody said you have to make the call alone. I’m here to help! In this guide, I’ll take you through all of the different stateroom and suite options on this incredible ship (and there are a lot), and I’ll tell you which ones are the best, and which you might want to avoid.

Between this, and my checklist, you’ve got everything you need to book the Wonder of the Seas cruise of your dreams.

Want to choose the best cabin, every time? Use this!

My checklist tells you everything you need to look out for when booking a cruise – regardless of the ship you’re sailing on. If you want a copy sent to you, just add your details to this form, and I’ll email it right over.

The different room options on Wonder of the Seas

You really are spoiled for choice on Wonder of the Seas – there are 2,867 rooms in total, including 2,693 staterooms and 174 suites.

That’s split across an impressive 32 cabin types. I know, that might seem a little overwhelming, but they’re grouped together at least so you can narrow your search down a little easier.

Here’s a look at all of the cabin options on Wonder of the Seas:

Room Type Max. guests Decks Average Size (sq ft) Average Balcony Size (sq ft)
Interior Inside 2 3, 6-14 172 N/A
Interior Accessible Inside 4 6 258 N/A
Interior with Virtual Balcony Inside 4 6-14 172 N/A
Interior with Virtual Balcony Accessible Inside 4 6 258 N/A
Promenade View Interior Inside 4 7 172 N/A
Connecting Interior Inside 2 7-11 172 N/A
Central Park View Interior Inside 4 9 199 N/A
Spacious Interior Inside 6 11 260 N/A
Ocean View Outside View 4 3, 7-11 179 N/A
Ocean View Accessible Outside View 4 3 264 N/A
Ultra Spacious Ocean View Outside View 6 11 271 N/A
Ocean View Balcony Balcony 4 6-14 182 50
Ocean View Balcony Accessible Balcony 4 6, 9-14 272 80
Ocean View with Large Balcony Balcony 4 6-14 182 80
Ocean View with Large Balcony Accessible Balcony 2 6 272 80
Connecting Ocean View Balcony Balcony 2 7, 9-14 182 50
Boardwalk Balcony Balcony 4 8-14 182 52
Central Park View Balcony Balcony 4 10-14 182 52
Boardwalk Balcony Accessible Balcony 4 14 274 73
Central Park View Balcony Accessible Balcony 4 14 274 86
Ultra Spacious Ocean View with Large Balcony Balcony 6 11 271 82
Ultra Spacious Ocean View with Large Balcony Accessible Balcony 6 11 374 108
Junior Suite Suite 5 6-14 287 80
Junior Suite Accessible Suite 4 14 390 107
Grand Suite – 1 Bedroom Suite 4 17 371 105
Grand Suite – 1 Bedroom Accessible Suite 4 17 371 105
Owner’s Suite Suite 4 18 556 243
Crown Loft Suite Suite 4 18 545 114
2 Bedroom AquaTheater Suite Suite 8 8-10 823 772
1 Bedroom AquaTheater Suite Suite 4 11-14 604 589
Royal Loft Suite Suite 6 18 1,524 843
Ultimate Family Suite Suite 10 18 1,134 212

A quick note on room sizes

It’s important to bear in mind that the sizes given above are all averages. While a lot of the rooms are built to this standard size, there may be some slight variances even within a category.

It’s a good idea to browse the Wonder of the Seas deck plans if you’re getting used to the ship for the first time, because that’ll show you every stateroom and suite to scale. This context might be really useful when deciding which room you want.

Cabins to avoid on Wonder of the Seas

There aren’t really any bad staterooms on an Oasis-class ship like Wonder of the Seas. But there are some that might be a bad fit for you. It depends on a load of different factors, including your budget, how good a sleeper you are, how close to you want to be to amenities and so on.

Bear in mind that the ship is huge – if you don’t think carefully about where you’re going to book, you might have a very long walk ahead of you every day either for breakfast or to get your children to the kids’ clubs etc.

