How To Sneak Alcohol On A Cruise


How To Sneak Alcohol On A Cruise

How To Sneak Alcohol On A Cruise

You’re about to discover the unusual, crazy and even bizarre ways that people smuggle alcohol onto a cruise. In this article, I’m going to talk about the lengths that people go to to smuggle alcohol on board a cruise ship.

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Why do people do it? 

Well, simply because the cost of drinking on board a ship is getting more expensive. I’m not saying that you should be smuggling alcohol on board a cruise ship, it’s just something that I’ve seen happening a lot.

How To Sneak Alcohol On A Cruise – #1 Refilling Toiletries

Probably the longest, and most established, way of smuggling alcohol on board is by taking existing toiletries and putting alcohol in the bottle. The most popular of these is mouthwash.

What people are doing is buying a mouthwash, emptying it out, cleaning it and putting a clear liquid in. Then using food colouring dye to make it look like an existing bottle of mouthwash. There are some mouthwash bottles which are not clear, and those are even more popular because it’s even harder to see the product inside.

Using existing toiletries, emptying them out and replacing them is a long-established way of doing it.

How To Sneak Alcohol On A Cruise – #2 Fake Toiletries

For those people that don’t want to go as far as using existing toiletries, there’s a whole range of bottles that you can buy that replicate toiletries. They come empty and have little seals that you can then put on the top, so it looks like unopened bottles.

There is a wide range of bottles that look like established and existing toiletries that you can then fill with alcohol. Things I’ve come across, for example, are sunscreen bottles, normal toiletry bottles, shampoo and you can even buy deodorant cans which you can fill with alcohol. If you want to go even further, there are products that look like tampons.

How To Sneak Alcohol On A Cruise – #3 Rum Runners

Another long, and well established, way of bringing alcohol on board a cruise ship is what’s known as Rum Runners. These are basically little plastic pouches which you can fill with alcohol, put a screw cap on and then slide within your existing luggage.

They are very popular and are one of the things that people use most often to bring alcohol on board.

How To Sneak Alcohol On A Cruise – #4 Special Luggage

The next two ways that people use to smuggle alcohol on board probably verge on Secret Service and spy type territory. They’re recreating products which are fake.

The first of these is around luggage. One of the most interesting ones that I came across is a rucksack. This rucksack has secret pouches, which you can then fill up with alcohol. Linked to that are those messenger-style bags which have secret pouches.

Probably one of the more practical ones are tote bags. Within the tote bags, which look like designer tote bags, they have secret pouches that you fill with alcohol.

There’s a whole range of luggage that you can bring on board both to help you carry your stuff but that also have secret pouches.

How To Sneak Alcohol On A Cruise – #5 Fake Accessories

One of the more fun areas that I’ve discovered people smuggle alcohol on is with a whole range of fake accessories.

There is a huge range of these. And there are companies specifically making these fake accessories to help people smuggle alcohol. Some of the most interesting ones are umbrellas, which are basically a storage container for alcohol. A hair brush, cameras, binoculars, a smartphone, power pack and shoe trees. Then there’s what we would call in the UK  “bum bags” or in the USA “fanny packs”.

There’s a whole range of accessories and luggage that are created to help people smuggle alcohol. It does feel a little bit like you are verging on spy territory with secret devices that double up as something else.

How To Sneak Alcohol On A Cruise – #6 Clothing

Another thing that people use to smuggle alcohol is clothing. There’s a range of clothing which is designed to have various pouches where you can smuggle in alcohol.

There are two main areas that I came across that people are using to do this. First of those is a bra, which has various pouches in which you fill with alcohol, and then for gentlemen there are shorts which have secret pouches.

So, people are going as far as wearing the alcohol that they smuggle onto a cruise ship.

How To Sneak Alcohol On A Cruise – #7 Miniatures

There is a more practical way that people are using which probably has a higher chance of actually being discovered and caught by security.

First of those is miniatures. People are buying those small miniature bottles and stuffing those around their luggage.

Avoiding Detection

Those are the main devices and techniques that people are using, But how are they ensuring that they don’t get caught? There’s a couple of things that I’ve seen people do, or talk about, when they’re bringing alcohol on board.

Bring a bottle or two

The first thing to remember is that most cruise lines allow you to bring on a certain amount of alcohol. Most cruise lines will allow you to bring either one or two bottles of wine, as long as you drink that in your cabin. If you take it into the restaurants, they will charge you a corkage fee. The first thing that people are doing is bringing that on board.

The next thing they’re doing is using a number of techniques to ensure that they don’t get caught.

Even things out

The first of those is making sure that they spread what they’re bringing around their luggage. If they’re travelling with a couple of people, they don’t put it all in one suitcase. They’re putting some in their hand luggage, some in one suitcase and some in someone else’s suitcase. They’re spreading it around. So, I guess even if one person gets caught, they’re hoping that the other people will still get through.


The other thing I’m seeing people doing and talking about, is if they are trying to smuggle alcohol on board they put in their checked baggage. Those bags do get screened, but when you go through the personal security checks there may be more searches of bags. I am hearing that is the way that they normally find that they are not getting caught.

The other thing that people tell me they do, if they do bring on board alcohol in one of these ways, is they have to drink it in the cabin and can’t walk around the ship with it. So, some people are then doing things like bringing their own reusable water bottles and putting their alcohol in there so they can take it around the ship and on excursions.

Final Thoughts

I am not encouraging people to smuggle alcohol on board, it’s just one of those trends that I’ve seen happening more. And, as I’ve mentioned, it’s become so big that there are companies making products to help people smuggle alcohol on board.

If you want a stress-free holiday don’t smuggle alcohol on board. Buy your drinks on the ship and perhaps take a look at drinks packages. Watch my other video about when you shouldn’t buy a drinks package, because you could find it is not good value for you.


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Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 3 million video views per month.

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