Here’s a look at some of the cabins that you might wish to steer clear of, depending on your personal situation and preferences:

1. Internal Balcony Staterooms

The Oasis-class ships (along with some others in the fleet) have internal balcony staterooms – as in, a room that has a balcony, but that faces the interior of the ship instead of facing out to sea.

internal balcony on Wonder of the Seas

These are fun, as they overlook the Boardwalk and Central Park neighbourhoods. But the problem with them is that they also directly face other staterooms across the way.

When you have a regular cabin, you don’t have to worry about people seeing into your room – but you do with an internal balcony. If you want to avoid keeping your curtains drawn every time you want to get changed, you might want to book elsewhere.

When I had one of these rooms, we hardly ever went out on our balcony. Sure, it might be good if you like people-watching. But on a ship like Wonder of the Seas, you’ll have so many more fun things to do instead.

2. Expensive Suites

There are some fantastic suites on Wonder of the Seas, including some with two levels. They’re extremely spacious, beautifully appointed, and they offer a range of benefits depending on which suite you book.

But they’re also pretty expensive – these rooms are in high demand, and Royal Caribbean can charge a pretty penny. The Ultimate Family Suite can cost $20,000 per person, per week – Yikes!

Wonder of the Seas Ultimate Family Suite

I get the feeling that at this point, Royal Caribbean is just putting ridiculous prices out there, knowing that there are enough people for whom money is no object that they’ll sell out fairly quickly anyway.

Even the entry-level suites are a decent jump in cost above a Balcony Stateroom, so it’s important to consider how much time you’re actually going to spend in your room, and how much you’ll use the extra benefits.

Suggested read: Royal Caribbean Suite Perks

With a ship that has so much to do, a lot of people will be just as happy saving money and choosing a smaller stateroom.

3. Rooms that might be bad for seasickness

Wonder of the Seas is one of the biggest ships in the world, and also one of the most contemporary. This means she has the best stabilizing technology on the ocean to help prevent movement, and she will rock less because she’s huge.

Still, that doesn’t mean she’s completely immune to motion, and if you’re particularly sensitive then you should avoid the cabins on a higher deck towards the bow (front) and aft (rear) of the ship. The accommodation on the highest decks is all in a mid-ship location but there are some on Decks 12 and 14 you might wish to steer clear of.

wonder of the seas staterooms where you'll feel movement most, with arrows

4. Connecting cabins if you don’t need them

Wonder of the Seas, like most cruise ships on the ocean, has connecting cabins. These are side-by-side cabins with a connecting door that can be unlocked by the cabin stewards, if you book both rooms together. They’re good for larger families who want the space of two staterooms, but the option of sharing access.

However, the connecting doors are thinner than a cabin wall. So, you can hear through them. If you aren’t booking both staterooms, try not to book one with a connecting door so that you can’t hear what your neighbours are doing.

5. Loud cabins

There are some cabins that run the risk of being in a louder location on Wonder of the Seas. These include:

Deck 14 staterooms 14162 to 14240, and 14562 to 14640 – directly below the pool deck, which can be loud in the morning.

Wonder of the Seas pool deck

Deck 6 staterooms 6130 to 6160 and 6530 to 6560 – directly above the Royal Theatre, which can be loud in the evening.

Deck 7 staterooms 7270 to 7334 – directly above the Playmakers Bar, one of the noisier parts of the ship at night.

There are also some of the internal balcony rooms on higher decks around Central Park where guests have complained about noise from the large screen. Of course you might enjoy having the view of the screen from your balcony instead!

The best rooms on the ship

While there are plenty of great room choices on Wonder of the Seas, here are just a selection of the best for you to choose from:

1. Ultimate Family Suite

I know I’ve already flagged this as being extremely expensive, and it is. For most people on Wonder of the Seas, this isn’t going to be a realistic option.

But I have to include it in a list of the best rooms on the ship because it’s just so fun. It’s a room with its own slide – how many kids have dreamed of that?

It also includes an in-suite cinema, gaming tables, video games and so much more, as well as a quieter space where parents can relax. And you’ll get the services of a Royal Genie too, making the entire experience truly magical.

Take a look at this video to see what you can get with a lottery win…

2. AquaTheater Suites

AquaTheater Suites are another premium option, but again their unique feature means they are definitely worth of being included on this list. In their own rights, they are spacious accommodations in a prime location at the aft of the ship, with a heap of benefits too.

But the real reason to book these suites is the epic view you have of the AquaTheater. Never mind front row – this is a unique high-angle that lets you relax in the comfort of your own space with incredible entertainment right outside your balcony.

3. Virtual Balcony Staterooms

One of Royal Caribbean’s best features for cheaper staterooms is included on Wonder of the Seas – the virtual balcony. These staterooms are inside rooms, meaning normally you’d be stuck without any window at all. But these rooms have a giant screen that acts as a digital balcony for you.

OK, you’re not actually getting the benefits of sunlight, or the breeze. But you do get to see the live view, which can be handy for waking up or falling asleep, and it just brightens up the space too.

On many of the other ships, the virtual balcony rooms only sleep 2, so they’re no good for families. But on Wonder, many of them sleep up to four guests in comfort.

4. Deck 14 staterooms (if you have kids)

Deck 14 is not the place to book if you want a calm, peaceful escape. But if you have kids and want to make the most of the entertainment onboard, it’s a fantastic spot.

Firstly, you’re on the same deck as the kids’ clubs. This is a huge benefit – it’s easier to drop them off, and pick them up at the end of the day too, especially if they’ve fallen asleep and you need to carry them back to your stateroom.

Then, the pool deck is directly above, so you never have to travel far for a fun time splashing around. And towards the aft of Deck 15 is the Windjammer Buffet too, so you’re only one set of stairs away from a snack when you’ve a grumpy child feeling hungry.

Wonder of the Seas splash area

The best deck varies

There is no single best deck on Wonder of the Seas – it depends on the type of cruise you want. If you want the best suites, you’ll need to look at Decks 17 and 18. To be close to the pool deck and kids’ clubs, choose Deck 14. If you want to be in between all the features, and enjoy peace, choose Decks 9 to 12.

The best room on Wonder of the Seas is the Ultimate Family Suite, if you’re travelling with kids. For adults, the Royal Loft Suite is the next-best choice, offering similar suite benefits but without the kid-focussed features.

Should you choose your own room or opt for a ‘Guarantee’ stateroom?

When you book your cruise with Royal Caribbean, you’re given the choice of deciding on a category, and then letting the cruise line pick your exact room, or paying a little extra to pick the exact stateroom you want.

choose room

Choosing a category, and then letting the cruise line pick the room, is called a ‘Guarantee’ room. It’s a little riskier, since the cruise line could put you in a cabin of your chosen category but in a less appealing location, such as a noisier spot.

Benefits of choosing your cabin number:

  • Choose your preferred location on the ship
  • Book two cabins next to each other
  • Avoid undesirable cabins

If that worries you, pay the extra to choose your own. If it doesn’t, save the cash.

Booking multiple cabins on Wonder of the Seas

One quick note to add – I’ve mentioned connecting rooms already, but you don’t need these if you’re travelling with family. It’s OK just to book adjacent rooms that aren’t connecting too.

However, if you’re opting for the Guarantee rate, you can ask for adjacent rooms but it’s not certain that you’ll get them. If adjacent rooms are really important, pay the extra to pick the rooms yourself.


Don’t miss the latest Royal Caribbean offers…

I’ve done a lot of digging to put together this guide, but if you want to do your own research to supplement it, then I’d recommend these resources:

Related posts:

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Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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14 Sneakiest Ways To Smuggle Booze On To Your Cruise

The price of drinks on some cruise ships will be similar to your local pub, but on other cruises, the drinks prices can be pretty steep with $10 for a glass of wine being the norm.

If you’re on a budget you may be tempted to try to sneak liquor on your cruise ship to save yourself some money.

sneaking booze in pocket

Sneaking booze on a cruise is strictly prohibited. However, a study by showed that 19% of passengers admitted to smuggling alcohol onto a cruise ship at least once.

You should know that there’s no foolproof way to sneak alcohol on a cruise. However, there are many different ways that people have tried.

Disclaimer: I have never smuggled drinks on a cruise myself and am in no way encouraging you to do it. I am just showing you how others have done it in the past so that you can make your own decisions.

1. Use a disguised umbrella flask

If you hide your booze in a sneaky umbrella flask, there’s pretty much zero chance of anyone suspecting anything. This handy flask holds 9 oz (255 ml) of your favourite drink and is easy to pour out into your glass. It looks and feels like an umbrella rather than a hard bottle.

This type of hidden container isn’t likely to be discovered, particularly on Northern European cruises where rain is likely. Take it to the Mediterranean in summer and it may seem slightly more suspicious!

2. Hide your booze in a fake tampon

If you’d like another virtually foolproof way to smuggle booze on a cruise, then tampon flasks may be it. These fake re-sealable tampon wrappers contain refillable mini flasks. Each one can hold one shot of alcohol.

Even if someone had a really good rummage through your luggage, they’d be unlikely to open a tampon to check in there.

The downside to these is that each one only holds 1 oz (30ml) which is slightly larger than a single measure of spirits. Therefore you’d need a lot of tampons to cover a week-long cruise!

This product may be better for smuggling small amounts of booze into the onboard bars, rather than for bringing a booze haul to drink in your cabin.

3. Re-use shampoo bottles (or buy fake ones)

Putting alcohol in shampoo bottles for cruise holidays sounds like an interesting idea, but it has many flaws. The first is that the design of shampoo bottles makes them very difficult to clean so you’ll never fully get rid of all of the shampoo residue. This will make your drink taste horrible.

The second reason why you shouldn’t use a shampoo bottle to hide alcohol is that shampoo and conditioner bottles aren’t watertight. I once had a bottle of shower gel explode in my suitcase and it was messy. Imagine the same but with red wine. No thanks!

However, you can buy shampoo bottle flasks on Amazon, which are made to conceal alcohol. These leak-proof bottles even include six ‘factory seals’ so that if a security guard opened the bottle, they wouldn’t be able to smell the alcohol.

These are a good option because each bottle fits 8 ounces of liquor. Hidden alcohol bottles are also available to buy in the form of fake sunscreen bottles or deodorant cans.

4. Buy a binocular flask

Some of the things to hide alcohol in for cruise vacations are just genius. This binocular flask would be unlikely to show up as anything suspicious on an X-ray, and even with a manual search, it may go undetected.

Each side of the binoculars holds 8 oz (230ml) of liquor, and it comes with a little funnel that allows you to fill it up without spilling a drop. The two sides aren’t connected, so you could have gin in one half and vodka in the other if you wish to create your own cocktails.

5. Try cleaned-out mouthwash bottles

Another of the popular things to hide alcohol in on a cruise has, for many years, been mouthwash bottles. Mouthwashes such as Listerine come in bottles of up to one litre.

@lasvegas.bartender #fyp #lvbdrinks #lasvegasbartender ♬ original sound – LasVegasBartender (LVB)

The idea is that you would add a clear spirit such as white rum, gin or vodka, and blue or green food colouring to make it look like mouthwash.

In reality, cruise port staff are familiar with this old hack and know that if they find a huge bottle of mouthwash, it’s likely to be suspicious. Because who needs a litre of mouthwash on a one-week cruise?

The first thing they’ll do is open it and smell it to see what’s really inside.

6. Push the limit on wine bottles

This is probably the most common way to sneak wine on a cruise. Most cruise lines allow you to bring one bottle of wine per person on board. So what people do is they put one bottle of wine in their checked luggage and another in their carry-on bag.

The bags are checked at different times by different people, and it’s virtually impossible for cruise ship staff to match them up and see that you’ve brought more than the allowance.

As there’s no limit on how much luggage you can bring on a cruise ship (unless you also have to take a flight), you could easily bring two small cases per person, as well as some more cases for the kids.

One thing you do want to be wary of is wine bottles smashing in your checked luggage. If you are planning on putting glass bottles in there, you should always buy inflatable wine bottle protectors.

7. Try classic rum runners

Rum runners, also known as alcohol bags or plastic flasks, are specially-made alcohol containers for cruises. Thousands of cruisers report having had success in using a rum runner to sneak alcohol on cruise ships.

You can buy rum runners on Amazon. They are essentially reusable plastic bags that come with a funnel so that you can decant wine, vodka, tequila or any other liquor that you wish to bring on your cruise. Each one holds up to 32 oz (one litre) of liquid.

The idea behind alcohol bags is that on an x-ray, they don’t look like a bottle, so they won’t be detected when your bag is scanned.

However, if your bag was manually checked for any other reason, it would be obvious what’s inside these booze bags.

8. Give yourself a fake beer belly

An interesting method that may be used to hide alcohol when you embark on your cruise ship is the ‘beer belly canteen’. This polyurethane container looks like a beer belly when worn under clothing and holds 32 oz of booze.

If you wear this, you might have to sacrifice looking slender in your embarkation photos!

9. Boost your bust with a wine rack bra

For women, there’s a similar product to the fake belly, in the form of a bra known as the ‘wine rack bra’, which could actually boost your appearance if that’s what you desire.

If you set off the x-ray scanner with something else, such as your watch, and called over for a pat-down, a wearable flask will easily be detected.

As port staff won’t know whether you’re carrying booze or something much more dangerous, you’ll likely set alarm bells ringing and could get in serious trouble.

10. Wear a boozy bladder

This strange-looking device ties around your waist. There’s a tube that pops out through your fly so that you can refill your glass when nobody’s looking!

This is probably one for the gents rather than the ladies. And you should probably head to a bathroom stall to refill your glass – as you may get some very funny looks from your fellow cruisers otherwise!

The good thing about this device is that it fits a massive one litre of alcohol. If you fill it with spirits, that could keep you going all cruise long.

11. Carry a wine handbag

Now, another one for the ladies – The PortoVino wine purse is a beach tote with a hidden, insulated compartment that holds two bottles of wine.

This stylish handbag comes with a secret zipper with an insulated pouch inside which keeps your wine cool for hours. This bag probably isn’t ideal for bringing booze onto a cruise ship as it may show up solid on the scanner when filled with liquor.

However, it could be an ideal way to enjoy wine from your room by the pool. Whilst some cruise ships allow you to bring your own wine on board, you have to drink it in your room. With this device, you could fill your bag with chilled wine from your in-room refrigerator and sneakily pour it into a glass by the pool using the hidden tap.

12. Hack a box of Capri Sun or water cartons

Here’s a tip from Reddit – why not empty out Capri Sun pouches and refill them with booze?

I poked a hole in the straw opening of capri sun pouches, emptied them, and filled them back up with spirit of choice with a meat syringe. Then resealed the straw hole with gel superglue.

It might be a lot of work but that’s a lot of alcohol you can sneak onboard!

You can even do the same with water cartons – just use a small hole to pour out the water before re-sealing it with glue, without breaking the cap seal.

@jennmerlin They didn’t know! #lifehacks #fyp #sneakalcohol #cruise #travel #adventure #explore ♬ original sound – jennmerlin

13. Replace your contact lens solution

his mother dumped out contact eye solution then refilled the bottle with vodka to sneak it aboard the cruise ship!

I would of course not recommend this if you actually wear contact lenses and need the solution to look after them! I’d rather pay for my drinks and be able to see, after all.

14. Just pack minis

According to one cruise guest, if you just pack miniature bottles and distribute them around your luggage, they won’t be detected and you’ll be able to enjoy them onboard.

@xtothez_23 Protip if you dont wanna spend money on the drink package 🙃 #cruiseship #cruisetok #cruise #alcohol #cruisetips #traveltiktok #lifeontiktok #cruisehacks #traveltiktok #travelhacks #drinkpackage #cruisewithme ♬ Chill R & B with a nostalgic atmosphere(967006) – table_1

I’d be a little wary of this one personally – I’d be surprised if they didn’t check your luggage if they saw a lot of small bottles – but apparently it can work, so it’s up to you if you want to try it.

Where to hide alcohol when you check in

When you’ve decided what type of container to hide your liquor in, your next decision will be where to stash it. Your options are:

  • In your checked luggage
  • In your carry-on luggage
  • On your body

The best place to hide alcohol for a cruise is in your checked luggage. You can drop off checked luggage as soon as you arrive at the port. If something is detected on the scanner and your case is opened, you won’t be around to witness the embarrassment of being called out in public.

Checked bags can be tossed around so always make sure that whatever you’ve packed in there is properly protected from damage.

Sneaking alcohol onto a cruise on your body

Sneaking alcohol on your body is the riskiest way to do it. You’ll have to remove any bulky items and walk through an X-ray scanner. If it beeps for any reason (including for a random check), then you’ll be patted down, and your stash will be discovered, no matter how well it’s disguised.

Bringing alcohol on board in foreign cruise ports

Bringing alcohol on board midway through your cruise is easier than trying to sneak it on as you embark.

When you get back on board the ship you’ll have to pass your bags through a scanner. However, if you have a bottle of something which looks like water, even if it has been opened, it’s very unlikely that anyone would inspect it more closely.

Getting caught with alcohol when boarding a cruise

If you’re caught bringing alcohol on a cruise, the worst-case scenario is that you could be denied boarding.

Royal Caribbean’s policy states:

“Alcoholic beverages seized on embarkation day will not be returned. Security may inspect containers (water bottles, soda bottles, mouthwash, luggage etc.) and will dispose of containers holding alcohol. Guests who violate any alcohol policies, (over-consume, provide alcohol to people under the legal drinking age, demonstrate irresponsible behaviour, or attempt to conceal alcoholic items at security and or luggage checkpoints or any other time), may be disembarked or not allowed to board, at their own expense, in accordance with our Guest Conduct Policy. Guests who are under the permitted drinking age will not have alcohol returned to them. “

However, other cruise lines simply state that if you are caught with prohibited alcohol they will confiscate and discard it.

Carnival’s policy states:

“Guests are prohibited from bringing alcoholic beverages on board with the following exception – 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. Outside this exception, 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.”

Suggested read: Carnival Cruise Luggage Restrictions

Even when cruise lines reserve the right to refuse embarkation, that doesn’t mean that they will do that in practice.

What REALLY happens when you get caught smuggling booze on a cruise

There are many online cruise forums where people have discussed their experiences in getting caught sneaking alcohol on a ship.

Here, I’ve seen numerous photos of orange confiscation slips inside suitcases in place of missing alcohol. As far as I could see during my research, nobody has reported that they weren’t allowed to board the ship. Interestingly, many people reported that they were even allowed to pick up their confiscated alcohol at the end of the cruise!

How to sneak whiskey on a cruise

Cruise lines don’t allow guests to bring spirits on board. If you want to bring whiskey on board then you’ll need to disguise it. Many people use a rum runner, a rinsed-out tinted bottle of mouthwash, or just decant whiskey into a wine bottle, where wine is permitted.

How to fill a sealed water bottle with alcohol

To fill a sealed water bottle with alcohol:
• Cut the neck off a bottle
• Place it in boiling water until soft
• Pull off the intact cap and ring
• Open a second water bottle and cut off the plastic ring
• Swap the water for clear alcohol
• Screw the intact sealed cap onto the bottle of alcohol

Alcohol allowances on cruises

Many cruise lines allow you to bring a certain amount of alcohol on the ship.

The following table shows the alcohol allowance for each cruise line.

Cruise Line Alcohol allowance per passenger
Carnival One bottle of wine
Celebrity One bottle of wine
Costa Not allowed
Cunard One bottle of wine
Disney Two bottles of wine or six beers
MSC Cruises Not allowed
NCL Unlimited wine – $15 fee per bottle
P&O Cruises One litre of wine or Champagne
Princess Cruises One bottle of wine for free. ($15 per additional bottle)
Royal Caribbean One bottle of wine (or two bottles per stateroom)

Click here to read more about taking drinks on a cruise including which cruise lines allow you to take water and other non-alcoholic drinks on board.

Most cruise lines also offer drinks packages which can be great value for money. And wouldn’t you much rather have a freshly-made cocktail than try to sneak your own spirits into soft drinks?

If you’re undecided about whether to buy a drinks package or not, my free calculator will work out whether it’s good value for money, based on what you like to drink.

Cruise lines will check for alcohol (and other things)

All cruise lines will check luggage for alcohol as well as drugs, weapons, irons, drones and other prohibited items during the embarkation process. They will check all checked and carry-on luggage with scanners as well as manual spot checks.

In fact, they’re wising up to some of the hacks on this list. There’s one that I haven’t included in the list above because cruise lines caught onto it very quickly, even though it was quite a clever hack.

It involved taking a multipack of soda, opening the cardboard carefully, swapping out some cans for alcoholic cans, then re-sealing the box using super glue so it doesn’t look tampered with.

Unfortunately, clips of the hack went viral and so cruise lines quickly learned to check the boxes!

@iamgrindface This guy messed it up for ALL OF US🤬🤦‍♂️ #cruise FB/ Melonie Rogers #grindface ♬ original sound – GrindFace The Creator

Trying to sneak alcohol or weed onboard is one of the many things you should never do on a cruise. So please don’t. It’s just not worth it.

How alcohol appears on scanners

Cruise ship scanners usually have no problem detecting alcohol hidden in luggage. Liquid appears dark on an x-ray and the shape of bottles are easy to detect.

If bottles, cans or other containers are detected on the x-ray scanner, port staff will open the bag to have a closer look.

Some cruise lines, including Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line prohibit all drinks including water (unless it’s needed for medical reasons) to be brought on-board. This speeds up the process of having to check every bottle to see if it’s water, soft drinks or alcohol.

The last word

Of course, I’m not recommending that anyone try to sneak alcohol, or anything else, onto a cruise ship. Selling drinks on board is one of the ways that cruise lines cover their costs and if everyone tried to cheat the system by sneaking alcohol on board they would inevitably have to put up the ticket prices.

Plus, getting caught with alcohol is embarrassing. Whilst you may be lucky enough to get away with finding a ticket in your case, if your case is locked, you’ll be summoned to a location on the ship and asked to open it.

If you get caught with excess booze in your carry-on bag, you’ll have to suffer the humiliation of all the passengers in the line behind you, seeing you get busted.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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Princess Cruises Sets A Pizza-Related Guinness World Record

Princess Cruises has set a new Guinness World Record for the “World’s Largest Pizza Party,” celebrated across multiple venues aboard its fleet.

Princess Cruises Pizza Party

The event, in partnership with Chef Tony Gemignani, a 13-time World Pizza Champion, saw guests indulging in over 60,000 slices of pizza.

It was held across July 12th and 13th, across 16 ships in the fleet. This meant that the party was held across three continents at once, over eight different time zones.

Chef Tony Gemignani introduced two exclusive pizzas featuring ingredients like Soppressata sausage, hot honey, agave pesto, and fresh goat cheese. These gourmet pizzas were a highlight of the event.

Overall, the event involved over 6,500 lb of pizza dough and over 2,300 lb of cheese!

Princess is about delivering great experiences, and there is no more important element than pizza. While Princess has long been known for having the best pizza at sea, we decided to take it up an entirely new level with legendary Tony Gemignani and also set a Guinness World Record title in the process.

John Padgett, president of Princess Cruises

The event was verified by an adjudicator from Guinness World Records, meaning that it took the prize from the previous winner – a pizza party held in Tulsa, Oklahoma in early 2023.


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If you found this interesting, please share!

Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

Read more about me

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Viking’s Newest Ocean Ship, Viking Vesta Floated Out

Viking® (NYSE: VIK) has announced its newest ocean ship, the Viking Vesta®, was “floated out,” marking a major construction milestone and the first time the ship has touched water. Classified as a small ship, as are all Viking ocean ships, the Viking Vestahas a gross tonnage of 54,300 tons, with 499 staterooms that can host 998 guests. The ship is scheduled to debut in July 2025 and will spend her inaugural season sailing itineraries in the Mediterranean and in Northern Europe.

Viking Vesta Floated Out

“It is always a good day when a new ship meets water for the first time,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman and CEO of Viking. “Over the last decade, we have built the world’s most elegant small ocean ships together with Fincantieri. As we prepare to welcome the Viking Vesta next summer, as well as her identical sister ship, the Viking Vela, this fall, we look forward to introducing even more curious travelers to the Viking way of exploration.”

The traditional float out ceremony took place at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Ancona and is significant because it denotes a ship moving into its final stage of construction. The float out of the Viking Vestabegan on July 4 at approximately 11:00 a.m. local time when the Viking team cut a cord that signaled water to flow into the ship’s building dock. Following a two-day process that will set the Viking Vesta afloat, she will then be moved to a nearby outfitting dock for final construction and interior build-out.

With a clear focus on creating experiences for The Thinking Person, Viking does not try to be all things to all people. This approach has resonated with guests, and in 2023, Viking was rated #1 for Oceans, as well as #1 for Rivers and #1 for Expeditions by Condé Nast Traveler in the most recent Readers’ Choice Awards.

Did You Know?

Viking (NYSE: VIK) was founded in 1997 and provides destination-focused journeys on rivers, oceans and lakes around the world. Designed for curious travelers with interests in science, history, culture and cuisine, Chairman Torstein Hagen often says Viking offers experiences for The Thinking Person™.

Viking has more than 450 awards to its name, including being rated #1 for Rivers, #1 for Oceans and #1 for Expeditions by Condé Nast Traveler in the 2023 Readers’ Choice Awards. Viking is also rated at the top of its categories for rivers, oceans and expeditions by Travel + Leisure. No other travel company has simultaneously received the same honors by both publications.

For additional information, contact Viking at 1-800-2-VIKING (1-800-284-5464) or visit For Viking’s award-winning enrichment channel, visit

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Utopia Of The Seas Arrives In Port Canaveral, Florida

The vacation flipping the script on short getaways has arrived. Royal Caribbean International’s Utopia of the Seas made its first appearance in Port Canaveral (Orlando), Florida, just a few days ahead of its official debut on Friday, July 19.

Utopia of the Seas Arrives In Her New Homeport

The ultimate short getaway was welcomed home as more than 2,000 crew members celebrated across Utopia’s vibrant Caribbean pool deck and thrills, from the longest dry slide at sea – The Ultimate Abyss – to the signature FlowRider surf simulator. Up next is a celebration fit for the getaway of all getaways that will feature Utopia’s newly revealed godmother, GRAMMY-winning artist and songwriter Meghan Trainor, as she takes center stage to name the new vacation and perform one hit after the next before it begins sailing 3-night weekend and 4-night weekday vacations.

Utopia brings unmatched weekend energy to everyone and every day of the week, with a combination of ways to celebrate any occasion or just getting away. On deck are more than 40 ways to dine, drink and party, including a lineup of parties only on Utopia, two casinos, a new Caribbean tiki bar – The Pesky Parrot, Royal Railway – Utopia Station, a first-of-its-kind immersive train car dining experience; more pools than the days to count; thrills and ways to chill; show-stopping entertainment across air, ice, water and stage; and more at Perfect Day at CocoCay

For additional information or to book, vacationers can visit, call (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN or contact their travel advisor.

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